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About Karla Briones

 

Photos of Karla Briones and her family

My name is Karla Briones
and I was born in Mexico.

After graduating from high school, my family and I immigrated to Canada. My dad came to Canada with the dream of practicing his profession as a Doctor in Veterinary Medicine and eventually opening his own hospital. He had run his own hospital in Mexico, so it would not be hard to do it all over again in Canada, right? Wrong. 

As new immigrants in Canada, we faced the hardships of learning a new culture, new legal/tax systems, new language (although we spoke English when we arrived, personally, my difficulties were ten-fold in my chosen career: Journalism), new climate, new everything. 

I saw my parents work harder than ever just to get any type of Canadian experience under their belts – selling gas contracts from door to door, insurance brokerage, cleaning houses, cashier jobs, grooming dogs and eventually laboratory technical work and veterinary technician. It took five years to get to those last two jobs. 

Meanwhile my sibling and I continued our university studies, worked at several part-time jobs and paid for our studies through summer job savings, government loans, scholarships and grants. 

Eventually my parents opened up the Montreal Road Animal Hospital and their dream of owning their own business again came true.

In retrospect, the process was overwhelmingly difficult – the lack of guidance, know-how and the vast difference between opening and operating a business in Mexico compared to Canada made for a slow, painful and difficult process. Some mistakes were made, but that does not take away the awe-inducing pride I feel for my resilient, determined parents. 

Somewhere along the way, after I practiced my profession for six years, I got the entrepreneurial bug myself. Mind you, my first taste of entrepreneurship began when I was 6 years old when my first-ever angel investor (my dad) loaned me money so I could buy wholesale candy and retail it from door to door. After I ran out of houses to sell to, I moved to my schoolyard. My enterprise grew so big that the school principal called my parents in for a meeting and shut my business down because the cafeteria’s profits were jeopardized by my candy empire. After that I sold t-shirts I hand-painted with the 80’s style clothes paints that were all the rage, designed and made my own hair bows and even re-sold leather goods my grandmother imported. All this while I was not even a teenager. 

Logo of Global Pet Foods, eat.play.love.

In my late 20’s my husband Shawn and I began the process of opening Global Pet Foods – a pet food retailer.

Logo of Global Pet Foods, eat.play.love.

A year and a half after the first business opened up, we decided to open a second Global Pet Foods store, while having two beautiful children in between.

Logo of Freshii with green backgroung

Six years later, I branched out from retail and opened Freshii. Freshii is a popular Canadian franchise known for being a healthy casual dining restaurant.

 

During all this time, we have learned so much.

We made mistakes along the way, but we fixed them and have grown. 

Personally, I went
from immigrant to Immpreneur

Karla's Experience a photo of Karla speaking

It has been very helpful to share my growth and what I have learned with my parents – helping each other’s businesses prosper along the way.

I have discovered that I see the world through a business lens. Some people see the world through colour, others see it through musical notes, others see it through numbers…in my head I see the world through entrepreneurship. I open and close hundreds of businesses in my head on a daily basis. I love the act of being presented with a problem, finding a solution and seeing the angles of how the solutions could be marketed into a viable business. 

A recent study showed that 30% of all Canadian SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) are owned by new immigrants.

It is my hope that the more we educate, assist and celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit in all new immigrants, that number will grow exponentially. 

Through this site, I want to showcase the stories of fellow Immpreneurs in Canada. 

I want to celebrate their successes and hopefully inspire others to believe in their entrepreneurial dreams and work towards achieving them. 

I love business, period.

I equally love my Mexican roots and I adore the fact that Canada has been so good to us. 

Ready to get started?

View resources available to New Canadian Entrepreneurs.

There is nothing that inspires me more than hearing stories of other fellow immigrants that have “made it” – whatever their objective was. But the recurring topic in the immigrant community in Canada is their entrepreneurial spirit. Their desire to innovate, to grow financially and to be independent by becoming business owners. 

I look forward to introducing you to the many amazing Immpreneurs that have the privilege of calling Canada home! 

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