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.
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
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;
- Reach 200 sales on Etsy
- Have Beads x Meg in 2 new retail spaces
- 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.
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?
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.
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!
100 East ST S, Sarnia
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 way. These 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 sheeting. The 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 one! One 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.
Website: Ace Ferguson Studio