Congratulations to our winners:

Setsuna Incense

A new year means new plans, new goals, new nexts. Whatever yours are for your business, we want to help you get there with Discover Your Next.

Whether it’s going global, upping your social media game, or expanding to new locations, our group of mentors is here to help. We’ve partnered with a diverse team of small business experts — a branding strategist, legal expert, business coach, web designer, social media expert, and an e-commerce photographer — get to know them to learn how they can help your business grow.

Meet the Mentors

Business Growth
Min Read
Banker Turned Trendsetter - The empowering story behind the founder of Threads.

Xenia started her career as an investment banker. But when she was sick of wearing uncomfortable, non-durable tights, she pivoted her career to launch Threads – a brand that offers high quality, sustainable and affordable tights, and hosiery.

As the world comes together to celebrate International Women's Month, DHL wants to shine a spotlight on extraordinary women who have made remarkable strides in their respective fields. Among them is Xenia Chen, the inspiring founder of Threads and one of the winners of our SME Discover Your Next Contest in 2022. Today, we celebrate Xenia's accomplishments and highlight the innovative impact of Threads in the fashion industry.

How did Threads start?

In 2018, Xenia was working in the financial services industry at the time and would go through a lot of hosiery with work wardrobe. She was getting fed up with the number of tights she was going through in a month, because of rips and pulls in the material. Xenia found that she was either spending $10 at the drugstore for a pair that sucked or spending $60 on a pair that was comfortable and luxurious, but still had some sort of shelf life before it rips or wears out. She noticed her female coworkers were also experiencing the same frustrations when it came to their tights, whether it was about comfort or how much money they were spending. And that’s when Threads was born, the experience motivated her to start doing her own research into the hosiery industry, where she learned there were virtually no companies out there who were making tights with women in mind.

Threads was created to be different in both design and affordability. They work directly with their factory in Italy, where they can cut out the middleman, so women can get luxury tights at the fraction of the price. It was important to Xenia that women had access to affordable and high-quality tights, seeing how they are a fundamental staple to women’s workwear.

Threads’ greatest challenge and success so far in the journey
Like many other small businesses, the most significant challenge (and accomplishment) for Threads was navigating the impact of COVID-19 in 2020. Operating as a young business in an industry reliant on people dressing up, whether for outings or work, posed considerable difficulties. Xenia expresses gratitude that Threads successfully re-strategized on the fly, nurtured existing customers, identified new and unexpected customer groups, launched new products, and ultimately made it through the challenging year with the entire team intact, while also establishing a new business line. A true testament that sometimes, the best ideas can come out of times of incredible challenge. 

Threads' achievements include significant media coverage from outlets such as the Today show, Fashion magazine, and Good Housekeeping. This recognition is attributed, in part, to the company's gender-inclusive policy, making Threads a popular choice within the drag and crossdressing communities, setting it apart from competitors. The brand has further diversified its product line with the introduction of fly-contour tights designed for men. Additionally, Threads has expanded its distribution network, now offering its products not only online but also in small independent clothing shops.

Xenia’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs

“Just start! If you’ve been dreaming up something for awhile, start working on the idea now. There will never be a “perfect time” to start a business. This doesn’t mean you need to quit your full-time job – just start working on it on the weekends or at night (that’s what I did with Threads for the first year). Taking the first step is often the hardest step but also the most important! Lastly, failure is not the opposite of success: it’s a stepping stone to success.”

Learn more about Xenia and Threads at or on Instagram at

George Sully standing with his arms crossed.
Business Growth
Min Read
The Power of a Network

For entrepreneurs, the road to success looks like a lonely one. But it doesn’t have to be. And to reach your next level, goal — or whatever it is — it’s easier when you’re doing it with those supporting you. For a serial entrepreneur like me, I’ve found that your business is only as strong as the people you work with along the way.

Success is impossible to achieve on your own, and I’m no exception. A lot of people have helped me along the way to help turn Sully & Son Co. into one of Canada’s top premium accessory and footwear brands.

I want to share some of the lessons I’ve learned about surrounding yourself with the right people, both personally and professionally, and how networking and collaboration has helped me take Sully & Son to its next.

Tip 1:  Strategic Collaboration

Collaborations are an incredibly valuable way of introducing your brand to potential customers in new, unexplored demographics. Finding a brand that shares your values and is working towards the same goals as yours can be a challenge, but if you have a product or service you can stand behind, you’ll draw the attention of potential partners that will be a good fit.

It isn’t easy to find that perfect partner without having a solid grasp of what it is you do best. Find your thing and use it to stand out from the crowd. Because once you do – collaborations can really take your growth to another level.

There’s never a bad time for a brand to try and form a strategic partnership. As long as both parties can fulfill their part equally, there’s no question that it will be a mutually beneficial situation: a true win-win.

Tip 2: Bringing on your brand champions

It’s important when finding people to promote and grow your brand, that they actively want you to succeed as much as you do.

And when it comes to presenting your brand to the world, your brand champions become even more integral. Here are some tips I’ve learned about finding vendors and collaborators to work with to help make my brand shine.


When finding the right stylists for your products, try to seek out those with some good credentials. Stylists that have more experience tend to have more access to what we are constantly looking for the most, and that’s exposure. Most importantly, access to the right opportunities can lead to the right personality endorsements.

If you’re working with someone new and on the rise, just make sure you have great chemistry and that their hunger to prove themselves (and ultimately your brand) feels right.


There are thousands of talented photographers out there and choosing the right one for you might feel impossible. But that’s where social media can be your best friend. There’re plenty of professional photographers who use specific hashtags – such as #advertisingphotographer or #photoshoot – that could be a good avenue to finding someone you’d like to work with. On the flip side, your social pages are also a great way to showcase the creative vision of your brand to photographers interested in working with you.

Brand Reps

You can’t be multiple places at once, so when you’re able to find someone to carry your water in different markets, it can be a true game changer. Again, it’s about finding the right people who you jive with and get a good sense that they’re actively part of your team. Start by doing your research. You’ll be surprised what you can find online if you actually take the time to look. The fashion landscape is ever changing and so are the reps that are constantly looking for new product!

Press & PR

There are lots of ways to hustle and get your name out there. I know people who approach journalists, bloggers, and influencers in hope of getting your brand out there. I’m fortunate to be at a stage where I have a publicist who handles those matters for me now, but if you’re new to the industry, I suggest focusing on your social media and making sure its tight! These days press will come to you if you have the right stuff.

Tip 3: Support Networks


Having a supportive family network has benefits that go just beyond your business’s bottom line. When your family is in your corner cheering on your success, any challenge becomes more manageable. My family cheered me on from day one. They’re entrepreneurs themselves, they always got it and have supported me 100%.

But what about working with family? I think you can tell from the name of my company that I’m all about working with family. My son may only be two and a half, but I can already see the budding entrepreneur in him. I can’t wait to see where it takes him. They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and in this case, that couldn’t be truer! He’s well aware of what his daddy does for a living and he’s right there in the mix with me. I look forward to seeing his creative genius flourish regardless of the direction it takes him.


The business community is just that — a community. That means there are a wealth of resources to help business owners manage challenges, get advice, and find collaborators. Finding that community and the tools that come with it is a definite key to success.

It’s a different landscape now. When I started out, there was a lack of information; a lack of knowledge. But resources like DHL Mentorship are special because it’s information, tips, and advice coming from people who’ve been there before. It’s the coolest thing to get that type of information readily available to people like myself who are always learning, listening, and trying to find a better way to do what we do.

Tip # 4 Networking, Networking, Networking

Surrounding yourself with knowledgeable, supportive, and like-minded people is a major step towards finding your next. The power of connecting with people and growing your network cannot be overstated.  The vision for your business may come from one person, but the more people who share it, the more likely you are to succeed.

About the Author

FGI Visionary Award Winner, George Sully is best known as the original maker of the Star Trek Discovery Starfleet boot. Sully is also a Bata Shoe Museum inductee, the creator of Black Designers of Canada, and co-founder of House of Hayla and his newly minted accessory brand Sully & Son Co., which can be found in both Hudson’s Bay and Harry Rosen.

Learn more about George Sully at Sully & Son Co. or on Instagram at @realgeorgesully

Business coach Kelsey Reidl tips for small business marketing
Business Growth
Min Read
Top 5 Tips for Small Business Marketing Success

If you’re feeling stuck when it comes to growing your small business and reaching more customers, I just want you to know you're not alone.

Every small business goes through their ups and downs and faces their unique challenges, but it's how we respond during those tough times that really matters.

Uncertainty, anxiety and moments of feeling ‘stuck’ can be a great opportunity to take stock of your business and make changes that will help you grow and move out of your current rut.

Here are 5 tips for getting out of your funk when things get hard in the small-business world:

1. Tell your story, share the ‘why’ behind your business and bring your customers behind-the-scenes.

Having a personal connection is one of the most important factors in building customer loyalty and fostering relationships, so don't be afraid to let your guard down and share some of your personality with the world. It could be the key to success for your small business.The key is authenticity — especially in this day and age.

Some ideas on how you can do this include:

  • Sharing the story of why you do what you do on podcasts, social media (Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.), blog posts or other relevant forums.
  • Document the behind-the-scenes of a real day in the life of running your business. Your customers will find it relatable and interesting to see you in your element
  • Update the “about us” section of your website to include points of connection and to harness the emotions of your readers. Dig deep and share who you are and why you started your business.

2. Pay attention to current events, relevant themes and ongoing conversations occurring around Canada and the world, and consider how you can align your product or service against them.

Whether it’s going through your Twitter feed before you start the day, listening to daily news recap podcasts in the morning, or having a subscription to a newspaper, it's important for small business owners to keep an ear to the ground. Not only will this help you understand what's happening in your industry and the global market, but it can also help you position your business against them.

For example, if there's a global event like The Olympics happening, consider showcasing some of the products or services that relate to peak performance, training or preparing for such a big event.

Or, if there's an upcoming holiday like Valentine's Day, consider which of your products or services are giftable.

Keep your eyes open and stay ahead of the game — it could mean all the difference for your business.

3. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new strategies, while doubling down on the ones that are already effective.

If you’re not seeing the growth you're hoping for this year, it might be time to experiment with new marketing and business strategies.

Don’t be afraid to fail forward. Even if a new initiative you put into place doesn’t give you the results you were hoping for, at least you’ll have learned that much more about your business (and what does and doesn't work).

As many businesses — large and small — have invested more in their digital offerings, consider following suit with more online marketing tools, like posting TikTok videos, writing weekly blogs or creating content for your Facebook group.

Or maybe there’s an opportunity to experiment with in-person workshops, partnerships with other local businesses or writing a column in a local newspaper. You will never know what the magic formula is until you begin experimenting. There might be something that massively increases awareness of your business that you haven’t even considered yet.

Start with a brainstorm and don't be afraid to take a risk or three. Your small business will thank you.

4. Use The Relationships Matrix™  to explore new connections.

Using this matrix, finding leads and exploring partnership opportunities becomes less worrisome and much easier to do.

It’s like looking through a microscope at all of your business growth leads — one where all of your prospects are made visible right in front of you. Here’s a visual of what The Relationships Matrix™ looks like:

You’re simply exploring potential:

  • Dream clients or customers — people who are likely to shop with you
  • Industry peers — small businesses with complimentary services or adjacent brands who you could cross-promote with
  • Strategic partners — large organizations that could endorse your small business

And you’ll consider each of these categories in terms of Past, Present and Future.

  • Past - who are people from the past that fit this category?
  • Present - who are people that you’re currently connected to that fit this category?
  • Future - who is on your ‘dream connection’ list and where do they hang out?

Download a free template to start filling out The Relationships Matrix™, click here.

5. If you’re still feeling stuck, ask yourself: “When was the last time I had fun with my business?”

Believe it or not, having more fun with your daily tasks can actually help increase productivity and encourage new ideas.

Get silly on your social media, encourage your employees to take a mid-day dance break, and have conversations with customers with the goal of surprising and delighting them.

Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and infuse more fun and play into your workday to try something different — you may be surprised at just how successful you can be by increasing the joy-factor in what you’re already doing.

When your business is stuck or stagnant for too long, it can feel like there’s no way out.

But if we take a step back and assess our current situation objectively, we may find that these tough times are an opportunity for change, to make positive changes, and get on track again.

Be sure to connect with me on Instagram @kelseyreidl and let me know which strategy was the most helpful to you and your business.


About The Author

After a decade of working with some of Canada’s top food brands, Kelsey is now the founder of Visionary, Inc., where she provides clarity and easy-to-follow frameworks for those who are looking to take an entrepreneurial leap in their own life.

Her signature weekly business coaching mastermind called The Visionary Method™ is a place for motivated, driven & growth-minded individuals to receive expert mentorship while they launch their next side hustle or business.

Kelsey also hosts a Top Podcast on the Canadian Entrepreneurship Charts called Visionary Life. In each episode, she chats with online business owners, brand builders, marketers and entrepreneurs to dissect their success and their wisdom.

Kelsey lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and rescue pup, Abby.

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