OFFICIAL WRITE-UP FROM INFLUENTIAL WOMEN AWARDS
********************* Kathryn Antonio – Private Sector
Revered by her supporters as an inspirational leader, Kathryn Antonio, sole proprietor of Manitoulin Island-based My Ol' Blues, is a self-taught entrepreneur with a flare for design, who also donates her time and artistic talents to many causes.
Antonio designs and manufactures a unique Canadian-made line of casual and specialty clothing.
The small eight-employee operation achieved international success since she transplanted her business into the sleepy village of Gore Bay six years ago, setting up a 5,000-square foot shop.
Born in Elliot Lake and raised in Espanola, Antonio's accomplishments include spearheading the creation of the Gore Bay Summer Theatre and rebuilding the once-dormant Espanola Skating Club, where she once skated and later coached.
Her latest venture is chairing the Manitoulin Branding Association, a fledgling co-operative group of 33 island businesses promoting Manitoulin-made products.
A self-taught seamstress and designer, she took her love for production and design in community theatre and spun it off into a garment business in 1993.
Antonio's company provides outerwear for the Bluenose II crew, and recently her products were presented to Prime Minister Paul Martin and the Royal Family of Jordan.
She has corporate contacts with Toyota, Royal Bank, Mars chocolate bars and the Canadian Commonwealth Games Committee.
Her unique Canadiana and Can-Am wear can be found at the Vancouver Aquarium, Calgary Zoo, Canada's Wonderland, Washington State Park and at Ottawa's Winterlude festival as well as retail stores, duty-free shops and boutiques from coast to coast.
In tribute to her Native heritage, Antonio worked with local artist Michael Cywink to create patterns in fabrics showcasing Native teachings in a wearable garment.
Antonio takes great pride that some former employees have been inspired by her success to establish themselves as independent businesswomen.
"That's what keeps me going, the fact that you're creating something that people are looking for. And if you can create an atmosphere people want to be part of, what more can you ask for?"
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