Female Features

Eco & Sustainable Down
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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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).

 

Randa

Instagram

Facebook

Photography by Meghan Chute Photography

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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!

Stef

Mångata Apothecary

https://mangataapothecary

 

 

 

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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

potterybythewoods@gmail.com

 

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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. 

 XO

Maily

BBKFnaturals

Www.bbkfnaturals.ca

 

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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. 

Why?

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

Do you want to be a monthly feature to The Girl Gang?
Contact us today at contact@thegirlgang.ca

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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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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!

NICKI STRAUS
WICK + BEAR

WICKANDBEAR@GMAIL.COM
226-377-8963
WWW.WICKANDBEAR.COM

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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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Sam McLeod, She is Art - Fergus, ON.
January 22, 2020

Sam McLeod, She is Art - Fergus, ON.

What is She Is Art?

She Is Art is a curated collection of thrifted clothing, jewelry, decor and art. Most items are vintage and some new, some refurbished or re-purposed but all looking for a new home.

What inspired you to start a vintage thrift business?

I have always had a love for thrifting, auctions, antique stores, garage sales since I was a kid. I am from Guelph, Ontario where there are many boutique styled thrift stores. I wanted to bring something like that to Sarnia and also pursue my life-long passion.

Who is one of your female role models and why?

My Mom. My mom is a strong independent woman who has overcome so many obstacles and worked hard. She maintained a very successful career while balancing work and her children very well. She always taught me and my sister to be independent women and to take care of ourselves, not to rely on anyone but yourself. Some people say I have a strong approach but it has faired well in this whirlwind called life. No matter the situation she has always remained positive and pushed forward.

What is your favourite part of running your own business?

My favourite part of running my own business is allowing to let my creativity to run rampant without any rules or restrictions. It is truly my visions and ideas that helps balance out the structure of business and taking small steps to become more succesful. Not all ideas are winners - and not all visions come out as planned but I try to take something from each experience.

What started your love for all things vintage?

When I was a kid my Nana would always take me to garage sales, and markets and I fell in love. These are memories I will always hold on to.

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

I do not drink coffee and I love board games - come over for some tea and competition any time!

What does Girl Gang mean to you?

Girl Gang (insert gang sign here) represent! Means a lot to me. This Gang life though... girl gang has helped me grow and conquer my business dreams. I have met so many amazing woman being apart of girl gang and I always feel supported and have a squad of boss babes in my corner. Female Empowerment is so important and Girl Gang is achieving this in so many ways. GG for Life.

What are your goals for She Is Art in the next year?

My goals for the next year are a possible expansion and also to make some partnerships with local organizations and raise money for charities and organizations. I also have been asked several times to make a mens collection, so currently am working on building that! (coming soon)

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

A solo adventure. Travel. Explore. Meet. Dance. Eat. Drink. Do You!

When you aren’t finding incredible items for your shop, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I enjoy spending time outdoors with my dog Maverick either on hikes or at the beach. I love creating so I do lots of arts and crafts. I recently just got into barre classes at the Cove Wellness that I am enjoying very much.


- SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GIRL GANG

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