By Sean Meyer
Mélanie Bernier was an 18-year-old Fanshawe College broadcast television student when she decided to make some extra money by offering French/English translation services through an advertisement on Kijiji.
Broadcast journalism didn’t end up paying off, nor did a venture into teaching for the French language school board, but 11 years later Mélanie’s leap of faith has grown into a full-fledged business, WordFrog Inc.
“I started with a website on cat breeding. From there I kept on doing some small jobs, thinking I would eventually find a job in broadcasting. By the end of the second year, it became clear the broadcasting thing was not a viable option,” she said. “It was at the time of the recession and I would have had to relocate. I didn’t want to do that, going to Toronto to make $12/hr wasn’t going to work, so I decided to stay here.”
Mélanie took a few in-house translation jobs before spending two years teaching for the French school board.
For a while she planned on sticking with teaching, even working on her bachelor’s degree.
But as fate would have it, she was so busy with her translation services she decided to let go of the whole teaching idea and stick with her business.
People hire Mélanie mostly for translation of websites, packaging and user manuals.
Recently, she has started working with companies who are looking to sell their products in Canada, but don’t have their packaging put together in compliance with the nation’s Official Languages Act.
While she admits translation can be a “kind of dry” occupation, Mélanie said she truly enjoys her work.
“There are some days when it is tedious, but I enjoy the variety of work. I think I would be happy running any type of business. I love the business side more, I would say, than the actual work sometimes,” she said. “Translation is at a point where it will become done mostly by computers. In the future, I will probably transition into something else, but it will probably have to do in business.”
Whatever the future of her business career looks like, Mélanie explains her current success has a lot to do with her move into Innovation Works.
For years Mélanie operated out of her home, located just outside the city, but after moving back into London last year, she decided she had to get out of the house, eliminate distractions, and have a place to meet people aside from her kitchen table.
That decision led her to becoming an Innovation Works co-tenant, first holding down a flex desk before — at the end of 2018 — moving into her own third-floor office.
“It definitely helps me with concentrating. I find it difficult to work from home sometimes. The physical location gives me a place to meet clients,” she said. “I have the flexibility to rent space for meetings, to host meetings. It has given me a homebase and I’ve really enjoyed it.”
In terms of just getting into the community to know what is out there, Mélanie said being a co-tenant has helped her immensely.
Being a co-tenant has provided great exposure, she adds, offering numerous networking opportunities just within the space that helped build her business.
“It’s funny, I feel there is a different vibe on each floor. The second floor feels very official. When I don’t have my dog sometimes I go down there,” she said. “The third floor though is really cool, pretty casual; we have some great conversations. I don’t feel like my business is too small to talk to people. I feel there is a good mix of people who can all come together.”
For more information, visit www.wordfrog.ca.
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