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From actor to entrepreneur

From actor to entrepreneur

[photo of Allison Dunbar]

Allison Dunbar, Artsci’07, is an actor turned entrepreneur. She is the owner of the Summerhill Club, Inc. a Toronto agency providing boutique babysitting, tutoring and vacation support for busy families.

Allison studied drama at Queen’s. After graduation, she continued her studies in New York. There, she picked up babysitting gigs in between acting jobs and she continued this practice after her move back to Toronto.

“After a few months of babysitting,” says Allison, “I realized there was a huge market for a step-up babysitting agency in the GTA, and a ton of smart, educated women looking for part- or full-time work.”

The idea for the business began in 2010, and Allison incorporated the business two years later. She now has more than 30 young women working for her and a regular clientele of more than 100 families.

“I never would have guessed that I would end up owning and operating my own business, especially after studying theatre,” she says, “But the skills that I learned in studying my craft have helped me in all aspects of running the company. Along with my multi-tasking skills, I also learned presentation and leadership skills that I use every day.”

Allison says that perseverance and risk-taking are two things any actor is familiar with, and essential qualities for a successful entrepreneur. As for the name of her business? It’s a nod to one of Allison’s favourite buildings on Queen’s campus as well as to the Toronto neighbourhood in which many of her clients live.