Four midtown entrepreneurs share the secrets of their success

Local business owners share what works for them

Do you know the people and places that make up the fabric of your community? A great part of living in Toronto is discovering the faces and places that make up your local ‘hood. We popped in for a chat with a few successful business owners in Bayview, Mt. Pleasant, and Leaside. Here’s what they had to say:

Helene Clarkson

Why did you start a travel clothing line for women?
Frustrated by the lack of multi-purpose, wrinkle-resistant clothing suitable for both business meetings and elegant evenings out, I created my clothing line, Helene Clarkson, for the sophisticated traveler. Our fashion-packed collection of dresses, skirts, tops, and pants aims to maximize versatility while remaining comfortable and stylish while traveling for business or pleasure.

Why are female travellers loving your designs?
Whether traveling across town or across the ocean, our pieces have multi-wear possibilities for any occasion. Customers keep coming back for three main reasons:

  1. Reversible: Many of our styles are made to be reversible, inside out or front to back, allowing for multiple looks with just one item
  2. Day To Night: Our pieces can be dressed up or down for women who are looking to seamlessly transition from a long day of work to an evening out.
  3. Easy Wear, Easy Care: Our clothing is not only practical and flattering, but also wrinkle-resistant, breathable, quick-drying, machine washable, and non-fading.

Are Helene Clarkson pieces made in Toronto?
Yes, Canada is known for its excellent craftsmanship and we are proud to support the jobs of talented local workers by choosing fabrics from Canadian suppliers and manufacturing our clothes right here in Toronto.

What is the most fulfilling part of your career?
I love hearing that my clothes make a difference to busy women around the globe.

565 Mount Pleasant Ave., + 100 Front St. + 2901 Bayview Ave. | 416.519.2223


Alan Chow, Sport Swap owner

Sport Swap

What year were you established?
In 1974; this is our 45th year in business.

How would you describe your team?
We have a great mix of experience and youth. We have been in the business for a long time but we haven’t forgotten what it was like to first swoosh down the slopes. As well, we’re always learning from our customers’ experiences and needs.

What makes your business unique?
We have always focused on families and bringing new skiers into the sport. Skiing and snowboarding can seem daunting but we’re here to help our customers get the most out of their winter activities.

Coolest customer ever?
Who knew that our neighbourhood was littered with Provincial Premiers and Olympians? Plus great people of all stripes.

Greatest piece of advice you’ve received?
When dealing with customers, you’re building relationships, not just making a sale. It’s a joy to see customers returning year after year, decade after decade.

What’s your favourite thing about Bayview?
We’re locals. We grew up and still live in the neighbourhood. We know our customers because we are their neighbours and friends.

What’s going to be hot this winter?
What’s hot is that we’re expecting a great Canadian winter this year! Take advantage by hitting the slopes for fun and games.

1541B Bayview Ave. | 416.481.7927


Kate Murray, owner of Mathnasium

Mathnasium of Leaside

How long have you been a part of the community?
The Centre has been on Millwood for a few years now, but I just took over ownership two years ago! It has been so exciting to see the centre grow and to meet so many more Leaside families!

What’s new and exciting for fall?
Our staff are as committed as ever, and the number of happy students in the centre is testimony to the value our families are getting from our program. It is so exciting to see that we are, quite literally, changing lives through math.

What has been your proudest moment in business?
With each kid that says, “A-ha!” or, “I get it!”, I know I’m onto something good and am grateful to be able to help so many kids!

Any funny anecdotal stories from over the years?
A student leaned over to me and said, “Kate… I think it’s happening!” I didn’t quite understand what the student was talking about: “What? What do you think is happening?” His response will forever be etched in my memory: “I’m becoming crazy about math!”

What’s your secret to success?
Great staff – our Centre Director and all of our instructors – from lead instructors to junior instructors, are all phenomenal. They inspire and motivate and envelope the centre with love and passion. It’s no secret that we have the best instructors in Leaside!

856 Millwood Rd. | 647.924.MATH (6284)


Kim R. Hunter, president and owner of Humphrey Funeral Home

Humphrey Funeral Home

What has been your proudest moment in business?
I became a licensed Funeral Director in 1976 and it was my life-long dream to own this firm and continue the long tradition of service excellence in a family owned and operated setting. In 2018, I achieved this goal in the purchase of Humphrey Funeral Home A.W. Miles – Newbigging Chapel Ltd. and A Basic Service.

Greatest advice you ever received?
The overall importance of sensitivity, compassion and attention to detail.

What makes your business unique?
Every family we serve is unique. They have their own thoughts and ideas on how to celebrate and memorialize their loved ones. We treat every family with the care and compassion necessary to guide them through the grieving process and help them determine the arrangements that best suit their needs.

Describe your team:
I am so proud of our team of dedicated Directors and support staff who carry on our tradition of providing the highest quality of service to every family we serve. Our team takes pride in our reputation for service and dependability.

What’s your secret to success?
Discipline, dedication and passion has been my guiding principles all these years in my profession and has been a key factor in my success.

How long have you been in business?
Our firm was established in 1879 and has proudly been in business for 140 years now under the care and leadership of the Humphrey and Hunter families.

A.W. Miles – Newbigging Chapel Ltd. at 1403 Bayview Ave. | 416.487.4523

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