Chelsea Doolittle and her wife, Brooke, own The Drinkin’ Box Drive-Thru located on Chiefswood Road in Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. The drive-thru-only coffee shop is well-known in the community, offering daily breakfast specials, refreshments, and fresh baked goods each morning between 8:00 – 11:00 am (regular hours pre-COVID are from 7:00 am – 12:00 pm). Originally established in 1994 by her late father, Chelsea inherited The Drinkin’ Box in 2012. Since taking over, she has worked diligently to keep the family business alive. Chelsea was no stranger to the commitment and long hours it took to be a successful entrepreneur but was unprepared for the pandemic like many small business owners.
“When the pandemic hit, we felt it. No one was coming, the thought of closing crossed my mind, but Brooke and I discussed and decided to expand the business to lunch orders and taking Indian Cookie orders. We used Facebook to advertise, but we knew there was still more we could do.”
During a conversation with Two Rivers Community Development Centre, Chelsea was introduced to GREAT’s Self Employment Assistance Program (SEA). The SEA Program offers financial support to eligible business owners who are looking to expand their business. However, to officially qualify for this program, interested applicants must already have an existing business in addition to a business plan.
Chelsea immediately reached out to GREAT for support and was scheduled for an intake appointment with an Employment and Training Coach (ETC) within a week. Although she had a pre-existing business, Chelsea needed assistance developing a solid business plan. She met with her ETC, and together, they built the business plan she needed to apply for the SEA Program. She applied for the program and was successful! As a result, she was awarded a 12-month training allowance as well as a one-time $5,000 grant for capital assets!
She appreciates the coaching support and financial assistance she received from GREAT. Especially during the onset of COVID, the funds that she received from the program helped her business stay afloat. In the future, Chelsea would like to continue taking courses through GREAT and Ogwehoweh Skills and Trades Training Centre (OSTTC) such as marketing and social media to expand her business online.
When asked what advice she has for aspiring entrepreneurs, Chelsea confidently stated,
“Ask questions, have a plan, or go to GREAT for direction. The SEA Program has helped me greatly. Owning your own business is a lot of work! But you will get out of your business what you put into it.”
Chelsea is confident that with ongoing support from the Six Nations community, her family-grown drive-thru coffee shop will continue to grow, and she looks forward to what the future has in store for her small business!
To show your support, like The Drinkin’ Box Drive-Thru on Facebook!