Kimberly Parent has always loved to dance, but when she discovered Cuban music and dance, there was an instant connection—something inside her changed. After spending a year overseas learning and teaching, she returned to Saskatoon only to find a deficit in the genre with which she’d fallen in love. In fact, there were no Salsa lessons being offered in her hometown beyond ballroom style. And so it was that in 2003 Kimberly Parent began teaching Salsa simply to have others to dance with. In no time, her company, Saskatoon Salsa Dance Co., was born.
Kimberly’s passion for dancing has led her to many places, and in many creative directions. One of her life’s purposes is to help women feel comfortable, confident, and sensual in their own bodies, using salsa dance as the medium.
Hoping to inspire others into either dancing or business, Kimberly has been as guest speaker at many events in Saskatoon including the Saskatchewan Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneur Gathering, Women Entrepreneurs Sweet Success event, and Ideas on Tap to name a few.
In addition to heading up Saskatoon Salsa, Kimberly continues to perform and in January 2014, she and her partner Troy Davies won Audience Favourite at the GMG Jewelers Swinging with the Stars charity competition. In 2016 she and her partner Slade Desrochers won Judges Favourite in the same competition. Kimberly also furthers her dance education on a regular basis, training with professionals all over the world including Cuba, New York, Puerto Rico, Las Vegas, and Canada, always bringing her enhanced expertise and rejuvenated drive back to Saskatoon.
Q&A with Kimberly Parent:
Q. Why do you think the SAC is important?
A. The S.A.C is important because it is an opportunity to create meaningful change in our province, impacting and bettering the lives of women who are either in business or wish to become entrepreneurs.
Q. What were your (or someone you know) experiences when scaling up?
A. 15 years ago I started my business without a penny to my name and no way to obtain funding. I did not have friends or family with the economic capacity to invest in my business and I had no investments or savings of my own. I also had no formal business training. I was a single parent struggling to make ends meet. It was 10 years into running my business that I obtained funding through the Clarence Campeau Development fund and a grant from the Sask Metis Economic Development Corporation. It was through these avenues that I was able to scale up twice within a two year time span.
Q. What personal experiences have shaped your expertise on the Committee?
A.I am a Metis Entrepreneur and the owner of Saskatoon Salsa Dance Company. I have been a small business owner for 15 years and am the most recent recipient of the Indigenous Entrepreneur of the Year Award through WESK. Besides operating my business, I have 10 years of work experience in the Indigenous research, health, social, and education sectors in our province. My experience includes working for the Indigenous People’s Health Research Centre, the Indian and Metis Friendship Centre, and Dumont Technical Institute.
I have experience gaining funding for my business through using organizations such as the Clarence Campeau Development Fund, Saskatchewan Metis Economic Development Corporation, and the Gabriel Dumont Institute Pathways to Entrepreneurship Program. I believe my experience and connections to the Indigenous community as well as running a business in the arts sector provides a unique point of view and contributes to the very important work and goals that the Saskatchewan Advisory Committee is undertaking.
Q. If you could change one thing in Saskatchewan so women-owned businesses can scale, what would it be?
A. I have experienced firsthand how difficult it is to be a self-employed business owner with no child care support and no provincial programs helping entrepreneurs. This was a huge barrier in growing my business. I would love to see some provincial programs or policies that would support parents so that they could invest the time, energy and money needed to scale up their businesses.