“I'll take the fine every day”: Ontario spa owner fighting for women in small business

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From booming business to barely scraping by: Spa owner continuing to operate defying COVID restrictions.

It may not be business as usual for the rest of the world, but walking up to Boho Beauty Microblading and Spa in Bowmanville, Ontario certainly feels like stepping back in time. The business has zero fear mongering or protocol reminder signage, and the minimalist inspired interior is cozy and welcoming.

Before the coronavirus shutdowns, business was booming for Jessica Downey, owner of Boho Beauty. She was successfully employing multiple women, and empowering others in their business ventures by teaching the entrepreneurial skills she had acquired over the years. With her husband’s business also booming, both were able to provide a stable income for their three children.

Until the government’s response to a virus completely destroyed all of the economic opportunity they had worked for so diligently. Jess lost 700 appointments over the six-month period that her business was shut down — not to mention her employees’ lost income. Speaking out against the restrictions also got Jessica completely deplatformed from all of her social media accounts, devastating the following she had developed on her business pages.

She has been evicted from a newly renovated rental space due to a subsidy dispute with her landlord, has collections harassing her about bills for that same space despite not using it for six months, and is now supposed to be operating her business at an extremely reduced rate with restricted service offerings.

Not comfortable taking government loans with questionable stipulations, Jess and her husband made the difficult decision to sell their family home to help their businesses stay afloat. Her family of five currently lives in a trailer, off the grid.

Jess came to Rebel News as an I Will Open case. While the government hasn’t mandated that she close completely again (at least, not yet), she has decided that enough is enough. Despite technically being in the “red zone” of coronavirus restrictions in Durham region, she is continuing business full steam ahead.

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  • By David Menzies


Are you a small business who is still banned from opening in Canada, but plan to reopen your restaurant, store or gym anyway? Let us know, and we’ll report your breaking story. Simply fill out the form on this page with your details.


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