By Chevi Rabbit, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – Danielle Baptiste, originally from Maskwacis Alberta, was awarded the START UP Business of the Year at the Leduc, Nisku, and Wetaskiwin Regional Chamber of Commerce annual business awards gala on March 11, 2023.
She was also recently nominated for the prestigious Alberta Chambers of Commerce Award for Indigenous Business Award of Distinction.
Baptiste is the CEO and operator of Sage Beauty. Due to its success, Baptiste has relocated from Wetaskiwin Mall, to a larger location, 5008 – 48 Street, which offers various services, including permanent makeup, lash extensions, clinical skincare, endless jewelry, and nails.
Baptiste received her master’s degree in management with an emphasis on human resources before becoming a successful business owner. She worked as an Indigenous relations liaison for oil and gas companies Imperial Oil and Energy businesses over several years.
“I was not enjoying what I was doing,” said Baptiste. She was tired of the 9-to-5 job and wanted to fulfill her business dream. “I always wanted to own my business – I always wanted to work for myself. It started with co-owning a food truck with my boyfriend on the powwow trail.”
According to Statistics Canada, from 2005 to 2018, women-owned Indigenous businesses (+3.3% on average) grew more rapidly than men-owned Indigenous businesses (+2.2%). As a result, the share of women-owned Indigenous businesses increased from 22.1% in 2005 to 24.7% in 2018, whereas that of men-owned businesses dropped from 74.8% to 71.8%.
When Baptiste hit a crossroad in her life, she wanted to explore new career options. “So, I enrolled in the skin specialist programming, and I wanted to see, first of all, if I enjoyed it and secondly if I was good at it,” she said. “I enrolled in a skin specialist programming because it has a variety of certifications, such as micro-needling, chemical peel, facial, and you name it, there were a lot of certifications.”
She enjoyed the learning process so much that she enrolled in eyelash extensions, permanent makeup, tattooed eyebrows, and eyeliner. Successfully progressing and learning about permanent makeup led to tiny and then larger tattoos. She then got further training as a trainer in her field. In total, Baptiste is nineteen times certified.
“I am now trained as a trainer to train others too,” said Baptiste.
She started in her home with her new certifications while still working her salary job. As her clientele list was getting larger, she asked herself, ” Am I going to do this completely and fully? Am I going to continue working and living with my comfortable salary, knowing what I am going to make every two weeks? Or am I going to own my business and have zero clue what I am going to make, and if I am going to be successful?”
“I had to make a decision,” said Baptiste. “I chose the hard one and went full force.” She rationalized the decision by telling herself, “If I fail. At least I have my education to fall back on.”
“So that’s what I did. I became an entrepreneur,” said Baptiste. “I moved from my house, and I got an actual space. I was living in Leduc at the time, and I felt that I could offer my services closer to home, where clients often have to go to the larger cities for the same services that I offer.”
She felt that services like her’s were available in Leduc so she set her sights on Wetaskiwin. “I found a place in Wetaskiwin Mall. However, I only signed for one year because I was still on the fence about opening my own business. I started small, but as soon as I opened up, I was getting booked. I went from 5, 6, 7, and more clients a day.”
She realized she was getting swamped and needed to hire more people. She brought in a nail technician, who booked up right away and became very busy.
Baptiste says so many of the surrounding communities have supported her growth in her business, which left her “with a good problem.”
“I needed to get a bigger space and hire more people,” she explained, and then proceeded to create several job opportunities for other women in the area.
Baptiste’s mission with Sage Beauty extends beyond just running a successful business – she also wants to break down barriers and stereotypes about Indigenous people in the business world. She wants to show that Indigenous people can own and run successful businesses and provide high-quality services to non-Indigenous people.
In addition to her business success, Baptiste also offers training to those interested in entering the beauty industry. This training is certifiable and can lead to employment in other salons or spas or even starting their own businesses.
Baptiste is grateful for the support she has received and credits her success to the people who believed in her from the start. She also recognizes the hard work and contributions of her staff members, Kerrin Baptiste, Vanessa Tomkow, Shireen Soosay, and Caitlynn Baptiste. Winning the Start-Up Business of the Year Award is a testament to Baptist’s dedication, hard work, and inspiration to others who may be looking to follow in her footsteps.
Baptiste is already booking up for speaking engagements. She ends the interview by advising other women who are seeking entrepreneurial career paths. She says, “Do your research before entering the market, and go for it.
“Don’t contemplate doing it, don’t sit back and watch others do it. Just jump in and try. You will never know until you try.”
Chevi Rabbit is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter.