The day that Grade 10 classes ended for ECS (Miss Edgar’s & Miss Cramp’s School) student Vanessa Vassalos, she was already setting up her Parc Avenue pop-up shop called Essentiels COVID19, carrying PPEs and other stay-safe essentials.
She vowed to donate a large portion of her sales to the Montreal Children’s Hospital, as the budding entrepreneur also has plans on pursuing pediatrics in university. “I was hoping to get a summer job and had started looking into local pharmacy jobs where I’d also be helping others,” Vassalos explained.
A vacant family-owned storefront on Parc, which was usually rented out to other small companies, was the perfect spot. “It was an empty space so I decided to open a shop, but I needed to figure out what I was going to do and, at the same time, I wanted to help people, so I decided to start selling PPEs.”
Convincing her parents that was she was serious about the project took some work. “I would pass by them one day and say, ‘Look, I made a logo,’ or ‘Look, I found a supplier,’ and slowly they started believing me that I was serious. The day I finished school on June 17, we started setting it up with all the supplies, and opened within three days,” she said.
All the products are Health Canada and FDA approved, and she carries a variety of products such as visors, gloves, masks (disposable and reusable), hand sanitizers, Lysol wipes and more.
“My main goal was to help others and the community, but also to help with a local organization, so I’m hoping to donate at least half of my profits to the Children’s Hospital,” she said. “All of my clients have been super generous and nice, and every day we’re getting more and more people.”
“It’s impressive to see the entrepreneurial mindset and skills this young woman has had for this venture,” said Casey Sherriffs, the Entrepreneurial Platform Lead at ECS. “Maybe this could be a call to action for more young people to think about problems around them and how they can design, create or innovate solutions.”