Having worked 30 years in the non-profit healthcare sector, Helene Vassos was preparing to retire when the opportunity to open a cannabis store arose. Helene was excited at the opportunity to be involved in an evolving industry, as both a woman and business owner, and hit the ground running.

There is no precedent: no pre-established history of what works and what doesn’t in the world of legal retail cannabis. As a retail operator, it seems that Helene is facing a new challenge literally every day – and the only path through is the one that she carves for her business. Facing everything head on is the way forward in this industry – especially now, amidst periods of immense uncertainty. It is an incredible challenge; but to help to establish the framework for legal cannabis across the province is also an incredibly rewarding (and humbling) experience according to Helene.

Canvas Cannabis opened its doors in Danforth in December of 2019 and Helene became the owner of Toronto’s first female-led pot shop, a rarity in the male-dominated cannabis industry. The Mount Dennis location opened in May 2020 and a new location in Liberty Village opened in February

In a highly regulated industry, what sets stores apart is the work that the owners put into the shopping experience. Helene wanted to capture a casual elegance and refined simplicity that embraces anyone of all legal ages, bringing a personal touch to the cannabis retail experience. Customers can relax, take their time and acquaint themselves with products and services with the help of budtenders. They are knowledgeable and able to provide personal advice and assistance to each customer, even greeting regulars by name!

CANADIAN HOME TRENDS Name one thing on your bucket list.

HELENE VASSOS I’d love to make time and pursue my interest in sketching and painting. Watercolors in particular. I would like to create a piece of art for each of my children. Painting was a passion of mine since I was young, but somehow I never took time from my busy work life to develop it further. I think it’s time.

CHT What is your favorite room in your house?

HV The kitchen! I Love to cook, entertain and experiment with new recipes and herbs. Share a meal, share stories, exchange ideas, have a good laugh, or have a good cry – and not necessarily because I am peeling onions. – Canvas Cannabis, www.canvascannabis.ca

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