Small Business Stories: Strong and Free Emblem

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Denise Dow talks about Strong and Free Emblem

From a young age, Denise Dow has been proud to be Canadian. From growing up watching her father sail on Coast Guard Ships to being part of the choir for Canada’s centennial in 1967, you might say that launching a business that expresses that pride of place was an inevitability. 

When Denise’s kids reached a certain age, she realized it was time to make her dream of owning her own business come true. She launched Strong and Free Emblem in 2007 after she picked some leaves from her backyard to make the emblem, and the restas they say—is history. Since that fateful day, she has grown the company from a simple plaque business to include merchandise in various forms—from plaques to belt buckles to t-shirtsavailable both in the flagship retail location in downtown Saint John, New Brunswick as well as on the shelves of a major retail chain from coast to coast.

She even made the trek to Ottawa this summer to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary in style on Parliament Hill—a fitting journey for an entrepreneur who launched a Canadian-themed clothing and merchandise featuring the Strong and Free logo and mission statement, not to mention for somebody who has their own personalized Canadian beer fridge. 

Along the way, Denise has received support—both financial and otherwise—from her local credit union, a relationship that has had a lasting impact. “At the credit union, I’m treated as a person, not a number,” Denise says. “I can pick up the phone and talk to a person who knows me, my finances, and the answers to my questions.” 

As a result, Denise has been able to grow a strong business that has allowed her to be free from worry—at least when it comes to her finances.