We often hear about succession issues in companies, and it’s even more true in the agri-food sector. That’s why we are highlighting these three women entrepreneurs who, for the most part, left for a few years to discover themselves before finally returning home to ensure the sustainability of the family business and take the reins of what truly matters to them.
Julie at Pêcheries Charlevoix
At 6 a.m., with the first rays of the sun reflecting on the waters of the St. Lawrence River, we visited Julie Gauthier in her Anse-au-Sac store to discover her amazing marine world. “You’re lucky… this is the second day we’ve had capelin in our nets,” she tells us. We climb aboard her truck to take some small winding paths and join her family and friends at their unique fascine, a fixed net trap also known as weir fishing, and a peaceful little bit of heaven.
With both feet in the cold river, former horticulturist Julie drifts into her new routine in harmony with the rhythm of the tides. A few years back, she went back to the family fishing business to ensure she didn’t lose the license and, above all, to preserve her precious heritage!
The beauty of Pêcheries Charlevoix is seeing Julie’s uncles and family accompany her from morning to evening on this beautiful adventure. From fishing for capelin at dawn to hunting sturgeon by boat, to preparing fresh fish in the store, we give her time to return calls to her loyal customers who have been waiting for weeks to bring these famous delicacies back to their own kitchens.
Elsa at Viandes Bio de Charlevoix
We go to Saint-Urbain to simply chat with Elsa Girard over a good coffee. She tells us that she began her studies in graphic design before making the jump to administration. Two completely different things you say, but they’re what drives Elsa’s sparkling and innovative personality every day: her creative side and her logical side.
At the end of her studies, Elsa left for new challenges in the city, but when a position became available in accounting, she didn’t hesitate to change her plans to create new opportunities in Charlevoix. Her involvement has increased over the years but, in 2017, following a fire in the pigsty, she took on more responsibilities and became a shareholder in the family business.
It’s no secret that Viandes Bio de Charlevoix is an adventure that Elsa couldn’t imagine experiencing without her parents, brother and sister. Their decisions are always based on human values and animal welfare. In the coming years, the entrepreneur sees herself developing the Canadian market even further and simply continuing to have fun at work. We leave her, cell phone in hand, managing sows that could run away (don’t worry, everyone is happy).
Stéphanie at Jardins du Centre
Strolling through the many fields and lands of Les Éboulements-Centre, we hear a bit more about Stéphanie Pilote, the 4th generation to take over the business and the first woman to head the family estate.
After a few years away from Charlevoix, this dietetics graduate returned to her native region a little sooner than expected. With her partner and children, she moved closer to the family and immediately got involved with the land where she grew up. An entrepreneur who thrives on agri-tourism projects, Stéphanie sees the potential her land has to offer people from near and far!
Les Jardins du Centre covers more than 36 hectares, sells fresh fruit and vegetables all year round, including pick-your-own berries, squash and pumpkins from June to October, employs more than twenty people, produces homemade processed products and, above all, is operated by a family that works together every day to feed local people.
A little bird told us that in a few years, we’ll be able to pick our own apples while enjoying a magnificent view of the St. Lawrence River!