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  • Writer's pictureDominique

Starting a successful business fresh out of school

This blog post is part of a Dewberry Face series that highlights other local small businesses.

Danae and her husband Christopher are certified orthodontic specialists, who run Kirk Orthodontics in Carleton Place and are deeply rooted in the small community. Although they grew up in Ottawa, their orthodontics training took them to other parts of Canada and the United States for a decade of studies. They considered staying in the US but decided that they wanted to come back to the Ottawa Valley to be close to family.

Their search for the perfect place to build their business was simple: they wanted to find a community with a small-town feel that would be a great place to raise their children. “I know it’s not for everyone, but I really enjoy running into patients at the local grocery store and at community events.”

The beginning

Fresh out of orthodontics school, Danae was driven to start her own practice from scratch. She got her start by renting out a space in downtown Carleton Place from a local dentist. Every Friday she would set up her practice at the clinic and eventually built up a solid clientele through referring dentists in the area.

Over the next year, she and Christopher developed their brand and business plan, and began building a clinic of their own on Coleman St. “Everything about Kirk Orthodontics really feels like us. We even designed the logo ourselves.”

A colourful way to give back

They knew when they started their business, that they wanted to make an important impact on the community. Danae and Christopher give back through their Colour of the Month program. Each month, they choose a local charity and a colour that represents it. When a patient chooses the colour of the month for their braces, the couple donates to the charity on the patient’s behalf.

Before the pandemic, the couple had a strong presence at local events, including a booth at the Bridge Street Bazaar and the Perth Maple Fest. “We can’t wait to get back out there. You’ll actually see us and our little blue promo truck at the Christmas parade this year.”

Seeking mentors in motherhood

Danae is a mom of two, cares for patients during the day and runs a successful growing business, and she’s found a way to balance it all. Her secret is a network of other working moms who are going through it with her and with whom she openly shares the ups and downs. “As female professionals and business owners, there are some inherently different experiences and challenges that we face, and being able to connect with like-minded women has been essential to thriving and finding balance in day-to-day life and practice.”

Danae is attending a Women in Orthodontics conference in January and looks forward to having in-person conversations about balancing mom and work life. “I’m blessed to have a fantastic partner who supports me both personally and at work, and it certainly helps to be in a profession that I absolutely love. Orthodontics is a blend of art and science, and at the end of the day I get to help people feel great about their smiles!”

Now that their girls are a little bit older, Danae is excited about what’s next for their small business. The couple is opening a second location in Arnprior early next year and will be splitting their time between both locations.

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