Jill Curran owns Lighthouse Picnics, which has operated from Ferryland Lighthouse for the past 16 years, providing visitors with food that’s freshly prepared on site each day. Since 2010 she has also owned Maxxim Vacations, a travel company that’s been operating for over 30 years and that offers travel itineraries and packages throughout Atlantic Canada.
Jill feels that her greatest achievement is the impact of her businesses in the communities where they operate. Lighthouse Picnics has brought thousands of people to Ferryland over the years, and Maxxim vacations works with hundreds of suppliers to send people all over Atlantic Canada.
Jill sees herself fitting into a strong Newfoundland tradition of women who develop opportunities—whether through schools, businesses, or volunteerism in their communities. It’s a tradition she is proud to continue, although she never thought she would be an entrepreneur until she opened Lighthouse Picnics. That decision, she says, stemmed from a desire to save a beautiful historic building built in 1870. “I was living away at the time that the business idea came to me, and each time I would come home I would wonder why someone was not doing something in this wonderful place. Then it hit me—it could be me!”
One secret to Jill’s success, she says, is bringing the right group of people together and making a happy place to work: “it shines through in the product and the service.” A customer told Jill that “it felt like love went into that picnic”: that’s a big compliment, one that reflects the atmosphere she has worked to create.
Jill’s motivation has to do with how she affects the people around her: “I am motivated every single day by the thought that we all have the ability to make a difference, and that can be a kind word to someone who needs it or a sound business decision that’s going to help another entrepreneur or bring more people to a particular area. I’ve heard Zita Cobb say many times that everything you do every day matters, and I think those are real words to live by.”
"...we all have the ability to make a difference..."
When asked what advice she would give to aspiring entrepreneurs, Jill replies in a way that suggests her own optimism and determination: “You’d better really love and feel passionate about what you do, because the days are long, and if you like the people you’re working with and you enjoy what you’re doing, those are the two things that can pull you through any day.”
As for the future, Maxxim recently moved into a larger space and is poised to hire more people. Jill sees opportunities to grow the business reach throughout Atlantic Canada, and the international customer base is expanding significantly. And Lighthouse Picnics have developed a take-away option to be able to accommodate more people each day. Beyond that, Jill says, her family might kill her: “I have about 10 businesses and business ideas in mind that I would like to pursue!”
Entrepreneurial Excellence recognizes an entrepreneur who has owned and been in operating control of a business(es) for at least 10 years as of March 31, 2018, who has made a significant impact on the economy, and whose success is an inspiration for other women in business. Sponsored by RBC Royal Bank