Ana Stevens Pepper North Booth

Ana Stevens

Pepper North Artisan Foods
Oshawa, Ontario

My company, Pepper North Artisan Foods, is in its sixth year of business, and is growing rapidly. Although this is all very exciting, there are significant obstacles that you encounter when scaling your business for national distribution and building brand awareness. The need for capital to fund large purchase orders and pay for ingredients and services ahead of time is challenging. One of the pillars of The Scotiabank Womens Initiative is to provide capital to women-led businesses to get them to the next level of growth. With the help of my Scotiabank business consultant, I got the funding I needed to fill large purchase orders.

As we continue to grow and increase our market share within the grocery space, staying true to our core values is of the utmost importance: for example, ensuring that every hot sauce that is hand bottled comes from locally-sourced ingredients. Our peppers are 100% grown in Ontario by our farmer/partner, and supporting communities to grow with us has been an instrumental part of our company vision. While having goals like these are great, making sure we have the funds in place to execute our growth is key. Not only that, but I am a strong believer that continuous learning is so important, as there are always new ways to increase efficiencies. The second and third pillars of the program is to offer ongoing education and mentorship, which is a huge asset across all industries. Having the opportunity to meet other women entrepreneurs and empowering one another brings a tremendous value in itself.  I am looking forward to participating in workshops that will be taking place all over, and that more and more women are experiencing a high level of success while having Scotiabank as a supporter.

Helen Milic at Bayview Sheppard Practice

Helen Milic

Bayview Sheppard RMT
Toronto, Ontario

What an inspiring initiative! Things have come a long way! My business partner and I went to our bank over thirteen years ago with a business plan and a dream of opening our own clinic. 

Sadly, our bank representative did not even look at our plan, she threw it back at us and said, “We don’t know you or what you’re capable of, we would never lend you money”.... 

Like most women, the rejection and lack of support became our driving force to prove this woman and many other doubters wrong. 

It has been over thirteen years, we have grown every year as a business and entrepreneurs, we had to do it the hard way

Thank you Scotiabank for offering this opportunity to women. We wish our fellow entrepreneurs much success!

Helen Milic, RMT
Co-Owner Bayview Sheppard RMT

Helen Milic at Bayview Sheppard Practice

Pina Romolo

Piccola Cucina Inc
Winnipeg, MB

Pina, have you ever faced a dead end?  Any opportunities that showed promise at first but then went nowhere?  How did you overcome this?

Absolutely, I have faced dead ends, however, if you don’t try, sometimes you never know.  I use these dead ends or set backs as opportunities to evaluate what I’ve learned.  Nothing by accident, and sometimes these dead ends provide forums for teaching - a set up for a future big win.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

If you are doing something you believe in, then continue to persevere and push forward. Do seek external validation for your business and surround yourself with mentors and advisers that can lift you up and understand your vision and can relay it back to you when you go astray. 

Helen Milic at Bayview Sheppard Practice

Leisa Hirtz

Women’s Global Health Innovations Corp
Toronto, ON

Less than a fifth of businesses in Canada are owned by Women.  Leisa, how can we inspire more?

It will take very conscious, concerted and women-focused programs like The Scotiabank Women Initiative for us to see more women running their own businesses. I believe Canadian society is heading in a progressive direction.

With programs like this, more women will be inspired to become entrepreneurs. Women learning that they will be the catalyst needed to advance the national economy and drive progressive societal change is an inspiring incentive.

The Scotiabank Women Initiative is positioned to deliver the support more women need to guide them in starting and growing their business

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

The advice I would give is to clearly define the ‘why’ of your company, then start telling that ‘why’ as you grow your network. I advise growing your network early to build your web of supporters beyond your family and friends.

Listening is key. Listen a lot. Listen to learn and there is so much to learn. This is not something to be daunted by but to engage your curiosity. It’s easy to become overwhelmed but pace yourself and right from the start build a relationship with your small business advisor at your bank. He or she is there to offer valuable information, guidance, and strategy.  I would advise learning about The Scotiabank Women Initiative. The tools, advice, and opportunities to participate, learn and network through this initiative is creating a groundswell of positive change for Canadian women in business.

I believe it is the best time ever to be a woman entrepreneur in this country, and with endeavors like The Scotiabank Women Initiative, things are on a trajectory to get even better.

Helen Milic at Bayview Sheppard Practice

Karen Rudolph

Cloverdale Forge
Winnipeg, MB

Winnipeg Boot Camp in January 2020 - Today was excellent! Thank you for the invitation to join the event at Manitoba Start. I pulled nuggets of ‘awesomeness’ from each of the speakers and was inspired hearing from the women entrepreneurs excelling at their businesses! 

Helen Milic at Bayview Sheppard Practice

Maya Khanna Le Roy

MKLC
Toronto, ON

Last year was an incredibly challenging year for entrepreneurs and female entrepreneurs specifically—and this one is shaping up to be no different. In my practice coaching and facilitating as the founder of MKLC, I see the behind the scenes of these struggles and challenges. I see the burdens that women face at work and at home, magnified by a year in which so many of us have struggled to stay positive in the face of impossible demands and difficult decisions. 

This is why The Scotiabank Women Initiative is incredibly important. It gives voice and visibility to the challenges women face and then follows through by offering support and creating connection for an often tough but worthwhile journey.

I've been lucky to attend several Scotia Women Initiative events — two as an attendee and one as a speaker (my talk, called Proactive Strategies for a Reactive World: How to Design Your Time, delved into strategies to help get the meaningful work done, and show up at our best).

Each time, I’ve felt lifted and inspired by the dynamic and engaged group of women that the Scotia team gathers. I’ve connected with several of the other women and love the camaraderie that this experience has built.

There will always be challenges when we climb tall mountains. Having support and advice makes it just that little bit easier to keep going and make progress towards our aspirations.

Helen Milic at Bayview Sheppard Practice

Andreea Crisan

Andy Transport
Saint-Laurent, Québec

I have had the honor of attending several Scotiabank events dedicated to women entrepreneurs and I have always been very impressed and inspired by the overall experience.

The Scotiabank Women Initiative is a well-structured program and not just a one-time event. Also, the impressive resources allocated to this program make it stand out from the crowd and shows the commitment behind this project and the dedication in promoting and connecting women business leaders.

Thank you Scotiabank and Roynat for being a trusted partner and supporting our growth.

Andreea Crisan
EVP & COO
Andy Transport 

Helen Milic at Bayview Sheppard Practice

Leah Izenber & Dr. Dahlia Fisher

The Red Oak Centre Inc.
Toronto, ON

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Being a women entrepreneur is hard and exhausting but it is entirely possible and completely rewarding.  Work alongside people that share your vision and your work ethic. Enlist help and expertise as you need it.  Hold your vision and trust your process.

Helen Milic at Bayview Sheppard Practice

Natalie Kehren

The Wellness & Holistic World
Toronto, ON

This initiative is unlike anything I’ve been a part of.  It feels amazing to finally feel the empowerment from banks as a female entrepreneur.

Helen Milic at Bayview Sheppard Practice

Lucy Reveco

L.A. Dance Academy
Winnipeg, MB

Over 30 years ago, I started a small community children's dance program in the heart of the North End in Winnipeg. The dance program grew rapidly over the next 13 years, and since it was always my dream to have my own dance studio, I finally decided it was time. I went to Scotiabank 18 years ago with my 50-page business plan and presented my ideas for my new business proposal. I was approved, and I finally started my new venture!

Covid-19 was a very challenging time for our studio and dancers. We had to act fast, keep positive and introduce new ways to keep the business running. We offered our dance families online classes via zoom and managed to end our dance season by completing a recital outdoors for the first time ever at Rainbow Stage. Over the fall, our numbers had dropped due to the ongoing pandemic and uncertainty of the safety of Covid-19. It was then that I was offered from Scotiabank choices of Business loans and directed to grants. Without this financial support and community support, we would not have been able to continue our year.

The Scotiabank Women Initiative is an amazing program that provides continued resources, access to capital and education for women entrepreneurs and business leaders.  I would recommend everyone to utilize all the recourse available to ensure they stay connected in the business community.

My advice for other women entrepreneurs is never to give up when you are faced with challenges. Use your passion and determination that started your business and seek professional business advice when you need extra support.

Kathy Leskow

Confetti Sweets
Edmonton, AB 

I’m Kathy Leskow, founder of Confetti Sweets, and we make totally awesome cookies.  I was a stay at home mom with big ambitions and a sweet tooth.  I loved to bake, so I ran with my passion and opened a cookie booth at the local farmers market.  Could I make a business of just selling cookies?  Absolutely!

Twelve years later we sell through our storefront location and online, as well as the food service sector, grocery stores, and a variety of specialty stores across Alberta.

The hardest part was taking the leap from a hobby job to a business with debt, that would eventually be my only source of income to support my family.  Thankfully my Scotiabank business advisor was really my coach and cheerleader, and she spent the time getting to know me personally as well as my business.  She was by my side every time I had a growth opportunity (usually needing another loan).  

The Scotia Women Initiative has also been a wonderful resource.  From advice on digital marketing to cash flow, there always something to improve on.  I am currently working through the 20 tips to improve your LinkedIn network.  It’s something I know is important, but now I have an implementation checklist to follow.  Also, our local SWI Bootcamps have been fantastic.  I walk away feeling motivated and inspired, both personally and professionally.  The fact that they focus on the whole person is a breath of fresh air.  

There’s growth and then there's profitable growth.

To those looking in, it looked as if my business was growing rapidly, as we were doubling sales year over year.  However, in the early years, I was so focused on revenue, I lost track of the bottom line.   For example, when we launched in our first grocery chain, it included a guaranteed sale agreement where we would buy back any inventory that didn’t sell.  With a short shelf life product such as cookies, that was a horrible business decision!  Thankfully we were able to bounce back and to pivot quickly.

I can honestly say that the hard work, long hours, and sleepless nights were worth it.  Being an entrepreneur, leading an amazing team, and working for yourself is extremely rewarding.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything. 

Anka Chan and Nicole Sanchez

Ruth
Edmonton, AB 

Ruth is revolutionizing sustainable period care with the first biodegradable pads in Canada made from kenaf fibre. At Ruth, we’re solving the issue of menstrual waste.

Unlike traditional menstrual pads — most of which are made from 90% plastic and can take up to 800 years to degrade, Ruth pads are made from 93% bio-based and renewable materials including kenaf fibre, bamboo fibre, cellulose, and starch-based bioplastic.

We’re also passionate about fighting against period poverty. In a national effort to eliminate period poverty, we have partnered to donate our sustainable menstrual pads to seven organizations and shelters across Canada. Ruth makes sustainable periods easy and accessible.

As young founders, being supported by Scotiabank is meaningful for our new company. We really appreciate programs like The Scotiabank Women Initiative that work to reduce barriers women founders experience, in gaining access to the right mentorship and capital.

Lisa Grogan

Waterloo, ON

I very much appreciate the opportunity to offer my voice and perspective in connection to the Women Initiative. I'm a big fan of what you're doing with this program.

The Boot Camp model, for me, is about shining a light on what’s possible. It brings together women who are both mentoring and being mentored, because there’s such a range of attendees. It was inspiring, super accessible, and definitely time well spent. You’re cheering on brand new entrepreneurs while also hearing no-holds-barred stories from some of the most successful women out there.

Fostering collaboration and support between women in business will be a major part of that effort. We all know it takes time and energy to nurture our professional networks. It’s so important to have people around you who believe in what you’re doing. At the Boot Camp in Waterloo in 2019, not only did I connect with people from the bank who were excited about my business, but I connected and reconnected with so many other women. It really offers a whole new channel for me to tap into resources like mentorship, financial education, and capital when we need it.

You're in Good Company 

You’ve committed to making your business succeed — and you’re not alone. Get inspired by like-minded business women here!

Lisa Grogan


Waterloo, ON

Anka Chan and Nicole Sanchez


Ruth
Edmonton, AB

Kathy Leskow


Confetti Sweets
Edmonton, AB 

Lucy Reveco


L.A. Dance Academy
Winnipeg, MB

Maya Khanna Le Roy

MKLC
Toronto, ON

Andreea Crisan 

Andy Transport
Saint-Laurent, Québec

Leah Izenber & Dr. Dahlia Fisher

The Red Oak Centre Inc.
Toronto, ON

Natalie Kehren

The Wellness & Holistic World
Toronto, ON

Fostering Future Black Women Leaders in Technology

Ranchelle VanBryce

Stiletto Enterprises Inc.
Red Deer, AB

Pina Romolo

Piccola Cucina Inc.
Winnipeg, MB

Ana Stevens

Pepper North Artisan Foods
Oshawa, Ontario

Helen Milic

Bayview Sheppard RMT
Toronto, Ontario

Karen Rudolph

 

Cloverdale Forge
Winnipeg, MB

Leisa Hirtz

Women’s Global Health Innovations Corp
Toronto, ON