From a small office in Madoc, Theresa Bailey dreamed big. She is a homegrown entrepreneur of Hastings County in the true sense, having been raised in Madoc, now working her magic with her Hastings-based company, Starfish Synergies. Theresa is a well-established name in the community and beyond, for her skills in facilitating team engagement through experiential and creative learning. She has been a facilitator and researcher working with various organizations, teams and groups for over 20 years. In 2009, she founded Synergy Change Builders, now rebranded as Starfish Synergies.
Theresa facilitates team work with various solutions that provide her audience hands-on opportunities to enhance communication, adaptability, and innovative thinking among teams. Her sessions and workshops engage the senses with sounds, visuals, and tactile materials to help participants feel connected as they learn, such as in their PLAY-DOH POWER SOLUTIONS workshops. When a large number of organizations moved to remote work last year, Starfish Synergies helped them maintain productivity by keeping their teams in sync with each other and their goals. The business has been able to expand its offerings by adapting to the new normal of remote work culture while providing teams with the tools they need to learn and grow together.
“The best part about starting a business in Hastings is the ability to be in the place that I love while connecting with people all over the world,” she says. The peace and quiet of Madoc works well for her, allowing her to sit back and enjoy the quirks of the area with her family whenever she takes time off from running her business.
“My project manager is in London England, I connect regularly with colleagues across North America. I can run a virtual training from my home office with people from all over the world, and then I take my dog for a walk on the trails and visit my parents with my kids later that night. It’s corporate life in a cottage country atmosphere, no traffic, no crowding, lots of trees and blue skies. Being here allows me to focus on my work, and still take advantage of small-town values and freedoms.”
Theresa’s very first session was with a group of friends who live in Madoc. They helped her test and develop her first Hasbro workshop. And the support kept pouring in as she took stride after stride forward toward her goal, with local businesses and executives lending a helping hand. “My first workshops after licensing were conducted locally with a powerhouse group of female Executive Directors from local agencies,” Theresa recalls. “Community Futures provided funding through those challenging months through the initial stages of the pandemic and Scott Runte and Stephen Beamish from Launch Lab have been instrumental in helping me learn all the things I need to about pitching my business and marketing plans.” She fondly states that the support she received from the community at times when she needed it has been overwhelming. “There have been 1000 actions, large and small, that have demonstrated that people believe in me.”
Starfish Synergies is a culmination of years of hard work, and Theresa’s creativity continues to fuel the rapid growth of her business. As the business eyes the future, Theresa juggles motherhood and the role of Starfish Synergies’ CEO. She loves being able to come up with innovative ways to facilitate collaboration among teams. “I love that I get to create my own vision, come up with ideas and follow up on them,” she says. “That is the best feeling in the world. Because I am working with Play-Doh kits to facilitate learning, I get to watch people create, smile and go back to their childhood. It mirrors my own thoughts and feelings towards it.”