With a long-standing career in business, the travel industry, and corporate event planning, Mary Wileichuk is equally at home pioneering new initiatives or ways of thinking, as she is in stepping into the classroom or the unknown. Given her childhood, this is no surprise.
Mary’s mother came to Canada from Italy at 26, having known Mary’s father only through letters roughly translated into English by a friend. Three months later, they were married! Mary’s father owned various businesses throughout his life. He embodied a courageous entrepreneurial spirit, often with little more than a clear vision in his mind, a few dollars in his pocket, and unfailing belief in his heart. In a more traditional role of the time, Mary’s mother orchestrated the household activities, tending to the wellbeing of family and finances. She welcomed the ways of Canada and honoured her Italian heritage. In all that they worked for and believed in, her parents’ example provided a successful life compass for both Mary and her sister, Grace. To embrace life with curiosity, humour, determination, and faith is to follow one’s true north.
Shortly after their passing, Mary set her sights on a new course, and bravely pursued her dream. With a modest inheritance and an enormous appreciation for family, both bequeathed by her parents, Mary realized her long-held vision—to create opportunities for people to discover their existence beyond just the physical realm. In 2007, she opened the doors to Akasha’s Den, the first store of its kind in the Oakville area.
Mary instinctively recognized the balance required to create a successful company that would also foster relationship. She knew the Den must be a haven for people to explore their unique spiritual journeys in their own time and way, and without judgment. She recognized that everything the Den offered—products and experiences—would need to expand people’s awareness and connection to others, themselves, their journeys, and Source. Even the store’s cozy interior and abundant presentation of offerings would encourage clients to discover their own inner landscape and gifts. And so, in some ways, Akasha’s Den is a legacy both from, and to, her parents; in other ways, it’s a natural extension of her career in business.
As founder and owner, Mary maintains the overall vision for Akasha’s Den, including the direction they take in terms of workshops, services, community out-reach, and staffing. She is also responsible for the company’s financials, the schedule of programs offered, and the co-ordination of in-store and offsite facilities. The company culture she nurtures with both clients and staff is a mindset that says, “View the world as a place of opportunity and potential, not one of fear and lack.” She also recognizes the importance of experiential learning, so she often participates in the Den’s programs as a student. She supports her staff in doing the same, noting they can all better appreciate and give voice to the store’s offerings if they have experienced them personally. Extending into the community, she and her staff also choose to support local charities whose members often have no voice and few resources of their own.
Known as a Den Mother by many of her longstanding clients, Mary Wileichuk is a nurturing leader, insightful visionary, astute businesswoman, supportive community member, and passionate student. As her father instilled in her, life isn’t a competition. It’s a collaboration. "Live. Love. Laugh.” It is with this generosity of spirit and open-heartedness that Mary approaches life and fashions all aspects of Akasha’s Den.