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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


How Kimberley Heenan became the slipcover queen

By Aunie Edwards
Special to The Toronto Sun

Imagine it's early Monday morning and you're facing a very busy week. You know the responsibility of addressing every last detail for every single client will rest entirely on your shoulders, and the boss is a demanding perfectionist who will tolerate nothing but the best.

And you can't wait to get started because you have never been this happy or this fulfilled in your entire professional life.
"I've managed to combine my two favourite loves -- art and sewing. It's an irreplacable feeling," says homepreneur Kimberley Heenan.

Impossible, you say? Not if you happen to be facing a busy week doing exactly the thing you love best. And not if you actually happen to be the demanding perfectionist who owns the company.

Meet Kimberley Heenan, entrepreneur extraordinaire with an education in fashion design, a passion for art and a single-minded determination to create her own destiny.

The adventure began when a temporarily unemployed Heenan took her talent, her 17 years of experience in the fashion industry and her business plan to the federal government.

"I had heard about a government initiative called the self-employment benefits program -- it prepares you for your entrepreneurial debut," Heenan says.

After two interviews and some revamping of her original business proposal, Heenan earned a seat in the program.

"Human Resources Canada provides an outstanding four-week course. They teach you the fundamentals -- taxation, marketing, networking -- all the gems that an entrepreneur should know," Heenan says. "You basically graduate with a detailed business plan."

Heenan's plan evolved into her own home-based business, Kimberley Designs. She offers women's clothing and home design products, including chairs, curtains and slipcovers.

"I sew for you and your home, and everything is custom, custom, custom," Heenan says.

Heenan's education has enabled her to create women's fashion designs of every description. But her artistic background adds another dimension.

"I paint upholstery and design custom chairs -- and I am the 'Slipcover Queen'," Heenan jokes.

Kimberley Designs also offers the kind of individual attention that sets it apart.

"It's true that I'm a perfectionist, but in my business that's a good thing," Heenan says. "Besides, I know I have competition -- so I have to give clients every reason to choose me."

To further expand her business, Heenan became a member of a networking group, Connect Us Canada.

Heenan seems to attract clients wherever she goes. Sheer talent is clearly a part of that equation, but perhaps the heady feeling of fulfillment that Heenan takes to work every day is an infectious quality that people want to be around.

And make no mistake, Kimberley Designs is a labour of love that will be part of the fashion and interior design landscape for years to come. Because Heenan has created her dream job, and she's not letting it go.

"I am living my dream," Heenan says. I've managed to combine my two favourite loves -- art and sewing. It's an irreplaceable feeling."

(Aunie Edwards ( is a Guelph-based freelance writer.)

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