10 amazing women-led businesses in Canada

by YP Editorial Team

We’re celebrating Canada’s inspiring women businesses owners this month in honour of International Women’s Day on March 8. These 10 female entrepreneurs are taking charge, crushing their goals and making a lasting impact on communities across the country. [Image courtesy of Tight Club Athletics. Photo credit: Valerie Legere]

10 amazing women-led businesses in Canada

Tight Club Athletics – Vancouver, B.C.

A former track star turned personal trainer, Keighty Gallagher started Tight Club Athletics in 2013 after transforming her East Van garage into a makeshift fitness studio. Combining her positive energy and unintimidating approach to exercise with some savvy social media skills, Keighty quickly earned a loyal following. In 2015, she turned to her tight-knit community to raise money to launch a proper brick-and-mortar studio on the border of Chinatown and Strathcona. Delivering super sweaty classes in a supportive, friendly environment, Keighty has created much more than just a workout space; she’s created a movement.

Los Colibris – Toronto, ON

Led by executive chef Elia Herrera, Los Colibris is arguably Toronto’s only Mexican fine-dining restaurant, with an authentic menu that goes beyond the typical tacos, tortillas and guac. Originally from Veracruz, Mexico, Elia draws inspiration from her grandmother’s recipes and experiments with the extensive ingredients available in the culturally diverse city of Toronto. In February 2017, she brought her culinary expertise to the small screen on Top Chef Mexico.

Muttley Crüe – Calgary, AB

A passion for dogs and nature led Calgarian Annie Cole to open Muttley Crüe, a doggy daycare facility with an environmental focus. Annie says a variety of green practices – such as composting dog hair and utilizing only eco-conscious dog care products – have made Muttley Crüe the first eco-friendly and sustainable facility of its kind in North America. Installing a 24-hour webcam for anxious pet owners to check on their furry friends has also helped establish Annie as a forward-thinking, conscientious and innovative business owner.

Café Perko – Montreal, QC

Anyone who flouts convention deserves a tip of the hat, which means a tribute is due for Émilie Lebel. Trained as a lawyer – she even practiced for three years – Émilie quickly abandoned her legal career when the opportunity arose to fulfill her passion: to become more involved in the community. In July 2016, she opened Café Perko, a place where students, the self-employed and others could co-work in peace. The talented baristas are well trained and the food menu is top notch. Today the café is surrounded by growing businesses, a flourishing neighbourhood and a supportive spirit of sharing. Now that’s success!

Cavern – Edmonton, AB

Edmonton’s Tricia Bell boasts a distinguished résumé. With three degrees, a stint in international humanitarian relief work and time spent as a philosophy professor, one might not expect Tricia to be the mastermind behind Cavern, a popular cheesemonger, café and bar in Edmonton’s historic warehouse district. After studying under world-renowned cheese expert Max McCalman, Tricia applied her academic background and launched her successful retail space and bistro. “Cheese is just easy for me to work with,” Tricia says. “You can be creative, it’s full of sustenance and it’s super healthy.”

Carol’s Quality Sweets – Edmonton, AB

In 2003, a massive fire destroyed Edmonton institution Carol’s Quality Sweets, burning the beloved sweetshop to the ground and leaving only half a cookbook behind. Such a devastating loss would have left some business owners inconsolable, but owner Carol Logan moved on and re-established the business later that year in a new 1,000-square-foot location. Carol’s passion and work ethic helped her get things back on track – and it’s a good thing, too. Edmonton is a sweeter place with Carol’s Quality Sweets, and as Carol says, “We sell memories.”

Belle et Rebelle – Montreal, QC

It was with a budget of just $5,000, a dream, and plenty of goodwill and help from friends that Anne L’Espérance opened Belle et Rebelle clothing boutique in 2007. Her goal from day one: to introduce Montrealers to local designers. And what a success it’s been! Since opening her first location, others have followed; Anne opened Petite Rebelle (2009) and L’Appartement Boutique (2010), which opened a second location in 2011 in Sherbrooke. In 2012, Anne received the Business of the Year award from Plaza St-Hubert. Today she supports Maison Passages, a not-for-profit shelter for young women in difficult situations.

Nectar Juicery – Vancouver, B.C.

There’s no doubt that Nectar Juicery founder Tori Holmes is one seriously driven individual. At 21 years old, she became the youngest woman to row across the Atlantic Ocean in a 24-foot rowboat, paddling 12 hours a day for 86 days straight. After returning home from her epic voyage, Tori turned her focus toward studying holistic nutrition and discovered the incredible power of juicing. Today, she helps others fuel their health and wellness goals by serving up organic cold-pressed juices and wholesome snacks at her Gastown juice bar: Nectar Juicery.

Lisa Drader-Murphy – Toronto, ON

Lisa Drader-Murphy the Canadian designer behind the Turbine Fashion label, opened her first Toronto location in 2016. The clothing line is made in Canada at Lisa’s Halifax manufacturing hub. Nothing is mass-produced and her conscious business practices make Lisa one of the few fashion designers to design, make and sell their own garments. Committed to fair pricing, with dresses available for $100 and under, the label’s goal is to make unique, made-in Canada designer pieces accessible to all women.

Liz & Lottie – Calgary, AB

What’s in a name? For Nikki Maas and Heidi Blanchette, there was no better choice for their Calgary boutique, Liz & Lottie, than to name the shop after their two beloved grandmothers. Photos of Liz and Lottie are featured prominently in the boutique, honouring the legacy of two strong, passionate and always on-trend women. That spirit continues to motivate Nikki and Heidi, who have utilized their own passion and enthusiasm to cultivate a must-stop shop in the East Village.

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