What’s your name? 

Jess Saunders 

What Youth Ventures site are you based out of?  

I am based virtually; I am working with Ulnooweg to connect with Indigenous Youth in Newfoundland and Labrador! 

What are some of your favourite hobbies?  

I really enjoy physical activity of all kinds — I really love to dance! I love getting out onto the land with my son and combining movement with land-based connection. I also do a lot of yoga and meditation. My favorite creative outlets are beadwork, nature photography, and creative writing. 

What’s your favourite movie?  

It’s a tie between ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ (2022) and ‘Arrival’ (2016) 

What is your favourite band/artist?  

There are so many… but I would have to say one of my favorites is Fia. 

What is your favourite restaurant?  

I went to this Italian restaurant in Toronto called Scaddabush last November and had the BEST plate of pasta I’ve ever had in my life (and I’ve had a lot of pasta). They also had some really amazing and delicious non-alcoholic drink options, which I thought was really cool! 

Do you have any pets?  

No, not at this point in time. I did have a silly, lovable and bubbly yellow lab named Biscuit when I was growing up though. 

What is a fun fact about you?  

I am an author! I recently wrote a book about healing and wellness and what it means to me, and I am currently in the process of connecting with publishers. 

What does entrepreneurship mean to you?   

To me, entrepreneurship is a method of empowerment — a way for a person, or people, to find ways to generate income in a way that fills their cup instead of emptying it. It can be so many things: a creative outlet, a way to strengthen your confidence, a way to give back to your community, a path towards your purpose, or just a way to pay your bills. Entrepreneurship is what you make it.  

What are you looking forward to most during your time at youth ventures? 

Connecting to youth! Most of the work I do involves connecting with and hearing from Indigenous Youth, and it is one of my favorite things to do. Our youth are the future, and any way I can support them, I will. I’m looking forward to hearing from the Indigenous Youth here in Newfoundland and Labrador, and chatting with them about their ideas, dreams, and goals.  

What are some interesting business opportunities you see in your region?  

Well, I think that there is opportunities for a variety of businesses in our region. I see a need for allergen friendly food suppliers/caterers/bakers, lawn care, house cleaning, and there is also a growing market for Indigenous Made craft in our province right now. People are beginning to see the value of locally made crafts and products, and it’s a great time to start creating things that people may not be able to source here at home. A great place to start if you are an Indigenous Youth looking to get into traditional craft is our Beaded Flower Pin Venture Box, curated by Alex Antle. If that sounds like something you are interested in you can head to our website or send me an email! 

What do youth in NL need to know about Youth Ventures?  

That we are here to support you however YOU need. No task or question is too small. We can help you with idea generation, business plan development, financial/bookkeeping questions, finding mentors, and much more. And our extensive network of connections means that even if we can’t answer your questions, we can find someone who can! 

What is a piece of advice you have for people of any age who are considering starting a business? 

Listen to your heart. Yes, that sounds cliche and mushy, but it’s always my starting point. I believe that every person comes to this planet with a special skill, talent, or gift to share with the world. It may not always be something we can do full time, but if it fills you up and makes you feel happy, then it is always worth pursuing, even if just as something you do on the side for a few hours a week. And it doesn’t have to be something big and flashy! Maybe it’s an art or craft, maybe it’s landscaping, dog walking, writing Christmas cards, creating coloring books, making cat treats — the sky is the limit! If you struggle to identify what that may be for you, or you feel like your gift is not something that can be turned into a successful business, please reach out to us!  

How can people get in touch with you if they’d like to talk? 

The best way to get in contact with me right now is through email: ulnooweg@youthventuresnl.com.  

You can also fill out an interest form on our website youthventuresnl.com, which also has plenty of resources and ways to get started! 

I hope to hear from you soon! 

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