Small Business

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Hear from two dedicated social entrepreneurs using their ventures to make change within the communities in which they operate and serve. We hear what motivates two dedicated social entrepreneurs drive for impact, and they also share their tips on what’s propelled each of their businesses’ unique success stories in the fashion industry.

Salima Visram, Founder & CEO of Samara, shares her incredible model to support her non-profit, The Soular Backpack, through her for-profit, direct-to-consumer fashion business, SAMARA. Salima tells the inspiring story of creating The Soular Backpack to provide children in East Africa with a bag outfitted with a solar panel. She also shares her vision for SAMARA to lead the fashion industry in sourcing raw materials and natural resources.

We then speak to Ashley Freeborn, Founder and CEO of Smash + Tess, about how her early career as a teacher cultivated her team’s focus on community and the desire to always ask, "how can we give back?" Ashley shares how creating an inclusive, accessible digital community unlocked incredible dialogue and feedback that accelerated her team’s success, and why it’s so important to dream big from the outset of your venture.

Meet our guests

Salima Visram, Founder & CEO of SAMARA

Salima is the Founder of SAMARA - a brand focused on finding the best materials, and making the world better, through fashion. SAMARA was launched 3 years ago with $500 and a production run of 10 bags, and has now sold over 150,000 products, creating impact with every purchase through an initiative Salima started prior to SAMARA - The Soular Backpack.

Soular provides children in East Africa, where she grew up, with solar powered backpacks so they can do their homework every night without the use of the carcinogenic kerosene lamp.

Find Salima online at and use discount code fwe15 for 15% your purchase!

Ashley Freeborn, Co-Founder, Principal and CEO Smash + Tess

Born and raised in Vancouver, BC, Ashley worked in education for a decade before co-founding Smash + Tess with her mother in 2016. 

The idea for Smash + Tess rose out of Ashley’s recognition of an unfilled niche in fashion—a void in the loungewear market. Bootstrapping her idea to life, S+T has grown from two employees into a team of 23 in just four years, and in 2020 was named by the Globe and Mail as the #1 women founded growth company in 2020. As CEO, Ashley oversees everything from designing to financial planning to dreaming up fun and creative marketing campaigns and their give-back. partnerships. 

Ashley recently published her first children’s book, Frankie and the Magical Romper, now on sale at Chapters Indigo. Business in Vancouver named her to their 2019 Top Forty Under 40, where we got to celebrate together.