The first annual Entrepreneurship in the North event, hosted at the Quality Inn and Suites April 2-3, provided funding and support for fresh ideas coming from Northerners such as Candace Lafferty, who took top prize.

“I was like, ‘Oh my, I really didn’t think that I would win,” said Lafferty, 27.

After a Dragon’s Den-style judging panel called The Raven’s Nest heard from more than a dozen participants, Lafferty was awarded a $3,000 funding grant while Jake Olson received $1,500 as the runner-up.

Lafferty’s reaction to winning was one of shock.

“I left in a hurry,” she said in reference to the event. “I just kind of went for my pitch. I wasn’t there (for the announcement of the winners) because I left back to Behchoko and I got a text that I won.”

Lafferty’s pitch revolved around opening a nail and eyelash salon in her home community of Behchoko. Her venture will either be based out of her home or her Uncle Tony’s convenience store in the area.

“I was kind of thinking at home first to start because I got an extra room, see how it goes from there,” she said.

Before she can open her door, however, she’ll be using her grant money to receive proper training in beauty care and purchasing the necessary tools and supplies to help stock her beauty salon.

Lafferty conceived the idea during the entrepreneurship event. She said she wants to do something that offered her home community a service in an untapped area.

“Many of us here have to go into (Yellowknife) and sometimes miss appointments,” she said. “(People) would like to get their nails done, (and it) probably will be better here locally.”

She wants to pursue her beauty business as seasonal endeavour, with a focus on the summer.

“Summer’s coming and girls all get ready for the summer,” she said.

Olson, owner of YK Silver and Gold, earned second place with his locker business pitch, which seeks to provide supply-related subscription-based storage.

Entrepreneurship in the North was created through Communities Building Youth Futures Yellowknife, with assistance from groups like Inspire NWT.

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