A journey of creativity and determination
Kathy Leskow received the Alumni Award of Excellence for her remarkable achievements as a business owner, her dedication to the entrepreneurial community and her spirit of philanthropy.
Facing obstacles head on and approaching them as opportunities has helped Kathy Leskow (Business Administration - Management '96) thrive in her career.
After graduating from NAIT, Kathy enjoyed a decade-long career in hotel management before maternity leave took her in an unexpected direction.
“I needed adult interaction, and I was good at baking, so I decided to sell cookies at a local farmers market,” says the mom of 3. Because the cookie spot was taken, she opted to sell spaghetti sauce until a cookie table opened. From there, Confetti Sweets was born.
She grew her business from her home kitchen to a storefront in Sherwood Park in 2014. The following year, she was invited to serve her cookies to Hollywood celebrities and press at a pre-Oscar party in Los Angeles. From there, her business skyrocketed.
Today, Confetti Sweets cookies can be found at more than 250 Alberta retailers and as far away as Costco stores in Japan.
In February 2020, she expanded her business with space for a café where customers could gather or host birthday parties.
Fostering a sense of community
When the pandemic put a temporary halt to in-person dining and large gatherings a month later, Kathy and her team shifted their approach and launched the Confetti Collective instead.
“All these farmers markets were shutting down and nobody knew what was happening, so I offered up my space for my friends to come and sell their products and at least they’d still have steady revenue,” she says. The collaboration has been so successful, Confetti Collective has become a permanent fixture.
Supporting student entrepreneurs
Whether she’s studying the intricacies of export requirements or taking a business accelerator course with marketing expert Arlene Dickinson, Kathy says running a business is a journey of constant learning and growth.
That growth mindset is why she’s also an avid supporter of NAIT’s Mawji Centre for New Venture and Student Entrepreneurship.
“If I’d had somewhere like the Mawji centre that would have allowed me to meet with other entrepreneurs and bounce ideas off of people, I think I could have been a lot more successful a lot faster,” she says of her passion for the centre. “I think it would have pushed me to dream bigger. I think that’s important for young people.”
The importance of giving back
Giving back to her community is part of the joy of running a business, says Kathy, who was the recipient of a Business Edmonton Leaders Award and an Alberta Business Award of Distinction in 2018 and an AWESOME Achievement Award in 2020.
“I wouldn’t want to have a business if I couldn’t help people with it.”
One of her largest initiatives has been raising more than $35,000 for Ukrainian refugees by selling cookies with blue and yellow sprinkles, far exceeding her company’s initial $1,000 goal.
True to her roots
Despite her success, Kathy’s cookies still pop up at farmers markets.
“Some people say ‘you’re too big, you shouldn’t do farmer’s markets anymore.’ We don’t do as many as we used to since COVID, but that’s part of my roots. It’s how I started. I’m not going to give that up.”
Alumni Award of Excellence
The Alumni Award of Excellence recognizes the significant contributions made in recent years by NAIT alumni to their profession or community.
Story photos supplied by Kathy Leskow.
Other 2022 NAIT Celebrates Recipients
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