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Women in Business: Ashley Kaal's unexpected path to a dream job

Timothy Daniels Clothing Company in Assiniboia represents a new beginning for Ashley Kaal resulting in a dream career.

ASSINIBOIA — A part time high school job didn’t have a happy ending for Ashley Kaal, owner/operator of Timothy Daniels Clothing Company in Assiniboia. However, times change, people change and an amazing career evolved from that unhappy experience.

Kaal had moved from Willow Bunch from her mom’s house to live with her dad in Regina but returned to Assiniboia, living alone above Grabeldingers to finish her high school years in Assiniboia. She needed a second job when she was hired by Tim Connor of Timothy Daniels Clothing Company. However, she was let go when it was discovered she had accidently left the back door open for a second time on a Saturday.

She moved away again to Alberta but her heart was set on returning to Assiniboia so she returned in 2013, had her son in 2014 and in 2015, she was given another chance at employment with Tim Connor at his clothing store.

When Kaal moved back to town she came off maternity leave and worked at Canalta Hotel. She applied at the town office believing that was her golden ticket, entry level job that would leave her room to grow and move up in a career. However, the position came down to Kaal and another applicant and when Candice called her and said they were going with the other candidate because of their experience, she let Ashley know that Timothy Daniels was hiring.

“I felt disappointed as I wanted to be doing something I thought was sophisticated like working for the town. I needed a job so I spoke to Tim and I was hired on the spot.”

Kaal began working as an employee but upon encouragement from Connor, she bought the business in 2020, right before COVID hit. She worked for him for over five years prior to that and he approached her about taking over the store with words Kaal said she will never forget: “Never have I ever, in my 30 years of business, had an employee care about my business like you do, and treat my business like it was their own.”

Kaal said this became a project to her when she knew of his readiness to retire. The last Christmas they had together at the store, in 2019, was the best holiday season the business ever had. Kaal took over Feb. 3, the exact date that Tim had bought it initially.

“Tim is a very dear friend and we will visit all the time, and at times I feel he and my dog are even better friends. He has given me such an incredible opportunity that took five years to create but I treated all of his mentorship and opportunity given like it was my education and it allowed me to find my footing. He allowed me to experiment and make mistakes and how to move on from those mistakes and make the business better. I simply would not be where I am without his guidance and leadership,” says Kaal.

As far as collaborating with other women in the business community, Kaal has in the past and says her closest business relationship is with Mom’s Florist. She likes to do giveaways that include gift certificates from other local businesses to maintain their commitment and encouragement to shop local.

When asked what some of her business highlights would be, Kaal responded, “This wasn’t even on my radar but I have been so pleasantly surprised. Tim was so kind and patient with me, took me to buying shows and showed me the whole business side and it has turned into such a passion project for me. Making this business better and the true enjoyment from customer service."

Kaal loves when people come for help seeking an outfit for a special event and she loves to help them shine at their event or activity, where they feel like they can be the star when they leave with purchases that help them feel comfortable and empowered.

“This business is my home and I am opening up my personal closet to the world and I want to help people smile. Customers can come in and talk about their lives and feel free to vent if need be. I maintain, if you have a body, I have clothes for you.”

Kaal hand picks every single item in her store from bi-annual buying shows. She wants quality so that people can be assured they are buying quality products, pattern, material etc. and the apparel will last as long as they own it.

Of course, as with all business, the pandemic was a huge challenge to overcome, especially only owning a new business for a short time when COVID-19 came. People moved to online shopping so when the pandemic prescribed orders to close, Kaal said they pivoted when people would message them for product. They created a website and expanded their social media presence and people could shop local while at home.

While it is a handful to manage a business and all that entails, and social media is just another thing on the to-do list, it also provided new and expanded exposure for her store.

Kaal admits that it’s a juggling act to manage work and home life as she is a single mom but she is thankful for grandma and friends who can help out when and where needed.

The Assiniboia businesswoman also loves the opportunity to train students, it has been mostly girls that have taken on the opportunity. She likes to mentor and empower them to be capable in the workforce and their futures. “I had no education in this business, I just flew on intuition, intellect and the drive of wanting to serve the community. When our girls leave after graduation, they bring me cards and gifts in gratitude because of the things I taught them. I am sad to lose them but also happy to see them go on and grow in their next chapter.”

Kaal says her five employees help her balance work and home life, hockey schedules and fitness routines as well as having somewhat of a social life.

Never one to sit too long, Kaal loves being part of Festival of Trees, by donation from the business and volunteering at the event to see and engage with everyone.

Kaal puts out accolades to the town’s recreation director saying when she issued a challenge to the community to log minutes of exercise, which resulted in the town winning a rock-climbing wall for their pool. Because of that challenge, Kaal starting walking to and from work every day to energize for the day and unwind on the way home after work, a habit she has continued thanks to that kickstart.

Timothy Daniels Clothing Company attracts more than local residents as Kaal says she has clientele from Coronach, Rockglen, Gravelbourg, Lafleche and other surrounding communities. She feels well-supported in the community and says her customers are all friends.

“I aim to make this business feel like home, where people can enjoy retail therapy, vent if needed and knowing even when life isn’t perfect, their outfit can be. I am pro-loving-yourself the way you are, taking care of your mental health and just enjoying the opportunities in our community.”

Kaal communicates her connection with Assiniboia and loves to talk about all the town has to offer. She is proud to be a part of it both in business and as a resident. Her message is simple, live the life you love and love the life you live. Opportunity arrives in mysterious ways and her second chance at this long time Assiniboia business turned out to be a labour of love.