Winnipeg success story: Asian Canadian business owner expands again

From a 600 sq ft store on Corydon to 3 new locations, Unique Bunny’s owner, Fiona Zhao, reflects on the popularity of Asian beauty products in Winnipeg. Joanne Roberts has the story.

What started as a small, 600 square foot store on Corydon Avenue has turned into a “unique” Winnipeg success story.

Fiona Zhao, the female Asian Canadian business owner of Unique Bunny, is celebrating a milestone with the opening of a third store.

The brand celebrates Asian beauty and its uniqueness.

“Through Asian beauty, I want everyone to find your uniqueness,” Zhao told CityNews.

The new location at Outlet Collection Mall on Sterling Lyon Parkway joins the stores on Pembina Highway and McPhillips Street.

Expansion was made possible thanks to Winnipeggers, Zhao says.

“Winnipeggers are the most supportive customers we ever had,” she said. “I’m not joking, it’s just different. The culture in Winnipeg is so supportive. I love it. And that is the reason why we expand so fast.”

It’s the reason Zhao says other Asian Canadians looking to start a business should consider the Winnipeg market.

“People here are willing to try new things and they’re so nice. Friendly Manitoba is real.”

Unique Bunny’s owner Fiona Zhao with the store’s “boss” Toto. (Joanne Roberts, CityNews)

Zhao says the business started when she found there was a gap between Asian beauty products and North American beauty products.

“For new immigrants or international students from east Asia come to Winnipeg, we cannot find any source for Asian beauty,” Zhao said. “And that is weird for me. Canadian culture is diversity. So I wanted to bring this opportunity to Winnipeg. It start from serving our Asian customer.”

Today, Zhao says her customer base has grown, serving everyone who wants to try Asian beauty and skincare products.

“Our products bring them more confidence,” she said. “That is the most happy thing I saw.”

Zhao describes her stores as customer centric. Over the years, customers have requested different brands and locations, and Zhao does her best to accommodate everyone and be accessible to the community. She also has a mandate to support the 2SLGBTQ+ community, with whom she works with in all positions.

With the grand opening of the third store, Zhao is also premiering a makeup line from Japan called Canmake Tokyo, of which she is the only retailer in Canada so far.

Zhao says she wants people to know that women can do anything. She says everyone is welcome to celebrate with her on the grand opening Saturday – both to support the business, and for a chance to meet “store boss” Toto the pug at the same time.

Toto the pug takes a nap after a busy morning prepping the store for its grand opening. (Joanne Roberts, CityNews)

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