Small Business Highlight
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
Check out the e-book here: Across the Lens.
Week 13 - Pastor Danny Leung, Founder at Joy Beyond Vision Community (JBVC)
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.
For more on JBVC, visit: Joy Beyond Vision Community.
Week 12 - Lin Lin Wang, Music Teacher at Tone Labs Music
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.
For more on Lin Lin and Tone Labs Music, visit: Tone Labs Music.
Week 11 - Betty Xie, Producer & Director at Common Factor Media
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.
For more on Betty and her work, visit: Common Factor Media.
Week 10 - Joseph Chaung, President at Hong Kong-Canada Business Association (GTA Section)
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
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.
For more on Chris and Victoria Park Pharmacy, visit: Victoria Park Pharmacy.
Week 8 - Zoe Chow, Creative Director at Secrets Floral Collection
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.
Week 7 - Allan Sum and Harry Tsai, Managing Partners at Natural Benefits Canada
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.
Visit Natural Benefits online shop here: Natural Benefits.
Week 6 - Christina Li, Certified Water Sommelier at Water Sommelier Inc.
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
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.
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
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
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.
For more on Kidultgarten, please visit their Youtube channel: Kidultgarten
Week 2 - Betty Hsueh, Hair and Makeup Artist at Bridal Secretary
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?
For more on Betty Huseh and Bridal Secretary, please visit: Bridal Secretary.
Week 1 - ChrisB Liu, Registered Art Therapist at The Way We Art
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.
For more on ChrisB and art therapy, please visit: The Way We Art.