Saskatoon woman starts local design business in father’s memory


Although she is not a carpenter by trade, Saskatoon marketing professional Erin Holm isn’t letting that stand in her way.

This year she started Den Designs, a new company crafting handmade wooden products.

Her father’s death served as the catalyst for her new venture.

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“Some of those conversations near the end really helped me decide whether to do Den Designs and go out on my own,” Holm recalls.

“His name was Dennis, hence Den Designs,” she explains.

After Dennis Holm defeated cancer a first time, the Holm family would learn the worst: in 2015, the cancer had returned.

“He was really struggling to walk, which wasn’t like him at all. He went for a checkup and [turned] out it was metastasized bone cancer,” Holm said.

“He was given not weeks, not years — we were told months.”

Last March, Dennis Holm would lose his fight against cancer at the age of 62.

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“When you get the news someone you love is going to die, your whole world changes. Money doesn’t matter anymore. The only thing that matters is time with them,” Holm said.

Erin inherited her father’s hand tools, and before long, her new path was in place.

At the same time, she wanted to give back to cancer lodges after her father spent six weeks at a lodge in Victoria. Holm said the Victoria Cancer Lodge brought her dad comfort during his time in radiation.

A percentage of every Den Design sale goes to cancer lodges across western Canada.

Sherrill Ullrich, the site manager of the Saskatoon Cancer Patient Lodge, said donations are always welcomed, as the money goes toward patient comfort.

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“[Erin] told me the story of how she came to be interested in donating, and it’s kind of snowballed from there,” Ullrich said.

“Her story is unique, that she has really made this her passion and her mission,” she added.

Holm says her business was directly inspired by her father’s outlook towards the end of his life.

“I think [Dennis] realized life is too short, and you have to live a life that you’re happy with and passionate about,” she said.


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