Eno Eka is a recipient of the 2020 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Ones To Watch Award. She is the Founder and CEO of Eny Consulting — a boutique consulting company — where she provides coaching and professional development services to help immigrants kick-start their careers in Canada.
My first job ever was… an accounting intern after high school.
I decided to be an entrepreneur… because I always had that entrepreneurial spirit and wanted to own my business. I was the president of the Junior Achievement Club in my high school and we had to start several businesses as projects, and I enjoyed it. I then went on to start my little bookstore business at the age of 15, reselling my old books to my classmates.
My proudest accomplishment is… winning the Women of Inspiration Award for Mentorship in 2019 after 18 months of relocation to Canada.
My boldest move to date was… moving to Canada all by myself!
I surprise people when I tell them that… I have no family in Canada, have lived here for just 2 years now and I am under 30.
I knew it was time to launch my business when I… was approached with an opportunity and had to render my services as a business and not an employee.
My best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… to just start, take imperfect actions because done is better than perfect.
My best advice from a mentor was… to focus on impact and the income will follow.
When the going gets tough, I tell myself… nothing good comes easy and I do the work no matter how I feel.
If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… sleep in for another hour!!!
I stay inspired by… my mother, my mentors and the amazing students I get to coach in my programs.
The future excites me because… I know it is just the beginning— I am on a global mission to educate people all over the world.
My next step is… to expand my business into new countries and keep learning from the best business mentors globally
Rogayeh Tabrizi is a recipient of the 2020 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Ones To Watch Award. In 2018 she Co-Founded Theory+Practice, an advanced data science company, where as CEO she has led the strategic growth of the self-funded private company that now employs 20 highly skilled people.
My first job ever was… translating science articles for a university magazine geared towards highschoolers. Making knowledge accessible to those who previously didn’t have access to it was very fulfilling.
I decided to be an entrepreneur because… it seemed like the natural path for me versus a conscious decision. I didn’t decide to be an entrepreneur as much as my desire to question the status quo and contribute to a better future led me to be an entrepreneur. It has been an iterative process.
My proudest accomplishment is… being at the ground-level of starting the African School of Physics (ASP) 10 years ago. ASP is an NGO dedicated to capacity development in fundamental physics in Africa and socialize learning on the continent. To date we have hosted 700 students from 17 countries, with 70% completing their PhDs or post-docs in North America and Europe, and 35% returning to their country of origin.
My boldest move to date was… switching from MSc Physics to PhD Economics with no background. I had worked to be a physicist for my entire life and it took a lot of soul searching and hard work to change paths. I went from being at the top of my class to having to basically start over. The move has paid many dividends and I am happy I had the courage to be bold at that time.
I surprise people when I tell them… I would jump the fence when I was in grade 9, walk a few kilometres by the highway and then jump the fence to sit in physics classes at the local university. I did that for two years and my poor parents were called to school often. Another funny surprise is that the Dalai Lama fell on my lap after he came down the stage! I had helped to organize his last visit to Vancouver.
I knew it was time to launch my business when… I left physics to pursue a career in economics as a way of applying my technical skills to more real-world problems. I was talking about this — with who would eventually become my co-founder — and it became clear that there was an opportunity to bridge the high-level theoretical knowledge and leading edge thinking researchers do in academia to the practical issues facing businesses and society today. It was then that Theory+Practice was born.
To constantly try to improve and that the journey is about working to make things better, but at the same time, you need to know when something is good enough for now.
My best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… don’t be idealistic about the monetary benefits of being an entrepreneur. Commit to working, particularly when you feel stuck. Ground your decisions on your values and principles. Being an entrepreneur will challenge you in ways you can’t imagine. Persevere and stick to it, but also ask for help. You won’t be able to succeed on your own. Get advice from everyone you can and find mentors to help you reflect on your progress. Dig deep and find the strength in our heart.
My best advice from a mentor… came in the form of a question. One mentor asked me “are you a perfectionist?” and I proudly responded with a yes. With a straight face, he said to me, “Quit now, you would never finish anything.” I realized then that it is more important to strive for excellence than perfection. To constantly try to improve and that the journey is about working to make things better, but at the same time, you need to know when something is good enough for now.
When the going gets tough, I tell myself… “I am not playing two dimensional checkers, this is chess in Star Wars!” I focus on what is right here, right now in front of me and remember the goal. I remind myself of the positive moments and how grateful I am for all the resources around me and that I am not alone. I ask for help and remind myself that I am working for my team and together we can and do manage through tough times. It is actually very rewarding and fulfilling to deal with and manage adversity.
If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… paint more. I would just grab a canvas and let the creativity take control.
I stay inspired by… my team. Every day I am inspired by the power of teamwork with diverse thinking and perspectives that accompany it. There is truth in the cliche, “The sum is greater than the parts.” At Theory+Practice we are often trying to solve problems that have never been solved before. We deal with a lot of complexity, but focus on simplicity. There is a magical moment when clarity emerges and a team becomes radically aligned. I crave these moments for myself, and for my team.
The future excites me because… even with the vast disruption and impacts of COVID-19, there are endless possibilities for a better future. Never before have we had such an opportunity — in so many ways — to make a positive impact in the lives of others.
My next step is… to continue the journey that Theory+Practice has put me on and find new and bigger opportunities to impact the world around me, while staying open to change. It is about showcasing — big or small — what is possible and questioning the status quo. I am excited to continue to learn and share my experiences with others, and mentor young people to help them on their own journeys as well.
Nadine Chalati is a recipient of the 2020 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Ones To Watch Award. She is a lawyer and the owner of the boutique law firm Chalati Lawyer, specializing in corporate and commercial law. As a firm advocate for accessibility in the legal system, Nadine regularly acts as an outside general counsel for small-to-medium sized businesses and assists not-for-profits and charities. Accentuating her practice on improving accessibility to justice and providing value to the community, Nadine also films daily legal segments on corporate and commercial law on Instagram.
My first job ever was… a lab technician at a pharmacy. It was my first experience in the service industry. It taught me how to communicate effectively with clients, provide outstanding service and resolve disputes. Additionally, as a lab technician, I learnt the importance of thoroughness, diligence, and revision of every action, even if they appear simple, such as counting pills. The skills I learnt then as a teenager are at the base of the skills I utilize today as a lawyer and entrepreneur.
I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I felt in me the desire to build something on my own. I was drawn to the idea of creating my own independence and relying on myself to make a living. Also, I craved the freedom to carve myself my own niche in law. I felt that I could only do that if I had total freedom to take the risks necessary to establish a practice that was totally customized to my interests.
My proudest accomplishment is… growing my business to the stage it is at now and consistently finding ways to leverage my skill set, my network and my drive to further its growth. I am endlessly grateful for it.
My boldest move to date was… starting from scratch. I was very young, fresh out of school, had no clients or a network. Looking back now, I am proud that I had the confidence to be so bold and take the risk!
I surprise people when I tell them… that I opened my firm at 23.
I knew it was time to launch my business when… I was at a crossroad. I was sworn into the Bar after an internship that was focused on litigation. Although I loved litigation, I discovered that it was a great source of stress in my life. I had to therefore decide if I wanted to continue pursuing the path of litigation, working in a firm, or if I wanted to shift towards building my own practice where I could tailor my business to suit my personality.
My best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Practice. Practice. Practice, with the objective of performing with excellence. You show your worth by being excellent. The ability to provide quality work will help you build a solid foundation of clients. In turn, this will give you the inspiration to consistently evolve your business and most importantly, it will give you pleasure to work.
When I am struggling with an issue that is not straightforward, I pause, I study and I evaluate the elements at hand.
My best advice from a mentor was… Just post it! It does not matter if it’s not perfect. My website, my first video, first ad, first blog… they were far from perfect, but they were good enough. That first “good enough” gives you just enough momentum to start landing your first clients, building a network, attracting attention. Eventually, you look back and notice you have a bank of clients, skills and content that came from that first, “not perfect but good enough.”.
When the going gets tough, I tell myself… that the business that I am trying to grow is not any kind of business. I am trying to grow a business as a lawyer within the boundaries of my professional order. When I am struggling with an issue that is not straightforward, I pause, I study and I evaluate the elements at hand. Often, I will go for a walk in nature or meditate to assess the issue at hand properly and in a sound mind.
If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… learn a new skill, kayak, paddle board, meditate, do yoga and enjoy the beauty and simplicity of life. I believe my creativity originates from the pause, from slowing down. Once I feel inspired and recharged, I can focus again on performance and development of my goals.
I stay inspired by… when I see a client leave my office with a smile and they are appeased by my work, it inspires me to keep doing good work and persevering. Seeing them happy brings joy to my day and is really the best part about the work I do.
The future excites me because… there is so much potential for change and transformation in the legal industry. Whether that be in the way that we service our clients, the products that we can create to better serve them or the platforms we can utilize to further disburse legal information to the public at no cost. The potential is limitless and I am truly excited to be able to play a part in this transformation.
My next step is… to continue to grow Chalati Lawyer, to build an even stronger niche in corporate and commercial law and ultimately to be able to help more businesses with our services. Part of that process involves building new innovative products that both our clients and the community at large can use and to post more legal content on various social media platforms in order to make legal information widely accessible to the public at no cost.
Suzie Yorke is a recipient of the 2020 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Ones To Watch Award. A mom and a yoga enthusiast, Suzie developed Love Good Fats, a company that produces high-fat, low-carb, and low-sugar products, after she identified a gap in the marketplace and an opportunity to help others through food. With a background in marketing and deep passion for health, Suzie is on a mission to spread the word that fat is back, and sugar is out!
My first job ever was… at Harvey’s at the age of 15. Part of my job was cleaning toilets. The following summer, I got a job at a hospital where again I cleaned toilets! A theme indeed!
I decided to be an entrepreneur because… from a very young age I always wanted to have my own brand. I remember telling my mom at age eleven that one day I was going to run my own company. I really had no idea what that was going to be but the idea has always excited and inspired me. It just took 40+ years to get there!
My proudest accomplishment is… I’d have to say my kids! In regard to my business I’ve been blessed to hit some pretty amazing milestones. One of the biggest ones for sure was being picked up by every Whole Food market across the US so quickly.
My boldest move to date was… starting a company at age 50! I finally took the plunge and risked my life savings. Being a single mom with 2 kids soon to be in university, this was a bold move — but it all worked out! Now we have one of the fastest growing food start-ups in Canada!
I surprise people when I tell them… I am an eleven-time Ironman finisher! Racing triathlons and marathons has always been both a passion and a lifestyle. Each race would require months (usually about 10 months) of being focused on that eventual race day and being ready. So a lot of little daily steps that lead to — come race day — both arms raised up in the air at the finish line!
I knew it was time to launch my business when… after 20+ years on a low fat diet, I read a book, Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz, and immediately changed my diet to more fats and cutting out sugar. I couldn’t find on-the-go snacks to support my new lifestyle so I’m leading the charge of change with a high fat/low sugar brand, starting with bars.
I get very motivated with personal sharing, wins and stories. Connecting with people and chatting about their stories is always a go-to for inspiration.
My best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… first, be brave and start — take that first step to commercialize your idea. Until then, it’s just an idea. Start!Second, don’t give up. My very first production run failed and ate up most of my investment and I had to make a decision to quit or go forward. We’ve had so many challenges — some of which could have been fatal — but we pick up pieces, reassess, learn, and forge forward.
My best advice from a mentor was… not to look twenty years out but to look at the steps you need to do right now. The rest of the pieces will fall into place as you move forward. Trust that you’re on a journey and take steps in the right enough direction.
When the going gets tough, I tell myself… to look at my past successes and take heart from what I have achieved. Although the success of the company has been a rocket ship, it’s been tons and tons of very hard work and lots of “scary” moments and big decisions. Nothing comes easy but with hard work, the right team and mindset, it will.
If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… definitely use it to work out. With COVID, I have been able to find a bit more time to run or bike or do yoga and that’s indeed a blessing. That being said, I’d still love more time every day to get the oxygen and adrenaline flowing — this is when I get the best ideas too!
I stay inspired by… tapping into all the amazing people around me — I get very motivated with personal sharing, wins and stories. Connecting with people and chatting about their stories is always a go-to for inspiration.
The future excites me because… there are so many opportunities for our Love Good Fats brand. Our bars and shakes have given us permission to introduce more low sugar/high fat products with clean ingredients.
My next step is… growing Love Good Fats to achieve the mission of changing the way people eat. Until we’re well on our way there, this is my laser focus on the next step.
Jenn Harper is a recipient of the 2020 Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Ones To Watch Award. She is the founder and CEO of Cheekbone Beauty Cosmetics INC, a digitally native direct to consumer brand that is helping Indigenous youth see themselves in a beauty brand. Cheekbone Beauty uses the concept of a circular economy in the brands ethos and in developing their latest line of products, creating a new segment in the beauty industry—Sustainable Socially Conscious Beauty.
My first job ever was… either the shampoo girl at the local salon or the dishwasher at a local restaurant, both the same year but I can’t remember what was first. The cleanest pots and scalps in Niagara! I have always been a hard worker no matter what role I filled.
I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I wanted to see Indigenous faces represented in beauty. I did not see anyone else trying to do this, so I went for it.
My proudest accomplishment is…overcoming alcoholism. To make a really long and painful story short, this still feels like I overcame a mountain — with lots of help of course! But I fully believe I can accomplish anything because I have overcome mountain-like obstacles with the right support team.
My boldest move to date was… not giving up.
Be consistent, keep showing up. You can’t lose if you keep trying!
I surprise people when I tell them… I have no experience in the beauty industry, or at least I don’t think I do.
I knew it was time to launch my business when… we had a website and a product, which was not perfect at all — but I decided to give it a go!
My best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… to be consistent, keep showing up. You can’t lose if you keep trying!
My best advice from a mentor was… to use a business advisory board — very practical and helpful.
When the going gets tough, I tell myself… “Our youth need hope and help. These are actually my Brother BJ’s words; he said this to me before he took his own life just before the launch of Cheekbone in 2016. A very painful companion but truly the driving force behind Cheekbone.
If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… read more.
I stay inspired by… getting out in nature, near water or lots of trees.
The future excites me because… of hope; believing the best is yet to come keeps me going!
My next step is… designing and developing new sustainable packaging that doesn’t exist yet! Exciting and very hard but it will be worth it!