Meet Lisa Ali Learning Founder of AtlanTick Repellent Products And 2019 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Ones To Watch Award Winner

Lisa Ali Learning

Founder, AtlanTick Repellent Products

Ones to Watch Award

 

Lisa’s business idea arose when her two sons were sick with Lyme disease. While focusing on the immediate care of her children, she developed safe, natural formulas to keep them from encountering future tick bites, the source of the disease. As her sons recovered, Lisa was able to devote more of herself to the development of AtlanTick, a tick safety company, determined to produce the first all-natural tick repellent registered with Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency.

 

My first job ever was… a paper route when I was around 10 years old.

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I didn’t make a conscious decision about becoming an entrepreneur – it always strongly felt like the right direction for me so I took it.

 

My proudest accomplishment is… that’s hard to narrow down, but I am proud of a few things in particular. I was able to survive and provide for myself by selling my art, even having pieces commissioned by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to represent the Metis people of the region and to represent the apology ceremony from the federal government to the survivors of abuse at residential schools in NL. I’ve run a property management business for years, but I knew very little about it when I began – I learned fast, figured things out and saw great success. I am incredibly proud of AtlanTick, the growth of our company, and the impact we are having on tick safety research, development and bite prevention. Beyond all of these things, I am proud of my children and the relationships that are integral to my daily life. 

My boldest move to date was… deciding to tackle registration of our tick repellent formula with Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency. This is a very complicated, drawn-out and expensive process, and as such has deterred countless small businesses from similar pursuits. In this case, my stubbornness has served me as a strength.

I surprise people when I tell them… people are often surprised by the variety of businesses I’ve run, as they all fall into such different categories. People are also surprised that I don’t have a science background, but that’s never been a problem because we’ve got a great team of scientists from Acadia University with loads of applicable expertise helping us out.

I knew it was time to launch my business when… I realized the importance of and need for tick safety products, which was unfortunately made very clear when both of my sons became sick with Lyme disease as a result of tick bites.

 

“Problems tend to always work out when I remove my emotional self from the equation and look at the bigger picture.”

 

My best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… you must truly believe that you can do anything you set your mind to. You must also ask questions and really listen to the answers. Being observant and listening are the first great tools in your entrepreneurial toolbox.

My best advice from a mentor was… my dad always told me that there is no such word as can’t. As a child, I would argue with him about that, but it has been one of my greatest lessons in life – we often create our own limitations and likewise can erase them by changing our attitude about things.

When the going gets tough, I tell myself… I tend to pull myself back, mentally, from the dilemma I’m facing and try to look at things from a broader perspective. When I do that I can see that problems are often nowhere as significant as I may have first thought, which allows me to then look for and find solutions. Problems tend to always work out when I remove my emotional self from the equation and look at the bigger picture.

If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… spend even more time with my family.

I stay inspired by… I have an innate and insatiable desire to learn, to figure things out, to solve problems. I’m inspired by challenges and possibilities.

The future excites me because… I know that the work we are doing is changing peoples’ lives. We are not only finding preventative solutions to a serious and growing health threat, but we are also contributing to the scientific community, learning things about tick physiology that have not been known or proven before now. We are determined to help people avoid the often debilitating and sometimes deadly consequences of tick-borne diseases, and that is something I feel incredible about.

My next step is… when the registration process is complete, Atlantick will produce the first highly-effective, natural-ingredient, Health Canada-certified tick repellent available in Canada… and we can’t wait!

Meet Dina Kulik Founder of Kidcrew And 2019 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Ones To Watch Award Winner

Dina Kulik

Founder, Kidcrew

Ones to Watch Award

 

Dr. Dina Kulik is a mother and Paediatrician in Toronto. With a focus on superior patient outcomes and education, Dina is one of Canada’s leading child health media experts, providing child health information to parents and the public through television, radio, and print media and via her thriving blog, DrDina.ca. She is the founder and CEO of Kidcrew, a multidisciplinary clinic for kids’ health. 

 

My first job ever was… I worked at Second Cup in high school. I loved serving tea and coffee and the chill environment that was created. The quiet times allowed me to study (such a nerd!)

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… when I see product or services that don’t exist, but I think should, I am compelled to make it happen.

My proudest accomplishment is… raising four thoughtful, kind, and sweet sons. I am proudest when I see them being a kind friend or being supportive brothers to one other.

My boldest move to date was… taking out a loan and building Kidcrew. The risk was my own, but it has paid back in spades. When I see families walk in and see how fun, bright and comfortable Kidcrew is, and seeing the kids playing happily and eagerly attending their appointments, it is certainly worth it!

I surprise people when I tell them… I am the mom of four young sons. I also run ½ and full marathons.

I knew it was time to launch my business when… I noticed a void in the market for fun, comfortable and entertaining medical clinics. I knew families and practitioners alike would love a clinic providing every service for kids all under one roof. 

My best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… follow your sense of urgency. Too many would-be entrepreneurs wait and debate and run pro and con lists endlessly. If you have an idea and a way to make it happen, and the fire is under you, just jump in. It’ll never feel like the best time. You will always have doubts. But if you don’t jump, you’ll constantly second guess yourself

 

“Follow your sense of urgency.”

 

My best advice from a mentor was… trust your gut.

When the going gets tough, I tell myself… ‘Look how happy those kids and families are. Look how much you have reinvented how child health care is provided’. I could never go back.

If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… run farther each morning. 

I stay inspired by… hanging out with kids! Children are the most inspiring people. Children are optimistic, happy and eager for every adventure. A ride on the subway, a special moment with a loved one, a new friend; kids are full of excitement for change. More adults should live with this type of gusto in life. Chatting with a young child about what excites them always brings a smile to my face and inspires me to make their day even better.  

The future excites me because… they are so many possibilities! There are so many ways to make kids healthier, happier and improve their lives. Too few products and services exist for children and families that are created by a physician AND mom, and I hope to change the landscape. 

My next step is… so much is in store for me and my businesses! Additional Kidcrew locations are in the works, as is a skincare brand for children and families and a line of healthy, but tasty, kids snack food and drinks. I will also be launching a sleep program for tired parents in 2019. I have only just begun my entrepreneurial journey and can’t wait to see what the future brings!

 

Meet Melissa Kargiannakis Founder of Skritswap And 2019 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Ones To Watch Award Winner

Melissa Kargiannakis

Founder, Skritswap

Ones to Watch Award

 

Melissa Kargiannakis is the founder and CEO of Skritswap: a Silicon Valley venture capital-funded AI start-up that swaps complex jargon into plain, easy-to-understand language. Imagine a mortgage at a grade six reading level. In just nine months full-time at Skritswap, Melissa led the team to win the Top 20 Most Innovative Companies in Canada from the Canadian Innovation Exchange.

 

My first job ever was…Waitress and Lifeguard in Sault Ste. Marie.

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… this is a product that the world simply needs. A colleague at MaRS Discovery District challenged me to consider: “Why not me? Who gives me permission?”My proudest accomplishment is… winning an award from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in 2015. 

My boldest move to date was… closing my whole pre-seed fundraising round in only 4 hours!

I surprise people when I tell them… I can sing opera.

I knew it was time to launch my business when… the XPRIZE for Adult Literacy came out in 2015, validating just how extensive this problem is. I was incorporated within a month of seeing the competition. 

My best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… take one step every single day to move your business forward, especially if you are just starting out and perhaps even still working a day job; just one thing, every day.

 

“Take one step every single day to move your business forward.”

 

My best advice from a mentor was… don’t say too much all at once. Share one bit of information at a time, they will ask for more if they are curious.  

When the going gets tough, I tell myself… first, I have a good cry to let it out. Then I write in my notebook specifically for journaling my feelings about the company. Next, I call an advisor/mentor and friend to help remind me of the good times and why I’m doing this. After all that, then I tell myself that this challenge is completely surmountable and I can figure it out. When it gets really tough usually stepping away from work for at least a weekend or even a full vacation really helps me reset.

If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… probably just do more work. I already make sure I exercise, journal, meditate, and eat my healthy meals daily. It’s all about prioritizing your time, there’s no such thing as too busy. 

I stay inspired by… living in gratitude for how far I’ve come. And looking forward at all the possibilities on the horizon.

The future excites me because… I am creating the life I’ve always dreamed of that positively impacts others using tech to increase equity.

My next step is… showing people how we can simplify their information: if you work in the financial industry at a bank or insurance company and want to see the results – call me. I am also raising a Seed round this fall – call me if you want in.

Meet Benveet Gill Founder of ReYu Paralysis Recovery Centre And 2019 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Ones To Watch Award Winner

Benveet Gill

Founder, ReYu Paralysis Recovery Centre

Ones to Watch Award

 

Benveet has over 10 years of experience as an X-ray technologist specializing in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab. Her life was changed forever when she was paralyzed from the waist down and diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis in July 2012. After years of hard work with her trainer, Nancy, she has regained a lot of her strength and mobility. She co-founded a ReYu Paralysis Recovery Centre, offering neuro recovery through intense activity-based training programs.

 

My first job ever was… Health Care Attendant / Nurse’s Aide.

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… my city was lacking in neuro-rehab options and the universe showed me that this was my path, THIS is why I was paralyzed. 

My proudest accomplishment is… opening ReYu. The awards I’ve won are amazing and I’m extremely proud of those but giving someone the opportunity to stand and walk again is incomparable. Having my clients tell me that they put their hair in a ponytail or were able to get back into their wheelchair after falling out or seeing a little kid take their first steps…these are moments that fill my heart and make me incredibly proud.

My boldest move to date was… I’ve had many bold moves in my life but the one that stands out the most was leaving my ex-husband after he beat me up for the first and last time. I have a zero-tolerance policy and I didn’t look back or give him any more chances. 

I surprise people when I tell them… my age haha most people guess that I’m 10 years younger than I am.

I knew it was time to launch my business when… my trainer at the time, now business partner got a full-time job offer in Florida. I knew I needed her more and she said she would only stay if we did something worthwhile so we pulled up our big girl pants and decided to change the game of neuro-recovery in Edmonton.

My best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… NEVER GIVE UP! It will be hard, you will face tough times and tough decisions but believe in yourself and your goal. I also recommend having a business partner that balances you, find someone whose strengths are your weaknesses and vice versa. With this formula, you WILL succeed.

 

Keep your ego in check and know when to step aside and let someone else take the reigns.

 

My best advice from a mentor was… keep your ego in check and know when to step aside and let someone else take the reigns of your business. She told me “a good leader knows when their time is done and they let someone else take their ideas and business to the next level.”

When the going gets tough, I tell myself… you’re doing this for all the people with disabilities who don’t have support. You’re providing a service that is literally changing people’s lives for the better. Kids are walking because of you. Adults have confidence in themselves and are seeking opportunities to be more involved in the community. You tell everyone else to “never give up” so take your own advice and keep going!

If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… play with my puppy! Since opening ReYu my quality time with him has decreased immensely, so I would take that time to cuddle him and play with him. 

I stay inspired by… the incredible stories of my clients. When they reach a milestone it gives me that extra push to keep going. When they tell me that their quality of life has improved and they are more confident my heart bursts. 

The future excites me because… there is so much potential for change in all aspects of neuro-recovery. We want to lead Canada into the future of neuro rehab. As technology improves and science proves that neuroplasticity is real, the potential is limitless. I want to change lives all over the world. I want everyone living with a disability to know that they CAN achieve more and they WILL if they never give up. 

My next step is… to continue to grow ReYu and change as many lives as possible. I will continue to motivate and inspire by sharing my story and those of my clients. We plan to change the way the medical system sees neurologic conditions, it’s not a death sentence there is always hope for recovery. I want to rid the world of the stigma surrounding people with disabilities, we are regular people too. I will continue to speak about racism and discrimination, by educating others we release the anger and hatred, therefore, decreasing it. 

Meet Melinda Rombouts Founder of Eve & Co Cannabis And 2019 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Ones To Watch Award Winner

Melinda Rombouts

Founder, Eve & Co Cannabis

Ones to Watch Award

 

After a series of agriculture businesses, Melinda tried a new hand — cannabis. She made history as the first woman founder and CEO to receive her cultivation license for cannabis under the Cannabis Act. Now leading a publicly traded recreational cannabis company, Melinda continues to guide the company to great success on the national and global scale.

 

My first job ever was… during summers, I worked for an Entomologist at the Ministry of Agriculture as a “bug counter”, which I was teased about, but through this position, I further developed my love for agriculture, growing and plants.

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… it wasn’t really a conscious decision.  When I graduated from university, I had an idea and ran with it.

My proudest accomplishment is… the Eve & Co. team – I credit them with the success of our company.

My boldest move to date was… deciding to completely shut down our previous business to retrofit the greenhouse for Cannabis production.

I surprise people when I tell them… there is only about 6% of female leadership in the Canadian Cannabis Industry – it is a very male-dominated industry. Secondly, I have had many roles in our company including the Quality Assurance Person, Master Grower, and now CEO and President and was also initially responsible for security design, GMP facility design, completed the application on my own and wrote the Standard Operating Procedures.

I knew it was time to launch my business when… we realized how few female leaders there were in the industry which led us to ask if women’s needs would be addressed.  About 94% of Canadian cannabis leaders are male. Employees of licensed holders are approximately 71% male whereas Eve has just under 70% female employees.  We believe that this is an effect of female leadership and that there needs to be a change and inclusion of females for leadership positions in all industries.  Being predominantly female at all levels (leadership, board and team members), Eve is uniquely oriented and can authentically address what women want from their Cannabis products.

My best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is… trust your instinct. 

My best advice from a mentor was… surround yourself with people who will work hard and who believe in the company – the best team members are often those with determination.

 

“Surround yourself with people who will work hard and who believe in the company.”

 

When the going gets tough, I tell myself… things work out the way they’re supposed to.

If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… spend it with my kids.

I stay inspired by… looking at the new opportunities that are constantly arising in this rapidly expanding industry and considering the exciting possibilities for Eve & Co.  We are approached on a weekly basis with new ideas for product lines, partnership opportunities and new directions. My team also inspires me with their enthusiasm, determination and faith in our company. 

The future excites me because… there are so many possibilities in the works for Eve & Co. for global expansion and our product lines. Our team has purposely oriented itself to helping our customers by offering products that allow people to achieve a better life and in developing products to improve health and wellness.  We also see the possibility of doing much more with our company and intend to help women at all levels: to lift barriers and lift women. We are out to change the world.

My next step is… to move forward as quickly as we can with global expansion and distribution in the European market.  We are also investigating the possibility of growing into additional world markets. Currently, we are developing production partnerships in multiple European countries.  Once we have the Eve product lines fully developed and distribution of our products across Canada, we hope to bring Eve’s full product lines of topicals, edibles, beverages, concentrates and extracts to the world market as the foremost female-oriented Cannabis product lines.

 

Meet Jayne McCaw, Founder of Jayne’s Cottages and 2019 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Start-Up Award Winner

 

 

Jayne McCaw

Founder, Jayne’s Cottages

Winner, Start-Up Award, Central

 

Jayne took inspiration from her love of cottage living and enjoyment of curating unforgettable family vacations to create Jayne’s Cottages — a full-service, luxury Muskoka cottage rental and concierge company. Starting with just a handful of cottages in 2014, her business has seen rapid growth. Today, she has over 60 employees and they manage almost 200 of the finest properties in the region.

 

My first job ever was… working at Tim Hortons. 

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I always felt that I could offer so much 

more if I had more freedom and authority to act on my own thoughts and impulses than I could as an employee for someone else. I always felt stifled and constrained and thought I could do a better job for both my employer and the customer if I had the ability to do so. That being said, for most of my career, I enjoyed working for others and learning from my mentors and eventually giving the experience and courage to pursue entrepreneurship. 

My proudest accomplishment is… how the company has grown less than 5 years to employ 70 people – 50 people who live year-round in Muskoka, 20 seasonal employees from outside the region. Also, we now have 10 year-round employees.

I surprise people when I tell them… that my business is only 5 years old as it is now a fixture in Muskoka and is a large employer in the area. 

My best advice to people starting up a business is… utilize all the resources available to small businesses (grants, small business funding, college entrepreneurship courses, local employment and government agencies to support small businesses, chamber of commerce etc). I was not aware, and don’t think other small businesses are aware of how beneficial these resources could be and they have been very helpful to get me where we are now. 

My best advice from a mentor was… to listen to others and plead for understanding. Work with your stakeholders so everyone understands all sides. 

 

“I stay inspired by the joy I get from my employees who now have a stable job with our business and we can provide a fulfilling future for them in their home community.”

 

My biggest setback was… losing great staff during the summer season as they quit to accept year-round positions. 

I overcame it by… hiring my best staff on a year-round basis and not laying them off after the summer season even though I did not really have the income to support year-round employment. I feel responsible for their livelihood in this community where there is little year-round employment. I know that they are very committed to my company just as I have shown my commitment to them. 

I stay inspired by… the joy I get from my employees who now have a stable job with our business and we can provide a fulfilling future for them in their home community and continue to add more employment opportunities as we grow. 

If I had one more hour in the day… I would spend it with my 4 children and partner. 

The future excites me because… I love what I do and what I have achieved and know I can continue to grow with the help of my new software platform and my network of global property managers. We have the formula now to help more guests with great vacation experiences and more owners with safe additional income and look forward to growing this formula into other markets. And most importantly the future is exciting as we continue to expand our home base of this travel/tech company in the Muskoka community as we grow outside of Muskoka while providing employment and economic growth through our business success to our region. 

My next step is… doing what I do in Ontario in other popular global travel destinations. With an over 50% repeat guest rate and guests repeatedly putting their faith in Jayne’s Cottages for very expensive vacations, I am now working through my network of property managers globally to connect with and entrust these property managers with my guests who can guarantee a great guest experience. This will be facilitated by the launch of my software that will allow new property managers to easily onboard and market their properties to anyone associated with Jayne’s Cottages such as a hotel with properties, property manager with properties, real estate company with properties or a single property owner. 

 

 

Meet Kiely MacLean, Founder of RJ MacLean and 2019 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Start-Up Award Finalist

 

Kiely MacLean

Founder, RJ MacLean

Finalist, Start-Up Award, West

 

A new player in oil and gas, Kiely Maclean is the co-founder of RJ Maclean Tank Services. Her business is a three-year-old innovation company focused on challenging the status quo in the energy sector with unique automated technology — using robotics, instead of people, to clean tanks. She is a passionate advocate for innovation in business, the environment, and promoting women in the energy field.

 

My first job ever was… Paper route; delegated to younger siblings.

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… It’s not a decision, it’s innate. 

My proudest accomplishment is… Co-founding and growing RJ Maclean.

I surprise people when I tell them… My age.

My best advice to people starting up a business is… Have a clear vision, adapt but do not compromise.

 

“Have a clear vision, adapt but do not compromise.”

 

My best advice from a mentor was… ‘You can’t fail if you are always willing to get back up’.  

My biggest setback was… Access to capital.

I overcame it by… Perseverance, and finding the right business partners.

I stay inspired by… My team and our potential.

If I had one more hour in the day, I would… Walk the trails with my Husky.

The future excites me because… Extending RJ Maclean’s reach and innovation to other markets.

My next step is… Opportunity for international expansion of RJ Maclean!

 

Meet Nathalie Shtern Founder of DoughNats Bakery And 2019 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Start-Up Award Finalist

Nathalie Shtern

Founder, DoughNats Bakery

Finalist,

Start-Up Award, EAST

 

Nathalie is a licensed criminologist who holds three university degrees but feels her true calling has always been in the kitchen. Prior to becoming a chef and entrepreneur, Nathalie devoted 15 years to leadership in her community. She founded and ran the Comfy Cozy Fund — a charity that raised over $1 million for the Montreal Children’s Hospital. In 2017, she launched DoughNats Bakery, selling bite-size gourmet doughnuts as well as a growing line of delicious mini baked goods.

 

My first job ever was… working at a summer day camp while I was a student.  Although I was not pursuing a career path, or working in a related industry to my studies, I had the most magical times working those summers. I discovered that I loved children, that I loved organizing and that the skills acquired managing others would prove very valuable in my career. I realized then that my job was to model good behaviour and be someone the kids can look up to. I ended up running the camp, as the director by the time I was 18 years old and continued to do so until I entered into my professional field during the summers while in university.

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I never decided to be an entrepreneur. It just happened. I came from a professional and academic world, where my previous career was governed by rules, code of ethics, forms, policies, theories and research.  When I started my bakery after culinary school, I viewed myself as an artist and a creator, but initially, I did not consider myself an entrepreneur.  What I do and the way I lead comes naturally to me. I was just being true to myself and my values. The company and brand that I created is a reflection of who I am, not a set of best business practices or rules that I followed.  At first, when people started to refer to me as an entrepreneur and ask me for business advice, it took me by surprise. I do not believe that one can simply decide to become an entrepreneur. There is no manual, theory or training that can prepare you for this world. You become an entrepreneur because you follow your passion, vision or dream and you are prepared to take a risk and fall on your sword for what you truly believe.

My proudest accomplishment is… I have been blessed with many accomplishments throughout my life that I am incredibly proud of and extremely grateful for. My proudest accomplishment is definitely my family. More gratifying than anything I have ever done or accomplished or awards or degrees that I have received.  First off, my husband and the relationship I have with him. We have been together for 25 years now and have built an oasis in our home. A place of love and safety and lots of action-packed days.  We have 5 incredible children, each special in their own right. Raising them has been my life’s work and anything I have done outside of raising them has been icing on my delicious cake that is my kids. They are 10, 16, 19, 21 and 23 years old. They make me proud every single day and this pride follows me wherever I go and is imbued in everything I do.

I surprise people when I tell them… a lot of things. I guess the biggest surprise is that I have not been doing this my whole life and that I had another career before I decided to go to culinary school and start over.  I am a licensed criminologist and hold 3 university and post-university degrees. After having a career, I decided to focus on raising my children. During that time I ran and founded a charity, I held leadership positions on civic and educational boards and served as president a couple. In fact, I was awarded a Jubilee medal by the Queen of England in recognition of my community work. I decided that my career goals should keep evolving alongside my personal development. Being a woman, I have always felt that I can accomplish anything I wanted to- that there was nothing ever holding me back. So jumping into the culinary world felt very natural to me.

My best advice to people starting up a business is… to surround yourself with qualified advisors who are willing to assist you and leverage their time very seriously. Gather all the information you can by researching all aspects of the market into which you are entering and test your product or service thoroughly before exposing it to customers.  Preparing yourself adequately prior to launching is critical to success. Although you may not be able to anticipate everything that will arise after you launch, once you dive in there is no looking back. You must be prepared to roll up your sleeves and do whatever it takes to build your business. You have to be prepared to fall on your sword and tweak and adjust as you go. Do not lose track of who you are and what you believe in. Let your internal voice serve as your guide when making a decision. If you have strong, clear intuition, listen to it. My inside voice has always been my guide and has allowed me to proud of every single decision I have made, even if some were not traditional paths to follow.

My best advice from a mentor was… from a woman mogul and business owner. Her words were so powerful as they resonated with me as a business owner, as a mother, and as a member of my community. She said “do not build your business to take you to places that you are not comfortable with. When planning, instead of planning for what seems right for the business only, plan for what feels right for you and for the people that you love, as well as for the business. So when looking back at your business in 5 years, look at your life and make sure that your life can accommodate the plans you have set or your business.” Especially as a woman, this was wonderful advice, as I was able to reject offers that would have grown us too fast, too soon and in turn, would have made my loved ones pay the price for my absence. I do not see this advice as a limitation, but rather an opportunity that enables me to remain in control of my destiny.

 

Do not build your business to take you to places that you are not comfortable with. When planning, instead of planning for what seems right for the business only, plan for what feels right for you.”

 

My biggest setback was… at DoughNats has been in keeping up with the increasing demand during the hypergrowth phase that we experienced since opening. The challenge of scaling production and increasing quantities while not compromising quality, while hiring more people, while expanding to a bigger location, while continuing to innovate and create new flavours and recipes and products, while training staff and developing systems and protocols… all at the same time! Since we needed to hire quickly, I was focused on hiring people with specific training and skillset to keep up with our growth and to move us along. I was looking for staff with a certain amount of pastry skills, academic certification, training and bakery experience. I put personality and character on the back burner and figured the environment would adapt to this person’s approach, work ethic and outlook. I was mistaken.

I overcame it by… recognizing one valuable thing: that skills are teachable but attitude, accountability and loyalty are innate. If you hire people with great attitudes who want to learn and grow, you can teach them everything. You can mould do-ers into leaders, you can develop experts with time and careful attention to detail. The one thing you cannot teach is character. You cannot teach values and integrity. Now my hiring is governed by the following: I can teach anything to someone with the right attitude, similar values, integrity and a solid character; however, I will never be able to teach integrity, attitude or character to someone even with the most talented skillset.

I stay inspired by… my immediate surroundings. While at the bakery, watching my staff in our uniforms, listening to them laughing while they work, or gathering in the staff room to taste something, during our staff meetings, and especially watching them interact with the customers, offering samples or enthusiastically describing flavours and seasons. I am also inspired by our customers; our first-time customers who have visceral reactions to tasting our DoughNats or cookies and our returning customers who continue to come back and marvel with pride at our brand, at our esthetic in the bakery and at our innovative flavours. It validates that I made the right decision to open and keeps me inspired to continue to work, to expand and to innovate. At home, I am inspired by my family. By the way, they look at me with pride that I was able to successfully pursue my dream. It has helped reinforce the notion that they too can do anything they want. And in some way has reduced the pressure on them to be everything they need to be right away. They now recognize that they too will grow and adjust their paths.

If I had one more hour in the day, I would… call it the Nathalie Hour. It would be an hour of doing nothing intelligent or productive. I would either watch a mindless television show, take a walk, take a bath or simply stay in bed or sleep. It may sound ridiculous or juvenile, but I feel that balance is required for true success in one’s life. Although I believe that every hour of the day should be spent productively and responsibly, reinvesting in ourselves and nurturing relationships with our loved ones is of equal importance.   

The future excites me because… it’s beyond exciting in so many regards. Watching my business evolve from an idea into a full-fledged and profitable business has been nothing short of magical. I see boundless opportunities to expand DoughNats across North America and to continue to express my creativity and grow the products we offer our customers. With our 8th product season launching, we are excited to introduce our new flavours and to continue to innovate and push the boundaries.

My next step is… to execute our expansion plan in order to meet our ever-increasing demand. This will require multi-tasking and growing the skill set of our team because we plan to expand our current reach by opening another retail location in Montreal, expanding our e-commerce reach to include shipping across Canada and the US as well as expand our wholesale presence with non-perishable items in grocery stores.

 

Meet Kelly Ann Woods, Founder of Gillespie’s Fine Spirits, Switch Spirit Free & Boozewitch and 2019 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub Micro-Business Award Winner

 

 

Kelly Ann Woods

Founder, Gillespie’s Fine Spirits, Switch Spirit Free & Boozewitch

Winner, Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub Micro-Business Award, WEST

 

Her passion for food and drink came from a “live off the land” way of life in rural Quebec, where she grew up on a hobby farm until the age of 17. Today, Kelly is an internationally recognized beverage coach, teacher, and consultant, a past food and beverage columnist, as well as a regular presenter on Saturday Sips on Global TV. After becoming certified in distillation, Kelly began Gillespie’s Fine Spirits in 2014, which is now the umbrella to Boozewitch Beverages, Switch Drinks, and an award-winning cocktail bar.

 

My first job ever was… With a little encouragement from my mom, I sold refreshments at her weekly softball games, a fold-up card table with an array of popcorn, freezies and juice. 

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I was born an entrepreneur. I have always wanted to leave my stamp on the world, inspire others and contribute positively to society. This is the best way I know how to do that.

My proudest accomplishment is… It is a real toss-up between managing to get a distillery open against all odds and birthing my son at home. So, both my babies.

My boldest move to date was… The Johann Von Goethe quote “Be bold and mighty forces come to your aid…” is part of my personal manifesto. I rock bold all the time. I feel like it is the default program for being a woman in a male-dominated business.

I surprise people when I tell them… I grew up in the middle of the bush in a log house my family built. My closest neighbour was three miles away. You’d think I was a real city girl, but a back-to-the -lander is where I get my spirit.

My best advice for small business owners is… It’s not my advice. It’s Nike’s. JUST DO IT! You can spend your whole life trying to make it perfect, hemming and hawing and generally resisting your genius, or you can go for it. You will fail lots along the way, but the true test of your mettle is how you rise.

My best advice from a mentor was… I was lucky enough to have two dads that I adored. They are both in spirit now, so an old friend who is a savvy businessman and watched me grow up has been named “sub-dad”. About 25 years ago he taught me:
1-Show up on time
2-Do what you say you will do
3-Finish what you start
4-Always say please and thank you
5-Never give up

 

“Success to me is a moving target. I think my biggest success is finding the joy and beauty in the journey.”

 

My biggest setback was… Strangely the single biggest thing that catapulted my business forward. It’s a long story, but it has to do with “trusted advisors”, a huge financial loss and the ending of a marriage/partnership.

I overcame it by… Leaping. I was on the precipice of crumbling and instead, I just held my breath, dug deep and went for it. “Boldness has genius power and magic in it”…. More of that Johann Von Goethe quote!

I never go a day without… Hugging my kid, drinking lots of water and sleeping at least 7 hours a night. Those things to me are pure magic.

The future excites me because… I feel like as a woman in her 40s, I have less @#$%s to give and more courage and self-worth than ever. Look out world!

Success to me means… Oh, the elusive “success”. Success to me is a moving target. I think my biggest success is finding the joy and beauty in the journey. Love and gratitude in my heart, a calm mind in the face of daily challenges and being a positive influence in the lives of others.

 

 

 

Meet Connie McInnes, Founder of RSTUDIOS and 2019 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub Micro-Business Award Finalist

 

 

Connie McInnes

Founder, RSTUDIOS

Finalist, Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub Micro-Business Award, EAST

 

Connie hails from Halifax, Nova Scotia and is the creator and founder of RIO Halifax, an avant-garde studio specializing in pilates, yoga and movement classes and ROGUE, a kickboxing and circuit training studio. Connie has been an ambassador for Lululemon Athletica, as well as several other local brands. She also teaches at events, retreats, and festivals throughout Canada and Internationally.

 

My first job ever was… Coaching Gymnastics.

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I wanted to do it my way.

My proudest accomplishment is… I was part of a National Award campaign earlier this year recognized for our contribution and involvement in the community. It was the first time business in Atlantic Canada had been recognized and selected as one of 7 businesses in North America. As part of the award, they made a massive contribution to an organization I am passionate about and to feel in that moment that I had done something that made a difference and opened opportunities for others… that was the best feeling.

My boldest move to date was… Having a goal to open one studio by the age of 30 and instead, opening 3.

I surprise people when I tell them… I built the vision for my business five years before it opened- it took me four years to save the money to do it. Businesses don’t just happen. When the doors open, the journey is already well on its way.

My best advice for small business owners is… Follow your gut.

My best advice from a mentor was… If you cant 10x yourself you can’t 10x your business.

 

“It is equally important to grow the self, as it is the business. It takes a huge investment of time and energy to push yourself forward through the downward spirals.”

 

My biggest setback was… Setbacks are what lead you to success. They were all big, they were all worth it.

I overcame it by… Never giving up on my thirst for knowledge, surrounding myself with supportive people, always seeing the silver lining.

I never go a day without… Coffee. movement. working.

The future excites me because… It is so unknown. There is so much opportunity. There is so much to be done.

Success to me means… Making an impact.


 

Meet Angelica Demetriou & Megan Kalaman, Founders of Kalaman + Demetriou (K+D) and 2019 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub Micro-Business Award Finalist

 

 

Angelica Demetriou & Megan Kalaman

Founders, Kalaman + Demetriou (K+D)

Finalist, Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub Micro-Business Award, CENTRAL

 

In 2017, Megan and Angelica joined forces to launch the national, full-service art consulting firm, K+D. Prior to partnering, Megan worked in the visual arts industry for fifteen years and had been running a cataloguing business since 2013. Angelica had a decade of senior-level experience in the art and business sectors, and specialized in corporate art consulting, communications, and business development.

 

My first job ever was…

Angelica – working as a cashier at a local food store when I was 14 years old.

Megan – as a cashier at McDonald’s.

I decided to be an entrepreneur because… 

Angelica – I had a big vision and strong business values and was determined to prove to myself and others that I could build a successful company founded on principles of integrity, transparency, authenticity and reciprocity.

Megan – a gap in the market presented itself — so I took a leap of faith and started to fill that gap 6.5 years ago!

My proudest accomplishment is… 

Angelica – that I found a way to leverage my skill set, network and experience to launch and lead a company that is changing the art landscape in Canada.

Megan – creating jobs in the visual arts sector across Canada.

My boldest move to date was… 

Angelica – taking a calculated risk and walking away from secure employment to become an entrepreneur.  

Megan – setting up my original business (Kalaman Art Collection Management) for success so I could take maternity leave and start my second full-time job as a mom to my awesome daughter.

I surprise people when I tell them…

Angelica – I’m in my young thirties and have built a successful business in the arts.

Megan – that I am a co-founder of a company that provides services in the visual arts sector.

My best advice for small business owners is… 

Angelica – listen to your gut and surround yourself with positive people who challenge, inspire and support you.

Megan – follow your gut; it is right every time.

My best advice from a mentor was… 

Angelica – from one of the partners at PLANT Architect who said: “There’s always room for style.” — words that have inspired me to develop a polished brand for K+D and approach all aspects of our work with a curatorial eye and regard for the finest details.

Megan – don’t focus on any potential competition or losing talent; focus on what you have now in front of you and the goals you are looking to achieve.

 

“Be present. Be mindful. And remember that while becoming an entrepreneur can be an immensely challenging feat, it is also a liberating, empowering and incredibly rewarding pursuit.”

 

My biggest setback was… 

Angelica – less of a setback and more of a signal to recalibrate as I found myself working in a toxic environment with no chance for positive career growth.

Megan – wanting to start a family while also running a small business on my own.

I overcame it by… 

Angelica – reminding myself that in order to grow as a professional and cultivate my potential I needed to find more fertile soil.

Megan – working with a business coach to make and follow a solid plan that would allow my business to continue to thrive while I went on maternity leave. 

I never go a day without… 

Angelica – taking a moment to appreciate the amazing people in my life.

Megan – starting my day with yoga and meditation.

The future excites me because…

Angelica – this is only the beginning; I’m just getting started!

Megan – my business partner and I share a long-term vision for success and together are growing an exciting company that is establishing new standards in our field.

Success to me means… 

Angelica – living a full, extraordinary life while leaving a positive imprint on the world and enriching the lives and stories of others. 

Megan – leading a team of talented people who are excited by the work that we do at K+D, who are engaged and passionate about their jobs, and who are contributing to the growth and success of our company.

 

 

Announcing the 2019 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award Finalists!

This year marks the 27th year of recognizing the top women entrepreneurs in Canada. We are thrilled to be celebrating another influential collection of business owners. Representing diverse industries and business sizes, and hailing from across the country — here are the 2019 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award Finalists.

 


 

This was a record-breaking year for the program with over 9,000 nominations from across the country. After an intensive judging review, 18 finalists were selected across six legacy award categories. An additional five recipients were chosen to receive the Ones to Watch Award, which recognizes entrepreneurs who have launched businesses that have made an incredible impact in fewer than three years.

These exceptional women were chosen for their accomplishments in a diverse group of industries including finance, oil and gas, publishing, technology, construction, hospitality and health services.

“We are honoured to celebrate the accomplishments of our 2019 award finalists,” says Alicia Skalin, Co-CEO, Women of Influence. “These entrepreneurs have applied their intelligence, dedication and ingenuity to challenge the status quo of their industries. As we approach the end of the decade, the 2019 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award finalists are an exciting representation of the growth and innovation that is to come for Canadian business.”

The winners will be announced and celebrated at the 27th Annual Awards Gala, on Wednesday, November 20, 2019 at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto. Keynote remarks will be shared by Jacqui Allard, Executive Vice President, Personal Financing Products, RBC.

The RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards recognize female business owners from across Canada who make impressive and substantial contributions to the local, Canadian or global economy. Candidates share a strong entrepreneurial vision and a relentless passion in pursuing their dreams. These awards recognize businesswomen from three major regions across Canada: East, Central and West.

“Women entrepreneurs are a powerful force in driving Canada’s economic growth and innovation agenda. Their leadership and economic participation generate more than $148 billion a year and their trailblazing efforts serve as an inspiration for the next generation of Canadian entrepreneurs to rise to their potential,” said Greg Grice, Executive Vice-President, Business Financial Services, RBC. “In recognizing the tremendous accomplishments of Canadian women entrepreneurs and celebrating their stories through initiatives like this — and many others at RBC — we hope to accelerate our collective progress on the advancement of women in business.”

All nominees are required to submit thorough applications, which are reviewed and judged by a panel of prominent business leaders and subject to a due diligence performed by KPMG.

Without further ado, here are our 2019 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards program finalists and recipients:

 

The 2019 Recipients of the Ones to Watch Award are:

Benveet Gill, ReYu Paralysis Recovery Centre

Melissa Kargiannakis, skritswap

Melinda Rombouts, Eve & Co Cannabis

Dina Kulik, Kidcrew

Lisa Ali Learning, AtlanTick Repellant Products Inc.


The 2019 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award Finalists are:

 

Diversity Institute Micro-Business Award

West: Kelly Ann Woods, Gillespie’s Fine Spirits Ltd, Boozewitch Beverage Company, Switch Beverage Co.

Central: Megan Kalaman & Angelica Demetriou, K+D (Kalaman + Demetriou Inc.)

East: Connie McInnes, RSTUDIOS

 

Start-Up Award

West: Kiely MacLean, RJ MacLean

Central: Jayne McCaw, Jayne’s Cottages

East: Nathalie Kaspy-Shtern, DoughNats Bakery

 

RBC Momentum Award

West: Janet LePage, Western Wealth Capital

Central: Camille Jagdeo, Edge1 Equipment Rentals Inc. 

East: Youlita Anguelov, AgroFusion


Social Change Award

West: Laurel Douglas, Women’s Enterprise Centre

Central: Geetha Moorthy, SAAAC Autism Centre

East: Pascale Bouchard, Leucan

 

TELUS Trailblazer Award

West: Jesse Finkelstein & Trena White, Page Two

Central: Carinne Chambers-Saini, Diva International Inc.

East: Natalie Voland, GI Quo Vadis


Excellence in Entrepreneurship
Award

Central: Anna Eliopoulos, byPeterandPauls.com

Central: Margot & Marion Witz, Elizabeth Grant International

East: Brigitte Jalbert, Les Emballages Carrousel Inc.

 

The 2019 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards are presented by Women of Influence. Award sponsors include RBC, TELUS, Diversity Institute and our official Due Diligence partner, KPMG.

 

View the full press release in English or French for more information and join in the celebration by purchasing your tickets to the 27th Annual Awards Gala on Wednesday, November 20, 2019 at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto.

 

How Toni Desrosiers found success fighting plastic pollution with Abeego, the first beeswax food wrap

When she first launched Abeego, Toni Desrosiers was met with skepticism — people couldn’t imagine giving up plastic wrap. She persevered through the challenge of creating a new market, and now the award-winning entrepreneur can boast years of explosive growth, and her reusable beeswax wrap can be found in more than 1,500 stores, 40 countries and hundreds of thousands of kitchens worldwide.

 

 

By Karen van Kampen

 


 

In 2008, when Toni Desrosiers launched Abeego with the first beeswax food wrap, “people literally laughed in my face,” she says. “They thought it was just ridiculous.” It was too hard to imagine replacing trusted plastic wrap with a reusable, all-natural alternative. 

“We all have an intimate relationship with plastic wrap, even if we don’t realize it,” says Toni. “It’s something that’s been passed down from your mother. Nobody questions it because it’s been so habitual for the last three generations.” 

Eleven years later, with food waste and the plastic environmental crisis looming, Abeego is successfully taking on the multi-billion-dollar plastic wrap market with its mission to “keep food alive.” 

The average household throws out 40% of its fresh food, “and it’s no fault of theirs,” says Toni. “It’s simply because people don’t understand how to keep food alive once it’s been picked, pulled or plucked. With Abeego, you get to eat the food that you buy,” explains Toni. “You eat it all.” 

Fresh food has always been an integral part of Toni’s life. Growing up in Olds, Alberta, Toni was given her own garden plot to tend where she grew strawberries and peas. Her mother was an herbalist who made tinctures, teas and natural remedies. 

At 24, Toni moved to Mexico, living in small beachside communities in a camper van with only the necessities. Toni shopped locally at small butchers and tortilla shops and fruterias. The experience “taught me to be fully aware of my surroundings, as risk and opportunity are around every corner,” she says. 

The following year Toni returned to Canada, enrolling in a holistic nutrition program at Ottawa’s Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. Completing the two-year program in six months, she graduated in 2005 at the top of her class. Her next move was to Victoria, B.C. where she took a job at Lifestyle Markets. Working at the natural food store helped Toni realize that fresh food is the best supplement for good health. 

An entrepreneur at heart, Toni says “I was always thinking about what business I could create that would solve a different problem.” Her big idea came after asking herself, “If nature was going to wrap food in my kitchen, what would it look like?” Toni knew that plastic wrap wasn’t the answer. “There isn’t a single peel, skin or rind in the natural world that is air tight and transparent,” she says. Toni set out to make an all natural, reusable, breathable food wrap to keep food fresh. 

 

“We all have an intimate relationship with plastic wrap, even if we don’t realize it,” says Toni. “It’s something that’s been passed down from your mother. Nobody questions it because it’s been so habitual for the last three generations.” 

 

After extensive experimentation, Toni invented a formula of beeswax, tree resin and jojoba oil that created a sealable barrier akin to plastic wrap while also keeping food fresh. In 2008, Abeego was born in Toni’s kitchen.

Offering advice to other inventors, Toni says, “You might have an idea that’s going to change the world. But if the market is not ready for your idea, it might take either a really long time and a ton of work — and if you believe in it, keep going — or it might never go anywhere.” 

Despite initial customer skepticism, Toni never gave up. In fact, meeting customers face-to-face proved to be one of her most valuable marketing experiences. Toni quickly realized that she couldn’t position Abeego as an alternative to plastic wrap. 

“Immediately I could see people put up their defensive guard,” she says. “They felt attacked, guilty, afraid.” So Toni created a positive marketing message by focusing on how people could make a lasting change. 

Starting a business is very challenging, says Toni, especially when you are creating an entirely new category. “It took a lot of storytelling, convincing, and trust from people who were willing to give it a shot,” she says. 

Around three years ago, customers began adopting a more open, environmentally conscious mindset. At the same time, competitors entered the market. “At first I was terrified,” says Toni. But Abeego was ready. With systems in place to scale quickly, they could easily handle the volume of new customers. 

“When you set yourself specific boundaries and then give yourself the freedom to build within those boundaries, you build something sustainable and scalable,” Toni says. 

Abeego has had 100% year-over-year growth for the past two years, and is on target to double again in 2019. Its reusable beeswax wrap can be found in more than 1,500 stores, 40 countries and hundreds of thousands of kitchens worldwide. The success has been recognized: Toni was the 2018 winner of the TELUS Trailblazer Award, granted to an entrepreneur who has identified and captured a new market while setting standards for originality, quality and successful management. 

For Toni, the journey is more rewarding than the destination. Looking back, she says, “I’d tell my younger self to enjoy the doing, because just trying to get to the end goal is thankless. It’s just too hard. You have to enjoy the things that you’re doing along the way, regardless of the outcome.”

How Marjorie Dixon is redefining the journey of fertility

 

Marjorie Dixon knew from a young age that she wanted to get into reproductive medicine. It was her experience running a cycle monitoring centre — and going through three rounds of IVF herself — that led her to open her own holistic clinic, Anova Fertility and Reproductive Health. A recent winner of the RBC Momentum Award, her business has been growing rapidly, and redefining caregiving in the fertility space.

 

By Karen van Kampen

 


 

In grade 10, sitting in the library of her Montreal high school, Dr. Marjorie Dixon stumbled upon an article that would change her life. It was a story celebrating the 10th anniversary of the first baby conceived through in vitro fertilization. A story of hope, possibility, and the future of reproductive medicine. “I thought, this is me. This is my life,” says Marjorie. “Still to this day, when I think about what I do, I’m astonished.”

Marjorie’s career is its own story of inspiration. She has made it her mission to offer equal access to fertility care, regardless of a person’s orientation, identity, geography or socioeconomic status. Her company, Anova Fertility and Reproductive Health, uses the most advanced technology and a holistic approach to patient care. She has created a Canadian business with a global reach — with patients as far as Japan, Australia and Qatar — and an impressive track record of growth.

Her success has not gone unnoticed. As owner and founder, Marjorie was the winner of the 2018 RBC Momentum Award, granted to an entrepreneur who has delivered 10% or more year-over-year growth for at least three years while creating a flexible, responsive business that adapts to a changing market.

While Marjorie didn’t set out to become an entrepreneur, she says she always wanted to be a reproductive specialist. As a little girl, Marjorie spent countless hours in her dad’s laboratory where he taught high school reproductive biology. “I’m an obsessive learner,” she says. “I love to learn.”

After graduating from McGill University’s School of Medicine, Marjorie did postgraduate training in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Toronto. She then pursued a subspecialty in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Vermont. During a gynecology internship at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Marjorie earned the nickname Gyne Spice for singing in the operating room.

As a fertility specialist at Sunnybrook (where she is still an active member of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology), Marjorie is known for belting out the tunes including Queen, Air Supply and Stevie Nicks. Marjorie also takes song requests from patients and has their favourite music playing when they wake up from anesthesia. And she gives women “fertility lucky socks” so their feet don’t get cold in the stirrups. One sock reads “hope trust” while the other reads “baby dust.”

Her thoughtful, patient-centric approach can partially be attributed to being a patient herself. After undergoing IVF three times, Marjorie knows first-hand how stressful the fertility journey can be. Her experience running a cycle monitoring centre also highlighted how the medical system was disjointed, with patients having to travel to a variety of fertility sites for different services. “Continuity of care is a critical thing,” says Marjorie, “particularly when you’re dealing with women’s health.”

 

“When you find your solid group of peeps, lean on them hard and use them. People say it takes a village. It totally takes a village.”

 

It was the start of her entrepreneurial journey. Marjorie envisioned patient-focused fertility care under one roof, delivered by the same team of care providers to create a calm, comforting environment, “because the journey of fertility can be disarming on the best of days and disenfranchising overall,” she says.

Marjorie was also determined to be a culturally conscious and sensitive provider so that everyone could identify with their caregivers. “The fertility journey is the ultimate equalizer,” she says. “If you look in our waiting room, we have people from all ethnicities and religious backgrounds, and they sit together with one thing in common: they just want a legacy of their own. A family of their own.”

In 2016, she opened Anova. Launching with nine staff, Marjorie had to learn how to manage her own practice. She hired an operations manager, set up an electronic medical records system and continuously set new goals and created new strategies to keep moving forward. Most importantly, she kept her thoughtful approach; for example, Marjorie gives each of her “baby graduates” a onesie that reads, “I’m so cool I used to be frozen. Made with a lotta love and a little science.”

She also relied on a solid business plan. “You can’t pull it out of the sky and say, I think this should work,” she says. Anova Fertility now has more than 80 employees, offering a range of services that include cycle monitoring, IVF, and diagnosis of menstrual disorders. There is also the Anova Integrative Wellness group of naturopathic doctors, massage therapists and acupuncturists.

The road to success “hasn’t been this Pollyanna-esque perfect path,” says Marjorie. To succeed, you need grit and determination — which she certainly has. (When Marjorie was a kid, her dad used to say, “If you want to get Marjorie to do something, tell her she can’t.”) And you need to recognize the demands of an entrepreneurial life, she adds. “You can’t have it all, but you can definitely design life the way you see best for you,” says Marjorie. “You can have a family and work and follow your passion and do great things. You just have to make a path. Nothing happens by accident.”

It’s also important to ignore the “propaganda,” warns Marjorie. “Your competitors will propagandize and deprogram some of your novel thoughts, and discourage as opposed to mentor and build you,” she says. “When you find your solid group of peeps, lean on them hard and use them. People say it takes a village. It totally takes a village.”

For Marjorie, it’s incredible to think that before she opened the doors to Anova Fertility, “there were no babies growing on the sixth floor at Yonge and Shepherd,” she says. “Now every day in their sweet way, little cells are dividing into people. It’s fantastic. It really is.”

 

 

 

A Seat at The Roundtable

Glain Roberts-McCabe left her secure, six-figure job at a consulting firm to pursue her idea for a group-based approach to leadership coaching. Ten years later, and The Roundtable has grown into an award-winning consultancy with a proven track record of fostering success.

 

 

By Karen van Kampen

 


 

In 2007, 39-year-old Glain Roberts-McCabe walked away from a secure job and six-figure salary to launch The Roundtable, a unique leadership development business that specializes in group and team coaching. “There are moments in your life where you literally hit a wall. You hit the wall hard and you have a choice,” says Glain. You can continue to power through and stay at a stable position, she explains, or take a career risk. “I’m a very independent person, and it almost wasn’t a choice for me,” she says. “I knew I needed to try self-employment.”  

Glain was also driven to fulfill a gap in the leadership development field. As former Managing Partner at a mid-sized consultancy, “I saw that the way we were developing leaders wasn’t working,” she says. “We were not helping people make the lasting changes they needed to be successful.” Leadership is not learned in a binder, says Glain, it’s learned by doing. It’s a journey where we learn over time.

Glain envisioned a community of ambitious leaders collaborating, connecting, and learning together, similar to CEO groups that have been around for decades. Twelve years later, The Roundtable has grown into an award-winning, innovative business that reimagines the traditional approach to consulting, and Glain is being recognized for her creative vision and hard work. As President and Founder of The Roundtable, Glain was the winner of a 2018 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award in the Micro-Business category, that honours an entrepreneur who owns and operates a small business with annual revenues of less than $1 million.

Yet success hasn’t come without sacrifice. When Glain set out on her own, her husband, D’Arcy McCabe, was a stay-at-home Dad to their four-year-old daughter, Nia. Overnight, they lost their entire income. “We had a lifestyle and a mortgage that was built around my salary,” says Glain. Then suddenly, “You can’t afford to take a vacation. You can’t afford a dinner out. I felt guilty. I had caused this strain because I had been unhappy at work.”

 

“When it comes to change, we focus on what we’re going to lose… we never think about the possibilities that are going to open up to us.”

 

The first year was financially stressful. A mentor offered Glain some advice: Go at it hard for 12 months. You can always go back to a job. “That was a really freeing piece of advice,” she says. In the beginning, Glain focused on “bread and butter money” to stay afloat. A former colleague offered her a consulting contract, which brought in $22,000. Glain used the money to hire a coach to help launch her business, and she and D’Arcy downsized their home — a hard decision.

“When it comes to change, we focus on what we’re going to lose,” says Glain. “We never think about the possibilities that are going to open up to us.” Glain and her coach worked on structure and process, focusing on Glain’s vision of a group-based coaching program.

In 2009, Glain gathered eight leaders together for her first cohort. “When I saw the magic in that room, I thought, this is it,” she says. In 2010, she was approached by PepsiCo Foods Canada while they were in the middle of several company transitions. The Roundtable program was delivered to high potential leaders from different divisions. The goal was to help these next generation executives navigate increases in leadership scope proactively versus through reactive ‘fix it’ executive coaching.

The program was a huge success and highlighted how Glain’s group-based coaching approach could not only grow leaders but also support shifts in company culture and increase peer networks in organizations (a huge driver of how work gets done today). Launching her ninth cohort with PepsiCo this year, Glain says the company opened doors to many other clients that include CAA Group, TIFF and RBC. More than 750 people from over 120 companies have participated in The Roundtable programs.  

 

When it comes to building communities of support, women have a distinct advantage, because we are so relationship-based.

 

Glain has found that leaders at all levels struggle with similar issues and that most of the stressors of leadership relate to personal beliefs and mindsets. Leadership can be lonely and issues of insecurity and “imposter syndrome” can affect leaders no matter their seniority. Group coaching allows participants to realize that they’re not alone, which builds confidence — something that Glain wishes she’d had more of in the early stages of her career. Reflecting on her twenties, she says, “I wish I had just trusted in my own abilities and not let that inner critic have so much power.” By sharing personal stories and examining mindsets and behaviours in a safe space, Roundtable participants are able to shift unproductive self-talk and uncover pivotal “ah ha” moments that boost both capability and capacity. Perhaps the most powerful outcome of group coaching is the deep and lasting relationships that develop through the process.

When it comes to building communities of support, women have a distinct advantage, says Glain, because we are so relationship-based. She encourages female entrepreneurs to start their own peer groups to share learning, leverage connections and open up conversations. “We are all struggling with the same issues,” she says, adding a key message of her program: “Let’s cultivate our learning together.”

In 2019, Glain and her team will build on this community-based philosophy by launching an alumni program for past members to support fellow leaders along their journey. Glain also has plans to launch a certification program to train coaches in her collaborative group coaching method.

One of Glain’s proudest accomplishments has been seeing the impact of her programs on people’s lives. Participants return years later, sharing not just their personal career success but stories of how their Roundtable experience continues to shape their leadership approach and personal engagement and satisfaction. As one graduate put it, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. “When you affect people’s lives in a lasting way,” says Glain. “There’s nothing more rewarding than that.”

Advice from the Micro-Business Award Finalists: 2016 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards

The Micro-Business Award proves that small businesses can still have great impact and contribute to innovation in Canada. This award category honours small businesses generating annual revenues under $1 million (with a steady growth rate) in any industry and at any stage of business.

 

We’ve asked the winner of the award and the finalists in this category for their best advice for other entrepreneurs:

 

 

Finalist: Kim Hall, Physio2U

Physio2U is an innovative health-care company which provides in-home physiotherapy services, which are historically received in a private clinic, hospital or rehabilitation facility. People who suffer from injuries or diseases that limit their mobility and independence are often unable to get to a clinic or facility for treatment that they desperately need; with Physio2U, Kim Hall has helped people overcome the barrier to access of physiotherapy services by making it possible for treatment to be received in a location that is convenient to the client. 

Q: What did you learn in your first year of business? 

A: The small business community in BC is incredibly supportive and there are so many wonderful resources available to new entrepreneurs. No MBA’s are necessary in today’s day and age to be a successful business owner.

 

 

 

Finalist: Diana Goodwin, AquaMobile Inc.

AquaMobile is North America’s largest at-home, on demand swim lesson provider, with over 1500 certified, experienced and insured swim instructors in cities across Canada and the US who come to your home or condo to teach private swimming lessons in your own pool. They leverage their own proprietary tech platform to instantly match a certified and insured AquaMobile Instructor with each student based on age, skill level and time preferences, ensuring each customer has a five-star experience.

Q: What is the one piece of advice you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs? 

A: Focus. It’s so easy to get distracted along the entrepreneurial journey, but if you do one thing, and do that one thing very well, you have a much higher chance of succeeding.

 

 

 

Winners: Isabelle and Marie-Hélène Primeau, Premier Continuum Inc.

Premier Continuum Inc. (PCI) specializes in the field of Resilience, Business Continuity, Emergency Management, IT Disaster Recovery and Integrated Risk Management. Isabelle and Marie-Hélène offer the cloud based specialized software in addition to our consulting and training services to help prevent, prepare, respond and recover to any type of consequences that could deeply affect a business of any size, such as loss of premises, loss of IT, loss of key personnel / abnormal absenteeism and supply chain disruptions. 

Q: What do you wish you knew in the beginning?

A: We wish we had known that even as experts in risk management and business continuity, we had to learn how to take risks in business. While being conservative has provided stability and longevity, we should have taken more risks in the business, in particular in order to bring our software faster to the market.

 


 

The collective impact of our country’s female entrepreneurs cannot be overstated. The RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards is the premier national awards program celebrating the achievements of the most successful in this inspiring group. Now in its 24th year, over 120 women have been recognized for demonstrating excellence—from economic growth to social change, from local to global reach, across multiple sectors. We’re honoured to shine a spotlight on them.

 

 


Advice From the Deloitte Start-up Finalists: 2016 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards

The Deloitte Start-Up Award celebrates the achievements of a woman who, in three to five years, has developed her business into one that’s ready for the next level of growth. Since starting out, these three finalists have been successful in building a profitable business with a comprehensive and sustainable plan.

We’ve asked this year’s winner and finalists for their best advice for other entrepreneurs:

 

Finalist: Marlo Brausse, Barre Body Studio

At Barre Body Studio (BBS) Marlo Brausse offers fitness classes that are a combination of Pilates, yoga and dance, with a focus on building long, lean muscles, tightening, toning and strengthening the core. Using mostly body weight, light free weights, and resistance bands, participants endure high repetitions to exert muscles to the point of fatigue, making this a highly effective fitness class. But, because it is choreographed to upbeat music and performed in a highly motivating group environment, it is equal parts FUN! Barre Body Studio also offers a teacher training program, and to date has held nine teacher training programs and have trained instructors across Alberta and British Columbia, a priority for Brausse whose goal is to ensure that the principles of barre are carried over in a safe and well-executed manner.

Q: What would you tell to a room full of aspiring entrepreneurs?

A: Being an entrepreneur takes self-discipline, sacrifice and a lot of passion.  Nurture your employees, your brand and your business community; learn what you don’t know and ask for help – you will be surprised by how far these practices will take you.

 

 

 

Winners: Angela Marotta & Melissa Paolicelli, Two Sisters Vineyards

Two Sisters Vineyards, owned by sisters Angela Marotta and Melissa Paolicelli, is a private, family-owned corporation with a purpose to offer a full service prestige destination winery with on-site tasting and retail, restaurant, corporate facilities and offices located in a desirable area of Niagara wine country. It operates from a 76-acre estate in historic Niagara-on-the-Lake. From the start, the vision was to craft Ontario ultra premium VQA wines comparable to international benchmarks.

Q: What is the one piece of advice you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs? 

A:

Melissa – Regardless if the market sways due to various economic factors, never sacrifice the the quality or the standards of your product.  Evaluate other areas of the operation before you cut costs on production standards.

 Angela – Take it slow. As women and mothers, we cannot to everything well all the time, you are a better decision maker when working from a clear focused mind than a foggy confused mind.

 

 

 

Finalist: Melanie Caines, Nova Yoga

Nova Yoga is an award winning business that serves up yoga to clients in fresh and exciting ways, with Director Melanie Caines offering multiple styles and levels of yoga at St. John’s, Newfoundland studio, with the aim of making yoga interesting to everyone and accessible to all. Nova Yoga also offers people the opportunity to explore their yoga practice in the comfort of their own home, at work, or on the go through various initiatives that allow home access to Caines’ instruction. Nova Yoga’s local and international yoga retreats are rejuvenating and healthy vacations, including meditation, yoga twice a day, fresh healthy food, excursions, and rest and relaxation, all in a beautiful environment and surrounded by like-minded people. 

Q: What do you wish you knew at the beginning?

A: Work smarter, not harder! It’s a great reminder and crucial in order to avoid becoming overwhelmed and burnt out.

 

 

 


 

The collective impact of our country’s female entrepreneurs cannot be overstated. The RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards is the premier national awards program celebrating the achievements of the most successful in this inspiring group. Now in its 24th year, over 120 women have been recognized for demonstrating excellence—from economic growth to social change, from local to global reach, across multiple sectors. We’re honoured to shine a spotlight on them.

 

 


Advice from the RBC Momentum Award Finalists: 2016 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards

The RBC Momentum Award Finalists are entrepreneurs that have overcome obstacles, capitalized on opportunities to deliver 10% growth or more, and have done so for more than three years. Through their expanded management, empowered employees, and demonstrated success, these entrepreneurs have created a flexible and responsive business that is able to adapt to changing market environments and leverage opportunities for continued growth. 

 We asked this year’s winner and finalists for their best advice for other entrepreneurs.

 

Winner: Kate Ross LeBlanc, Saje Natural Wellness

Saje Natural Wellness provides 100% natural product solutions that help the body detoxify and recover from the elements’ harmful effects. Their extensive product line includes natural remedies for a variety of everyday health concerns, including headaches, stress, allergies, colds, and more, with a vision of global wellness inspired by Ross LeBlanc’s husband’s own health challenges and chronic pain and her own love for retail. Their mission is to connect people with the healing power of plants, through living, sharing and inspiring holistic wellness daily.

Q: What do you wish you knew at the beginning?

A: That it’s ok to be a leader. Growing up in a small town, I had a few painful experiences early on around standing out too much, and in many ways I resisted my own growth into leadership. I wish I had known earlier that it could be so incredibly rewarding; that ‘boss’ and ‘bossy’ are not the same thing. Yes, it’s a big responsibility to help shape someone’s career, but moreover: it’s an honour and I wish I had started this part of my own development earlier.

 

 

Finalist: Alyssa Furtado, Ratehub

RateHub.ca is an online platform that aggregates and compares mortgage rates, credit cards and other financial products offered by Canada’s major banks, neighbourhood credit unions and brokers. Furtado’s service allows Canadians to compare thousands of rates from hundreds of providers, with a few easy clicks, saving them time and empowering consumers to better evaluate their options so they can make smarter financial decisions.

Q: What would you tell a room full of aspiring entrepreneurs?

A: I would tell aspiring entrepreneurs to start today. Launching a business and taking on substantial financial risk only gets harder as we get older. Your job and salary become harder to walk away from and life’s responsibilities from mortgage payments to growing a family only increase over time. The younger you start the more risks you can take.

 

 

Finalist: Sylvia MacVey, G. E. Barbour

G E Barbour Inc (Barbours) is a 149 year old food processing, family owned corporation, traditionally focused on servicing the regional Atlantic Canadian retail market with forays into the Canadian and US private label markets. Under MacVey’s leadership, Barbours has established itself as an innovative co-packer and product development partner in Canada and the US.

 

 


 

The collective impact of our country’s female entrepreneurs cannot be overstated. The RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards is the premier national awards program celebrating the achievements of the most successful in this inspiring group. Now in its 24th year, over 120 women have been recognized for demonstrating excellence—from economic growth to social change, from local to global reach, across multiple sectors. We’re honoured to shine a spotlight on them.

 

 


Advice from the Telus Trailblazer Award Finalists: 2016 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards

The Telus Trailblazer Award honours an entrepreneur that is a true trendsetter. She has recognized a new market, product, service, technological advancement, or opportunity and has bravely led the way. She has demonstrated outstanding leadership within her company and market, and has set standards for originality, quality and successful management. These entrepreneurs are mentors, visionaries, leaders, and successful businesswomen of their industry.

We asked this year’s winner and finalists what advice they would give to another entrepreneur facing uncertainty about their own trailblazing idea:

 

Eva Sun, The Rice People

Food processors aren’t generally associated with being leading edge trailblazers – but Eva Sun’s company is different. With a motto of Respect, Integrity, Care and Share, The Rice People’s commitment to their customers, partners, and global community.  Rice is a common staple that most people take so easily for granted, but rice is actually a much varied resource with much room for quality enrichment, especially in Canada. From farm to fork, it is Sun’s passion to make rice with accountable and consistent quality. They carefully source globally for the most reliable quality, eco-friendly raw material from eight countries. 

 

 

 

 

Nancy Simonot, NKS Health

NKS Health is a specialty pharmacy that focuses on a few chronic diseases and creates patient programs to improve the patient’s health quickly and maximize their outcomes. Expert pharmacists start with triaging the patient with a home visit where the patient can be referred to Simonot’s allied health care team including nurses, dieticians, occupational therapists and social worker for consultation. NKS Health continuously meets with leading researchers in teaching hospitals to update our programs and ensure patients benefit from the latest findings, and host monthly events where patients can participate through webinars including exercise and relaxation techniques to treat chronic diseases whose symptoms can be exacerbated by stress. NKS Health’s ultimate goal is to improve patient outcomes, and are unique in Canada as no other pharmacy offers this kind of care.

Q: What advice would you give to another business-woman facing uncertainty about her own trailblazing idea?

A: You will know if you are in the right place when you land your first few contracts and the high that you feel at that moment. These are the best moments. They will help you get through the challenging times.

 

 

 

Beth Hatt, Aquila Tours

Since opening their doors in 1982, Aquila has been on an incredible journey to being recognized as an innovative leader in the tourism industry. Today, Aquila’s area of excellence is concentrated on cruise, delivering shore excursions to cruise lines when they anchor in the Bay of Fundy. Each year, Aquila creates engaging experiences for almost 60,000 travellers cruising our shores, and tour guides, operators in our programs. At the encouragement of top executives at major cruise lines, Aquila established Aquila’s Center for Cruise Excellence in 2007, offering workshops and customized training programs to Tour Operators, Ports and Destinations around the world. In 2010, Aquila developed Tour Guide Excellence, the first online International Certification program designed specifically for tour guides in the cruise industry. As the official training partner of the FCCA (Florida Caribbean Cruise Association), Aquila’s training programs have been endorsed by all the major cruise lines for their certifications to Tour Guides and Tour Operators. Today, Aquila is seen as the standard for Shore Excursions and Tour Operations worldwide.

 

 

 


 

The collective impact of our country’s female entrepreneurs cannot be overstated. The RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards is the premier national awards program celebrating the achievements of the most successful in this inspiring group. Now in its 24th year, over 120 women have been recognized for demonstrating excellence—from economic growth to social change, from local to global reach, across multiple sectors. We’re honoured to shine a spotlight on them.

 

 


Advice from the Social Change Award Finalists: 2016 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards

The Social Change Award celebrates an exceptional leader of a not-for-profit or charitable organization that is dedicated to helping others help themselves. These leaders assist in social change and improving the quality of lives around us, not to mention garnering extraordinary support from the community by championing philanthropy and volunteerism in Canada.

We asked this year’s winner and finalists for their best advice for other entrepreneurs:

 

 

Finalist: Dianne Fehr, Immigrant Access Fund

Each year, thousands of internationally-trained immigrants arrive in Canada with dreams of building a successful life for themselves and their families. Often, they arrive with excellent skills, education and experience, but face barriers to securing employment in their field and languish in unemployment or “survival” jobs. A significant barrier for many lack of funds to pay for the Canadian licensing/training they need to work in their field. IAF removes that financial barrier through a character-based micro loan program, with the vision of skilled immigrants being equitably integrated into the workforce and contributing their expertise to Canada’s economic and social success.

 

 

Finalist: Patricia Pottie, Strongest Families Institute

Strongest Families Institute is a federally incorporated not-for-profit institute that delivers evidence-based mental health programs to children, youth and families from a distance. Dr. Patricia Lingley-Pottie, President and CEO, is a passionate academic and professional who has dedicated her career to improving the lives of children and families through innovation. SFI’s groundbreaking distance-delivery system removes barriers that prevent families from accessing traditional mental health services. It provides, effective evidence-based and cost-efficient programs, when and where families need help. It achieves consistently strong clinical outcomes and high levels of family satisfaction.

 

 

 

Winner: Jennifer Flanagan, Actua

Actua is Canada’s largest science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education outreach organization engaging 250,000 youth each year in transformational experiences that help them achieve their potential. Actua’s delivery model includes a network of 34 university and college based STEM outreach organizations and its own outreach team, together delivering programming in 500 communities across every province and territory. Actua’s focus at the national level is on engaging Canada’s most underserved youth populations with the most innovative content in order to contribute to the diversity that is needed to drive social and economic innovation in Canada.

 

 


The collective impact of our country’s female entrepreneurs cannot be overstated. The RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards is the premier national awards program celebrating the achievements of the most successful in this inspiring group. Now in its 24th year, over 120 women have been recognized for demonstrating excellence—from economic growth to social change, from local to global reach, across multiple sectors. We’re honoured to shine a spotlight on them.

 


Advice from the PROFIT Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship Finalists: 2016 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards

Through timely innovation, strategic thinking, and smart execution, these three finalists have launched—and built one (or more!) successful companies with a track record of growth, profitability, industry leadership, as well as breaking new ground. Through their drive, managerial acumen, and leadership traits, they have generated exceptional economic growth and social change.

We asked this year’s winner and finalists for their best advice for other entrepreneurs.

 

 

Finalist: Margot Micallef, Oliver Capital Partners

Founded in 2003, Oliver Capital Partners Inc. is a successful merchant bank that to date has invested in broadcasting, publishing, real estate, food manufacturing and restaurant brands. Through these investments, OCP oversees directly and indirectly over 2,300 employees and over $600 million in revenues. OCP’s investment strategy is two-fold: invest in the debt of well-run companies with strong cash flows and invest in the equity of troubled companies which can be turned around.

 

 

Finalist: Michelle Gerrard, Neepawa Home Hardware

Neepawa Home Hardware Building Centre is an independently owned building centre and hardware retail location that is part of the Home Hardware dealer co-operative. The store Gerrard purchased in 2003 had been on the market for 10 years, and was in danger of closing. Gerrard believed it was in the best retail location in Neepawa, and just needed a facelift with refreshed product offering to be viable. In a small, rural community such as Neepawa, Gerrard feels it’s important to have as many retail options within the community as possible to keep the community thriving, which was the driving decision behind expanding the business in 2010. 

 

 

Winner: Kathy Gregory, Paradigm Quest

Founded by Gregory after being let go from her position in the world of finance, Paradigm Quest Inc. is the fastest growing mortgage company in Canada, providing a one-stop solution from origination to providing cost effective back office mortgage solutions to lenders, which enables them to proactively respond to market conditions, lead the market in innovation, and ultimately provide the mortgage consumer with greater choice and an unparalleled mortgage experience. Paradigm is recognized by major Canadian financial institutions as a leading BPO in the financial services sector and has signed major outsourcing contracts with Canadian chartered banks.

 

 

Related: 22 Lessons from Successful Entrepreneurs

 

 


 

The collective impact of our country’s female entrepreneurs cannot be overstated. The RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards is the premier national awards program celebrating the achievements of the most successful in this inspiring group. Now in its 24th year, over 120 women have been recognized for demonstrating excellence—from economic growth to social change, from local to global reach, across multiple sectors. We’re honoured to shine a spotlight on them.

 

 


Three Canadian Female-Led Start-ups Share their Keys to Success

Deloitte Startup Awards Finalists Headshots

We asked four remarkable women — all of whom are finalists in our Deloitte Start-up category at the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards — for their best advice for entrepreneurs looking to make their big idea a reality. From “take it slow” to “don’t work so hard!” you may be surprised by how they were each able to cultivate success in their respective ventures.

 


Meet the Experts:

Marlo Brausse, Barre Body Studio
Melanie Caines, Nova Yoga
Angela Marotta & Melissa Marotta-Paolicelli, Two Sisters Vineyards

 

 

Q: What is the one piece of advice — either discovered on your own or received from someone else — that you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Marlo Brausse, Barre Body Studio: Being an entrepreneur takes self-discipline, sacrifice and a lot of passion. Nurture your employees, your brand and your business community; learn what you don’t know and ask for help — you will be surprised by how far these practices will take you.

Melanie Caines, Nova Yoga: Don’t try to do it all: do what keeps you motivated and inspired and delegate what you can to someone you trust and respect. When you are inspired, you are at your best.

Melissa Marotta-Paolicelli, Two Sisters Vineyards: Regardless if the market sways due to various economic factors, never sacrifice the quality or the standards of your product. Evaluate other areas of the operation before you cut costs on production standards.

Angela Marotta, Two Sisters Vineyards: Take it slow. As women and mothers, we cannot do everything well all of the time. You are a better decision maker when working from a clear, focused mind than a foggy confused mind.

 

Q: What do you wish you knew at the beginning?

MB: I wish I knew that by hiring someone to help me with payroll, bookkeeping and accounting I would save time and money versus trying to learn and do most of it myself.

MC: Work smarter, not harder! It’s a great reminder and crucial in order to avoid becoming overwhelmed and burnt out.  

MM: I wish someone told me not to be so hard on myself when a strategy or decision did not go as well as I had hoped.

AM: Sometimes employees and managers are not as loyal to you as you had thought or anticipated, so always have a backup plan.

 

Q: How has your business model or perspective evolved from the point of inception, and how have these changes contributed to your overall success?

MB: My initial business plan was to own and operate one Barre Fitness Studio in Calgary, Alberta and to seek outside assistance to train instructors. I realized early on that I would need an in-house training program to support my studio, so I invested a ton of time and energy developing a well-rounded program. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this training program soon became the basis for our growth as a company—we have grown to four studios in four years.

MC: In the beginning Nova Yoga was one teacher (me) with one offering (vinyasa/flow yoga). I’ve since hired multiple teachers with different skills sets so we can increase the number of classes and offerings, therefore attracting more a larger and more diverse set of customers. Also, hiring staff and a General Manager means I have more time to cultivate and expand the Yoga Retreat and Online Yoga Video parts of my business.

MM: As this was a journey of discovery for both my sister and I, I was able to expand my knowledge in marketing and advertising and gain a better understanding of the market and its wants and needs. As a result, I decided the investment in changing and revolutionizing our website was necessary. I also came to realize how important and effective social media is, as well as overall packaging—it’s always about positioning ourselves as a producer of ultra-premium wine. Through social media we are able to express the level of service that can heighten a customer’s experience at the winery. The attention to detail and overall packaging of the product reaffirms the high standard we hold for the product we produce, one that has continued to gain accolades and respect from visitors and tastemakers in the industry, locally and nationally.

AM: At inception I was focused on not only selling our wine onsite, but through exporting channels, whether in the UK or Asia. As I explored the various business models, I came to realize that although it sounds great to position yourself as an exporter of goods, it does not equate to healthy margins, which is what will ultimately bring about success and longevity. The tax implications and overall costs for shipping and storage reduce margins substantially. As a result we have focused our energy on finding ways to optimize our sales within our retail store, online, in restaurant, at corporate events and through gifting and tour experiences. It has also resulted in solidifying our position as producing an ultra-premium wine from the Niagara region that is being recognized throughout Ontario and across Canada. We are proud to be Canadian and that holds a great value for us, as well as the industry we are in.

 

18 Entrepreneurs Share their Best Advice

These 18 women were selected from over 5,000 nominees to become finalists for the 2015 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards. From construction to retail, communications to not-for-profit, they manage more than 2,300 employees and over $190 million in gross profit. We asked each of them to share what advice they would give to a room full of aspiring entrepreneurs.

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2013 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award Winners

Women of Influence

On November 27th, Women of Influence celebrated the recipients of the 2013 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto.  The six award winners, representing the best of what the country has to offer, were recognized for their contributions to the local, Canadian, and global economies. Diane Francis, editor-at-large at the National Post, hosted the ceremony, which is now in its 21st year.

“RBC is honoured to support and recognize women entrepreneurs who have taken their passion for an idea and made it into a business from start-up to success,” said Andrea Bolger, executive vice president, Business Financial Services, RBC Royal Bank. “It’s this entrepreneurial spirit that we celebrate at these annual awards – the extraordinary vision, determination and achievements of women entrepreneurs across Canada.”

2013 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award Winners. L to R: Jennifer Tory, RBC; Diane Francis, National Post; Suzanne West, Black Shire Energy; Judith Bobbitt, Oceans Ltd; Jennifer Nashmi & Victoria Sopik, Kids & Company; Lisa Tuningly, T-Rail Products; Tamara Barker Watson, Whitestone Developments; Carolyn Lawrence, Women of Influence.

The Awards program identifies finalists from three regions across Canada (West, Central, and East) and the 2013 winners call places from Vancouver to Halifax home.  All the nominees share a strong entrepreneurial vision and a relentless passion to pursue their dreams and make something better, in their communities, their industries, and their country.

“On behalf of everyone at this year’s RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards, we are so very proud to highlight the successes of the award recipients,” said Carolyn Lawrence, President and CEO, Women of Influence Inc.  “Each winner is incredibly deserving of all the accolades bestowed upon her and the resulting momentum to propel the growth of her business. These women are incredible role models for future generations.”

The 2013 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards recipients are:

Deloitte Start-Up Award
Lisa Tuningley, President, T-RAIL Products Inc.

Hub HKMB Impact Award
Judith Bobbitt, President, Oceans Ltd.

RBC Momentum Award
Victoria Sopik & Jennifer Nashmi, CEO and Co-Founder / CFO and Co-Founder, Kids & Company

TPH Sustainability Award
Tamara Barker Watson, CEO, Whitestone Developments Ltd.

TELUS Trailblazer Award
Shannon Rogers, President & General Counsel, Global Relay

PROFIT Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship
Suzanne Lee West, President and CEO, Black Shire Energy Inc.