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Vintage Products - Melanie M, Oshawa ON
December 09, 2021

Vintage Products - Melanie M, Oshawa ON

What's up dawg? We're here to tell you! Vintage Products goal is to provide you with more eco-friendly, non toxic ways to enhance your life and your pets.  


How did your small Canadian business come to fruition?

I have worked with dogs professionally for the past 10yrs and found that the market was lacking in quality pet friendly products. I would constantly hear complaints from clients about products they paid good money for that just don't work or have too many chemicals. So one evening I decided to create a product that did work and we started with our Vintage Dog Paw Balm. I stayed up until 3am for most of the holiday season perfecting the formula and our clients were the first to test it out. Later that year I started looking into candles and creating a pet friendly line that was non-toxic, eco-friendly and smelled great!  We've added numerous products since then.


What was the main goal or mission when you first started and how has your business evolved since then?

The main goal was to create quality products that work and won't break the bank. You shouldn't have to choose between affordability and quality. We've definitely expanded our product line over the past year into a lifestyle brand that we are proud of. We've expanded our candle line to include calming candles for both our dogs and their humans made with scents that have been tested in shelters and have had incredible results on the dogs well-being. We've also added a full line of room sprays and tick repellent sprays to the product line up.

What is the highest selling product that sets you apart from other retailers in the same industry?

Our Vintage Dog Paw & Nose Balm has always been a huge hit with dog owners. It's a stiffer product that works by coating the dog's paws with a thick layer to protect from the winter elements such as salted sidewalks. You put the paw directly into the tin and the scales pick up the product with ease and form a protective barrier. It's fantastic and it works! Next our room sprays are long lasting and have rave reviews. In the spring I do believe our new hit product will be the tick repellent sprays. Ive been using our repellents all year and it's amazing to see how well it works. We went from pulling 30 ticks A DAY off our dogs to maybe catching one or two every couple weeks. Once again, creating products that work. We don't want to waste anyones hard earned money and we'd rather you spent it on a fun day with your pooch. 

Where can we find you? Are you selling in-store, online and at markets?

We are in a bunch of locations including: The Girl Gang, Markets By Dream Day Bowmanville and Pickering Locations, The Nooks Oshawa Center, K9-Pawvengers at Friday Harbor Innisfil. We are launching our official online store in early 2022 www.vintagedogproducts.ca 


Where do you seek support on any off-days or when you're feeling a day of defeat?

Oh man, I think every business owner has up days and down days with probably more down days then we'd like to admit. I have a large family of dogs, 7 to be exact and they are literally my best friends and my favourite way to just freeze time. I just love hanging out with them and they remind us dog owners everyday to enjoy the moment. But sometimes we just need sleep to reset.


Tell us about your pets!!

This is a loaded question haha,  we'll keep it fairly short.  All our dogs are rescues and long term fosters. They all have incredible stories behind them and are amazingly resilient. Maggie was my first rescue and I always say, the reason for everything. Molly is literally The Princess and Anna is 'our little girl' because she's the smallest. Then came the boys Blue, Roger and Tommy. Sadly, last year one of my favourite dog walking clients passed away and he entrusted me with the most important thing in his life, his best friend Delta. I could tell you so many stories about these crazy kids and I love to share our adventures through instagram and tiktok.


What makes it important to support local small-business Canadians right now? 

You are supporting driven and passionate individuals and these are the people you want to continue to help build up. That small local business may one day provide jobs for others. These types of jobs are important to small communities and we really want to support and give a leg up to these talented business owners. On a personal note, I absolutely love supporting anyone who wants to start a business. I want to see every small business owner succeed and live everyday loving what they do. This just makes for happier individuals and that has a ripple effect on those around them. 


What goals or plans can we anticipate from Vintage products in 2022?

I am constantly working on new ideas and plans. Product wise I tend to get my ideas when I'm just walking my dogs or speaking with clients. I prefer to have product ideas come to me naturally rather than forcing a new concept. All my businesses have been driven by passion and need. You have to love what you do and what you create but there has to be a need for it as well. So I wait for the right idea to come and then just run with it. 

We will be expanding into more locations across the GTA and north of the city next year which is super exciting.


What advice would you give to other owners like yourself transitioning through the COVID pandemic to keep their heads up and carry forward into the New Year?

Honestly, Do what you love and you will be the richest person in the world. Growing a business is not an easy walk in the park. It takes time, dedication and passion. The more you love what you are doing the easier it is to fight for it. Make sure you are truly doing what you love and your business will succeed. I have to keep telling myself 'It takes time' Keep pushing forward and you'll reach your goal. 


 Melanie M.


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Patricia, Artiste La Pimbêche - Montréal, QC
October 28, 2021

Patricia, Artiste La Pimbêche - Montréal, QC

Meet Patricia, the fabulous founder / artist/ female/ kickass business owner behind La Pimbêche!



Patricia, can you tell us about how your brand got started and when you realized that this was the industry that you belonged in?

Well first, thank you for this amazing intro! La Pimbêche was born from an art project I launched for a collective art exhibition in Montreal. At first, it was a simple art series of contemporary activist art. That's when I started to translate the topic of feminism into art pieces.

After this exhibition, I felt the calling to pursue the mission of using visual art as the support for my voice. I started to create more feminist artworks and illustrations inspired by political moments, stereotypes, and women’s sexual empowerment with sarcasm and badass taglines. That’s when I realize how creating a brand would be the ideal strategy to expand the visibility of my art and mission. That’s when I launched La Pimbêche, the fashion and accessories brand. The objective is to allow my message and artwork to travel from one person to another, to trigger conversations and to contribute to a positive change in our society.


If you could explain your style in a few words, what would they be?

My style of visual art is very colorful inspired by pop culture and Y2K iconic elements (which bring up my inner child). I love playing with different dimensions and superpositions. Everything I do has layers of symbolism, while can be understood at the 1st degree. In terms of the look and feel of La Pimbêche, I would say it’s badass, confident, happy, and empowering!!!


What is your mission or purpose with La Pimbeche (and the women around you that you inspire)?

My purpose as an artist is to provoke self-empowerment in people, casting out normativity and the fight for gender equality. All designs are based on the mission to inspire confidence, happiness, and self-determination in order to contribute to a world of acceptance and inclusion.

Many women inspire me, such as my mother, which is a BIG inspiration. She devoted her carrier to human development in 3rd world countries, she empowered so many women and children across the globe while being a single parent raising 2 girls, me and my sister.

There's a lot of amazing modern women that support the same beliefs as La Pimbêche feminism. Chelsey Handler, Emma Watson, Beyoncé, Lena Dunham are all my fave modern feminist women that convey a strong message of confidence, acceptance, and equality.


Is there anything fun coming up for the holiday season that our amazing audience can look forward to?

Yes! For all Toronto folks, I am soooo excited to be part of the One-of-a-kind show from November 25th to Dec 5th, 2021. OOAK is one of the largest art and craft shows in Canada and will be the first edition after the pandemic! This is an amazing opportunity for my customers to come meet me in person and support local artists, designers, and craft businesses. How to see you all there!


What would you say the most challenging part of doing this line of work is for you?

La Pimbêche is now a brand, which means that the entrepreneur role is taking more space than being an artist. The most challenging part is the ability to change roles from being strategic to being more intuitive in my artistic vision. Slowing the team is growing and I am able to delegate tactical tasks. The ultimate goal is the delegate more time to creativity, slowly I am getting there.


And the most rewarding?

When a customer tells me that my art has inspired, or empowered them – that’s my paycheck. The most rewarding part of being an artist is the impact of your creativity.


And last, do you have some goals you can let us in on for 2022?

Growing the team is one of me goal in 2022, I also would love to participate to more in-person shows across Canada. Obviously, customers can expect new designs, new products and more exciting collaboration! 




Artiste La Pimbêche




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Beads x Meg - Megan White in Banff, AB
October 13, 2021

Beads x Meg - Megan White in Banff, AB

Started beading now she's here.. everyday bead wear inspired by nature. Collection consists of gemstones, pearls and seed beads. 



How did Beads x Meg start and how long have you been in business?

Beads x Meg started 4 years ago. I have always made jewelry as a hobby and started to sell my pieces to friends and family. I received a government grant and began to expand my business on Etsy, selling in retail shops and hosting workshops.


What inspired you to get into beadwork?

I find bead work to be very calming. Beading is also a way to explore my creative side.

Is this your primary job and did you have prior training in business?

Currently Beads x Meg is not my primary job. I also work in the service industry. I am a self taught bead artist.


What are your goals for the next year?

My top 3 goals for next year;

  1. Reach 200 sales on Etsy 
  2. Have Beads x Meg in 2 new retail spaces
  3. Host more workshops (in person or online)


What would you say is the most challenging part of working for yourself?

The most challenging part about working for yourself is having enough time. Having enough time as one person to complete all the tasks that come with running a business.


What would you say is the most rewarding part about working for yourself?



The most rewarding part about working for myself is being able to be creative. I have always loved making jewelry and other crafts. It is also very special having so many friends, family and online community love the jewelry I create


Which beads are the most popular and what benefits can they give for healing/health?

As of lately Moonstone has been the most popular gemstone. Moonstone has been know to help foster new beginnings and promote inner growth. Moonstone also helps balance ones emotions and can create a sense of calm.


What would be your ideal dream for Beads x Meg?

The ideal dream for Beads x Meg would be to create full time. Would love to see my jewelry in more retail spaces and attending more markets and pop ups.


Do you ever get inspired by nature and your environment to create?


Yes I do. When I can I love making jewelry outside. Some of the gemstones I use also remind me of the beautiful lakes and mountains that surround me in the Rockies.


Lastly, any advice you would give to someone that is thinking of working for themselves?


Start the business! You do not have to have everything figured out to begin. 


Megan White



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Randa Roberts - So Comfy Designs - Sarnia, ON
August 02, 2021

Randa Roberts - So Comfy Designs - Sarnia, ON

Proud to introduce one of the first Girl Gang Members with a unique small business that has won her awards and high praise in her community. 



What is So Comfy Designs? How did you start and how long have you been in business?

It goes back to 2012, where my first collection was headbands and sandals made from upcycled t-shirts. The first, and most common feedback I got was "it's SO COMFY!" and my BFF suggested I name my business So Comfy Designs. Starting out I had a lot to learn, and I just tried to be open and find something that resonated with me, and to make a product that nobody else was making. Eventually upcycled sweater mittens, and then upcycled leather bags became what I was known for. And here we are! 


Creating new designs and keeping up on trends can be tricky, how do you maintain your growth and keep it fresh?

Well, the materials will always inspire me, so when I get handed some leather for a custom bag, or I find a couch on the curb to strip, that's when the first ideas come to me. I've found that the trick to keeping trendy is to pick one element of a trend I love, then include it in my work. That way it's timely but also timeless. So, a recent example is I love the trend of the pieced wood art wall hangings/furniture, so I was inspired to design something similar, but with leather, and made it into a coin purse. I do my best, and if it doesn't resonate with me, then I don't make it.

Tell us about your new Vessel Collection you just launched.

It came from the need to de-stash my couch leather collection! I'd been stripping couches and had a lot of really useful leather, but no idea what to do. I was totally inspired by the thickness and the beautiful suede back that was in excellent shape, so I created a collection of bags that didn't have linings, and really are a vessel for your essentials. Wallet, keys, phone. Simple bags, that in my opinion, were very beautiful in their own minimalistic way. I've been carrying one of the fold over styles for months and I love to use it. Perfect for summer!


What was one of your most memorable pieces you’ve made to date?

Like asking me who's my favorite child. No, there are so many stories behind most of my pieces, especially the custom bags that are made from a loved ones jacket. It's very meaning for me to be able to use my skills to give a family a little souvenir of a loved one in the form of a wallet, or bag, or keychain. I'll always value every single one of those experiences. I do want to give an honorable mention to the Louis V fringe out's that I've been doing. I had one customer come to me a few years ago with a picture and a Louis Vuitton, and since then I've lost count on how many I've done. Each one unique. I'm working on one right now actually!


Looking back now what would you never expect from working for yourself?

Funny story. 12 years ago I crossed paths with a psychic who told me that I'd be in business for myself. And she told me that it would be very hard and I'd want to give up a lot, but to keep going and it would work out. I never in a million years imagined at that moment that I would be a handmade maker and actually have been able to make hundreds of bags and mittens!

Working for myself is without a doubt the hardest job because there are a million steps to take before you make a profit for yourself. And that was unexpected, because I thought that a low overhead meant more profit, but really there are so many factors. And I'm still hustling towards that profit, so you have to be resilient as hell sometimes. I had hoped it would happens sooner (lol).


What goals have you set for So Comfy in the next 5 years? 10 years?

The next frontier will be recording some of what I've learned and hopefully turning it around and teaching and selling some sewing patterns. I've been a part of the OLFA Craft team for a few years, and I hope to continue working with them. I have some really exciting projects coming up, so it's already starting! I've been super inspired by my fellow maker and OLFA Expert Carla who paid for her kids university directly from her sewing and crafting, that truly is my number one goal in the next 5-10. 


How has the pandemic affected the way you work and what have you shifted that would enhance your skill set going into 2022? 

Maybe I could have had a pandemic-proof business, but the truth is, I'm a mom first, and having our lives flipped with the kids learning from home affected me a lot. It definitely robbed me of my creativity because of the stress and uncertainty that the pandemic brought. Like a lot of people, I struggled, and had to accept that it's okay, and I'm okay. Not easy. So going into 2022, I've been laying the groundwork for more social media posts, more tutorials, and making answering e-mails and message a top priority. Those things had suffered over the last 18 months and they are really important to my business.  


You were apart of the making of Girl Gang, over the past 3 years what would you say Girl Gang means to you?

Girl Gang is a like-minded group of super creative and fearless female makers, a lot of whom I call personal friends, and that's the real core reason why I love and support it. I know you speak to a huge market, and it is amazing that I can hand you my product, and you'll show it to them. I've loved your photography, location, mission, and marketing, and that's what I think makes the Girl Gang stand out. Also, you're pretty awesome women!


Who has been your BIGGEST support system through all of the ups and downs, the unknowns, and the successes?

My family and friends. My husband is very selfless and supportive always, and my Mom is the first person I call when something exciting happens for my business. It's really easy to have doubts, and see all the flaws in something when you're the creator, so having like minded friends who are also makers, and seriously the best customers a girl could want are the secrets to my longevity.


Lastly, any advice you would give to someone that is thinking of working for themselves?

Don't give up! Always be open to learning a new way. Search for podcasts that will teach you or inspire you. Show gratitude. Believe in yourself. Ask for help. And, don't give up (that one bears repeating).





Photography by Meghan Chute Photography

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Stacey Le Poivre - Operation YOU Academy - Sarnia, ON
June 30, 2021

Stacey Le Poivre - Operation YOU Academy - Sarnia, ON

Hey girl, hey. Between running her own business, literally running, being a mom and balancing a full-time career...Stacey has it going on. 



GRL Fitness just graduated! Tell us about Operation YOU Academy.

GRL Fitness graduated! We are so happy to now be Operation YOU Academy. Where we believe in the continuous learning and progression of self growth and development through our three foundational pillars: mindset, nutrition and movement.


Is personal training your primary career and why did it interest you?

Personal training for me started over a decade ago when I was in college for policing. I would help classmates in my program as well as paramedic and fire sciences in order to be successful in their respective fitness testing. I became certified shortly after that and haven't quit since. After a successful career within the military, I have recently stepped away and am focused on coaching full-time while also offering mindset and nutrition along with movement coaching.

Being a mom, balancing nutrition, mental health and exercise is important. What tips do you have for moms post-partum?

In short:

Food prep saves time and leaves guessing out of the equation.

Rest. Rest. Rest.

Don't beat yourself up if you didn't get the things done. Tomorrow is a new day.

Above all else, remember you are a human.

Mental health is #1 ! Always. Being a mom who knew nothing about babies until I had one was rough, as well as being in a isolated area where help was hard to come by. One thing that has been hard for me to learn is to slow down and let the small things stay small. Those dishes you hate looking at vs spending an hour to just sit and chill, you owe it to yourself to rest. Momming is a full-time sport in it's own. Rest for your mental, emotional and physical self is important now than before. That little person needs you, but YOU need you.

When Harper was a newborn she was easy to cart around for walks/hikes, and she slept or rolled around when I took her into my home gym. If you're trying to get into a routine start small. Add in weekly walks, and don't over due strength training or jogging before your BODY is physically ready. Now that Harper is a toddler she's super busy. We frequent walks/jogs, bike rides and I'm always blasting the music for a dance party. Involve your kids, show them an example even if you are focusing on purposeful movement, strength training or whatever your activity of preference is.


What are your personal fitness goals?

My personal fitness goals are to keep my body strong due to a medical condition involving my back. As well, regain flexibility. I move because I'm grateful that I can -  but I also love pushing my body to see how far it can go.


What was the most difficult part about creating your own curriculum?

The most difficult part is condensing the content for each program. I cap 2/3 curriculum programs to two months and even then I am always finding things to add. We really cannot put a cap on learning more about our bodies.


We are now halfway through the year, what would you say was your biggest hurdle?


Leaving the military and going full-time into my business. Leaving a structured and routine life for uncertainty has been a struggle but the benefits have shown to be worth every minute.


You have been in Girl Gang since the beginning, what was your initial objective and what has kept the relationship continue?

My biggest objective was to network and stay connected to my home area while I was gone. I knew I wanted to come back to the area and I didn't want to feel like I was starting from scratch when it came to getting locally involved. Being in a network of other badass women who own and run businesses is so thrilling and empowering to me. Now that I've returned, I am hoping to be more involved not only with the Girl Gang, but within the community as well.


What would be advice to someone starting a business who has a family, side hustle and full-time career?

Don't spread yourself too thin and make sure you're starting it for the right reason.


Blunt answer.. Careers are replaceable. Family isn't.

If you're finding yourself burnt out from the career, side hustle and cant find the time for your family.. Something has to give.

Ask yourself the hard questions. Or just,

Take the leap. You might surprise yourself. 


What is one of your biggest accomplishments that you would have never imagined happening 5 years ago?


Leaving my career to be a full-time entrepreneur. But I think I knew deep down I couldn't live my entire life following someone else's agenda. The resistance was real.

Headed toward 2022, what can we expect from Operation YOU Academy?


We have two more curriculum programs coming up within nutrition and movement.


As well, fingers crossed for in-person options when we move!

In all honesty - possibilities are endless and we are rolling with it.








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Stefanie Henderlin - Mångata Apothecary, Surrey B.C.
June 02, 2021

Stefanie Henderlin - Mångata Apothecary, Surrey B.C.

Meet this one-woman show, Stefanie. She will tell us how she started formulating the perfect blends with locally sourced herbs in her cozy workshop while keeping everything waste free!

Intriguing right...find out how below.



"Essentials by Stefanie" just did a huge re-brand tell us about your new name! Mångata Apothecary™.

“Mångata” is translated as måne (moon) + gata (road) or; the road-like reflection of the moonlight on water. 

The word is Swedish and I chose at is has a mystical ring to it yet its a very real thing (moonlight). Often when herbalism is mentioned it also has a mystical ring to it, but it its my goal to make it herbalism and the use of herbs real and tangible!

What makes your products unique compared to other lines on the market?

My focus is on herbs and my goal it to have each customer who wants, have the knowledge to make herbal products for themselves. I wrote an e-book (now in print) so that they could learn the basics easily. Many of the recipes for my products are actually in this book!

My bestsellers are herbal balms and I have not come across many other lines that focus on balms.


How many are involved with Mangata Apothecary?

I have recently hired a friend to help me with the rebrand but when life slows down it will be back to just me!


Your products are All-Natural, Eco-Conscious, and CertClean. What do you find is the biggest challenges you face keeping items aligned with your values?

Price point. People want less expensive (I get it) but the reality is I can’t make a living on that and honestly- quality is going to cost more than the big store products. 

I have steered away from going all organic because I find natural is effective enough and organic can be so pricy. Instead I have made my products certified as clean with CertClean which allows everyone to rest knowing that any thing I make here in my apothecary are good for you and for everyone in your life! No nasties! (www.certclean.com )


Was owning a business always apart of your career plans?

Never. I studied to be a midwife with plans to work overseas. After living overseas for 2 years I discovered it was just too hard for me but that I want to continue supporting friends who are still there. We recently teamed up with “Cedar’s Network” and give a portion of each purchase to the healthcare section of the non-profit, which is run by a midwife friend of mine!


What experience/and or education did you have behind this dream?

I have two degrees; Intercultural Studies and Midwifery. I started making herbal products for clients and then my family. When I chose to stay home and raise my girls, my husband pushed me to begin selling. I have then been scrounging for any online coaching and business courses I could take to make this passion into a successful business! I have found some amazing resources through the non-profit “The Forum” based out of Vancouver.


Since your have started your journey, what has been the most rewarding?

Seeing the products change people’s minds about what they use for different issues. When a product works, they often come back and tell me and then begin seeking out more herbal remedies. I love this!


Why is Girl Gang important to you?

The Girl Gang makes me feel supported and cared for. Its tough being an entrepreneur when you have no experience in business. There are also so many opportunities that are presented to use through the Girl Gang. I have marketing options, educational resources, and events constantly being presented to me and this makes my life so much easier.


What are your next goals for Mångata?

Many of my products have herbs that could help issues like eczema and sciatica but I cannot make those claims due to Health Canada regulations. I am therefore working on getting some of my products certified as natural health products so that I can make appropriate claims. This will be an amazing way to reach more people and provide natural care for so many issues!


Is there any advice you could share with other entrepreneurs starting up a business from home?

Team up with a group of likeminded entrepreneurs and ask so many questions. There are Facebook groups, memberships, and other resources out there - find them and join them! You are not alone, there are so many people doing what you are doing who have no idea what they are doing! But together we get sh*t done and we can get it done so much faster when we help each other out!


Mångata Apothecary





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Missy Woods, Pottery By The Woods - London, ON.
May 02, 2021

Missy Woods, Pottery By The Woods - London, ON.

Coffee has never looked so good. Missy's pottery pieces keep hot drinks hot with a natural down to earth feel. Get your own hug from a mug.



How did Pottery by the Woods start? 

It all started in a small classroom off campus through Fanshawe College. I was excited but intimidated all at the same time. I dove straight in getting my hands dirty! Knowing the love, I had to master clay, I was my own worst critique. I knew in order to hone in all the skills I was taught classroom time was just not enough. A wheel became not a “want” but rather a “must!"

I purchased my first used one that looked something not from the century! It was fully Cast Iron and to shift the arm (instead of a pedal) took 2 arms! The Wheel became part of my furniture and home décor. As time went by friends and family begun asking me to make things than I was approached by M.S. Society asking me to go in their Christmas show and it just kind of lead the way to where I am today.


Where Do You Find Most Your Inspiration?

My Inspiration comes mainly from my family and my customers which, I prefer to not call them because most become friends to me. I guess on social media, or in person. I like to know I create a bond with each person especially when I am making a pottery piece, so that mug or bowl speaks to who they are and is special or unique. The other part of my Inspiration comes from being on the wheel itself or other well known hobby potters.


How many are involved in the business?

It’s a one woman show - from designing and cutting labels to making products, it’s just me. I do get help with hauling my products to markets and a ton of moral support. My family are my biggest supporters and cheerleaders. 


Are you a One Woman Show?

Yes, I absolutely am. It takes 2 weeks to make one vessel (Mug or Bowl) from start to finish. I myself, prefer hand painting, all my pieces over dipping to ensure extra protection on rims etc. (but this is my preference). It then goes to trimming each piece and sanding. Each item goes in the kiln at least twice up too 2400 degrees. Therefore, all pottery is oven safe (which many people do not know.)


What was the first piece you ever made?

This was pinch pots, and it was horrible! It looked like an elephant foot haha!


What were you doing before pottery?

I was raising two beautiful daughters whom one is now in University and the other in Quality Control for Windmills. I had a small candle business in Grand Bend, Ontario. I do have a job background in Social Services, Human Foundations, and Sexual Deviance. However, due to a traumatic event I no longer am in the field and I am now an Epilepsy Warrior!


In five years where do you want to be?

I will and I am always growing as a Potterist. I Know it takes 5 years to see any profit from your business, so I would like to be sitting there. I would love to open my own café and sell my own mugs to drink from! As well a bigger studio.


Who is your largest support system?

All of my followers, friends and family! I would not be “Pottery By The Woods” without any of you!


What can we see next from Pottery by the Woods?

Oohh lala…. this is going to be dinnerware; Modern and Contemporary. I cannot wait to show off the new pieces! Some of my inspiration plates came from Italy, as they are egg like shaped and I am still learning, (and waiting for my molds) however I will be glazing them in contrasting colours and they will be a must see! I also am working on some platters and larger bowls.


Who would you say is one of your greatest role models?

This Question is hard to answer... as I have so many! I have three that keep me focused and in check!

First my Mom! – Hello? Who wouldn’t? She taught me everything in life and to boot … she was a hobby Potterist back in the day! She can still kick it and she rocks on the wheel!

Secondly, Ruth Dean. She has seen me at my worst and best. She is my Grand Bend Yoga Bear! Full of feminism and spirit, she empowers, she’s a leader, a mother and an activist and highly loyal. Ruth takes life and lives it, she is a remarkable woman I look up to and honour for her dedication and teaching.

Lastly, Kathleen Parker from London Ontario, this woman was my mentor before I went into the field of social services. She taught me a lot that corrective criticism was empowering! Who would have thought! This woman is community caring even when not at work! She has huge empathy and empowers families every single day! Kathleen is very self-less and highly motivated and dedicated in caring! She is one of those people you do not meet very often through life.

Without these Women in my life I honestly do not know where I would be or “Pottery By The Woods”. They have kept me dedicated to my business, honest of who I am really am as a person (not just a business owner) they believe in me, and keep me centered and driven and focused.

For someone starting their own business what would you say is the most important piece of advice you would give?

Pay attention to small details, I can get consumed by my pottery so my receipt books were neglected. Tax time was a mess, your receipts must be counted for every number you cannot just rip one out! Being a new business owner with a GST number I did not know this. Print receipts or transactions off as you buy them and put them in a folder for each month, if you do not have time to log them right away. This saves you from a tangled mess of email sorting! Also account for advertisement costs, they can add up very fast.

- Missy Woods



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Maily - BBKFnaturals from Dowling, ON
April 04, 2021

Maily - BBKFnaturals from Dowling, ON

Alert - non-toxic products, eco-friendly packaging, self-care creations. Have we got your attention yet? Meet Maily the face behind the biz and learn more below.



How and when did BBKFnaturals start?

I started making my own products several years ago as I couldn’t find many products that were clean, made with ingredients that I could pronounce AND at a price point that wouldn’t break the bank. In 2019, my hobby soon turned into something I wanted to share and launched BBKFnaturals soon after. 

What does the acronym BBKF stand for? 

I typically say that BBKF stands for “Bath & Body - Kid Friendly” (which it can be) but it also is an acronym for a nickname that my partner and I call each other. It started as a joke initially but it grew into something that meant a lot to me, so I knew when naming my business, BBKF had to be a part of it. I’ll probably keep that in the vault forever though. 


How many are involved in the business?

It’s a one woman show - from designing and cutting labels to making products, it’s just me. I do get help with hauling my products to markets and a ton of moral support. My family are my biggest supporters and cheerleaders. 


From the first item you ever made to most recent product created – what would you say is the biggest difference in production during that gap?

The equipment I’m using and the amount of product I’m putting out are probably the biggest differences in production. By no means am I a factory, I’m still in the same in-home studio as when I started, but I’ve definitely figured out more efficient ways to make my products.  


What were you doing before BBKF Naturals?

I’ve been in project management for the past decade, so it’s quite the contrast. 


What is something people should know about products that don’t utilize natural ingredients and what are some of the greatest benefits?

Biggest thing is that it’s just as important what you put ON your body, as what you put IN your body. Your skin is your largest organ and since it is so porous, it absorbs whatever you put on it. Most people wouldn’t eat toxic ingredients, so you should have the same standards for products you put on your skin. Read the labels and just inform yourself what’s in your products. Parabens, fragrances, phthalates - so many everyday products contain these items. Studies show phthalates can be extremely dangerous, especially for children, but it’s best to avoid them all together as they can be serious endocrine disruptors and even cause birth defects. 


Congrats on your one year in January, what can we expect from BBKF by 2022?

Thank you! I am working on 5 new products that will be launching over the course of 2021. BBKF will also be receiving a minor packaging facelift, which will all still be recyclable and planet friendly. You’ll get to see that this month (April). My goal for 2021 is to have products available in more storefronts and markets across Canada. 


Did anyone inspire you to take the leap and go for your dreams or did you always have that “joie de vivre”?

I’m stubborn, so if I have an idea, I’m going for it! I’m very passionate about natural products and that lifestyle so it just all really fell into place. I do have a great support system and I’m always bouncing ideas off them. They definitely helped get me where I am today. 


Who would you say is one of your greatest female role models?

My mom. She’s a rock star. I definitely get my independent woman genes from her. She’s always worked hard and did things on her own. I know its not always easy, but she always stressed that girls/women can do whatever they set their minds to and showed me it’s possible. I have 2 daughters and I hope I’m showing them as well. (love you, mom)  


For someone starting their own business what would you say is the most important guidance/piece of advice you wish you knew?

I think we start out with all these hopes and dreams and get discouraged when they don’t happen quickly. Don’t lose hope if things aren’t going as planned or you’re not seeing immediate results. Keep working at it. Keep growing and be proud of where you’ve made it so far. Celebrate the small wins, just as you would the big wins. 






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Allison McCracken - Rose & Grace Designs located in London, ON
March 02, 2021

Allison McCracken - Rose & Grace Designs located in London, ON

This month's boss babe is Allison McCracken from London, ON. She has a creative eye that is depicted in her original handmade earrings with Rose & Grace Designs. We love all her designs, find out why below...


Check out all Rose & Grace earrings in our shop. 


How did Rose & Grace Designs start?

After I had my youngest I decided to stay home. I wanted to be able to contribute, but from home.  I love creating things and I love earrings. Earrings can add so much to an outfit. I wanted to create something I would love and wear  and that others would too. So starting up my own business just made sense.  


Where did the inspiration for the business name come from?

My daughters. I named the business after them! It’s there middle names Adalyn Grace and Everly Rose.  No meaning behind the names.  I just really liked how the names went together. There names are so beautiful and feminine and when deciding on the name for the business I wanted it to have that feminine feel.


Rose and Grace will celebrate one year in business in July (wha-hoo), what were you doing before this? 

Dental assistant. 

Do you miss the office atmosphere?

Sometimes . I really loved my job, but there is something really rewarding about making something that people love. And it allows me to be home with my girls. 


Where have you seen the most growth in the past year?

In myself. I really needed to step out of my comfort zone to make this business a success. I never thought I would start my own business. I guess it took me a lot to believe in myself to actually go for it. I’m sure a lot can relate to that. 


What was the  most difficult aspect you faced opening a business during a pandemic, and where would you like to see the biggest change in this coming year?

The most difficult aspect I would say would be getting my business out there and noticed when we were not able to do it in person.  I will be joining a few markets this year in the spring and into the summer, fall months locally in London so am I am looking forward to that.  


What made you want to become a part of The Girl Gang?

I thought it would be a great opportunity to showcase my business with other talented, like-minded women entrepreneurs. 


If you could tell your 20 year old self some words of encouragement what would they be?

Too just go for it!  Not to be afraid to put yourself out there. When I was 20 I was actually in an art program. Beal Art here in London. I worked for a bit after that and then went to school to become a dental assistant. 


We know you make killer earrings, do you ever expand into other areas of creative design?

Yes!  I have worked with some local businesses for custom requests as well as other personal gift request. I hope to continue that and expand into other things. 


We love the mix of natural wood with the mirror/glitter acrylics, what top pieces are your customers buying lately?

People are really liking the mirrored with the walnut and the walnut with pearl white. They are also liking the small stud earrings as well. 


Now that you’ve come this far … what’s next for your 2021 goals??

I would like to branch out more and offer more jewelry options like necklaces. I would also like to continue with custom orders and possibly adding other items other then jewelry. I would like to add necklaces to my collection. I made some business name tags and signs for local businesses. I would like to start offering that more.  Possibly more personalized items for babies and kids as well. (room signs, month milestones etc.)



Allison McCracken/The Girl Gang 

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Freda Lin, 'The Bad Potter' - Handmade Ceramics from Vancouver, B.C.
January 25, 2021

Freda Lin, 'The Bad Potter' - Handmade Ceramics from Vancouver, B.C.

Introducing Freda the maker behind "The Bad Potter", perfectly Imperfect Handmade Ware, a small-batch, handmade, ceramics business based out of Vancouver, BC.


Read out more about Freda and the inspiration behind her work. 


When and how did you come up with the idea of The Bad Potter?


The Bad Potter started back in 2018 as a way to share my wonky pottery journey on Instagram. At the time I was at a full time 9 to 5 that required long dedicated days on screens. I used to walk by a seaside studio on my lunch break and I’d press my face against the window, fantasizing about creating on the wheel with my hands. I was initially drawn to the physical involvement of ceramics, each step demands your complete attention and presence. I felt like it was something I could enjoy, express creativity and allow spontaneity all at the same time. So I took a beginners class at the seaside studio, Claytek in Vancouver, subsequently a couple of other workshops. I begin to make a lot of everyday functional tableware, lots of bowls and plates. Though I thought my work was terrible at the time, the idea of my work being enjoyed by others meant (and still does now) so much to me, I eventually started to put my work out there for sale on Etsy and at local markets. That opened up a whole other side of this craft, the business side, which also brings me a lot of joy. Really, it all started with the goal of having fun, which is still the focus today.  


Where does your inspiration come from?

With a blended background of design and marketing, the ability to bringing ideas and physical prototypes to life (almost) instantly is appealing. I love that you can be inspired or have an idea, chances are, you can create it with clay. Many inspirations in my work, the biggest has to be everyday functionalities. 




Do you remember the first piece you ever made? 

A blue, green, black cup that looked like a tornado blew through and it got stuck. The end result was not how I expected at all! I remember wanting to get back to the drawing board right away and make it again.


What advice would you give a beginner?

You can’t force creativity, it flows. And being mindful of my bandwidth has saved me from many many burnouts. 


Do you feel between your marketing business and pottery business you have created a harmonious balance?

I love that pottery is super demanding. You have to make the pieces, glaze them fire them and then after all the trial and error you have to sell them. You do it all! Right now, I definitely prioritize making, and marketing is secondary. I try to fit it all in. And I have become better at balancing. I find lots of fun, unique ideas of how to market a piece during the making process. I love sharing a bit about the process as I go, and people seem to enjoy that.




Who is one of your female role models and why?

My grandma. She ran the home I grew up in China, raised a flock of grandkids, and still had time to practice self-care and her artistry. She’s done it with so much grace and intention day in and day out. She’s taught me at an early age the strength and power of a woman.  




What does Girl Gang mean to you?

Girl Gang has been a huge source of support, inspiration, and female empowerment the past year! It’s so amazing to be a part of a women-run business collective, we truly learn so much from each other, support each other, making our goals and dreams that much closer. No doubt having your own business has its challenges, Girl Gang connects us and makes it fun to share our journeys. 




Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

Enjoying a well-oiled studio space, operating my kiln and blending glaze recipes. And sharing the craft!




Are you working on any new projects/or have a dream project? 

Aside from setting up my own studio right now, I am working on large vases and carved vessels for my first soda firing in March. 



Digging up local clay and pit firing has always fascinated me, that’s up there on the list to try!




What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

That I actually love cats (also). I’m a huge animal lover. Not just canines :) I’ve been a proud owner of chickens, ducks, a snake, a turtle, cats growing up.




Thank You Freda! 


Freda Lin





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Jolene Laskey - Wabanaki Maple Syrup in Neqotkuk (Tobique First Nation), NB
October 29, 2020

Jolene Laskey - Wabanaki Maple Syrup in Neqotkuk (Tobique First Nation), NB

Wabanaki is 100% Indigenous female-owned and located on Neqotkuk (Tobique First Nation), Wabanaki Maple is proud to introduce you to this tradition that's shared by many Peoples of the Wabanaki Confederacy; Wolastoqiyik, Mi'kmaq, Penobscot, Abenaki, and Passamaquoddy.


Read our interview with Jolene below to find out more about this Canadian staple. 

What is Wabanaki?

Wabanaki translated, means “People of the Dawn” or “People of the first Light” it has other references too such as, People of the Eastern Woodlands, but the meaning of Wabanaki refers to the five different First Nation tribes known as, the Wolastoqiyik, Mi’kmaq, Passamaquoddy, Penobscot and the Abanaki, together they formed an alliance to protect and watch over the lands, this alliance is referred to as the Wabanaki Confederacy. 


How did Wabanaki start?

I had my first experience and exposure to gathering and harvesting maple syrup many years ago, while working at my sister's hobby sugar bush. I must say, it was one of my more enjoyable and memorable work experiences. So for me, I believe a seed had been planted many years ago and has been nurtured and grown into the company today. Inspired by our ancestral roots, Wabanaki Maple was started in 2018. I wanted to share and reconnect people and communities with a piece of our Indigenous history and culture through our maple syrup products. 


Have you always lived in New Brunswick? 

For most of my life I've lived in New Brunswick, but I was born in Nova Scotia and lived there until the age of 5. I grew up in a military family and non-Indigenous communities, and it wasn't until my father retired from the Navy that we found our way back to New Brunswick and then some 20yrs later reconnected to our First Nation community of Tobique!


What is your favourite way to serve?

I have many favourite ways to serve, but the one I use daily is to serve maple syrup as a natural sweetener for my coffee, and I also love using our maple syrup as the final topping to compliment my French toast breakfast.


Do you have a favourite flavour?

I’d have to say I’m partial to our Bourbon barrel aged syrup, it pairs perfectly with fish and seafood like salmon and scallops, which happen to also be some of my favorite foods! 


What does Girl Gang mean to you?

I think the Girl Gang definitely represents strength and empowerment for all women nation-wide. Especially women business owners in communities across our nation. By sharing, supporting and connecting women they are helping to foster and create a healthy business environment, where we can learn, grow and thrive together!


What are your professional goals in the next year?

One of my goals for next year is to move the business forward into international and export markets. I plan to learn the ins and outs of exportation. For this advancement, we will be focused on more market research and identifying new markets, we also plan on expanding our team and to train with the proper process and procedures for the distribution of our products for both our B2C & B2B sales channels.


What should every woman try at least once in her life?

I'd suggest taking a couple days and head out towards the great outdoors, set up camp and surround yourself with forest and waterways to connect with Mother Nature, without internet or phones, and just disconnect from your daily routine for a while. Take this opportunity to invigorate and replenish yourself.


What are some of your favorite hobbies or pastimes? 

It may sound odd, but I like getting my hands dirty! Give me a shovel, some seeds, and some dirt and I'm happy. Working outside in my multiple flower gardens is what I refer to as my "therapy"! I also really enjoy gathering and harvesting some of our traditional food from our environment. Whether it's picking berries, fishing or hunting, it's even better when I have my children and grandchildren to accompany me. It's these special moments that allow for me to pass on and share my knowledge with them and to create new memories. 


Jolene Laskey
CEO & President

Wabanaki Mapl
(Wolastoq Maple Products)
(506) 479-4197


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Heather Sipkens, The Aesthetics Clinic - Sarnia, ON.
September 09, 2020

Heather Sipkens, The Aesthetics Clinic - Sarnia, ON.

Say hello to Heather, our September Feature on The Girl Gang, her skills are real with natural looking results. 

We asked Heather 10 questions, find out how she got her business started, where she is headed next and how to book your appointment... cause you know you want to

How did The Aesthetics Clinic start?

I have been a nurse for nearly 10 years now, and about 5 years ago was when I became really interested in “cosmetic nursing”. The starting point of becoming an entrepreneur was when a friend commented on my makeup and asked if I could do a few makeup applications for a photo shoot. Since that day, I haven’t stopped evolving. 

I am a self taught makeup artist, and have taken courses for lash and brow services (lash lift & tint, lash extensions, facial waxing). I’ve always had a love for art and took art class all through high school. Makeup became my creative outlet in my 20’s.

I was working a full-time nursing job, while building my business for over a year and a half. I worked 7 days a week, seeing clients every evening after work and on weekends. I was booked solid for weddings, and eventually saved enough money to take Botox and dermal filler courses.

I moved into Pixie Spa from my home studio back in January 2019. Since then, we expanded our space and I now have a clinic of my own, located right beside Pixie Spa (who has been one of my biggest cheerleaders btw). In August 2019 I was at a point where I had to make the extremely stressful decision to leave my “steady” nursing job to pursue my dream job on a full time basis and I’ve never looked back!

Is this where you planned to be 5 years ago?

5 years ago I was living in Niagara Falls and working as an acute mental health nurse. A friend of mine was an injector and she told me how much work it takes to get to the place where she was, but I was determined. She was right. It was a long and bumpy road but so worth it!


What treatment is your favourite to give/why? 

My favourite treatments are lip fillers. So many men and women are incredibly self conscious about their lips/smiles. The moment I hand the client the mirror and they see their new smile, it gives me goosebumps every time. I’ve actually teared up a few times seeing reactions. It’s one of the best feelings in the world for me.

What has been one of your biggest accomplishments thus far?

One of my biggest accomplishments thus far has been building my dream career during some of the most difficult times in my life. No matter what the circumstances, I would show up for work and be there for my clients and make them feel beautiful and make sure they were 100% happy with their results!

I moved into Pixie Spa from my home studio back in January 2019. Since then, we expanded our space and I now have a clinic of my own, located right beside Pixie Spa.



"Follow. Your. Gut. ...  learning to say no and to walk away from anything that doesn’t feel right"



What was one of your least favourite jobs?

One of my least favourite jobs was working on a mental health and addictions team in St. Catharines. My role was to provide interim nursing care to vulnerable populations. I felt as though I wasn’t able to do enough for them, and encountered so many issues within the mental health system. Every day felt like a failure, but I know I was able to make a small difference in their day, even if it meant getting them a coffee or helping them find a family doctor. 


Who is one of your female role models and why?  

One of my favourite female role models is Brené Brown. She is a research professor and an author. A lot of her work is about vulnerability, courage, shame, and empathy. I’ve read most of her books and listen to her podcasts. She is also from Texas and says ya’ll a lot which makes me love her podcasts even more!


What does Girl Gang mean to you?  

 Girl Gang means supporting each other. I’ve been bullied and left out a lot in my life. If you know the feeling, you know how much it hurts. We are capable of so much more if we raise each other up instead of being mean girls.

Being a part of a community of strong, kind, women who all want each other to succeed is incredible. It also sets an example for other girls and women in the community that we can follow our dreams and have successful careers that we are passionate about!


What are your professional goals in the next year?  

I would like to become certified in a few more treatments, however my main goal is to continue to grow my clientele and really be well known for my Botox treatments and lip augmentations


If you could tell your 20 year old self some advice what would it be?

Follow. Your. Gut. 

I’ve made a lot of bad decisions when I knew I wasn’t following my instincts and I could’ve prevented a lot of heartache and headaches! Sure, there is growth within those difficult times, but now I’m learning to say no and to walk away from anything that doesn’t feel right.


What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?  

That I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression since I was a teenager. I think this is something we all try to hide and feel others will look at us differently if we share our mental health diagnoses and seek help. Times are changing, and we don’t have to suffer in silence. I’ve been able to accomplish so much more in my life after receiving proper treatment and making positive life changes. 


It is so nice to get a deeper sense of the boss behind the business, we are looking forward to watching your future success!


Instagram: @nurseheathersipkens
Facebook: @TheAestheticsClinic

100 East ST S, Sarnia


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handmade jewelry canada ace ferguson british colombia
July 14, 2020

Kate Moran - Ace Ferguson Studio

Climb aboard Fernie’s first mobile retail shop and studio! Created by the boss babe Kate Moran, her inspiring story of art, life and being a business owner has created an inspiring narrative for many like-minded women from across Canada.

We are so excited to be featuring Kate as our Monthly Feature on The Girl Gang. If you are not familiar with her studio, well.. Get familiar! Because not only is she amazing, she also has a lot of knowledge to share with you all.


What is Ace Ferguson?  

Ace Ferguson is the name of my 1988 Chevrolet school bus studio | shop.

What originally drew you to art/art-making and is this something you've always been interested in?

I know it is a total cliché, but I have been drawn to art all my life. When I was younger, I would make things as gifts for people and found it so much fun that once I grew up, I became good at whipping up creative projects. So, ten years ago I moved to BC and put all my efforts into making a real go of it. And I haven't looked back since! 

What do you feel is important for people to know about your business? 

It’s important for people to realize how much I do myself. For example, I take the time to create a phraselet; which started as a sheet of metal, a piece of wire, a spool of thread, and four beads. 

My production time is very time-consuming as I want my products to be unique, durable, and done with the highest of quality. I’ve been at this a long time, I have accumulated a wide range of skills, and I combine them to make quality products.  

Who is one of your female role models and why?  

To be completely honest, I would have to say all of my female friends! There is not one specific friend who I am talking about, but rather I choose them all. 


Because these women who I choose to surround myself with are boss babes who are strong, passionate, and powerful women. They are running businesses, living life, striving for their personal best, and doing it all while supporting other women along the wayThese women/friends in my life are thoughtful, kind and most importantly, celebrate each other's success.


"These women/friends in my life are thoughtful, kind and most importantly, celebrate each other's success."

Where do you look for new inspiration? 

Everywhere! I made a whole new line of Canadian Plaid beaded earrings recently because of an outfit I saw on a toddler. My work takes very long to create, therefore I get a lot of time to think about my art, and while I’m working on one project, I’m usually struck with many new ideas based on the inspiration of my surroundings. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to keep up with all of my ideas.


Can you describe one or two projects that you have completed?  

I am quite proud of my Botanista jewelry collection from a few years back. I created a series of ten necklaces inspired by trigonometry and plants. I knotted individual, colorful triangles and connected them into 3-dimensional sculptures, often incorporating metal sheetingThe end results were wearable geometric sculptures that held live air plants. I submitted my project photos to Belle Armoire magazine and had a paid, full four-page feature with a cover tease to the article!   

I am pleased to be putting energy into completing collections again in 2020.  


What does Girl Gang mean to you?  

The Girl Gang is a community of like-minded women who are making a way for themselves through art, fashion, entrepreneurship – all the while raising a family, growing a business, and supporting their community all at once. I am proud to be apart of the Sarnia based Girl Gang because it motivates me to strive to greatness, live my life how I want to live it, and to strive for my personal best – all the while having bad a** women having my back!  


What are your personal goals in the next year?  

Personally, 2020 is looking bright! I currently have a couple of large scale art projects that I am working on and I plan to finish by the end of the year. I am finishing The Guacamole Series, and then I’m going to try my hand at freeform crochet portraits of Canadian musicians for a festival installation.  
Basically, my goal is to try and do better than the year before. The Girl Gang was a huge support during my engine issues of spring 2019, so it’s no secret that last year was very tough for a time. That said, it should be quite easy to do better this year, so long as my engine doesn’t explode again. I’m confident I’ll achieve my goal! (HAHA)  


What should every woman try at least once in her life?  

My suggestion is easier to fulfill when one is young and unattached, but I highly recommend a solo road trip. A BIG oneOne where you don’t have a deadline or a destination. Just a freewheeling, choose your own adventure, road trip. For me, I can easily say that it allowed me to grow into the woman I am today. My journey consisted of my car breaking down in Utah, managing a hostel in Colorado, buying a school bus for $100, becoming pals with your favorite Grammy Award-winning singer, living in that bus though Mexico and Central America for a year, and being introduced to the types of art that I would one day practice.


What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?  

I think people would be surprised to know how much I like math, and just how much I use it in every area of my artwork. There is a heap of math, even in freeform crochet!

WOW! Thank you Kate for being so open during this interview and showing our community that when your passion becomes your work, you can do anything.


Instagram: @acefergusonstudio
Facebook: @AceFergusonStudio
Website: Ace Ferguson Studio

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Sarah Jansel, Sadi & Sari -London, ON
March 05, 2020

Sarah Jansel, Sadi & Sari -London, ON

Have you heard of Sadi & Sari? You're going to love her boho chic fashions.

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Candice Mills, Flora & Forage - Camlachie, ON.
January 22, 2020

Candice Mills, Flora & Forage - Camlachie, ON.

Your Local Girl Gang with florist Candice Mills

What is Flora & Forage?

Flora & Forage is a floral design studio that focus’ on local grown, garden sown and also flown in flowers / product to create magical weddings, events and every day floral needs that evoke emotion, consider the environment and provide inspiration. We strive hard to use as much local love as we can so you can find us foraging in the bush or at the side of a road quite often. We understand that seasonally not everything we want is available so we will order product in from all around the world to fulfill the designs that we customize for our brides, clients and customers.

How did Flora & Forage start?

There were two moments in the last three years that made me decide to launch ff. The first is when I met my first official bride at my sisters 25th birthday. The second is after I had a super intense wedding week at a flower shop I was working at in Toronto. First - long story short, I had built a flower crown for my sister on her birthday. One of her friends that was there saw it and was instantly in love and wanted us to do her wedding. It was the first time I had someone full trust in designing a wedding with out any one else to over look the final look. Melissa was a dream first bride and basically let my imagination run wild. It was epic and I learned a lot; my sister is a fricking power house, the body can withstand going for a restroom break for about 10 hours if ones mind is occupied enough, and also how to price my designs a bit better.
—> please see Melissa & Elliots wedding on our website for the pics of our first wedding <—

The second moment in my life was, again long story short, after a 5 wedding week on my own with a team of 3 other designers. I planned it, made sure the team stayed on task and had the boss, after her vacation in Florida, shocked she didn’t have to stay late to finish the stuff we “ didn’t do”. It was all of this, and much more to be honest, that made me realize, I had booked 40+ weddings for her that year and had handled this + that… again and again. I figured it was time that I could do this on my own.

Who is one of your female role models & why?

One of my female role models would be my first floral lady boss Wanda with wildflowers in Calgary. She has been in the industry for 25+ years and is the literal definition of a lady boss. She can weld, she can design, she’s owned her own biz for 35+ years and she has always been herself around me and allowed me to be me around her. If it wasn’t for Wanda giving me a chance without any experience, I wouldn’t be where I am today. She taught me the basic mechanics of everything flowers. Their names, large to small bloom placement and how to properly care and cut the flowers so they lasted as long as they could. Our designing is very different today but I will always be thankful for the chance Wanda gave me as it was everything I needed to get me where I am. She supported me through a drug addiction, rough relationship and the loss of a very close friend. Wanda was the first woman to show me you only need yourself to get through the problems of life. Watching her raise a child on her own, on her own decision to have one out of wed lock and out of relationship, showed me a strength in a woman I had never seen before.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

I literally second guess everything and have an out of body experience after a major design. I live on a high afterwards that almost makes me feel like I didn’t even do the wedding or installation. Its insane. I actually don’t have the vocabulary to express how it feels but 90% of the time I’m telling myself “ you cant do this, you wont do this, the flowers are dying, your business is failing ..Etc etc..” and then its done and I go.. “ wow, ok, I’m amazing “ it doesn’t sink in like it should and I know its a horrible spiral. Silly, but I can’t help it.

What is your favourite flower?

Thats literally the hardest question ever. Truly. Just when I think “ you’re the one “ something else comes along and I’m like ooooooooooooooo, if I had to choose…. I couldn’t. I have like a top 10 that is constantly changing when I discover new flowers, grasses and greens.

What should every woman try at least once in her life?

To be creative. In any way. I read a book called “ women who run with the wolves” and she speaks of the creative life vs. The “ stuck “ life, a life thats full of expectations and supposed to not what you want and how you feel. I am soooo lucky to be in an industry that not only is creative but supportive of women entrepreneurs that I think if you are able to align yourself with the same career, hobby, passion or what ever you can that allows you to express your true self, then you wlll never loose your wild ways.

What does it mean to you to be a woman?

This is one of the hardest questions I have been asked. Its actually taken me a few times to answer it. I have had a love hate relationship with being a woman my whole life because of toxic / abusive relationships, social media pressures and my own personal insecurities. I hate my period, I hate my hairy legs, and lets be honest, who has time to wax their moustache every week. If I am being honest, the most I have loved myself has been in the last 4 years. After finding strength in myself to get out of the relationships I thought I deserved, away from the drugs I thought I needed to pursue a career that changed my life, I learned that being a women is one of the most powerful, resilient, beautiful things in this world. I have learned that the lessons I was put through made me the honest, loving, creative and kind woman I am today. A woman that puts her heart into everything she does without fear of failure. A woman who can admit when she is wrong and needs to retreat and repair. A women who is in touch with her wild ways and is in love with her being. Finally.
I also have to thank my fiancé, adrian rende, for allowing me to continue to grow and support the woman I am. When someone finds someone who lets them be their true self at all times and loves them no matter what.. Its one of the most empowering feelings to be loved the way you love yourself. If not more.

What are your goals for f&f in the next year?

Our goal for ff in the next year is to hopefully have a home that we will make into my studio / cut flower garden. I want to align myself with more local gardeners and farmers so we can get as much Ontario grown flowers as possible. I would also love to see our everyday orders open up, more workshops and one on one lessons. If we can inspire more people to be creative then we have done our job and we hope to keep doing it!

What do you hope to see from Girl Gang?

The continued support of local artists and female entrepreneurs. It’s absolutely amazing what you have done to bring awareness to hard work and dedication artists have in regards to their passions, creations and careers. Thank you!

Instagram: floraandforage
Email: floraandforage@gmail.Com

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Danielle Catton, Danielle Is Anxious - Sarnia, ON.
January 22, 2020

Danielle Catton, Danielle Is Anxious - Sarnia, ON.

What is Danielle Is Anxious?

Danielle Is Anxious started as a blog where I could share my struggle with anxiety, depression, an eating disorder and finding self love. Over the course of a year and a half, it's morphed into a multifaceted initiative that includes not only my blog, but also sharing my journey on instagram, holding events/creating spaces, and creating handmade jewellery and other items with the common goal of promoting positive mental wellness and self love.

What inspired you to start 

Danielle Is Anxious?

Last year I faced an extremely difficult bought of depression. I began the journey of taking medication for my illness in the late spring, and decided it was something I wanted to share with the world on my instagram. I had been sharing my journey with mental illness for quite a few years publicly before through my work with Sarnia speaks, but never to this extent. Through this, I realized that a lot of my struggle was centred around the relationship I had with myself. That led me to start a journey of self love. This journey has made advocacy for body positivity and self love one of my true passions in life. That's what 

Danielle Is Anxious allows me to do, through many different avenues.

Why do you feel this is important for our community?

I grew up always hating my body and myself. I never felt good enough. I never felt like I was thin enough, pretty enough, talented enough, or successful enough. I eventually got to a point during my journey where I began to see how incredibly ridiculous the standards we 'should' live up to as a society were and began speaking out about it and challenging the norm.

That's why I feel this is important for our community (and beyond.) we all deserve to love ourselves and not have to live our lives constantly chasing the next 'thing' that will make us happy. We deserve to be able to wear our hearts on our sleeves and not be ashamed of our mental/physical illnesses, bodies, skin tone, age, shape, race, gender expression, etc. Nor have society judge us because of it.

Who is one of your female role models and why?

There are so many incredible females in my life that I call role models so it's really hard to choose just one! From the women I work with, to my mom, aunts and cousins and friends, they've all played a part in making me the person I am today.

What has been one of your favourite moments you've had since starting 

Danielle Is Anxious?

Being able to meet and connect with people around the world through instagram has been absolutely amazing. There are so many unique stories and memories I have, and being able to connect on an international level with so many incredible humans has been such a privilege.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

A lot of people are surprised when I tell them I sing! I was really into it when I was younger and into my late teens, but battling mental illness eventually made me believe I wasn't good at it, so I stopped for almost 10 years and didn't tell anybody.

What did you always want to be when you grew up?

When I was little I wanted to be a broadway star! Some of the first songs I remember learning were from the musical annie. As I got older, I realized that I wanted to help people. I didn't know what exactly that would entail, but I knew I wanted to do something that made an impact on people and helped them.

What does Girl Gang mean to you?

To me, a girl gang is intersectional and encompasses a system of support, encouragement, collaboration, understanding and empathy. It is a group where its members inspire one another to think outside their respective boxes, and become more inclusive throughout all aspects of life.

What are your goals for 

Danielle Is Anxious in the next year?

Danielle Is Anxious is planning on hosting a curvy beach party this august, an inclusive celebration of body positivity and self love, especially for those with marginalized bodies. We're also planning a curvy clothing swap (with clothing sized 14 and up for women) in the fall. That's really my goal: to continually aim to create spaces (whether they be online or in person) where folks who are marginalized by society for one reason or the other feel safe and included and like they have a voice, and to keep pushing the definition of societal norms.

What should every woman try at least once in their life?

Walking a mile in someone else's shoes. As cliche as it sounds, these days, it feels like it is needed so much more.

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Bluewater Health Foundation in Sarnia, ON
January 22, 2020

Bluewater Health Foundation in Sarnia, ON

What is Bluewater Health Foundation?

Since 2003, Bluewater Health Foundation’s sole purpose has been to raise funds to support our community hospital, Bluewater Health.
We envision a healthy community sustained through a culture of generosity, while creating, inspiring and cultivating expressions of generosity to equip Bluewater Health in its care for our community.

Thanks to the contributions of businesses, organizations and individuals in our community, we are proud to have provided millions of dollars of financial support to aid in the purchase of equipment and provision of patient, staff and family programs for Bluewater Health.

What have been some fundraising initiatives you have done in the past?

Bluewater Health Foundation hosts a variety of special fundraising events and initiatives each year. Our signature events include Golf Fore Health, Tribute Gala, Winter Wonderland, Do It For Sarnia Block party, and the Dream Home Lottery.

What is the Dream Home Lottery?

Over the past 24 years, the Dream Home Lottery has raised almost $7 million dollars for Bluewater Health. It’s a unique opportunity for the community to support our local hospitals while having the chance to win exceptional prizes.

This year’s home, located at 444 Lucas Ave. in Sarnia, is valued at $717,004.63, includes furniture, electronics and appliances, and is the largest prizeboard in the history of the lottery.

This year’s home is built by Stelobrook Homes and furnished and decorated by Brush Strokes Interiors. In addition to the grand prize, two early bird prizes (all inclusive vacation for two and diamond bracelet with $2,000 cash) and 62 cash prizes are up for grabs. The home is once again fully VisitAble.

Proceeds raised from this year's lottery benefits Mammography at Bluewater Health, specifically, to help purchase two new mammography machines for the hospital.

Where can we purchase tickets?

While we are approaching the end of this year’s lottery season, tickets can still be purchased at the Foundation office (located inside Bluewater Health across from Tim Hortons) or via phone with a credit card at 519-464-4428. They are also available each weekend at the Dream Home open houses (1-4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday).

What are some other events and fundraisers you have coming up this year?

With the support of presenting sponsor LiUNA, we are excited to welcome Canadian rock band The Trews to Sarnia as headliners of this year's Do It For Sarnia Block Party on Saturday, June 22. Proceeds from the event benefit Mental Health & Addiction Services at Bluewater Health. For tickets and information, visit bwhf.ca
Our other signature events include:
Golf Fore Health (June 6)
Tribute Gala (date to be announced)
Winter Wonderland (Holiday Market and Kid’s Fun Fest) (November 22, 23)

We also have some exciting other new events and initiatives planned for 2019. Stay tuned!

What goals does Bluewater Health Foundation have for 2019?

We’re looking forward to our 25th anniversary of the Dream Home Lottery, which will launch in October. In addition, we are excited to continue partnering with local businesses, organizations and individuals to support our local hospital.

What does Girl Gang mean to you?

The Foundation employs five unique, talented women who are the backbone of the organization. We firmly believe that we are an exceptional team because we lift each other up, nurture and celebrate each other’s strengths and fits, and support each other to be our best both as individuals and as a team. We, too, are a ‘girl gang’.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

While government funding supports the operations and administration of hospitals, it is your donations that fund critical equipment purchases, replacements and upgrades throughout Bluewater Health. This is equipment that helps perform everything from day to day tests, clinical treatments, surgeries, and critical, possibly lifesaving, diagnostic scans.

What ways are there to be involved with Bluewater Health Foundation?

There are many ways to get involved with the Foundation. We’re always on the look for new volunteers to help out in the office, at special events, and to sit on committees. Many in our community have also held fundraisers benefiting one of many departments in the hospital.

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Dani Hanicz, 519 Boutique - Sarnia, ON.
January 22, 2020

Dani Hanicz, 519 Boutique - Sarnia, ON.

What is 519 Boutique?

519 Boutique is a one-woman owned, online clothing boutique aiming to help women find trendy, affordable fashion! 519’s clothing is a curated collection of women’s and young contemporary brands.

What made you start a clothing boutique?

519 started just over a year ago out of frustration over the lack of trendy, budget conscious clothing in town. Assuming others had to feel the same way, 519 Boutique was born!

What is your favourite part of running your own business?

Owning my own business has been one of my most rewarding yet challenging experiences. There was definitely a lot of self doubt and tears in the beginning stages BUT watching my boutique grown and getting positive feedback is such an amazing feeling. I also love how being a business owner has introduced me to so many amazing people!

Do you have a favourite season you like to promote?

Fall is definitely my favourite season for fashion. Warm and comfortable are two of my favourite things!!

When you aren’t working, what are you doing?

Spending time with my husband and two daughters is my number 1 priority when I’m not working! Getting out for bike rides and spending the day at the beach are two of our favourite activities!

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

One thing most people don’t know about me is that I have my black belt in karate! I haven’t kept up with it since high school but I always get quite the reaction from people when they find out.

What does Girl Gang mean to you?

Girl gang has been amazing for me. Without this awesome group if women boosting my confidence, offering advice, and bringing so many exciting opportunities to my business I wouldn’t be where I am!
Having two young daughters, it feels good to show them that be a part of a team of girls supporting girls opposed to competing with other women is cool.

What are your goals for 519 Boutique in the next year?

I really hope to be able to extend our sizing range so we can accommodate a wider range of shapes and sizes!!

Who is a female role model to you and why?

My mom is my #1, hands down. She is always selflessly helping and doing for everyone around her. She is so supportive and always there to lend an ear, even when I text/call her 900 times a day (sorry mom).

What is one thing you would tell anyone looking to start their apparel shop?

Before starting any business, make sure you have a great support system. My husband has been so supportive of me. There were times I wanted to give up but he encouraged me to keep going and put my all into it. I couldn’t have done any of this without him.

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Women's March - Sarnia, ON.
January 22, 2020

Women's March - Sarnia, ON.

Your Local Girl Gang with Women’s march Sarnia Lambton

What is the Women's March?

Women’s March Canada is an organization “inspiring, uniting and leading the charge for the advancement of women across Canada.” Our promotion of our movement is world wide and focuses on the utifying framework of H.E.R.S - health, economic security, representation and safety.

Why did the organizers feel it was important to launch a chapter in Sarnia?

Women’s March Canada and our local Sarnia-Lambton chapter is a grassroots movement. Our chapter was founded by Executive Chair, Adelle Stewardson. Adelle and her daughter attended the Women’s March in New York City in 2018. The Sarnia-Lambton chapter was launched with a group of like-minded women from within the community. There are alot of voiceless marginalized groups within Sarnia-Lambton and their voices need to be heard. We want to create a supportive community for everyone.

Why do you believe women should be involved in the movement?

Women (and men too!) need to support other women in order to gain equality. Many decisions are being made without fair representation in regards to women’s health, economic well-being and safety. This movement allows us to be a loud voice in the decisions that directly affect us. The more involved - the louder our voice!

What do you feel is the main goal of this year's march?

The 2019 Women’s March theme is ending violence against women, specifically missing and murdered Indigenous women. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 1 in 3 women worldwide has experienced either physical or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. Moreover, Indigenous women are 3 - 4x more likely to experience violence then their white female counterpart. In 2018, the Ford government disbanded Ontario’s Roundtable on Violence Against Women, the first permanent government roundtable of its kind. Our mission locally is to bring accountability and justice as all “women deserve to live full and healthy lives, free of all forms of violence against our bodies.

What is one thing everyone should know about feminism?

Being a feminist means that you believe in the political, economic and social equality of the sexes!

Who is all welcome to participate?

Everyone! We encourage all women, children, men and our allies to march together. Our first annual Women’s March in Sarnia-Lambton will be on January 19, 2019 from 12-3 p.m. starting at the Lambton Mall old Sears parking lot by Canadian Tire. Our rally will begin with speakers from within the community and then we march! We will be hosting a First Friday sign-making party prior to the march. Join us on Friday, January 4, 2019 from 6-9 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 62, 286 Front St. N. We will have some poster materials, but please bring your own too and of course, glitter glue.

What goals does Women's March Sarnia-Lambton have for 2019?

In 2018, we have accomplished, tackled and stood alongside women in our community. We participated in Take Back the Night, staged a peaceful counter protest of an anti-choice group, supported Donna outside of Dr. Singh’s office, attended Trans Day of Remembrance and Trans visibility marches.
Going forward into 2019, we are planning to provide professional development events for women, lean in circles, support other organizations in our community advancing the H.E.R.S platform and calls to action. We want to be a strong voice in social justice and engage our younger generations to create a larger impact within Sarnia-Lambton.

What does Girl Gang mean to you?

Girl Gang means the empowerment of women. It is an incredible group leading to inspire, encourage and act as a lean on resource to other business women in the community.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

The first Women’s March on Washington was a world-wide protest on January 21, 2017, the day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Sister Marches are solidarity events inspired by the Women’s March on Washington and organized by volunteers around the world - like the Sarnia-Lambton chapter!
Also, Women's March Canada is creating a pro choice, feminist podcast for Canadian women and allies! Have a listen here - https://www.patreon.com/womensmarchcanada/posts

What ways are there to be involved with the Women's March?

Volunteer with us! Share your story! Attend events that empower women! Elect pro-choice candidates! Please join our Women’s March Sarnia-Lambton chapter group on Facebook and WMC_SL on Instagram to stay up to date with any upcoming events and issues. As a local Women’s March chapter we want every Sarnia-Lambton feminist to be heard.

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Nicki Straus, Wick + Bear - Camlachie, ON.
January 22, 2020

Nicki Straus, Wick + Bear - Camlachie, ON.

What is wick + bear?

Wick + bear is a one-woman owned small business that was born out of a new mom’s love for candles, and a concern for the quality and purity of the air in her home. Our mission is to offer clean burning, high quality and eco-conscious candles with uniquely delightful scents.

What inspired you to start a candle business?

I started wick + bear 6 months after my son Logan James was born. I've always had a love for home fragrance and aromatherapy. Candles are ritualistic for me. I love the ambiance and comfort found in burning candles wherever I spend my days; in my home office, kitchen, living room, dining room. At night I diffuse essential oils on my bedside table. While I was pregnant I started to wonder about what was in the candles I was burning. What was I putting into the air around my unborn babe and me? I asked about ingredients at the big chain store where I had always shopped. My question was met with confusion and a lack of knowledge that I found unsettling. From there, I purchased a book on beginner candle making, started sourcing natural supplies, and testing. Voila! wick + bear was born, named after our son who we call our Logie bear.

Who is one of your female role models and why?

My mom. Hands down. I’ve always known how incredible she is in her role as a mother and in business, but my admiration and respect for her went through the roof when I became a mother myself. She’s always held very senior positions in the telecommunications industry and has navigated that world (often in an ‘old boys club’ atmosphere) so well. Beyond that, she managed to run our household, make dinners, pack lunches for 3 kids, run us around to various activities, the works. I often feel overwhelmed with just one child and the help of a very supportive husband, so looking back I don’t know how she managed it all. We’re extremely close, and I can go to her for help and advice with anything, knowing that she’ll steer me in the right direction. If we lived in the same town she would for sure be the other face of wick + bear (mom please move to Sarnia!)

What is your favourite part of running your own business?

It can be really challenging running a business solo. Sometimes you feel isolated and that no one cares about it as much as you do; your failures are only on you. But the wonderful thing about it is that every little success, every sale, every compliment is all on you as well. It's SO rewarding, and such a confidence builder to know you can do it yourself.

What sets wick + bear products apart from mass produced candles?

I hand select every material that goes into the candle in your home. I make them myself, from scratch, with the utmost care about quality and purity. Most people don't realize that mass-produced candles contain petroleum byproducts, hormone mimickers, and lead or zinc. wick + bear candles don't contain any of that. You can enjoy the scent and the ambiance without the headaches.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

I feel like there is very little that people don't know about me because I share EVERYTHING on my Insta stories. People would probably be surprised to know that I studied German for 4 years in University; all the way to advanced! My German grandmother (who we called Omi) had told me that if I studied it, she’d take me there. After that, I continued to my studies, and it’s become one of my favourite countries to visit.

What does Girl Gang mean to you?

The girl gang is so intertwined with wick + bear to me. I started my instagram page July 23rd and I remember getting an email from the girl gang about a week later asking if I was interested in joining. At that point I had made maybe 4 candles… I said yes of course, and it’s been the best decision I’ve made for my business. I’m not from Sarnia, and through the girl gang I’ve had the opportunity to meet some incredible women. We have such a talented city, and I’m constantly inspired by the women around me. The girl gang is a way to formalize that network and bring us all together on a consistent basis.

What are your goals for wick + bear in the next year?

I recently returned to work in the corporate world and so wick + bear has had to slow down. No more making candles while Logan naps, no more doing daytime deliveries to stores, the post office or customers’ homes. That being said, I can’t imagine my life without wick + bear, so it’s not going anywhere! A while back I asked my friend who is a successful lawyer, wife and mother of 2 how she does it. She told me “you will amaze yourself with how efficient you become.” That insight has stuck with me ever since. I’ve managed to keep it all in balance just by taking things one day at a time.

What should every woman try at least once in their life?

Taking on something that they’re not sure they can do. That may sound counterintuitive, but I really think you need to jump in head first and THEN figure out what you’re doing. I recently had the chance to see Jillian Harris speak at a conference and her advice was fake it till you make it. Apply for the job you think you’re too junior for. Sign up for the race that you can’t possibly imagine running. Start your business that you don’t think people will buy from. You are worthy. You can do ANYTHING. If it’s important to you, you’ll make time for it.

What is your favourite downtime activity?

I have so many!! Some of my favourites are sitting outside with a glass of wine at the end of the day, reading a good female-centric thriller with my bedside diffuser going, playing soccer, and of course… making candles!



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Kim McConaughy, Wellness Warriors - Petrolia, ON.
January 22, 2020

Kim McConaughy, Wellness Warriors - Petrolia, ON.

Your Local Girl Gang with Kim McConaughy from mental wellness warriors

How did your profession begin?

I only recently grew into my purpose as an Empowerment Coach for Mental Wellness Warriors after years of personal growth. I struggled with my own mental health for as long as I can remember and a few years ago I had no choice but to learn life-coping strategies. My own strength to show up has paved a path for others to walk with me, even on the days they think they can't, we work together to build them a foundation of daily rituals and mindset for mental wellness. It's where my heart is.

What are Mental Wellness Warriors?

A Mental Wellness Warrior is a testament to resilience in the face of mental illness. She is brave, she's a fighter and she's so f*ng strong. She has found the light through darkness and she's ready to rise. She's ready to show up for herself and for her life.”
And here I am.... coming

Can you explain to us what an Empowerment Coach is?

As an Empowerment Coach, I support women who have moved through the darkness of mental health and are stuck in the motions of the day to day to day, just existing. And that's not enough anymore, to just exist. I empower them to show up over and over again, even on the hard days. I help them rewrite the stories written in the darkness of mental illness and step into their power to know that they create their life.

Your coaching programs are called ‘Show Up for Yourself’ and ‘Create your Life’. What does showing-up each day mean and what does it mean to create your life?

Showing up every day means committing to the rituals and mindset that make you the greatest version of yourself. Creating your life means knowing that you have the power in every moment to choose the life you want to live, to live your life with intention and on purpose.

Who is one of your female role models & why?

Right now, I'm loving Rachel Hollis, author of Girl, Wash Your Face. I love her for her authenticity and her commitment to show up everyday for herself. It doesn't sound like a big deal until you actually step up and commit to feeling the way you want to feel and living the life you want to live. It's hard work. But it's so worth it.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

That I am an aspiring professional beach glass hunter, and that there was a season in my life that I didn't want to live and contemplated suicide.

What is your go-to relaxation/meditation routine?

I believe that the daily rituals we commit to for our own wellbeing are essential. My go-to is an early morning (I HATED mornings for 30 years!) walk, meditation, and journaling. I also love a nightly soak in the tub to wind down before bed.

What should every woman try at least once in her life?

Oooooh, good question. The first thing that comes to me is to take an intentional breath. To breathe on purpose and discover the power that comes with sitting in stillness with our breath.

Where can we begin to improve our mental wellness and what changes can we make day-to-day?

The first step is knowing the truth in that you are worth it and that the world needs you. If you don't see that, an appointment with your doctor and therapy is a great place to start. When you're ready, you can learn the changes you need to make and be supported through it and to find the support you need to drive yourself to show up for yourself and for your life. The day-to-day changes and motivation and accountablity to commit to improving our mental wellness is exactly what I support women in through the Show Up for Yourself www.kimmcconaghy.com/workwithme coaching program.”

What are your goals for the Mental Wellness Warriors Facebook community in the next year?

That's such a powerful and exciting question!! These women are my drive to keep showing up for myself so I can show up for them. They ignite a passion in me to inspire them to step into their own power... To keep showing up for themselves for their own lives.


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Kirsten Mouland, Tiny Island Photography - Sarnia, ON.
January 22, 2020

Kirsten Mouland, Tiny Island Photography - Sarnia, ON.

What is the Tiny Islands Photography?

Tiny Islands Photography is a Southern Ontario based photography business owned by me, Kirsten Mouland.

What inspired you to start a career in photography?

I was given my first camera when I was 8. It was a little, lime green film camera made by Kodak and I used to take it to school and take photos of my friends. I’d pose them in little groups of three and it was just a ton of fun. It got to the point where I was taking rolls upon rolls of film every week. So as cheesy as it seems, I guess I’ve always had an inkling that this was the career I wanted to have.

Who is one of your female role models and why?

I think for my particular industry, the obvious answer has to be Annie Leibovitz. Photography has long been seen as a kind of “boys club” especially in its earliest days, but Annie has managed to make her name iconic, so much so that even those not privy to the photography world can recognize her work and her name. To emulate a career anywhere near hers at all, would be incredible.

Where does the name “Tiny Islands Photography” come from?

I have a skin condition called vitiligo and lost pigmentation in patches of my skin when I was seven years old. Growing up with a visible skin condition and having people gawk at me in public was incredibly overwhelming at times. I found a quote on a vitiligo social media account when I was in my teens and it had something to do with seeing our skin as holding tiny little islands of beauty; that our skin was comprised of little worlds that made us beautiful. Over the years, I forgot the exact quote, but always had the phrase, “tiny islands” in my head. When I decided to start my business, it was the first name that popped into my mind.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

I’m a huge Disney fan! My family and I try to go to Disney World at least once a year, I have an embarrassing amount of Mouse ears, and I know all of the words to every single Disney song.

What do you think is a common misconception about photographers and their craft?

I think a common misconception is that we aren’t necessary. The amount of times I’ve heard people say that they had a friend take their wedding photos or real estate photos and they’ve not turned out the way they wanted them to.

What does Girl Gang mean to you?

To me, Girl Gang is an inclusive group of women coming together to offer support to one another whether it be through business endeavours, fighting for social and political changes, or just being there to lean on.

What are your goals for Tiny Islands Photography in the next year?

I would love to open a studio space! I would also love to be published in a magazine and just grow my business with every new project.

Who would be your dream person to shoot?

Oh my, there’s too many to pick from! Hmm, I’ve been listening to a lot of Ariana Grande at the moment, so we’ll go with her.

What should every woman try at least once in her life

Every woman should try freeing herself from the overwhelming grasp of the patriarch society we live in. Is that too deep of a statement to end on? ;)

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Liana Smith, The Grove Soap Co. - Bright's Grove, ON.
January 22, 2020

Liana Smith, The Grove Soap Co. - Bright's Grove, ON.

What is The Grove Soap Co.?

The Grove Soap Co is a local, small-batch, artisan, and all-natural soap business that I run out of my home in Brights Grove ON. Our products are vegan, made with premium natural ingredients like clays, herbs and essential oils. We also focus on reducing waste and our environmental impact by minimizing our packaging (we don’t use plastic packaging) and reusing/recycling/and buying our supplies in bulk. I manage the entire business myself from creating the recipes, ordering supplies, making the soaps, packing, delivering, and marketing. Our story started when I received a bar of soap that was made by my grandfather, and for fun I attempted to copy his original recipe that he made on his farm.

What made you turn your hobby into a soap business?

I was making so much soap that I was giving it away to friends to try, and people started to ask to buy it! I had no intention of starting a business but seeing how much people enjoyed the products really encouraged me. I eventually signed up for a pop-up sale and asked another friend to make a logo for me, and after that there was no turning back.

What is your favourite part of running your own business?

My favourite part of running a business is that I can be completely creative with everything I make. I choose everything that goes into the soaps, the scents, and how I do the marketing, when I work, and how much soap I make. I also love that I can work mostly from home, which is great with 3 young kids.

Do you have a favourite soap to make?

They are all my favourite! Seriously that’s how I ended up with so many kinds - I love them all. If I had to choose though, my favourite to make is probably Lavender Bergamot because it makes my house smell amazing.

When you aren’t making soap, what are you doing?

If I’m not making soap then I’m most likely doing something with my husband and kids. We love camping and hiking and try to get away as often as we can. I’m on maternity leave right now from my day job as a Mental Health Therapist so I’m home a lot! I also really enjoy gardening.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

This is such a hard question! People would probably be surprised to know that I really love and collect antiques (jars/glassware, furniture, household goods...even my VW van is technically an antique) and It’s my dream to live in and restore and old Victorian home someday.

What does Girl Gang mean to you?

It’s hard to put into words what Girl Gang means to me because it’s a very special thing. Being a part of girl gang has been one of the most supportive and empowering groups I’ve ever been a part of. For me, it has meant connecting with a group of women who I can turn to for support and encouragement. There’s no judgment and some of us talk every day and have become my best friends. Girl Gang has also been a way to rise up as a collective and to help lift others who have may have been struggling with an area of their business or personal life. In the past, I didn’t know where to turn for help if I got stuck or something challenged me about my business. Now, I have this great group of women who always have my back.

What are your goals for The Grove Soap in the next year?

For me, I’m a big believer in choosing to do one thing but do it really well. This is why my product line is mainly soap, with the exception of our facial oil. Over the next year I’d like to keep to that belief and work on a few new recipes, continue to develop my craft and I introduce more seasonal options. I’d also like to add to my retail options so there’s more of a selections available to my customers at local shops.

Who is a female role model to you and why?

Honestly my biggest role model is my mom. She worked full time when I was growing up and somehow managed to balance work/home life with a family in a way that I always felt like she had time for us. She also beat cancer when I was in elementary school, and today is the best grandma to my own kids. I’ve always looked up to her.

What is one thing you would tell anyone looking to start their own side hustle?

I think that for anyone starting out I would say to make sure that they really love what they’re making. I never had the intention of going into business when I started making soap, I just loved to make it and it grew from there. You’re going to spend hundreds of hours on your business so you want to be sure you’re doing something you won’t get sick of. I’ve made a lot of soap over the past few years and I still find the process enjoyable and relaxing (for the most part!)

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Dayna Langlois, Sarnia Sold - Sarnia, ON.
January 22, 2020

Dayna Langlois, Sarnia Sold - Sarnia, ON.

What is Sarnia Sold?

SarniaSold is a brand I have created at Royal Lepage, a real estate lifestyle. I remember when I was buying my first house I was terrified, everything seemed complicated and foreign to me. Once I became an agent I realized that it didn't have to be like that. I wanted to create a brand that was simple, relatable and available to everyone. To show myself and lifestyle as an agent keeping it as real and transparent as possible. Because home buying and selling should be a positive experience. I am dedicated and invested in the Sarnia community, and believe I am selling more than homes; I am selling Sarnia, which is how the name SarniaSold was born.

What inspired you to start a career in real estate?

Some kids play with lego, some play with barbies. Me? I locked myself in my room and built mini model homes and designed rooms out of cardboard boxes. I would dream of selling homes at a young age. As I grew older I took the traditional route, went to school for marketing, got a corporate sales career because of the security I THOUGHT it offered. But I always had a love for homes. I began to buy run-down houses, renovate and redesign them as income properties. This eventually translated into my career as an agent, providing a perspective on both areas. Liv Gogas, owner of the Olive Branch Studio, was the one that gave me the push to chase this dream, telling me everyday how much she thought that real estate was my path.

Who is one of your female role models and why?

Michelle Obama, one of her sayings has been the mantra for my life “when they go low you go high“. Anytime I'm in a situation where I have doubt or anger these words ring in my head. Things are not always easy but they are good, people are good. This is a reminder to take the high road whenever possible. Michelle Obama, as a public figure uses her platform for the greater good, and inspire females to be their best. She was an underdog who did not come from much, but she never gave up, she inspired females everywhere to love themselves, and be true to who they were. She focused on health, happiness, and female leadership. These are three fundamental aspects of my life. I find I relate to her as a leader, and I looked to her in times of inspiration. But I also have to make a special note to Jillian Harris, because come on.... she is a design queen !

What is your favourite part of your job?

THE PEOPLE, THE PEOPLE, THE PEOPLE. I love waking up every morning to do what I do, everyday is different, but the part that brings me the most joy is the people I get to work with. I become very invested with each client, and every project, investing my whole heart into every single client. I love that my job gives me a platform to be an active member of my community, and give back to causes that sit close to my heart.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

I came from a very simple life, growing up in Windsor, I moved out at the age of 16 and worked two jobs to put myself through school. I was not born into the path I am on today. I created it, which is why I like to inspire others to realize your past does not define your future. Dream big, work hard, because you can have it too, luck is a thing you create. Get a clear vision, and go for it. FAIL, fail a lot, learn, improve and grow - then never stop learning and evolving until you are living the life you thought was only possible in your dreams.

What would you tell people who have never purchased a home before and don’t know where to start?

Call me ;) all joking aside. I understand that a first time home buy can be daunting. But if you step outside of the emotion it is no different than any other purchase. Home buying is actually one of the most secure investments you can have. "Real estate can not be lost or stolen, nor can it be carried away. Purchased with common sense, paid for with responsibility, and managed with reasonable care, it is about the safest investment in the world.

What does Girl Gang mean to you?

Everything. The girl gang is more than a community, it is friends, support, laughter and family. It is a safe haven for like-minded females on a mission. It is a group of women to bounce ideas off of, call in times of doubt, and remind you that no one has to do this alone. The girl gang is a powerful mission of change. Change in our city, in our community and more than anything culture. A culture of collaboration instead of competition. It is a powerful shift to a new way of doing business and a reminder that together we can.

What are your goals for Sarnia Sold in the next year?

I think this is two fold, I have individual business goals and targets I would like to achieve. I would like to develop a strong relatable brand that represents buying, selling, building and investing in the community. But more than that I want to use this platform for a few key points; to inspire young females to see the possibility of female entrepreneurship. To know that together we can do more, I believe the era of cutting others down to get ahead is over. I would like to be behind this shift to a collaboration mindset. I think as woman we can be the leaders of change. So over the next year, I would like to inspire change. I want to be a critical part of the growth and change to Sarnia and its neighbourhoods. Attracting an outside eye, bringing positive change and new influence to the community. I love this city and think it has so much to offer. I stand behind this city with my whole heart, and look forward to highlighting this to those in the community and outside eyes looking in.
To be an agent that is real, honest and trustworthy. I want people of all ages in all genographics to know that I am working for them and keeping the processes real and simple as possible.

What should every woman try at least once in their life?

Solo travel. I am a big world traveller, travelling solo has changed my perspective more than I could have imagined. It has taught me an appreciation for culture and given my confidence. Travelling solo forces you outside of your comfort zone to become resourceful, try new things, meet new people and instills independence and confidence. This was a critical aspect to developing resilience and confidence in who I am today, as well as offering downtime to reflect, learn and grow as an individual.

What has been your favourite experience as a realtor so far?

I do not think that there is one defining experience that shaped my career. I think it is a culmination of numerous little experiences. I heard a saying years ago that said when work feels like play you will never work a day or life. Everyday I get up and truthfully love what I do, of course there are moments that I don't like, there are let-downs and disappointments, but when I take a step back and realize it's all the little things that have got me here. I don't think I could pick just one experience I think it is enjoying and learning from each individual moment, then looking back on where you've come from to see where you're at today, and dream of where you are going. So to answer the question there is not one single experience It is every little experience on the way that I love and appreciate.

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