Cowichan Valley’s Ella Duncan-Reda holds up some of the safety key chains and accessories that she sells through her new business, Valentina Accessories. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Cowichan Valley’s Ella Duncan-Reda holds up some of the safety key chains and accessories that she sells through her new business, Valentina Accessories. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Business notes: Young Cowichan Valley entrepreneur starts safety keychain business

All the latest from the Cowichan Valley business community

Young entrepreneur Ella Duncan-Reda will soon be heading to university in Ontario where she intends to study forensic psychology.

Duncan-Reda, 17, said living and studying independently at university is going to be a huge step for her and for many of her peers and other young women country-wide, and she has safety concerns around navigating campus at night, as well as dark parking lots and new neighbourhoods.

So she did some brain storming and, with the help of her mother, began a new business called Valentina Accessories and developed a line of safety-key chains and accessories that will give her, and those that buy her key chains, some safety and security if and when it’s needed.

Duncan-Reda’s five-piece key chains include a kubotan stick, a set of kitty knuckles, a personal alarm, a whistle, and a house-key knife, while the three-piece ones include a kubotan stick, a set of kitty knuckles, and a personal alarm with LED lights.

“Having a safety key chain on you brings the security you need and is fashionable and practical for everyday use,” she said.

​”Each key chain is uniquely named and inspired by some of my favourite novels.”

Duncan-Reda operates Valentina Accessories from her home and can be found on Facebook, Instagram and at the website

Valentina Accessories was just recently launched and Duncan-Reda said she has already sold almost 40 key chains, which range in price from $25 to $35.


Barring a last-minute reprieve, Chemainus Town Laundry will be closing at the end of March.

Claire Boulton and Alan Whitehead have owned the building and operated the Croft Street business for 15 years.

They’re planning to retire and are looking into leasing options for the building.

“We’re going to close the laundromat business unless someone comes out of nowhere and gives us an offer we can’t refuse,” said Boulton.

“Everything’s on the table. As it sits right now, we’re closing it.

“It’s been coming for a while. We’re going to do some travelling.” Boulton’s been amazed at the response since news has spread around the community about the closure.

“Nobody really appreciates it till it’s gone,” she confided.

The laundromat has washers and driers and has also long offered alteration services and a dry cleaning depot.

The machines are aging, Boulton indicated, and it also would have taken a considerable expense to replace them.


Cowichan Bay’s Cow Cafe-West Coast Grill has been rebranded and is now called The Cook & Butcher.

The restaurant’s Facebook page says that the business has had an extensive renovation of its dining room and has reopened with a new look and new brand, “but the same great experience”.

“This concept has been with us for some time and now we are thrilled to finally be able to share our vision with you,” the Facebook page said.

“The Cook & Butcher is simply that; to showcase the relationships that are cultivated between the cooks, the butchers, the vegetable farmers and the fishermen. From craft-dry aged meats to local vegetables and ocean-wide seafood…all while keeping the upbeat casual feel of Cow Cafe.”


In previous years, the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce has run a membership month campaign that welcomes new members to the chamber with a little incentive.

The chamber decided this year they would extend this offering throughout the spring, to celebrate the easing of pandemic restrictions and to welcome back in-person networking.

After a successful Dine & Sip Cowichan festival, the chamber is continuing to support local restaurants by welcoming new members who join the chamber in spring with a purchased gift card to a local restaurant.

Each business or organization that signs up for a new chamber membership between March 15 and May 31 will receive a $25 gift certificate (purchased by the chamber) to a participating local restaurant of their choice.

The chamber’s membership committee chair, Chris Duncan, concedes that a few dozen gift certificates purchased may only be a drop in the bucket for restaurateurs, but says it’s about the bigger picture.

“The chamber has been at the forefront of the Support Local movement,” Duncan said.

“This year’s membership campaign is about keeping that Support Local momentum going and continuing to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak.”

The Grow with us this Spring membership campaign will run from March 15 to May 31.

Businesses or organizations interested in exploring membership with the chamber are encouraged to visit or phone 250-748-1111.


And in yet more chamber news, on March 30, the Cowichan Regional Visitor Centre will host a Lunch n’ Learn session with Ingrid Vaughan who will be discussing the new normal for employers, and what they need to be aware of in the current labour landscape.

This presentation will touch on both retention and recruitment and will be beneficial for all employers.

Chamber members can register by emailing

This event is free to all members, but space is limited.


Nourish Cowichan is celebrating five years since it became a charity organization.

The Nourish Cowichan Society was created to help alleviate the burden of food insecurity in Cowichan Valley schools by providing nutritious breakfasts to students living in poverty.

An average of 45 dedicated individuals currently volunteer with the organization in different capacities; from cooking, packaging, delivering, and harvesting to fundraising.

“To our amazing community and supporters that have believed in us and carried us through the changes and growth, our gratitude is immense,” Nourish Cowichan said in a press release.

“As we grow and embrace the challenges we face in our society and globally, our pledge to serve the children in our community has never been stronger.”

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