Blyth's Sawchuk to be featured on AMI's 'Mind Your Own Business'
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Blyth-based accessible design advisor Julie Sawchuk will be featured on an upcoming episode of Mind Your Own Business, a Dragons’ Den-style reality show on Accessible Media Inc.
The show is now in its second season and Sawchuk says it offers opportunities for the disability community to pitch their businesses online to a panel of mentors (entrepreneurship experts and business people) and receive advice and mentorship from them to help their businesses thrive.
Sawchuk says she was familiar with the show when its first season aired because one of her friends was tapped to take part in it. Now, with work on season two underway, she too has been asked to take part, filming two different segments for the show that she expects will air sometime this summer.
The team behind the program reached out to Sawchuk, asking her to be part of season two and she said she was eager to get involved. They had a Zoom conversation that served as somewhat of an audition for the show, Sawchuk said, and she was chosen to be included in the season.
The crew then came to Blyth in late January to film with Sawchuk, interviewing her at her home and at Blyth Cowbell Brewing Company, one of her clients with Sawchuk Accessible Solutions. Then, on Feb. 9, she was in Toronto to film in studio with the mentors for that portion of the show, meeting them and receiving advice to take home and implement into her business.
After that part of the process, she said, the team will follow up with her in a few weeks - she estimates April or so - and see how she’s doing as far as implementing positive changes into her business. The episode will then air this summer, she said, on the network.
Sawchuk says the whole experience has been fantastic and very inspiring. She says it was really the first time she has been part of a professional film production and she was impressed with the quality of the work of the crew, the mentors and everyone who was involved in the production of the show.
Now, however, she’s left with a page-long to-do list after the advice from the mentors that, with about two weeks since her time meeting with them in Toronto, she hasn’t had much time to work at. She has a few checkmarks on the list, she says, but there is plenty of work to be done before they check back in with her in a few weeks.
Sawchuk said they asked her to focus on one specific aspect of her business with which she felt she needed help. That was tough, she said, because she felt she could have used guidance in all aspects of her business, especially from such accomplished business people who are so in tune with entrepreneurship, but that she was eventually able to hone in on a few things.
She said she’s taken so much away from the advice she received as part of the show and that there were even a few pieces of guidance that really surprised her. One such nugget was one of the mentors talking to her about who her audience should be when she seeks out speaking engagements, which made Sawchuk look at things in a whole new light.
When she returned from Toronto, she said she spent a day or two working on a massive “brain dump” of all the information that came her way during that portion of the process, resulting in the aforementioned to-do list. Now, she said, it’s a matter of moving forward and implementing all that she can before the next phase of the process goes ahead.
Sawchuk has authored a number of books on accessible design and started Sawchuk Accessible Solutions to aid the public, especially those in housing and urban design, in making spaces more accessible for all. She spent the early years of her career as a teacher at F.E. Madill School in Wingham, but changed her career path after she was struck by a car while cycling in 2015. She suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of the collision, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down.
Since starting her own accessibility design consulting business, she has worked with a number of local businesses and governments to help them be more inclusive.
For more information on Sawchuk Accessible Solutions, visit juliesawchuk.ca and for more information on Accessible Media Inc. and to watch episodes of Mind Your Own Business, visit the network’s website at ami.ca.
Watch for Sawchuk’s episode to become available online sometime later this year.