Handle With Care: Taking Care of Business Means Taking Care of You

Small businesses across Canada have been working non-stop to overcome the challenges of the pandemic. We launched Handle With Care to support small businesses and prioritize their well-being, an integral piece to building a stronger and more productive business.

If 2021 taught us anything, it’s that our communities and the small businesses within them are incredible–and resilient.

And against all odds, small businesses across Canada stepped up. From continuing to serve their communities, collectively banding together, and protecting their customers and employees from COVID-19 – small business owners persevered. However, in the face of all those sleepless nights, financial stress and start-and-stop closures, many small businesses struggled:

  • 21.1% of small businesses reported a 40% or more decline in revenue1
  • 1 in 6 small businesses contemplated closure2
  • ½ of small business owners reported mental health issues, burnout and stress3

It was our turn to step up. We know that small businesses keep Canada’s economic engine running, provide a positive charm and buzz to neighbourhoods, and are a place of refuge, joy and community to its customers. They’ve done so much and deserve a breather.

To pay our thanks and gratitude, we launched Handle With Care last year, a program dedicated to promoting wellness in the small business space. If there’s one thing that small business owners rarely have, it’s time. And with the added stress and pressures of a global pandemic, small business owners have been putting out year-long fires and taking care of their businesses without a second to take care of themselves.

Our 2021 Handle With Care initiative included a contest that Canadian small business owners could apply to, with two winners receiving a grand prize of a $10,000 wellness stipend and $10,000 worth of international shipping.

Meet Coach Carey

Our wellness expert, Coach Carey, is a certified life coach in the wellness space who we partnered with to bring this initiative to life. Her compassion, empathy, holistic approach and gifted ability to inspire and empower others allowed us to design a program that truly got to the root of what wellness means for small business owners and their staff. No two businesses are like, so each winner was able to put into practice a specially-designed plan that benefited their unique structure, team and needs.

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Meet our Collaborators

We also collaborated with five small businesses across Canada to curate and create custom wellness boxes to help spread our message across the small business community.

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Partnering with Lohn, CDN, YNOT, Milk Jar and Mary’s Brigadeiro, we assembled an assortment of wellness items (essential oils, artisanal chocolates, hand-poured candles, backpacks and comfort wear) to ship out to small businesses as a token of our appreciation. We wanted to support small business owners and their respective wellness journeys by sourcing and gifting purposeful objects that would allow them to take some much-needed time to themselves and relax.

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Handle with Care Winners

The owners of Os & Oakes and Sḵwálwen Botanicals were the recipients of the Handle With Care prize, enjoying a $10,000 custom wellness and self-care plan for themselves and their employees, as well as $10,000 worth of international shipping. We checked-in with both businesses to see how Handle With Care helped carry their business through 2021 and onwards:

“We felt so fortunate to receive the DHL handle with care prize this year. It came at the perfect time for our business and gave us momentum in a very uncertain time. Our team has greatly benefited from the health and wellness component, as it allowed us to take time away from the day to day and focus on our mental and physical health. We have also been able to dedicate more resources to ensuring our staff and team feel valued and cared for as employees at os & oakes. Finally, with the monetary assistance from DHL we have just launched our International Shipping program, expanding our company globally. We are grateful to have had the support of DHL throughout all the peaks and valleys of this past year and are excited to see what 2022 has in store for us!”

– Erica Oakes, Os & Oakes

“As an Indigneous owned small business the supports offered to us by the DHL Handle with Care contest meant so much. Our team has been so grateful and felt so cared for by being able to access health and wellness supports as well as spend some time pampering ourselves and our team.”

– Leigh Joseph, Sḵwálwen Botanicals

As we embark on a new year, we know that small businesses across Canada are treading similar ground. We’re working hard behind-the-scenes to launch another initiative to support small business owners, as well as regularly contributing helpful articles to Mentorship. Visit us again in February for your chance to enter our newest contest.