Small Business Highlight

Supporting the community through our local businesses

COVID-19 has brought tremendous impact to our way of life. With less in-person interaction, changing driving habits and other fundamental changes to daily life and business operations, we all need some insights on how to navigate the new normal. As a connector in our local Chinese-speaking communities, BrokerTeam has a wide-range of clients and partners who have unique experiences and insights from all walks of life. In this radio campaign on Toronto A1 Chinese Radio, we invite some of our clients and friends to share their COVID-19 silver lining stories and how they have adapted and even thrived in the new normal.   

Inspiring stories from our clients, vendors and friends:

Week 18 - Joe Li, Founder at Li Dynasty

Joe Li outside Li Dynasty

York Region Regional Councilor Joe Li’s Indian Hakka restaurant, Li Dynasty, reflects his family’s Indian Hakka-Chinese heritage. Li Dynasty offers a wide selection of classic Hakka dishes with Indian flavours like Chili Chicken, Manchurian Chow Mein and Pakoras just to name a few. The restaurant’s opening in northern Markham in 2018 reflects the growing population of Chinese and Indian families in the Markham and Stouffville area. In the segment below, Joe shares his take on Indian Hakka-Chinese food culture, and how his restaurant has coped with the pandemic.

Listen to the segment in Mandarin or Cantonese!  

For more information on Li Dynasty and to place an order, please visit: Li Dynasty


Week 17 - Jenny Cheng, Employment Programmes Administrator at 360°kids

Jenny Cheng

On any given night there are over 300 homeless youth between the ages of 16 and 26 in the York Region without a safe place to sleep. With the COVID-19 pandemic, safe spaces that were once relied on like friends’ homes, coffee shops, gyms, and community centers are now unavailable. 360°kids is a youth-focused service provider in York Region that helps kids in crisis with housing, employment, food, counselling, education support and more. In the segment below, Jenny tells us about how 360°kids' brings youths and families back together or shares the skills and resources needed for youths to stand on their own.

Listen to the segment in Mandarin or Cantonese!  

For more on 360°kids and to see what you can do to help, please visit: 360°kids


Week 16 - Allan Sum, President at Mandarin Holidays

Allan Sum at the Mandarin Holidays office

Like many in the travel industry, Allan’s travel agency, Mandarin Holidays, was hit hard by COVID-19. On one hand, sales dropped tremendously with travel restrictions, but on the other hand, the team has been busier than usual to help their clients cancel bookings and handle refunds throughout the pandemic. When the travel restrictions of the first wave of pandemic were eased, Allan and his team set new business strategies and identified safe travel options to cater to the new needs of their clients. The Mandarin team is now developing new local destination products for small social bubbles to travel when restrictions ease, including RV trips and boathouse stays in cottage country.

Listen to the segment in Mandarin!  

For more on Mandarin Holidays and their new local packages, please visit: Mandarin Holidays


Week 15 - Deborah Lau-Yu, Founder & Art Director at Palettera, Editor-in-Chief at Fête Chinoise Magazine

Deborah Lau-Yu on stage

Palettera, a boutique design house, transformed from a small team into an industry leader known for its innovative approach to storytelling through design and ability to deliver award-winning work for its clients from all over the world. Through the team’s curated lens and critical thinking, they continue to present meaningful stories, artful experiences, and inspiring products to the community in this strange year. Although the pandemic has put a pause to many client projects and to their annual Fête Chinoise gala, Deborah and her team still have a lot to celebrate! They received two national awards in editorial and marketing, and recently launched the 6th Edition of the annual Fête Chinoise magazine. The magazine elevates, inspires, and explores the connection between identity and Chinese culture for diasporas in North America.

Listen to the segment in Cantonese!  

For more about Fête Chinoise and to enter their latest giveaway, please visit: Fete Chinoise


Week 14 - Nicole Wong, Executive Director at Across U-hub

Nicole Wong on stage

The Markham-based community organization, Across U-hub, aims to positively impact the mental health and well-being of young people through leadership training, fine arts and cultural programs. To highlight stories of the unsung heroes during the pandemic, the young volunteers of Across U-hub created the e-book, Across the Lens: Stories of You and Me in 2020. With training and mentorship, they conducted interviews and captured through their eyes, the narratives of how these heroes have weathered and braved through waves of COVID-19 while still caring for the well-being of people around them.

Listen to the segment in Cantonese and Mandarin!  

Check out the e-book here: Across the Lens


Week 13 - Pastor Danny Leung, Founder at Joy Beyond Vision Community (JBVC)

Photo of Danny Leung in front of the 105 Gibson Cultural Cafe

With social distancing and mass reduction of public transportation, COVID-19 has greatly impacted the daily lives of the visually impaired. Since the beginning of the pandemic, JBVC, a small charitable support group for the visually impaired, has been exploring new ways to help its members and families. They promoted the use of online meetup apps to its members and helped them adapt to the online world. Before COVID-19, the group mainly relied on holding in-person monthly activities in the GTA and Vancouver, but with the use of technology they can now expand their network beyond physical boundaries. It is now common for them to host frequent online meetups and have new friends participating across Canada, USA and even Asia.

Listen to the segment in Cantonese and Mandarin!  

For more on JBVC, visit: Joy Beyond Vision Community


Week 12 - Lin Lin Wang, Music Teacher at Tone Labs Music​ 

Photo of Lin Lin Wang playing the erhu

Tone Labs Music is a boutique music school and professional recording studio in Markham offering music lessons for all ages. With their highly skilled teachers, they are able to offer a variety of singing and western and chinese instrument lessons, as well as specialized classes for toddlers and kids. While in-person music tutoring has been severely impacted by COVID-19, they have noticed a surge in demand for instruments and studio recording / production as adults have picked up music again during lockdown. Tone Labs’ music teachers like Lin Lin, a highly acclaimed erhu performer, have quickly developed new methods and techniques to deliver music classes virtually.

Listen to the segment in Cantonese and Mandarin!  

For more on Lin Lin and Tone Labs Music, visit: Tone Labs Music


Week 11 - Betty Xie, Producer & Director at Common Factor Media​ 

Photo of Betty Xie at an event

As an independent Asian-Canadian filmmaker, Betty celebrates and finds her identity in the “in-betweenness”. She has directed and produced a number of films on how the Asian diaspora has come to embrace their cultural roots in the process of migration and immigration, including the highly acclaimed CBC-commissioned documentary short film A Sweet and Sour Christmas. As an independent filmmaker and an arts administrator, Betty uses her experience to pitch film projects to turn dreams into reality. Even though the independent film industry has been severely impacted by the pandemic, Betty and her team still managed to obtain CBC’s new commission and funding to start their first animation film project to reflect our world in this unique year.

Listen to the segment in Cantonese and Mandarin!  

For more on Betty and her work, visit: Common Factor Media


Week 10 - Joseph Chaung, President at Hong Kong-Canada Business Association (GTA Section)   

Photo of Joseph Chaung speaking at an event

The Hong Kong-Canada Business Association (HKCBA) is a non-profit, volunteer-driven organization established in 1984 to provide networking opportunities for people who are interested in promoting trade and business links between Canada and Hong Kong, and through Hong Kong to the rest of China. During this pandemic, the HKCBA organizes webinars and online events to help people navigate the changing international trade environment. The HKCBA will also be launching a new membership package to assist both seasoned and young professionals develop a greater understanding of the new local and Asian business landscape. 

Listen to the segment in Cantonese!

For more on HKCBA, visit: HKCBA


Week 9 - Chris Wong and Eric Yang, Pharmacist and Pharmacy Student at Victoria Park Pharmacy

Photo of Chris Wong inside Victoria Park Pharmacy

As a general pharmacy with a specialization in diabetes and geriatric medicine, East York’s Victoria Park Pharmacy has been servicing many seniors across Scarborough, Markham, and Richmond Hill. During the pandemic, Chris’s team offers free delivery service to their patients’ homes in order to keep them safe. Sometimes, because of the shortage of delivery drivers, the pharmacists themselves deliver the medicine to their clients on their way home from work. Also, since visits to family doctors and specialists have been limited due to safety measures, more and more seniors need to learn how to use self-monitoring health devices by themselves. As such, Chris’s team spends more effort to educate seniors and their family members on how to use these devices.

Listen to the segment in Cantonese or Mandarin!

For more on Chris and Victoria Park Pharmacy, visit: Victoria Park Pharmacy


Week 8 - Zoe Chow, Creative Director at Secrets Floral Collection 

Photo of Zoe Chow

For over 15 years, Zoe has lead Secrets Floral Collection, a multi-award-winning floral design and event décor house. While many in the wedding and event décor industry suffered tremendously from the impact of pandemic, Zoe found opportunities in two emerging market needs—marriage proposals and Christmas home decor. Being influenced by the craze for Korean romantic dramas, many young people are now eager to invest in their marriage proposals. Whether it is a surprise proposal or not, many want to create an unforgettable and social media-friendly moment with the help of professionals like floral designers. With the holidays being spent at home this year, more and more households want to spend more in festival décor in order to create a better staycation experience.

Listen to the segment in Cantonese

For more on Zoe and Secrets Floral Collection, visit: Secrets Floral Collection


Week 7 - Allan Sum and Harry Tsai, Managing Partners at Natural Benefits Canada 

Photo of Allan Sum and Harry Tsai with Natural Benefits juices

As the owner of a local travel agency, Mandarin Holidays, Allan Sum faced unprecedented disruption because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, Allan was able to leverage his expertise in Asia and start a new business, Natural Benefits Canada, with Harry Tsai. Natural Benefits brings Taiwan’s unrivaled fruits and vegetables to Canada via cold-pressed juices. The story of Nature Benefits is an exemplary case of pivoting and the importance of swift e-commerce adoption. Check out the segment below and use the promo code: “brokerteam” to enjoy an exclusive discount.

Listen to the segment in Cantonese and Mandarin

Visit Natural Benefits online shop here: Natural Benefits


Week 6 - Christina Li, Certified Water Sommelier at Water Sommelier Inc. 

Photo of Christina Li with a glass of water in her hand

Having obtained her Certified Water Sommelier designation at the Doemens Academy in Munich, Germany, Christina became the first and only Water Sommelier in Canada. Christina has tasted hundreds of different types of water and is even able to differentiate the taste of calcium from the taste of sodium, the taste of low total dissolved solids (TDS) vs high TDS. She understands how different minerals in the water can interact with one’s health, one’s taste or simply with food pairings. During COVID-19, she has dedicated her efforts to educate and curate quality water solutions for her clients to better their health and our environment.

Listen to the segment in Cantonese 

For more on Christina, please visit: Water Sommelier


Week 5 - Master Alan Tang and Master Hui Lei, Sunny Tang Martial Arts Center 

Group photo of Sunny Tang's Martial Arts Centre's lion dance troupe

With over 40 years of history in Canada, BrokerTeam’s business partner, Sunny Tang Martial Arts Centre, is one of the leading Wing Chun Kung Fu schools in North America. Founded by Grand Master Sunny Tang and currently under the leadership of Master Alan Tang and Master Hui Lei, the school now offers classes in Scarborough, Mississauga and Markham. While COVID-19 has forced many martial arts schools to close down, Sunny Tang Martial Arts was able to work with another martial arts centre to expand and upgrade its facilities during the lockdown. Master Alan’s action film experience as Simu Liu’s fight instructor for the upcoming Marvel film, Shang-Chi, led him to start a new online platform to teach Wing Chun. Sponsored by BrokerTeam, Sunny Tang Martial Arts Center now offers a one-month free online Wing Chun class to Kung Fu beginners of both adults and kids.

Listen to the segment in Cantonese or Mandarin

For more information on the free online Wing Chun classes, please visit: Sunny Tang Martial Arts Center 


Week 4 - Ron Lynn, Branch Manager at X-Copper Professional Corporation 

Photo of Ron Lynn at the X-Copper Office

With less traffic on the road during the lockdown, the number of traffic infractions and demand for related legal services have also dropped significantly. Like many businesses, the legal service field has had to make tough decisions like temporary lay-offs. While many white-collar industries can maintain normal operations and work from home during COVID-19, some fields, such as legal services, have faced some challenges and limitations when adapting to virtual solutions. For example, all in-person appearances in municipally-administered Provincial Offences courts and all Provincial Offences Act appeals will be adjourned until January 2021. Pending matters cannot be heard as expected at court because of health and safety protocols. The result is a serious case handling backlog in Ontario’s court system. Gratefully, beginning this fall, the court system pivoted and has begun to progress gradually again. In this interview, Ron shares the impact on his firm and his observations on the current situation in the legal services field.

Listen to the segment in Cantonese

For more on Ron and X-Copper, please visit: X-Copper 


Week 3 - Nelson Cheng & Stef Wong, Content Creators at Kidultgarten

Side by side photos of Nelson Cheng and Stef Wong

The birth of Kidultgarten, a new Toronto-based Cantonese internet comedy channel, is a dream come true for Nelson, Stef, and their friends amidst the stress of the pandemic. Created during the lockdown while many of them were temporarily out of a job or working from home, Kidultgarten aims to create a channel for Cantonese-speaking Gen Xers and millennials. After their 100-member Zoom acapella video was reposted by Drake and the Backstreet Boys earlier this year, they decided that now was the perfect time to create a space where their peers can come together in Toronto and develop content that can reach Cantonese communities globally. With the team consisting of people from all backgrounds, they create comedy skits, food reviews, unboxings, gadget reviews, and much more on Youtube, Instagram, and Facebook. Be sure to check out the segment below if you want to learn more or are even interested in creating some content of your own.

Listen to the segment in Cantonese or Mandarin

For more on Kidultgarten, please visit their Youtube channel: Kidultgarten


Week 2 - Betty Hsueh, Hair and Makeup Artist at Bridal Secretary

Betty Hsueh applying makeup on a bride

Because of the restrictions on gatherings, many weddings in 2020 have been disrupted—with banquets being cancelled and in-person ceremonies with only a couple of attendees. As a part of the wedding industry, Betty has witnessed the innovative evolution of her counterparts in different fields during this difficult time: Caterers and wedding planners turning people’s backyard into venues, and professional production livestreaming the big day. All these changes have affected Betty’s approach and treatment for the brides’ hairstyling and makeup. Weddings are now a live event attended by hundreds of people through the screen from the comfort of their homes and may continue to be the norm even after the pandemic. Want to know more tips from Betty if you are going to get married in 2021?

Listen to the segment in Cantonese or Mandarin

For more on Betty Huseh and Bridal Secretary, please visit: Bridal Secretary


Week 1 - ChrisB Liu, Registered Art Therapist at The Way We Art

ChrisB Liu promoting art therapy

As an art therapist, ChrisB uses different art materials to help her clients increase self-awareness, develop coping skills, and enhance cognitive abilities. With the COVID-19 pandemic, ChrisB was unable to continue her in-person art therapy sessions, as well as her programs for indigenous youths in remote First Nations reserves in northern Ontario. At a time when the need for self-care and mental health is more important than ever, ChrisB turned to virtual sessions to continue to meet with her clients. While this lockdown has required more time and effort to effectively observe and assess her clients through a screen, it has also given her a chance assess the needs of art therapy in the Chinese-speaking community, who are often less familiar with the concepts of self-care and expressive art. She has since decided to hold free Cantonese-speaking and Mandarin-speaking virtual sessions to the public to promote mental health awareness during this pandemic.

Listen to the segment in Cantonese or Mandarin

For more on ChrisB and art therapy, please visit: The Way We Art


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