The Toronto Observer

Arts & Life

Two entrepreneurs pursue the dream of self-employment

By Theresa Spohn | Posted: May 6 2013 12:30 pm

Nasir Naebkhil opened his shop in January 2012 to provide tailoring, alterations, restyling, and made-to-measure clothes. His research confirmed what he suspected.

“There are lots of tailors for men in Toronto, but there is not a lot for women,” he said.

Naebkhil would like to design women’s clothes. He has made wedding dresses, bridesmaids’ dresses and women’s suits, but it does not comprise the bulk of his business. He knows how challenging the fashion business can be and still does lots of alternations.

“Realistically you can’t do it, so I have to start from somewhere and I like sewing,” he said.

After university in an accounting program, Naebkhil worked for the Bank of Montreal. He also worked part-time in his brother’s tailoring business. He designed clothes for his many nieces and nephews while doing some freelance sewing from home.  Finally, he decided it was time to leave his full-time job.

“I quit my job because this is my dream and I want to do it,” he said.

In his first year running his business, Silhouette Tailoring, Naebkhil cycled 90 minutes to and from the shop. Then he moved closer to work, in the Riverside area. But a shorter commute does not necessarily mean shorter hours.

“It’s my first business and if want it to be successful, I have to work long hours,” he said.

Practically across the street, Simon Holder had a similar motivation when he opened his own café on Feb. 8. Holder worked with his father for over a dozen years at family-owned cafés. He went on to do high-end catering and helped out in other chefs’ kitchens.

Before opening Appetite, he worked in marketing. He decided this past winter was the time to take the plunge.


The owner of Appetite explains why he is opening his business now.

“You turn around 10 years from now and wonder, ‘Why didn’t I do it?’” he said.

At Appetite, he serves fresh-made salads, soups and sandwiches from scratch for the budget-conscious customer.

“My  focus was to bring comfort food at affordable prices,” he said.

Like Naebkhil, Holder knows that long hours are required to be successful in his new business venture.

“Now it’s a total change of life,” he said. “But I knew this would happen. I am not fresh to the business. You have to prepare yourself for it and remind yourself what you are doing.”

As a 17-year resident of Riverdale, Holder feels that gives him an advantage when it comes to his business.

“I live in the neighbourhood and saw … what was missing,” he said.

Holder uses his recipes from home for his soups and was pleased by his customers’ responses.

“These are the reactions of people: ‘This is great.’ I always find that rewarding,” he said.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses reports over seven per cent of Toronto’s working population is self-employed and its entrepreneurs have over a 93 per cent satisfaction rating with their new careers.

To date, tailor Naebkhil is happy with his business. He explained he has one customer from Hamilton with family in town. He asked her if there was no one in her city who did tailoring work. “Not as good as you,” she replied.

Riverside District


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By: Theresa Spohn
Posted: May 6 2013 12:30 pm | Last updated: May 6 2013 12:38 pm
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Filed in: Arts & Life
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