Happy International Women’s Day!
We know that women are drivers of change in their communities. Not only is this common knowledge but we have also seen it first hand.
Over the years, we have been fortunate enough to have worked with many inspiring female social entrepreneurs. This International Women’s Day we wanted to tell you about a few of them. Not only are these ladies running their own businesses and changing mindsets at home, but they are also partnering with women and families abroad who use the economic opportunity to improve their own communities.
You can meet all these talented entrepreneurs at the Buy Good. Feel Good Expo this May 13th & 14th in Toronto!
Cassandra Ciarallo of Chic Made Consciously
Inspired by her travels through Asia, Cassandra started her ethical and sustainable accessories line Chic Made Consciously. While in Ubud of Bali, Indonesia, she came across an artisan creating accessories from repurposed tire inner tubes. Seeing how these accessories not only diverted waste from the landfills but also provided opportunity to artisans, she decided to bring them to her hometown of Toronto and Chic Made Consciously was born. Cassandra’s energy is contagious. She motivates those around her to think critically about their purchases and to maintain a positive attitude.
Jennie Coleman of Equifruit
An all-star entrepreneur, Jennie took over the organic and fairtrade banana business, Equifruit, in 2013 from the original mother-daughter team. Since then her dedication to small-farmers in Peru and Ecuador and expanding the fairtrade market in Canada has driven Equifruit’s growth. Originally selling to the Quebec market, Equifruit have now seen significant expansion throughout Ontario. Jennie has also brought on three more dedicated women to the Equifruit team. Most recently, Equifruit has begun importing conventional fairtrade bananas and fostered a partnership with Concordia University. Concordia is the first campus in Canada to sell only fairtrade bananas.
Isabel Stigge of Little by Little
Believing that no child should be without a home, Isabel has always focused a lot of her energy on helping orphans. With six adopted children of her own (and four biological), she also volunteers annually at an orphanage in Haiti. What she saw was that many children in the orphanages actually had at least one living parent, but a lack of economic opportunity made it impossible to take care of the children on their own. This led Isabel to start her business, Little by Little, providing job opportunities to at-risk parents. Now Little by Little employs 18 Haitians and directly benefits 50 children, while supporting 15 other extended families and their children.
Rose Creamer & Stacey Guymer of Sweet Leaf Bath Co.
Sweet Leaf Bath Co. was born out of a desire to create something that was good not only for your skin, but for the planet as well. Rose and Stacey teamed up in 2007 to create handcrafted skin care products in small batches using pure, organic and Fairtrade Certified ingredients. Their choice to source Fairtrade Certified ingredients from West Africa, the Dominican Republic, Peru and Costa Rica was the easiest business decision they made, as it allowed them to impact people’s lives in a positive way.
Janet Viirre of TresBello
Since she was young, Janet dreamed of owning her own store full of beautiful things. Her later experiences travelling and meeting new people led her to realize her dream and open TresBello – a fair trade artisan shop on wheels. The truck brings fair trade accessories, apparel and decor directly to consumers. Her mobile business matches her love for the nomadic lifestyle. It also allows her to share the stories of artisans from around the world, connecting consumers to the people behind their products.
Daphna Lewinshtein of Craft Talk
An artisan herself, Daphna has always been interested in the artisan sector and making fashion more fair. She wrote her thesis on fair trade and artisans, created a toolkit for artisans, and organized events and workshops on the sector for students and new designers. From here she founded the nonprofit artisan accelerator and design consultancy Craft Talk. Projects through Craft Talk have involved working with new Americans in the United States, indigenous women in Burma, and former factory workers in Bangladesh.