Community-motivated leader at Trail chamber
Erika Krest helps create community for members of the Trail & District Chamber of Commerce
Erika Krest, the owner of Erika Krest Reflexology Clinic, has been the executive director of the Trail & District Chamber of Commerce for just a couple of months. She was excited to meet with seven of her Kootenay region colleagues in Cranbrook on September 10, for a discussion with representatives from 11 provincial government ministries about issues affecting business, locally and across the province.
“This was a huge deal,” Krest said. “It was a pilot project, having all of the ministries represented at meetings with the chambers of commerce. This is being done right across the province, in all of the nine regions.”
Using an online tool called B.C. Mindreader, the B.C. Chamber of Commerce surveys chamber members across the province to learn about the advocacy and other needs of the business communities. With information thus obtained, the B.C. Chamber of Commerce can formulate policies and advocate for its members at the provincial and federal levels.
Prior to the September 10 meeting, the B.C. chamber submitted recommendations for policy changes, based on the results of the Mindreader surveys, to the relevant provincial ministries. The meeting was a chance for the chamber executive directors who speak for small businesses in their small communities to get face to face with the ministry representatives who will—or will not—actualize their recommendations.
As the owner-operator of a small business, Krest understands the importance and the impact of membership in the chamber of commerce. On saying “yes” to an invitation to join the Trail chamber some years ago, she immediately felt empowered as part of a community of her peers.
“When you are a small business owner, it can feel lonely,” she said. “But once you become part of an organization like this, you’re instantly part of something—you have colleagues you can communicate with. The online resources are amazing when it comes to small business, but nothing replaces the feel of a community.”
Another “yes,” and another
Krest soon said “yes” again—when she was invited to become a member of the chamber’s board of directors, when she was asked to take on the position of vice-president of the board, and again when she was offered the position of executive director of the chamber of commerce.
“I said yes to this position while knowing that I have a business to run,” Krest said. “It’s my baby, and I’m not ready to give it up. How I manage to do both is by remembering a quote from Brené Brown: ‘It takes courage to say yes to rest and play, in a culture where exhaustion is seen as a status symbol.’ I know that if I don’t rest and recharge, I can’t achieve the goals that are important to me.”
One of the things that motivates Krest to continue to run her business is the Jewel of the Kootenays Art Scholarship that she created in the spring of 2019. The scholarship is available to students at J.L. Crowe Secondary School who are pursuing art on a significant level in post-secondary education.
“There’s no way that right after creating the scholarship I will give up my business,” Krest said, “because now my business has a greater, more significant reach.”