Last night, I had the privilege of speaking on a panel at Small Business BC in honour of International Women's Day. They asked us questions about how we started our businesses, mistakes we've made along the way, advice we have for other entrepreneurs, etc. but the most powerful question for me was a question about the role women have played in our entrepreneurial journey. I mentioned a few women who have had a profound impact on me and wanted to share their stories here.
1. My Mom, Marsha: I remember giving a speech in High School about my mom and how she was the most ambitious person I know. I am pretty sure we could have picked anyone in the world, anyone in history to speak about and I chose my mom! My mom completed Law School at University of Toronto while I was in High School! It had always been her dream to go to law school and become a lawyer and I have never seen someone so fiercely dedicated to her dreams. She also had dreams to visit Kenya and Antartica and the Galapagos Islands and Tanzania (during the great migration) and she has fulfilled on all of them. This year, she will be visiting the Arctic as it's been a longterm dream as well so see the animals there before people aren't able to visit anymore. My drive and passion to go after my dreams comes from my mom.
2. My Girlfriend, Pam: For the last almost 3 years I have had the pleasure of dating a woman and it has been so beautiful. Pam is so deeply supportive of me and understands me in a way that I've never known before. Dating a woman has allowed me to truly appreciate female relationships and the level of closeness women are able to achieve. I can't help but smile at other girl couples as I know how cute they are together and how deeply connected they are. Pam has been my strength and support many times when I haven't believed in myself. I lean on her for pretty much everything, yet at the same time, I am more independent and feel more in control of my own destiny than I ever have before. I am so thankful to Pam for showing me what a truly equal relationship without gender roles looks like. It is very empowering and I am so excited for my own daughters to grow up with a "bonus mom" in a supportive environment where we continually work on self-love, self-worth and building each other up.
3. My Mentor, Felicia: I've worked with Felicia for the past 1.5 years. She lives in the LA area and three times a year I spend a 4 day weekend with her. I hear her voice daily as I take part in group calls or listen to call recordings. Felicia's words are always with me as I go for my dream. I borrow her belief when I have doubts or fears of my own. I look to her life story as inspiration and the proof that with the right mindset, and with taking regular daily action (even if it's imperfect action), we can all achieve our dreams. I met Felicia when she ran a workshop called your Ultimate Life Now. I wrote about my experience at her workshop in a previous bog post and I am so excited that she'll be in Vancouver at the beginning of July to lead a workshop at the store. If you are interested in attending email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll add you to the invite list.
4. The Incredible Artist Community: The first people I met and connected with when I started my business were artists. I started my business with fair trade and eco friendly gifts and would bring those items to artisan markets. I got to know many of my neighbours at markets so well after spending all weekend with them smiling at customers all day. The artisan community in Vancouver is so supportive of one another and it has been a privilege to be part of that community. I love connecting people, watching relationships grow and collaborations start and businesses flourish. Artists are creating beauty while following their dreams and I am so fiercely proud of all of them!
There are so many more women that I could mention and I'm sure as I sit with the question for longer, I will keep coming up with many more. The women that move me the most are the ones that shine authentically with a deep sense of knowing who they are and what they want to achieve in life. They are the women who build each other up to and believe in each other unconditionally. They are mothers, sisters, mentors, friends, counsellors, advisors, customers, friends, family, celebrities, Instagram stalkees (ie: I follow them but they do not know me) and many more and the one thing they have in common is that they are all women who are following their dreams and inspire me to follow mine.