Meet Shannon Hunter, Founder and President of Wander The Resort

Shannon Hunter

In dreaming up Wander the Resort, Shannon Hunter took the nostalgia of the classic Canadian cabin, brightened the palette and let in light to create spaces that are simple yet layered, modern yet warm, luxurious yet family friendly. The Prince Edward County-based, Scandi-inspired lakeside retreat opened in December 2020, at a time when Canadians needed the respite of local travel more than ever. Wander has since had multiple consecutive sold-out seasons through 2023, hosting a distanced experience. They’ve also launched a beach club and a gift shop where guests can find many favourite locally-made items found in the cabins. Named the best new hotel in Canada by Condé Nast Traveller in 2021, Wander is one of the few resorts in Ontario to gain global recognition.

 

My first job ever was… In grade eight I filed documents at an insurance brokerage after school. It was a quiet task, entirely unsupervised, and an education in working independently. I learned to trust my instincts. 

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… Growing up, my parents prioritized stability, working jobs with benefits and pensions, over doing something they loved. They got through Monday to Friday by dreaming of the weekend, and their two week holidays. I knew early on this wasn’t for me. I wanted to dedicate my time to something I truly enjoyed and believed in. That I found value in, both the wins AND the losses.

I knew there would be challenges. But when everything is added up, the takeaway at the end of the day, everyday, is pride and joy. And I am grateful for the agency – everything I put in, every decision I make, I own. Win or lose. 

My proudest accomplishment is… having Wander recognized by both Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler in our first few months of business was beyond anything we could have imagined, but we were still very new when those articles were published.  Those early accolades, while incredibly flattering, also set huge expectations for our guests.  We completely by-passed the early phase of a new business where you get a pass on some things because you are “new”.  Guests arrived at our door expecting the “best new hotel in Canada”.  Being able to actually live up to those expectations is by far my greatest accomplishment thus far.

My boldest move to date was… opening a luxury resort in the midst of a global pandemic.

I surprise people when I tell them… I have two degrees. One in Zoology, the other in Radiation Sciences. I worked as a research associate in the Medical Physics department at Princess Margaret Hospital, with a focus on lung cancer treatment.

I knew it was time to launch my business when… I went on maternity leave from my job at Princess Margaret Hospital. I was already running an Interior Design firm as a side hustle, while working full time  as a research associate. I had a decision to make: take a year off and return to something that no longer excited me, or use the opportunity to build my business so that I could pursue my passion full time. 

My best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… there is no perfect time.  It doesn’t exist.  There will always be a million reasons NOT to do something. Do your homework, run your numbers…and get started.

If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… READ! I prefer a good book over TV, and typically read three to four every month. 

I stay inspired by… surrounding myself with a team that constantly challenges me, questions me and makes me work to earn and maintain their respect.

The future excites me because… the Canadian boutique hotel scene is still very much in its infancy.  In the last few years, there has been an awakening amongst Canadians that we have some incredible regions to explore in our own backyards. Thinking about how Wander grows as a brand over the next 10 years, and how we continue to foster a desire to explore Canada and beyond in a way that is authentic keeps me up at night in a good way!  

My next step is… doubling our current capacity to meet the high demand.  Currently, one of our biggest challenges is managing requests from our loyal guests to return to the resort. We are booked so far in advance that it can be difficult to accommodate..  This is really disheartening because I want more than anything to build a community of like-minded travelers who return time and time again.  Our welcome mats actually say “wander in, wander often”!  Getting our capacity to a place where that is possible, while still maintaining our private, boutique feel, is my next step on this journey.

Meet Fadwa Mohanna, CEO and Founder of One37 ID

Fadwa Mohanna

Fadwa Mohanna is the founder and CEO of One37 ID, which delivers the building blocks of Web3 enabling businesses and users to connect, exchange and verify data. Fadwa’s vision is to usher the next iteration of digital transformation enabling businesses to be Web3-Ready in 24 hours or less by providing ready-to-deploy solutions designed to work with One37 decentralized digital wallet; a mobile application that allows the storage and sharing of verifiable credentials, such as a digital identity, medical and financial records, and others.

 

My first job ever was… a telecom site engineer, installing the first telecom towers and infrastructure across North African villages and cities, driving hundreds of kilometers every day, climbing many towers, and connecting people in remote areas, villages, and cities together to provide everyone with the basic human right to communicate. I would be often met with surprise and a nervous laughter for being the only woman on site and for doing “a man’s job”. 

I decided to be an entrepreneur… because I am a firm believer that the bigger the challenge you solve, the deeper the impact your work will have and the more lives you can touch. Having travelled extensively, I have experienced, firsthand, the difficulty of proving your identity and getting the needed paperwork to work and travel. That led me to re-think digital identity at large and wanting to solve its current limitations and making everyone’s life easier.

My proudest accomplishment is… shattering many glass ceilings regarding what it means to be a woman in tech, in various parts of the world, opening the gates for a new generation of women engineers. Being the only woman in the room was an eye-opening, challenging, and empowering experience.

My boldest move to date was… never resting in one place, long enough, to feel comfortable or complacent and constantly seeking new challenges both on the personal and professional levels.

I surprise people when I tell them… I am a passionate collector of antique jewelry and love collecting historical pieces with great stories and creating new ways to preserve this heritage for the future generation. 

I knew it was time to launch my business when… I felt it was the only way to be true to myself. I had developed the habit of evaluating what I was doing from the perspective of my “older self”. It allowed me to “zoom out” and evaluate my life with some detachment and perspective. When my assessment was not satisfactory for an extended period, I knew it was time to answer my calling and launch my own business.

My best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… It will never be easy, will never happen as planned and will never be perfect. Plus, “The way to eat a bicycle is one piece at a time.” No matter how big the problem is, break it down into small manageable pieces and make small cumulative achievements, every single day. 

My best advice from a mentor was… Are you willing to take one hundred percent responsibility for your life?” 

Some of the deepest changes in my life came after attending a retreat with my mentor “Jack Canfield”, author of “The Success Principles”. “If you want to be successful, you must take 100% responsibility for everything that you experience in your life. This includes the level of your achievements, the results you produce, the quality of your relationships, the state of your health and physical fitness, your income, your debts, your feelings-everything!”

When the going gets tough, I tell myself… “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Success takes time, years of grind, frustration, failure, self-doubt. It also takes a lot of hard work, patience, grit, consistency, and perseverance. However, if you keep your eyes on the prize, you can make it. Be flexible and keep adapting until you figure it out.

If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… spend it with my family and my community. Their light and wisdom are all the motivation I need to keep believing and building a better world. 

I stay inspired,,, by being a lifelong learner; always reading, watching documentaries, learning new skills, and taking on new challenges.

The future excites me because… I choose to believe in humanity! Despite all the negative news, there has never been a better time in history to be an entrepreneur, to have hope, a dream, a vision, and then move to execution. Every indication from the past shows that whenever we faced major hurdles, we always came together, adapted, and evolved.

My next step is… to keep figuring it out, one day at a time, breathing deeply, enjoying every day, never taking anything for granted and be very thankful and appreciative of every new day.

Meet Tiffany Callender, CEO of The Federation of African Canadian Economics (FACE)

Tiffany Callender

Tiffany Callender was named the inaugural CEO of The Federation of African Canadian Economics (FACE) in 2021. The national and bilingual Black-led non-profit organisation is focused on providing resources and information to the Black community across Canada, with the aim of accelerating wealth creation for Canadians of African descent. A community developer and social entrepreneur, Tiffany has spent her career developing and implementing programs to support Montreal’s Black community. In addition to being the youngest female Executive Director of one of the oldest Black organizations in Quebec, she was recognized by MIPAD as one of the 100 most influential person of African-descent under 40 in 2020,

 

My first job ever was… a day camp counselor. I volunteered at twelve years old and worked for that camp every summer until I graduated from high school. 

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… launching a product or service gives me an opportunity to be creative and challenged in a unique way.

My proudest accomplishment is… being the co-founder and inaugural CEO of the Federation of African Canadian Economics with a mandate to administer Canada’s historic Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund.  

My boldest move to date was… building a national Black economic strategy during a global pandemic.  The world was shrouded with uncertainty, but I was determined to work with others to find a path for Black businesses to survive and thrive beyond COVID-19. 

I surprise people when I tell them… I believe everyday people have the potential to make our society more equitable and prosperous.  

I knew it was time to launch my business when… the solution that was so obvious to me was not found in the market.

My best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… take advantage of resources to support you while you develop your company.  You will have many questions throughout your entrepreneurial journey, just remain determined and relentless in finding sources for the most reliable solutions.

My best advice from a mentor was… expand your concept by expanding your network.  There are knowledgeable individuals that can guide you while you build your vision.

When the going gets tough, I tell myself… nothing worth achieving is without struggle.

If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… spend more time being still. A little extra time outside of my schedule would be best used by being in the moment.

I stay inspired by… my children. I have realized that my drive to evolve our society for the better is intrinsically linked to my desire for their wellness.

The future excites me because… every action I take today is building the positive future I will experience. Once I grasped this concept, optimism set in, and opportunities became abundant.

My next step is… converting my experience as a founder into a new, social purpose organization that will ensure youth have an early start and equal access to educational resources across the country. I intend to remain a woman who is one to watch.

Meet Lisa Karandat & Alexa Monahan, Co-Founders, Good Juju Body & Home

Lisa Karandat & Alexa Monahan

Lisa Karandat and Alexa Monahan are Co-Founders of Good Juju Body & Home, a line of all natural and plastic-free everyday essentials. Having spent much of their careers having a direct impact on the health of Canadians, the pair came together with a mission to inspire, educate and empower people to make small, incremental changes to their daily routine — changing consumer behavior to make a measurable impact on the environment, while creating a more sustainable business model. 

 

My first job ever was…

Lisa:  Delivering newspapers.

Alexa: Cleaning grocery shelves.

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… 

Lisa:  I have always loved business and reached a point in my career where I was drawn to take all the experience I had accumulated and use it to make an impact in the way that I wanted vs executing someone else’s vision. 

Alexa:  Having worked for a family business my whole life, I was ready to create my own mark in the world.  I like the challenge of learning something new every day and creating something that reflects my values and passions. 

Our proudest accomplishment is… Creating a purpose driven company that has is already making a difference in tackling the biggest issues of our time.  The climate crisis and diversity and inclusion.  The climate crisis is the biggest existential threat to humanity, and we are really proud is doing something to tackle this. A portion of each and every dollar earned and spent at Good Juju goes to supporting the climate.  

Our boldest move to date was… Having the courage to start Good Juju!  After we left our past careers we could have taken the safe route to get another job in the same industry.  But we took the look leap and as hard as it is, we wouldn’t have it any other way.  Being a woman in business has opened some doors, but also closed others, and to have the courage to continue to persevere is a daily decision.  

We surprise people when I tell them… We don’t want to be called Boss Babes or Mompreneurs.  Words have power, we are business people and we find too often that women are defined by these labels which would never be applied to a man.  We find that these terms can minimize our contributions and separate us from male entrepreneurs in a diminishing way.  We want to be champions for women as leaders but to ultimately work to inspire ALL entrepreneurs regardless of how they identify.   

We knew it was time to launch our business when… We looked around and we uninspired by the lack of sustainably minded businesses who offer great products.  For most companies, being sustainable means purchasing carbon offsets, but the reality is that the way we do business needs to fundamentally change.  Carbon offsets are not nearly enough.  When we started Good juju we wanted to inspire consumers with a better way of doing things, but to also inspire businesses to do better.  

Our best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… Get a partner if you can. It’s very hard to do this on your own, and to have someone to cry with, celebrate with, and keep you going is invaluable! Having said that, if you are going to get a partner, make sure you share the same fundamental values around business.  Compromises will have to be made, but if you trust your partner and know they share your values, you are more likely to bend if they feel more passionate about something than you do.  It also allows you to have another perspective on things that you may not have thought about.  

Our best advice from a mentor was… Being an entrepreneur is an endurance sport and you need to take care of yourself.  Work out, take care of your mind, eat well, and rest.  Each day is roller coaster, and you can easily ride the extreme wave of emotions going high to low within hours.  To stay centered is practice and a skill that you need to cultivate to manage the stress and enjoy running your business.  

When the going gets tough, I tell myself…

Lisa:  Call Alexa.

Alexa:  Call Lisa.

If we had an extra hour in the day, we would… Do something for me, walk, read, go into nature.  As an entrepreneur it is very hard to shut off, there is always work to do.  Those moments of self-care will have big returns.  You cannot pour into your business if you are empty.  

We stay inspired by… Other amazing companies and women founders.  One of the best things about starting Good Juju is the amount of women founders that reached out to network and help.  They are all doing such amazing things and keep us inspired to keep going with their success and keep us learning with the knowledge and sharing.   

The future excites us because… There is so much potential to do good in this world. We are trying to change consumers’ fundamental daily habits and the potential impact of that is huge!  Our goal is to remove 50 million plastic bottles from the waste stream by 2030. 

Our next step is… Focus on rapid growth.  We have proven our products and business model and now it’s time to scale.

Meet Caitlyn Vanderhaeghe, President, CEO, and co-founder of KidStar Nutrients

Caitlyn Vanderhaeghe

Caitlyn Vanderhaeghe is President, CEO, and co-founder of KidStar Nutrients, a Canadian natural health company. A health advocate and licensed teacher, as well as a published children’s author and popular mommy blogger, her passion for all things natural health has driven her to develop nutritional supplements that are clean and pure, providing only the ingredients needed for optimal health and nothing more. When she’s not working to educate families about the importance of good nutrition and health, she can most often be found sharing her Frozen and Peppa Pig expertise or wrangling her three daughters, husband, and family dog on a local beach or neighbourhood park.

 

My first job ever was… My first “job” was selling flowers to our neighbours. I was about 9 years old, and I would go to my mom’s beautiful garden, make bouquets of her flowers, then go door-to-door selling the bouquets I made so that I could have some spending money at the corner store. When I was a bit older, I worked for my mom helping to pack orders and file the endless paperwork of an entrepreneur. After that, I always had something on the go.

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… After searching for an effective supplement for my own family, I came up empty-handed. I knew that other parents were in the same situation as me, looking for a great quality product that kids would want to take. I have really high standards for my family’s health, so I started my own company to formulate clean supplements.

My proudest accomplishment is… As an entrepreneur my proudest accomplishment to date is seeing my products on the shelf next to all the big brands. 

My boldest move to date was… Starting my own company! 

I knew it was time to launch my business when… I couldn’t find an iron supplement that wasn’t filled with sugar, fillers, and harmful ingredients, to treat my daughter’s iron deficiency. I saw there really was a need for clean, healthy, sugar-free supplements.

My best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… Just take that step. And keeping moving forward! Nothing good comes from going backwards or standing still.

My best advice from a mentor was… When you need help, ask for it! 

When the going gets tough, I tell myself… No matter what happens, the success of my company is not a reflection of my self-worth.

I stay inspired by… My three daughters. They are my biggest fans and everywhere we go, they tell other kids and people all about KidStar and how one day they are going to run a company, too! 

The future excites me because… I am already seeing companies following suit with cleaner supplements for kids and even more companies are focusing on preventing nutrient deficiencies. 

My next step is… Increasing education so we can spread the word on why we need clean supplements to prevent nutrient deficiencies.