This International Women’s Day (March 8, 2018), we are celebrating the women who make Westboro Village a great place to shop, eat, work, and more! While we couldn’t interview all of them (there are plenty!! click for our directory), we had a chance to visit a few and get their story… Learn about the W.O.W Women-Owners of Westboro businesses:
Karla Briones is a Mexican-Canadian (Ottawa) entrepreneur, vegan, yogi, mom, wife and self described “Immpreneur”—a word she coined to describe fellow business people who are also immigrants. In addition to the businesses, podcasts, and parenting she is moving to open a consultancy that focuses on helping fellow Imprenneurs starting their own businesses. You would think that the challenge of running 4 successful businesses would take its toll on someone, but Karla is clearly in her element: “Some people think in colour, some people think in musical notes; I think in business. My language is entrepreneurship. That’s how my brain works.”
Elizabeth bought Tivoli 4 yrs ago. “I find the people that come in, we’re almost part of their families: we’ve done their weddings, their children’s baptisms, we’ve done their celebration of life events. We’ve almost become members of their families.”
Flowers Talk Tivoli supports quite a few charities for women. “We will take flowers back after events and take them to the women’s cancer treatment centre at the hospital, or the Royal Ottawa. We support nearly anyone who comes through with an ask, because they’ve been so supportive of us.
Being a business owner allows Molly the flexibility and freedom to operate The Village Quire and be a mom. “I set my own expectations. I know what level of service I can provide, I know my hours, I know how much money I’m going to charge for something, and never again am I going to have to answer to someone else for that. Not truly, because I’m paying my own bills and that’s been so empowering. My confidence is higher than in any other job I’ve ever had.”
Claudia currently owns two Cupcake Lounge locations and employs between 10-15 full time employees, and almost as many part-time. She is extremely proud that even as a small business she is able to provide benefits for her staff, on top of maintaining her own standard of excellence in everything she produces. “I feel a lot of responsibility because I have a lot of team members I have to provide for. You have to set your expectations: 100% real vanilla, Belgian and French chocolate. Balancing labour costs and ingredients, but it gives me a sense of confidence.”
Elizabeth opened Closet Candy in Westboro 2 years ago. She was previously a nurse “forever”, but owning her own boutique was something she always wanted to do. She finds that Westboro is a great fit. “It’s a walkable neighbourhood and there’s a lot of people out and about, and there’s a diverse population. People can go places with their dogs – we have dog treats here. I think we’re here to support each other, and if we don’t have something we refer customers to somewhere that does. There’s comraderie!”
She opened West End Kids in August 1995 in Westboro. It will be 23 years old and is still in the same location. She has seen Westboro change over the decades. “When I chose this location at 373 Richmond Road, it was a “tired” looking street and the store was vacated. I spent quite a bit of time using the information that Stats Canada gave me to confirm that this could be a great location for West End Kids. There were plenty of schools around, with young families. Slowly, empty locations began to fill up, but there were still vacancies. Domicile changed the facade of the building to look fresh and new. In the 5th year in business Sheba began to notice several stores opening who were owned by women. She, then, felt encouraged to continue on! In 2000, MEC opened across the street and the rest is history… “It is very important that there is a sense of “family” and enjoyment when families come through our doors to outfit their kids for the winter and/or summer months. This continues to today! We all work as a team and want to give all our customers a great shopping experience!”
Pathway Yoga is celebrating it’s 7th year, and they have 7 teachers.
“Its incredibly important to be open to the ideas, creativity, needs, wishes…of the people I’m working with. There isn’t a lot of ego-clashing, and as a group we come up with some really good ideas. Our studio is focused on yoga, and on people’s development. We don’t offer drop ins, people have to commit to coming in for at least a period of time, so that they learn. But the result is that we end up retaining more students. I’ve taught all over the city, and there’s still a group of people who carpool from New Edinburgh every morning.”
Ania has been a jeweller for 15 years and has been located in Westboro for 7 (formerly Zahara). She now employs a staff of 4 artisans who design and craft all of the original pieces found in the store and also lead workshops. HEIST is also at the forefront of sourcing all of their materials ethically; their metals are traded fairly, come from environmentally friendly sources, or are recycled from older pieces. “I think people who come to us are looking for something unique and different. They’re looking for something from a small business, or to support entrepreneurs. They’re looking for artistic options, so whether its clothing or jewellery there’s a lot more unique artisans in the community that add to this nice blend of artists/entrepreneurs. I think people come to Westboro looking for that, so I think its important to keep businesses in the neighbourhood that are encouraging that.”
After styling hair for 20 years, and operating a successful home business, a severe neck injury followed by spinal surgery motivated Rachel to pursue her dream of owning her own salon. Alongside Loft co-owners Bruno Racine and Paul Valleta, she collaborated to create a space that was uniquely their own. “Everything here is a piece of me” she adds, as she points out the bespoke elements that make Loft truly unique. She describes her salon as “a literal dream-board taken and brought to life.” Today, The Loft’s Westboro location will be celebrating their first anniversary on April 11th, and are set to launch their own line of makeup.