A Ponoka entrepreneur who wants to help protect travellers against pickpockets took home the $10,000 prize at the Winter’s Edge Investment Forum on Wednesday.
The first-of-its-kind investment forum in Red Deer, which brought together people with ideas and others with capital, was held this week so the 2019 Canada Winter Games could be a backdrop to the event.
About 130 people, including investors, attended the forum to hear pitches from 14 entrepreneurs.
Winner Brandi Buss, owner of Beelieve Lifestyle & Apparel and the only female presenter, said at first, she felt out of place discussing her fashion line, while everyone else pitched innovative apps or technology advancements.
But she forged ahead, focusing on her enthusiasm for travel that led her to come up with her products.
“I had to make something to make sure if someone got pickpocketed, that wasn’t the thing they remembered when they were travelling,” said Buss, 27, who lost her valuables to a thief while travelling in Poland in 2015.
She recalled not wanting the incident to detract from any of the amazing experiences she had while exploring Poland, and thought about how to prevent future losses.
“I just started developing accessories that I liked and I started using. I started with headbands, then we did wrist-wrap sleeves.”
Everything Beelieve creates has a hidden pocket for credit cards, cash or identification.
“We have some products that can hold your passport. It’s just basically high-quality, dual-purpose clothing. Great for travel, but also great for wearing in your everyday life.”
Plans are in the works for Beelieve to expand its apparel line.
Buss launched her first product last year in March and opened a store front in late September. The products are produced by staff in Ponoka, Lacombe and Sylvan Lake.
Buss, who studied kinesiology, said she learned about business step-by-step while developing Beelieve, and by working with a mentor and other entrepreneurs. She will be sitting down with her financial planner and her team to decide how to spend her winnings.
“I think Alberta is a very innovative province. It would be nice to see a few more female faces in the innovating game, but maybe I’ll find that circle soon enough.”