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Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

November 19th, 2021

Women’s Entrepreneurship Day is celebrated by nearly 150 countries on November 19th, and we are excited to share the news that for the first time ever, November 19th is officially proclaimed Women’s Entrepreneurship Day in British Columbia!

This is a special day to recognize, empower and support women in business. Women entrepreneurship is growing in Canada – there are more than 360,000 self-employed women in Canada, with a 30% increase in women-owned businesses in the last ten years! Challenges for women entrepreneurs were amplified during the pandemic, however from launching businesses to creating and finding new ways to shift and do business during these unprecedented times, women entrepreneurs have so much to be proud of.

The Whistler Chamber understands that a crucial step in reaching equality is to celebrate women’s achievements and increase their visibility. Our community is full of so many inspiring women entrepreneurs, and we are excited to recognize and highlight some of our incredible Members to inspire other women entrepreneurs and show the strength we have in our community!

Member: Heike Designs Inc.

Owner: Heike Stippler, President

   

What does it mean to you to be a woman entrepreneur in Whistler?

Being a woman entrepreneur in Whistler always meant an opportunity to me to show what I can do. While trying times remain especially in trades and construction, I enjoy the challenge and continue to learn to be confident to do what I believe in and understand that taking a different approach to things is ok.

How has the Whistler Chamber supported you and your business?

Especially in the beginning and first years of business, the Chamber and specifically WOW – Women of Whistler meetings were a great source of support and networking, providing opportunities to learn, exchange thoughts. They still are that group for connecting with local business people and providing advocacy, Whistler Experience program and more now supporting my staff as well.

What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

When I started my business, I wanted to make a difference and ensure design, horticulture principles and environmental concerns go hand in hand. I continue to work hard on explaining why and how things are done right.

Member: Evolution RIDE SHOP Whistler

Owner: Jenine Bourbonnais, Owner/Operator – in business for 26 years, opened July 1st 1996

               

What does it mean to you to be a woman entrepreneur in Whistler?

I love living and working in Whistler. Being a woman entrepreneur in Whistler feels normal. There are a large number of woman athletes and entrepreneurs in Whistler, I am surrounded by awesome women daily. We live in an excellent corner of the planet, and it is hard to imagine that it is not normal in most of the world to look around and see half or more of the business, athletic, political and artistic community being represented by women. The social and business communities in Whistler are inclusive and fabulous. The only times I notice that I am a “female business owner” vs a “business owner,” is when I am at trade shows – however even then I do not feel out of place – I simply notice that there are less women business owners.

How has the Whistler Chamber supported you and your business?

In the beginning stages of my business, as far back as writing the business plan in 1994, I used the Whistler Chamber as a resource for data to use in forecasting and budgeting. As a Chamber member I was able to I place rental bike brochures in the Chamber info center and I would speak with the employees there to inform them of our local business. The Spirit Pass program was a huge help in the early days for discounted pass purchase incentive for employees; and the original Spirit Day and Spirit Courses encouraged new locals to discover local businesses. Being a member of the Whistler Chamber was key to being connected to the business community.

What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

I was a young mountain athlete and loved being around other people who shared my joy for being athletic in the mountains. Owning a business that sells, services and rents ideal gear for adventuring and having fun in Whistler was an idea that made sense. I had the advantages of starting a business when I was young: not planning too far in advance, having the ability to work long hours for years on end, and the general youthful feeling of invincibility!

Member: Race & Company LLP

Brie Reilly, Partner

What does it mean to you to be a woman entrepreneur in Whistler?

Being able to live and work and also be an employer of choice in a small town, and yet be in one of the largest ski resorts in North America is truly awesome.

How has the Whistler Chamber supported you and your business?

The Whistler Chamber has provided Race and Company with countless opportunities to showcase our lawyers and services through events such as the Whistler Excellence Awards and presenting the Citizen of the Year and being a proud sponsor of Women of Whistler.

What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

Growth, leadership and social impact.

 

Member: The Circle & The Circle Kids

Owner: Laura Woerlee, CEO

                 

The Circle has been in business since 1997, Laura has owned it since 2008. The Circle Kids opened in 2015.

What does it mean to you to be a woman entrepreneur in Whistler?

Being a women entrepreneur in Whistler is wonderful. Whistler is such a diverse accommodating community, I’ve been especially supported by other entrepreneurial women in the sea to sky community, giving me advice, and choosing to support me over chain stores etc.

How has the Whistler Chamber supported you and your business?

The Whistler Chamber has connected me with other women in business, together we are stronger, lift each other up and connect on the same level.

What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

My family inspired me to be an entrepreneur. I come from 2 previous generations of entrepreneurs. When something comes naturally to you, it doesn’t feel hard, so I guess I take my achievements in my stride as it’s how I’ve grown up – it just feels normal. My own family inspired me to essentially follow in my family’s footsteps. By expanding our First store (The Circle) with a children’s specific store (The Circle Kids) that resonated with our aging customers having families. It was a natural progression and it was something I could fully sink my teeth into and enjoyed learning every level of the business before I handed those roles off to new employees as we grew as a company.

Member: Rise Up Business Coaching Ltd.

(Business Coaching, Executive Coaching and Keynote Speaking) – in operation for 4 years
Owner: Renee Russo 

What does it mean to you to be a woman entrepreneur in Whistler?

In helping entrepreneurs to build high performing businesses we are able to generate more resources for our Whistler community, it is a win : win for all.

How has the Whistler Chamber supported you and your business?

The Whistler Chamber provides me with support and resources I need to allow me to focus on what I do best, helping entrepreneurs realize their vision and live their best life.

What inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

I became an entrepreneur to magnify my impact and to create scalable abundance for others.