News Release Archive

It takes Margit Wechsler 100 hours to create one of her wooden
handcrafted dolls. That's 100 hours of painstaking whittling,
stuffing and knitting. But she says that's easy compared to
marketing her business.

Ms. Wechsler, an immigrant entrepreneur from Bavaria, Germany,
moved to Clam Bay three years ago because she wanted a clean,
quiet work environment with a view. After two years of marketing
Unique Dolls of Wood on her own, she realized she needed help and
turned to the Metropolitan Immigration Settlement Association
(MISA). The association introduced her to a program, sponsored by
Economic Development and Tourism and the Atlantic Canada
Opportunities Agency, geared to meet the needs of immigrant

The Immigration Entrepreneur Orientation Program (IEOP) is
co-ordinated by MISA and received almost $200,000 through the
Canada/Nova Scotia COOPERATION Agreement on Economic
Diversification this year.

"We try to give people the initial information on how to
establish a business here," said Nabiha Atallah, IEOP program
manager. "We encourage and accompany our members to get involved
with business associations."

MISA finds accountants, marketers and other successful
businesspeople who are willing to donate time to help immigrants
nurture new ventures into successful businesses. The association
also offers six-week courses four times a year.

"We made so many mistakes earlier," said Ms. Wechsler. "They
(MISA) managed to find people who can help you. They try to serve
you personally,"

Ms. Wechsler carved for 18 years in Germany before deciding to
move her business to Nova Scotia. The move wasn't as easy as she
thought it would be. Starting a business in a quiet, remote
environment made it hard for her to market her business. Luckily,
most of her market is back home in Germany. 

Living in a small community has one big advantage that Ms.
Wechsler quickly discovered. She was able to meet a number of
people who knit. Today, she sometimes hires skilled knitters in
Clam Bay to help her make the miniature doll clothing.

"I like to carve pictures out of my heart with feeling," said Ms.
Wechsler. Each of the foot-high (about 30 centimetres) dolls cost
$700 and can be made to resemble any child.
Today, after completing the IEOP, Wechsler has gained the
confidence and expertise to try to break into the U.S. market.
This year she plans to participate in a number of craft shows in
the Halifax area, and next year she hopes to attend the American
International Toy Fair in New York.


Contact: Renee Field
         Economic Development and Tourism

ngr              August 21, 1997 - 11:35 am