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International student going for international business

Jeet Kaur models one of her handmade dresses.

Jeet Kaur says she knows nothing about business, but believes she will be the owner of an international dress-making company some day.

“I have my dream – I want to do something big," she says.

Kaur is a 21-year-old international student from India who is taking the Business Marketing program at St. Lawrence College. Though she already gained her computer programming bachelor degree, the college she attended at home suggested that Canada may be a better market when it comes to the business side of things.

In the midst of completing her first year here in Kingston, Garrett Elliot, an advocate of the Summer Company Program, spoke to her class and Kaur became quite interested in what he had to say.

The Summer Company Program is run by the Ontario Government as a way to encourage high school and post-secondary students to start up their own businesses. The program provides training, mentorship and grant money to help the youth do so, totalling at a possible $3000.

Kaur decided as an international student with plenty of fees to pay that this program would be a great way to make some money and start towards her goal of becoming a successful business owner.

Though the idea hadn't originally occurred to her, she says Elliott asked if she had any talents, to which she replied, dress-making. Elliott told her she should run with that, since using an already-had talent will make her business more successful than trying to figure out something else.

Kaur says she's been making dresses for about four years thanks to the help and guidance of her mother, also a dress-maker back in India.

She says nowadays her and her mother exchange advice, though she remembers the beginning when her stitching was anything but accurate.

“I was, like, almost 16 to 17 years old and I stitched my first dress. And I remember that it was so messy, all that, and it didn’t fit on me!" She laughs.

Kaur's mother makes traditional Indian dresses, but Kaur has branched out to incorporate "western" style into her designs, which she says is becoming a trend back in India.

“Right now in India, there is like a mix up of everything. Not too much traditional, not too much western. So I did lots of dresses with that: a touch of everything, so that’s why (people in India) like my dresses."

She says now that she's in Canada, she will have to pay attention to what residents here like.

“I fully try my best to give people happiness," she says.

When it comes to ideas for the designs of dresses, Kaur says all of the magic happens right in her head. She doesn't look in magazines or anything else like that.

“I know my ideas are unique and I have my theory that I don’t have to steal anybody else’s ideas," she says.

The name of Kaur's dress business is Rbajwa Designs. She says her dresses will be made to order and will all be tailored to the customer, unlike any dresses you would order on-line.

“Dressmaking is also an art… I have my own ideas, I have my own stitching style, and my own opinions and all that stuff. So I think that I’m different from (others)."

One of her longterm goals is to make her business available in both Canada and India, as well as to provide more jobs for people.

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