Marie Rosko: Energy Personified!

– by Susan Simosko –

Marie Rosko believes women in business can have it all, and she should know. For the past 50 years, Marie has owned and managed multiple businesses, enjoyed a happy marriage, raised seven children, and made major contributions to the community. She is energy personified.

Born in Edmonton but brought up in Victoria, Marie spent a brief time in Alberta, but returned to the Island in 1964, settling in Sidney. Her husband opened a dry-cleaning store first, but she changed direction and opened the well-known Sidney jewelry store, Christine Laurent, followed by Sweet Talk & Lace Lingerie. In addition, Marie owned and operated a pet store, a housecleaning service, and co-owned Brenmar Consulting, dedicated to mentoring start-up businesses.

How did she do all that? “Well,” she explains, “when I saw an opportunity, I acted. For example, years ago, I purchased a gift from a local jewelry shop that did not offer a box for my purchase. Upon my request, the salesperson ran down the street to get me a used box from another store. I felt strongly that Sidney would sustain a first-class jewelry store!”

She developed a business plan and applied for a bank loan, but the first bank turned her down, saying: “You should be home looking after your husband and children!” While taken aback, Marie was undaunted. She applied to a different bank, secured the loan, and opened the store.

“Yes, I was busy,” Marie says, “but during this period, my kids learned to cook dinner and help out. I’d do the prep but once they hit 10, they took turns and were responsible for feeding all nine of us, even if it was only soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. In the process, they learned to be responsible, collaborative and darn good cooks!”

Marie has provided leadership on other fronts too – to the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, and the Sidney Business Association. She served as Mayor between 1990 and 1996. Marie believes that volunteering is critically important to “enhancing the community, empowering yourself and others, and following through on what you believe in. It’s all about creating constructive change collaboratively!” she says.

Marie’s main advice to people starting or expanding a business today: develop a good business plan based on solid research about your potential customers’ wants and needs and give yourself time to be successful – one to three years – which means you probably need to sustain yourself by other means.”

Marie and her husband, Lorne, plan to retire sooner rather than later. “We want to do things on our bucket list before we kick the bucket,” Marie says laughing. But, given Marie’s incredible energy, who knows what will next inspire her creative impulses and actions!

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