Denise Pallesen

The former owner of Nutter’s Bulk & Natural Foods talks to Kootenay Business about getting out of your comfort zone

A pretty woman in her 60s holding an award.

Denise Pallesen accepted her Influential Women in Business Award at a ceremony that took place on May 30, 2014, at the Day’s Inn Cranbrook. — Kimberly Schoenberger photo

A mother, grandmother, successful business owner, city councillor and keen motorcyclist, Denise Pallesen is the very epitome of female empowerment. And her secret? It’s simple: “get out of your box.”

Pallesen took her own words to heart 17 years ago when she bought Nutter’s Bulk & Natural Foods in Cranbrook, B.C. It wasn’t easy, especially since the business was plummeting. But with some hard work and long hours, Pallesen built it back up—all the while earning the respect of her business peers.

It’s no wonder, then, that Pallesen just won a Kootenay Business Influential Women in Business Award. So we caught up with Pallesen to find out what being a woman of influence really means.

First of all, do you know why you were nominated for an award?

I guess just from being the owner (of Nutter’s) and for other things I do within the community to promote female leadership in business.

What are some of those things?

I’m on the Women’s Enterprise Centre board for B.C. I’ve been on there for seven years. It’s the go-to place for women who want to get into business, or if they are having trouble, we help them stay in business . . . I’ve also been a mentor a number of times for young women in business.

Have you helped anyone specifically?

There are a few ladies around town that I’ve spent time with, giving them some answers and basically letting them know they aren’t alone, that they aren’t struggling by themselves and that there are places they can go, or they can just phone me.

What do you think it takes to be a woman of influence?

Perseverance (and a) willingness to take a risk. Perseverance is a big thing because it encompasses everything. You have to do the work/life balance and . . . a work/life balance for everyone is different. But you have to persevere and figure out how you are going to make it work for you.

How did you feel when you got the award?

I was absolutely thrilled because, as I said before, there were a lot of women there that are as deserving or more deserving than me. Women have to work so much harder, I think, to get where they want to be. So when you look at a room full of successful businesswomen, I was thrilled. I was so proud of them because they are working so hard. They are persevering. They are following their dreams.

You just sold Nutter’s, so what is your plan?

At this point, I’m on the Women’s Enterprise Centre board until 2015, (Cranbrook city) council until November, and I’ve got some trips planned until the end of September—I ride a motorcycle.

Really! What kind of bike do you own?

I have a Harley Softail and I absolutely love it.

Where are you riding this summer?

I’ve got a really good group of friends that I can ride with, so I’ve got a ride coming up June 13 to 19. It’s the annual ladies’ ride. There’s about six of us that go. And in July, I’m going down to the States on the bike. It will be awesome.

You sound like an outdoorsy person.

I like to do as much as I can. I scuba dive as well, and I got both my kids into scuba diving. I just think that life is way too short to think, "Oh, I don’t want to do that, I’m scared." My big mantra is: Get out of your box. Do something that you’re not comfortable doing. Just try it. And I tell my daughter that too, like, get out of your comfort zone. Because we don’t. We get comfortable or we’re scared to step out. Do a little bit at a time . . . You have to get out of your comfort zone. There’s nothing I find more unnerving than walking into a room and there’s a ton of people there and sometimes you think, I don’t want to socialize but you have to. I think it’s very important for personal and professional growth to do those things. 

Kirsten Armleder

Kirsten is a staff writer and photographer for Kootenay Business who enjoys learning more about the people who help this region thrive. View all of Kirsten Armleder’s articles

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