While on vacation in Maui in May this year I got into a conversation with another Canadian woman at the pool. She had recently moved back to Kelowna after living in the States for a while but mentioned to me – after hearing that I lived here – that she had really wanted to move to Victoria. However, as an entrepreneur her previous experience living in Kelowna and past clients there tipped the scales in that city’s favour; she just didn’t think she could make a go quickly enough of starting her business here.
I understood her predicament but did mention to her that I think Victoria has a great culture of supporting its women in business. And my day yesterday was a perfect example of some of the supports available.
I spent the mid-day hours at the Westshore Women’s Business Network, a lunch meeting run extremely well by the professional Deb Alcadinho. This meeting always features a keynote speaker and yesterday’s was Sarah Daviau of Piece of Cake Communications. Sarah is clearly knowledgeable about the topic of elevator pitches, her focus for the talk, and had us laughing right off the bat telling us how she used to sell cigarettes in her parents’ store as an impish six-year-old! Sarah works with both women and men in her business, providing public and private training on topics such as public speaking and networking skills – both necessities for the entrepreneur.
Then, last night I was happy to attend the Pitch Your Passion event organized by event producer Carolyne Taylor and facilitator/coach Jocelin Caldwell. Not only was this event specifically created to give five women a rare shot at walking home with $500 after pitching their idea – in a Dragon’s Den-style event (with much more positive vibe!) – the room was full of entrepreneurial women as well who came out to support this fantastic endeavour. To name a few:
- Denise Lloyd, Engaged HR
- Lindsay Rose, Lindsay Rose Holistic Health
- Anna Harvey, Boost Communications
- Pauline Penner, JumpStart Solutions
- Shannon Beauchamp, Shannon Beauchamp Consulting
- Valerie Watt, Therapist, Relationship Coach and Workshop Facilitator
- Carol Hyland, CS Creative
- Cathy McKenzie, Learning By Heart
- Shauna Janz, Grief, Loss and Wellness
- Robyn Unwin, Robyn Unwin Communications
- Linda Hunter, Linda Hunter & Associates
- Marg Rose, Victoria Foundation
- Charlane, I’m Sew Excited (who I just met last night and so don’t know her last name yet!)
- Heather Solomonson, Victoria Business Moms (and other work!)
And I’m sure I’ve missed more who were there.
Add on to these two events the regular yoUnlimited lunches and conferences, the HOST meetups (for women and men), the Young Entrepreneurs Society (women and men), the Women’s Enterprise Centre, the E-Women Network, Roaring Women and more, there is a lot going on in this city to support women entrepreneurs. There is even the Victoria Women’s Show coming up Sept 21/22 this year which I’m sure is going to feature a lot of women-run and women-focused businesses. (I just happened to sit beside the two women organizers at lunch yesterday and happily won their door prize they contributed!)
One of the “pitchers” at last night’s event talked about “conscious living”, a phrase I used myself just the other day when responding to another friend’s blog post (Diane Lloyd, Results Imperative Group). What I’m seeing here in Victoria is that a lot of women are making quite conscious decisions to work with and support other women, and that makes it a pretty nice place to live and run a business.