Craft HUB Activator Program 2021 – 2023

Craft HUB Activator is a new and ongoing two-year project created by Craft Alliance for those with craft businesses who are in need of assistance developing their skills and new market opportunities.

The Program will aim to assist manufacturers, makers, and businesses, from historically disadvantaged communities within Atlantic Canada including BIPOC (Black; Indigenous, and People of Colour); persons who identify as LGBTQIA2S+; and persons with disabilities with: business development, coaching/mentoring, and increased sales through innovation, capacity building and product development. 

Our first initiative under Activator project is our Business Mentoring Sessions which will be providing group and one-on-one sessions with expert business leaders and mentors through virtual webinars, workshops, and small assignments throughout to help cement new skills and practices.


We are ready to work closely with individual producers to determine unique client needs.

Let us know what you’re looking for assistance with and we can help!

Craft HUB Activator – Business Mentoring Sessions, Fall 2021

.pdf en Français pour télécharge  –  Recruitment_Activator_2021_FR

.pdf in English for download – Recruitment_Activator_2021_EN

Activator Business Mentoring Sessions 

Deadline for Applications – Friday, September 24th  

This program is designed to give historically disadvantaged creative makers and entrepreneurs such as BIPOC, disabled persons, and LGBTQ2S+ persons; the tools and resources that may be required to take their craft business enterprise to the next level or who need logistical help in the process. Participants are asked to self-identify as one or more of the equity groups mentioned.

The Business Mentoring Sessions will be a business development focused program and provide both group and one-on-one sessions with expert business leaders and mentors through virtual webinars, workshops, and small assignments throughout the series to help cement new skills and practices. This is a peer-to-peer group, collaborative process, led by a business mentor.

This program will be of interest to craft producers or small-scale production-oriented manufacturers, who want to move their business to the next level, create a focused business plan and develop new opportunities that focus on expanding markets and increasing sales.

Presenter:  Darlene Duggan, Facilitator/Consultant/Business Coach and Invited Guest Speakers

Facilitator provides thought leadership, along with learning and resource materials for the mentoring sessions.  Participants bring their experience and questions to the table as peer advisors.

Maximum of 10 Participants to be Selected.

Participants must have already developed and created crafted products with the intention of developing a small-scale production business from these products. Participants must reside in Atlantic Canada and all products must be produced in the region. The Business Mentoring Sessions will be presented on Zoom. A reliable internet connection is required and a valid email address for correspondence. Participants are required to participate in all sessions, as scheduled (see below). This program is designed to give historically disadvantaged creative makers and entrepreneurs such as BIPOC, disabled persons, and LGBTQ2S+ persons; the tools and resources that may be required to take their craft business enterprise to the next level or who need logistical help in the process. Participants are asked to self-identify as one or more of the applicable equity groups mentioned.

Fall 2021
K’jipuktuk, Mi’kma’ki – Halifax, Nova Scotia (Remote/Virtual)
Program CoordinatorSpencer Morris
Craft Alliance Atlantic Association
Craft Alliance Office # 1 855-567-4897

Overall Process Objectives:

  • Peer to Peer Networking – Advising Colleagues
  • Engaged Participation and Highly Participatory
  • Action Oriented – Creating New Priorities
  • Collaborative Practice – Helping Peers
  • Enriched and Interested in Peers Success

Business Objectives:

  • Increase Business Connections
  • Learn from and with other “growth-minded” peer businesses.
  • Mentoring with business owners that offer diverse perspectives with the common goal of meeting with others who value investing in their own businesses.
  • Take material explored and make it immediately applicable to your business.
  • Increase wholesale opportunities and introduce exporting
  • Increase business productivity for 2022 and beyond


Sessions: 8 Zoom Sessions* – (90 minutes each)   Wednesdays 10:00 to 11:30 am

  1.   Sept. 29        Business Foundation: Basics of Business Planning
  2.   Oct. 6            Setting Goals and Capacity Building for Growth
  3.   Oct. 13          Craft Industry Practices (wholesale 101, B2B vs. B2C)
  4.   Oct. 20          Pricing, Product Development, Markets & Brand Development
  5.   Oct. 27          B2B Marketing Strategies
  6.   Nov. 3            Participant Driven Topic (Scaling up, Digital, Sales, e-Commerce)
  7.   Nov. 10          Exploring New Opportunities (exporting, niche markets, research)
  8.   Nov. 17          Measuring and Evaluating success

*Exact start date and schedule will be determined by successfully filling the peer group by the deadline of September 24th, 2021.

Session Agenda:

  • 10 mins.   Participant Check-in from Assignments/Research
  • 30 mins.   Topic Introduction and Materials from Mentor/Facilitator
  • 30 mins.   Participant Mentoring on Topic (round table)
  • 10 mins.   Focused Discussions (one participant topic)
  • 10 mins.   Review and Goals for Next Session

Individual Mentoring:

  • Participant also receives three (3) individual mentoring sessions
  • One (1) hour to 1.5 hours each – to be scheduled between participant and consultant through the timeframe of the series.
  • Setting individual goals to be discussed and reviewed at next individual mentoring session.
  • Participant Reports on their progress over the 3 sessions.

Participants not selected for the mentoring sessions will be eligible for other programs and activities as the Activator project evolves.


Darlene Duggan believes under-represented entrepreneurs contribute greatly to Atlantic Canada’s economy and enjoys working with these entrepreneurs to help them achieve success. She mentors companies on general operation activities, business and marketing plans, commercialization and export strategies, and sales training. She has over 30 years of experience which includes her company she created in 2004, the Duggan International Group.

Darlene is of Mi’kmaw heritage and over the last two years has worked extensively on Indigenous projects. She wrote a report on Best Practices in Indigenous Procurement for Nova Scotia’s Mi’kmaw communities which included policies for purchasing from Mi’kmaw suppliers. Most recently, she completed a study on economic leakage in purchasing goods and services on and off Reserves in New Brunswick and recommended opportunities for Indigenous businesses and First Nation communities. As a business development consultant and export mentor, Darlene has worked with makers and other small businesses in Atlantic Canada owned by members of the BIPOC and LGBTQIA2S+ community.  Darlene has a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax and a Certificate in International Trade from George Brown College of Applied Arts & Technology in Toronto. She has studied numerous courses in trade, finance, government policy and digital marketing from various institutions.

Applications:  Please forward you name, address, email and phone number, along with either a website and/or social media links, or 3 images of your work to Craft Alliance at:

Deadline for Applications is Friday, September 24th, 2021.

Craft Alliance Atlantic is a pan-Atlantic trade association working with the craft, giftware and apparels sectors in Atlantic Canada. Craft Alliance hosts the annual Craft East Buyers’ Expo and newly launched Craft East Virtual Marketplace

We acknowledge funding support provided by ACOA through the Regional Economic Growth through Innovation – Regional Innovation Ecosystem


Project Background

Craft Alliance Atlantic Association has developed a comprehensive program for an initial two-year project to enhance, support and further develop wholesale market opportunities and to create new representation from diverse maker communities in the small-scale manufacturing sector (craft, giftware and apparel production) in Atlantic Canada.

Craft Alliance has built a strategic process and development continuum that will assist manufacturers in capacity building for both existing producers and emerging start-ups through relevant programs and services identified by industry stakeholders. The Craft Hub SME Activator Project will assist Atlantic Canadian manufacturers and maker focused businesses from diverse communities including; BIPOC, persons who identify as LGBTQ2S+ and persons with disabilities, with business development, coaching/mentoring, and increased sales through innovation, capacity building and product development. As export development is a key aspect of the Craft Alliance mandate, the program will also include export readiness and export market entry for those businesses interested in expanding beyond Atlantic Canada.

The Craft Hub SME Activator Project will assist underrepresented producers in accessing new markets and create new priority and niche markets for Atlantic Canadian makers who have traditionally had limited or no access to wholesale and export markets in Canada and abroad. The program will create new and sustainable exporters and increase overall sales by providing support and advisory services to diverse communities. The dissemination of market development and mentoring skills along with wholesale trade and export related logistics will further the professional development of the industry and create new diverse and inclusive audiences as a result of project activity.

Land Acknowledgement

+ Equity and Inclusion Statement

Land Acknowledgement

Craft Alliance Atlantic Association supports the growth of craftspeople working on the ancestral and un-ceded territories of the Mi’kmaq, Passamaquoddy, Wolastoqiyik, Beothuk, the Inuit of Nunatsiavut and NunatuKavut, and the Innu of Nitassinan. We support the upholding of the Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1752 and 1761 which re-affirmed the land, hunting and trading rights of this land’s original people and encourage clients and partners to explore the fundamental impact of First Nations craftsmanship on the current craft traditions enjoyed here today.

Equity Statement

We also acknowledge the diverse communities in our region that make up our population, including Indigenous Peoples, the many descendants of African Nova Scotians, the Black Loyalists and other racialized individuals including immigrants and refugees; individuals from the 2SLGBTQIA+ community; and physically and intellectually disabled persons. We recognize that the lived experiences of these groups can often vary dramatically, and that considering the intersectionality of those lived experiences is also an essential factor when discussing issues pertaining to them.

Many from these groups have been long under-served in government-funded business development initiatives; our goal with the Activator project is to deliver a more active and intentional effort in support of craftspeople who self-identify with any of the above groups. By presenting coach-led peer work groups, one-on-one consultation opportunities, and dedicating spaces in our wholesale and export trade activities for Activator participants, we are working to funnel resources directly to the abovementioned groups over the length of the project and working to restructure our organizational processes and activities to be able to continue offering targeted support beyond the end of the program’s funding.