As longtime friends, Paige Maenhout and Rachel Casswell grew up around first aid and entrepreneurship, as Paige’s mom started a first aid company many years ago. Before starting their company Little Lungs First Aid Inc. in late 2017, Paige had other entrepreneurial ideas but was curtailed by the economic downturn in 2015/2016. Rachel was looking for a job she was passionate about, and something that would allow her to spend more time with her daughter. While teaching first aid with Paige’s mom, Rachel noticed there was a huge gap between people who may use the skills learned on a loved one and the people in class. After they both got back into Red Cross training and became certified, they had the right recipe to start their own venture. Little Lungs currently offers 1-hour workshops for parents or those taking care of children in Edmonton and Calgary, as well as Red Cross courses.  

It was important to Paige to find something that would be recession-proof and sustainable, after learning from her past experiences and workplaces. Safety is only becoming more important and more relevant, with discussions happening around the topic more frequently, so they knew they had found the right path.

Challenges and Successes

Paige and Rachel had to fight to get to where they are today. Getting their Red Cross training partner license was no easy feat, because of a freeze on the program for quite a few years. Luckily, they were accepted as a training partner after putting together a proposal to head office. That partnership and the testimonials they have received are what they consider their biggest successes. They have had a few people come back to tell them the training they received allowed them to save their child’s or another person’s life. It feels amazing to know they are doing such good in the world.

While their work is meaningful and useful to so many, they have found challenges with marketing and understanding all the possible resources or connections that could be available to them. Through attending the Microbusiness Self Employment Training, Paige was introduced to Business Link. Shortly after, she became friends with our research advisor Barry, who was able to provide some sample lists of the company’s niche target clients. Rachel also sees a challenge in getting preoccupied with working in the business versus on the business. They’ve been doing it all, but now having hired four people to teach courses, they are able to focus on growth planning. Recently attending Business Link’s Report to the Community event in September, they were introduced to stakeholders like the Government of Alberta and learned the importance of networking for their future business success.

Becoming Comfortable with the Uncomfortable

In running their own business for the past two years, Paige and Rachel have learned to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. They know that growth happens outside of their comfort zone.

“Being outside of our comfort zone is when we’ve made the biggest changes and have had the biggest impact on this business.”

They encourage others to feel the uncomfortable-ness and learn from it. They are also advocates for knowing your numbers. Knowing where your money is at and what it costs you to provide a service or good is critical information. Understanding your cash flow and balance sheet and other financial factors can help to maximize profits. Even if it makes you uncomfortable, you should learn it and do it.

What’s next?

The Little Lungs family will continue to grow over the next years, with a related sister company to be launched soon! Overall, it’s important to Paige and Rachel that they build a business that gets more women in the workforce. From personal experience, they know how hard it can be to go back into full-time work after maternity leave. They offer a flexible option for moms who want something that still pays well and gives fulfillment in the type of work. They offer great benefits to working families and are continuing to build on their dream of offering that in every major city across Canada.