Judite Holder, proprietor of four boutique businesses in London, Ontario, has made a career of customer-focused service. She is a visionary, a builder, and a creator. She sees things not as they are, but as they can be.
In December 1996, Judite walked away from her African Art Gallery in Stratford, Ontario after losing her 14-year-old son in a horrific car accident. At that time, she had no intention of going back into business…but one year later she purchased Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut. What began as a form of therapy soon morphed into a healing process – her life’s purpose – and she needed to figure out how to make money at it.
The opportunity to purchase Gammage Flowers in 1996, Canada’s oldest flower shop, was a natural fit. Judite knew the synergies, if done properly, could take both businesses to a greater level of market share.
Then Canada’s worst recession hit in 2007-08 and customer buying-power was severely diminished. Cross-selling products was critical. So when the opportunity to acquire Wright’s Send-a-Basket presented itself in 2012, it made good business sense as it wrapped up the holiday business nicely. The final piece of this mighty quadrant was the acquisition of Razzle Dazzle Cupcakes in 2014, which would generate consistent business traffic on a daily basis.
Each business was struggling when Judite acquired them but after relocating and restructuring she nursed them to financial health and profitability. Today, the businesses are market leaders (in terms of market share) in London and Southwestern Ontario in each of their respective categories.
Judite has raised two children, two husbands and four businesses. She has lived in abject poverty in war-torn countries and endured tremendous loss. She has walked the Camino – a 225 kilometre trek from Madrid to Santiago de Compostela. She is strong. She is a survivor.
She believes no one owes you a living. If you want something, you work for it. And she is passing on her fortitude to her two young granddaughters, Maia and Katia, who have already made it known they want to work in the family business when they grow up.
London Abused Women’s Shelter through an environmentally-friendly “Cash for Vases” initiative
- Western University through the creation of an annual bursary for needy students
- Named Honourary Patron of “Music Reigns” by the London Professional Firefighters in support of Orchestra London
- Named a “Paul Harris Fellow” by the Rotary Club of London on behalf of Rotary International, the highest award they bestow
- Named “Master Florist” and “Top 100 Florists” in Canada by FTD
- Finalist, 5 years running, in London Free Press public survey, “Best Flower Shop”
Member of these Professional Organizations:
- Rotary Club of London
- London Executives Association
- Directors Club of London
- Portuguese Club of London
- London Portuguese Business (Past President)