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Feminist Practices Transformative Ideas

When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Lemon Aid

Rachel Kelly, founder of Make Lemonade, 2019. Photo provided.

Like the many enterprises that relied on in-person interaction, Make Lemonade, a Toronto-based, women-centric co-working space for entrepreneurs was suddenly squeezed dry by the pandemic and closed its doors in August 2020. It was the third closure in three years of a well-loved physical co-working space focusing on women — the others were Shecosystem and Women on the Move. LiisBeth talked to Rachel Kelly, the 30-year-old founder and sole owner of Make Lemonade to learn about the journey and where they are now–given the pandemic. 

LiisBeth: Let’s rewind to get the full story. Why did you start Make Lemonade?

RK: It was 2015 and I had been freelancing for a couple years, bouncing from coffee shop to coffee shop and working from home — way before it was cool. One day while travelling on a streetcar to yet another café, I realized I couldn’t keep lying to myself. I was trying to convince myself that this way of working, like a nomad, alone, was great and that the indie freelancing life was sustainable for me. It occurred to me in that moment the key thing lacking in my work life was a day-to-day community of colleagues.

Around this time, I signed a salaried contract with a company I was freelancing for and let go of all my freelance gigs. And even bought a couch! But shortly thereafter, they called to say the contract was cancelled. They never told me why but I suspect it had to do with their budget.

I reminded myself, I am only 26 years old. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.

The old dream I had of starting a co-working space for independent freelancers like me resurfaced. And I have to thank my parents for inspiration. They were also entrepreneurs and taught me to dream big and worry about the details later. Which is exactly what I did.

I started by creating an Instagram account called Make Lemonade to gauge interest about the idea and guess what … it generated traction! In fact some people already thought the space existed and actually emailed me saying “you might like this space” not realizing I was the one posting about it. Ha! With this validation, I got to work. I put together a business plan. Landlords required me to submit the plan along with an offer to lease the space because we were a startup. I looked for places that offered bright, natural light and a canvas that made shared work possible. Finding a space with a good landlord was also important. The commercial rental market was hot at the time. I found a beautiful 3,000 square foot space at 326 Adelaide Street West in the heart of downtown Toronto and quickly signed a five-year lease.

LiisBeth:  Tell us about the Make Lemonade Community? Who showed up?

RK: At first, I thought the space would attract mostly 25 to 35-year-olds but we ended up with members from of all ages — all the way into their sixties. Members paid $500/month for a three-month plan with a fixed desk; $300/month for Monday to Friday access; $30/month for community membership. Make Lemonade offered a communal kitchen, phone booths, printing and mailboxes. About 80 per cent of the members — or our “lemons” as we affectionally referred to each other — were full-time self-employed creative types, writing or producing professionals and other artists. Other members included graduate students working on their thesis, a few salaried folks looking for an inspiring focus zone and people with full time jobs who needed space to work on their side-hustles.  

One of our members, Breeyn McCarney, is wedding dressmaker who designed non-traditional wedding gowns. She lived in Hamilton but most of her clients were in Toronto so she regularly booked our meeting rooms for client fittings. When her customers came for their final fitting, she would host a champagne celebration in our “virtual” patio room, an indoor room that was decked out to look like an outdoor patio.

Breeyn hosted beading workshops for aspiring artists — they worked with their hoops and beads and used Make Lemonade as a production space. At its peak, we had over 200 members.

Many of our members have seriously grown their enterprises since joining the Make Lemonade community. For example, when newcomer to Canada Katy Prince joined, she could only afford to come on Mondays (half price days) at first she didn’t have many friends or a network. Katy significantly expanded her network while at Make Lemonade. Today, Katy works for herself as a full-time coach and has a handful of staff members. Katy’s experience is testament to the benefits that co-working spaces have to offer and we are proud to have helped play a role in their success.      

LiisBeth:  Did you ever participate in startup program or receive any startup or government grants to help finance or start your business?

RK: No. Truth be told I never applied! I didn’t really know what was available.

Liisbeth: What happened when the pandemic hit?

RK: In early March 2020, we started to hear all about the coronavirus I remember going to sleep one Sunday night knowing the next day I would have to close our doors. At first, we thought it would only be for a short time, but it soon became clear the closure would last for a while. When we made our announcement (a year and a half after our temporary closure) in August 2020 that the doors were closing, we received close to 300 comments on just one Instagram post. I still haven’t read through them all because it’s emotionally overwhelming. What’s important to note — and also bittersweet — is that our busiest time were the months leading up to the announcement of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rachel Kelly’s announcement on the closing of Make Lemonade’s physical coworking space in Toronto. Screenshot via Instagram.
 

When the pandemic hit, we were not sure what to do but quitting was not an option. Our mantra was (and still is): when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. We had to try something new.

My staff member, Ashley Fulton, Director of Good Vibes, and I began brainstorming about how we could bring and keep the community together online. We started with free virtual co-working meet ups. Then added free daily support calls. Next, we added a short newsletter called “Your Daily Dose of Sunshine”. We later added online co-working sessions and work sprints and didn’t charge for any of it.

Once we were confident we had something worthwhile to offer, we invited people to start paying us for the services. And a good number of them did.

Over time, we added more features such as accountability calls and introduced The 4-Week Challenge that involved working on goals for four weeks in community. People loved it and paid to participate! We noticed multiple repeat participants for the program and eventually turned it into a new service called the Get Sh*t Done Club. 

As time went on, we learned that while the physical space with tables and internet access was great, our real strength was supporting entrepreneurs through all the highs and the lows of business ownership. Lemonade became more like lemon aid.

Today, the Get Sh*t Done Club is still running strong as a 12-month online business foundations community that supports entrepreneurs to hustle less, grow more and have more fun. We do virtual kick-off brunches, offer workshops on goal setting, host work sprints, brainstorms and facilitate small  groups within the program. We have an event called the Lemon Mixer—an open conversation where members ask for what they need and are able to give back by offering services or expertise. Members also get full access to our Business 101 online course. And of course, we have fun! We celebrate successes with an honour roll and give shoutouts and cheers when progress happens for someone.

LiisBeth: As a player in the women’s entrepreneurship ecosystem space, what would you like to see change or happen in the coming years to further strengthen the women’s enterprise space?

RK: It almost seems ridiculous with the kind of company that I created that I didn’t get a “Hey, welcome to the women’s entrepreneurship support world.” Or a “Did you know, these are the resources that are available?”

We build community for others, but where is OUR community support?

LiisBeth: What’s Next for Make Lemonade? You?

RK: Looking to the future, we have some new ideas percolating, including meeting up with our “lemons” in real life again.

Things have been tough, but the pandemic was the catalyst for creating something bigger than the physical space. It led us to creating an online community and a new way of providing members with the support they need. The pandemic was also a wake up call. Which means it’s time to start making lemonade again … whatever that looks like. Funny how things are kind of coming full circle.

Also, when I think about what’s next, I’m reminded of how my parents started out and where they are now. They founded an automotive manufacturing company. But like so many businesses, that’s not how the enterprise started. Believe it or not, their original business was selling fruitcakes. So whenever I worry about not knowing what the future holds, I remind myself, I’m still in my fruitcake, or perhaps lemon cake, phase. I’m experimenting with different ingredients, making up recipes to see what works best.

LiisBeth:  Thank you for sharing your incredible and inspiring story

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While numerous organizations for women entrepreneurs exist in Toronto, Women on the Move is the only one that incorporates co-working space, business training, venture capitalist funding and a community network.

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Categories
Feminist Practices

When the Obstacle Becomes the Way

Hermine Mbondo, founder of B4brand, a bilingual branding and marketing agency in Toronto. Photo provided.

Storytelling transformed Hermine Mbondo’s life and continues to shape her work to this day. 

Born in Cameroon into the Bassa tribe and raised in France, Mbondo now lives in Toronto. She fondly remembers her childhood and all the stories she heard when she visited her grandmother’s village. Back then, every night Mbondo would gather with all of the other kids in the family to listen to stories told by her grandmother and her aunts. 

But these stories were not ordinary fairy tales.

“When you are a child, you don’t realise [right away]. But then slowly, you realise the stories were not just fairy tales,” Mbondo says. “It was really about either warning us about things or teaching us about something.” 

One of the stories Mbondo remembers vividly is a different interpretation of the story of the tortoise and the hare.

In Mbondo’s version, the hare tells the tortoise that both of them should kill their mothers because there was a poor harvest and everyone in the village is going hungry. The hare says they can use their mothers for a feast. The tortoise is tricked by the hare and kills its mother, but the hare does not. 

Mbondo says the moral of this story is to choose your friends wisely and be careful about who you trust. She says the stories she heard as a child, while sometimes scary, were always meaningful and were meant to teach life lessons.

Flash forward many years and Mbondo is now sharing her own meaningful stories through B4brand — a branding and marketing agency she founded in Toronto in 2017. 

An Accidental Marketing Agency 

Like many women entrepreneurs, Mbondo didn’t start out thinking she wanted to be a business owner someday. Within a few months of job hunting after moving to Canada in 2016, she realized that as a newcomer, landing a job and pay cheque that matched her level of experience was going to be impossible. 

“I was still able to do a lot of things but it wasn’t at the level of what I was doing — or earning — in France. I was the head of marketing there,” she says. “[Work I was hired for in Canada] wasn’t challenging enough. There was nothing to justify [staying] — plus I didn’t have the same kind of salary. After a year, I was starting to think, ‘What can I do next?’” 

Around the same time, a company that Mbondo had worked for back in France asked if she would be interested in moving back to lead their marketing department.

But Mbondo didn’t want to move back to France. She knew the job being offered to her would return her to the same position of working for someone else, on their terms, with no room for growth. By this time, she knew she wanted to call the shots and work “with” the company instead of “for” it. Pitching the idea of being an independent contractor led to her landing her first client as a solepreneur. They worked out an arrangement that allowed Mbondo to have more autonomy in her work, and in late 2017, she officially launched B4brand, which now operates as an incorporated marketing agency. 

Marketing with Purpose 

In a competitive industry like brand management, B4brand stands out in three distinct ways: 1) it focuses on people-driven branding, 2) it has the capacity to work seamlessly in both of Canada’s official languages, and 3) it makes innovative use of Bassa storytelling culture. 

Mbondo says that while all three aspects of her enterprise are important, the emphasis on people-driven stories is the foundation that grounds her and her business. Engaging with clients whose values align with her own has led her to work with brands that focus on the needs of people rather than the features or benefits of a given product. 

“I’ve seen different things in marketing — I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. Marketing can be used to trick consumers into purchasing products or services. I wanted to do things differently,” she says. 

Mbondo wants consumers to connect with brands that align with their own ethics and principles so that ideally, they make purchasing decisions based on shared values. 

“I talk with the business owners, get to know them, and try to understand not just what they’re doing, but why they are doing it,” she says, “because for me, it’s very important to understand the ‘why.’” The conversations are litmus tests that help her choose brands that, in her words, truly “have a greater purpose.” 

For example, when an opportunity came her way to work with an entrepreneur who was looking to launch a new line of spices from Western Cameroon, Mbondo first researched to find out if they operated in an ethical manner. She sealed the deal after learning the company was paying their employees fair wages and creating a safe working environment for women in western Cameroon.

Through her work, Mbondo wants to challenge the idea that industries like brand marketing can only be made more inclusive by hiring diverse employees. While this is important, she says it limits the possibilities of human resources. What she wants to see instead is an emphasis on the diversity of products and services as well as the diversity of people. The international spices are an example of this because they bring “diversity to the shelves” of mainstream grocery stores. While the spices have not yet been launched officially, another client of Mbondo recently launched. 

“I think for me, the way I see diversity and inclusion is in the everyday things, and food is part of that [when] we go grocery shopping.” 

Passion Projects Helping Build Community

Another passion project of Mbondo’s is the Global Impact Hub — a one-stop learning hub for social entrepreneurs to connect, educate and amplify diverse voices.

Mbondo has partnered with several organizations over the past few years to provide bilingual entrepreneurship training to fellow entrepreneurs and small business owners. During the COVID-19 global pandemic, she found that many such organizations didn’t have the tools, resources, or knowledge to transition online. 

Mbondo explains, “[Entrepreneurs and small business owners] usually wear many hats and they are overwhelmed. Sometimes, all they need is the little push, especially since the road to running a successful business while making a difference can feel difficult and lonely. So, I decided to support them by offering a place to develop supportive relationships with fellow game-changers as well as access marketing tools and resources.”

The Global Impact Hub aims to combat this overwhelm by creating space for entrepreneurs to work it out together. 

“Through this membership-based online platform, social entrepreneurs will be able to sharpen up their marketing skills from anywhere and at any time through valuable content [like] marketing resources, tools, workshops and meaningful ways of connecting.”

B4Brand's Global Impact Hub.
B4Brand's Global Impact Hub.

Finding Community Through Shared Experiences 

As a newcomer and female entrepreneur, Mbondo’s participation in startup business development and accelerator programs played an important role in helping her build B4Brand. 

After starting the enterprise on her own, she learned valuable resource management skills in a program for newcomers to Canada called the Newcomers Entrepreneurship Hub alongside others who were also starting their own businesses. The Fifth Wave feminist accelerator program for women in digital media, operated by the Canadian Film Centre’s MediaLab, showed her how to hire and manage independent contractors whose values aligned with her own on a per project basis. Today, she has the structures in place to contract like-minded freelance graphic designers and copywriters to create campaigns that everyone feels good about. 

Three years into running her own business, Mbondo says that financing growth continues to be a struggle. Growth accelerator programs however, have helped her to connect with other business owners and funders who make her feel less alone and boost her confidence, helping her to keep going even when things are difficult.

“Everybody’s going through the same struggle — on different levels, obviously, but we’re going through the same things so it gives some reassurance to be like, ‘Okay, I’m not the only one,’” Mbondo says. 

Marketing at its core is a form of storytelling. What motivates Mbondo to show up for work every day is the opportunity to combine her love of people-driven stories rooted in culture, history and tradition with the personal values she shares with her clients.  

“I still love stories. I also learned that as an independent business founder, you can be choosy about the clients you work with and I’m supporting causes with my work,” Mbondo says. “I somehow managed to do well by doing what I love and wanted to do as a child.”

Last year, Mbondo was listed as one of Canada’s Top 100 Black Women to Watch in Canada. 

This year? B4brand is a finalist for the 2021 Toronto Star Readers’ Choice Awards in the Best Advertising/Marketing Agency category. Voting continues until Sept. 19, 2021.


Publishers Note: B4brand is a part of the Fifth Wave, a year-round program offered by CFC Media Lab and its partners to support the growth and development of women entrepreneurs in the digital media sector in southern Ontario. All enterprise founders in the Fifth Wave community are selected for both their potential and commitment toward weaving intersectional feminist ideals of equity and fairness into sustainable and scalable business growth strategies. Fifth Wave Initiative is committed to 30% participation by members of underrepresented groups. The Fifth Wave is a LiisBeth Media partner and ally. Applications are OPEN! Apply here

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Feminist Practices

Reimagining Our Financial Future

Shannon Pestun. Photo provided.

Shannon Pestun followed her own advice when she started her financial literacy training business: Know yourself. Figure out why you’re doing it. Who could you partner with? 

“The system is always telling women to fix themselves,” Pestun says. “But we’re making it about her first and foremost and what her goals are, and then building the company around that.”

The Finance Cafe is an Alberta-based incorporated for profit social enterprise that was formed because its two female founders understand firsthand the barriers that women entrepreneurs face, primarily around financial literacy and confidence. 

The Path to Entrepreneurship 

Pestun spent the formative part of her youth working in her parents office furniture company. She and her younger brother spent summers cleaning and doing accounts receivables for the family business in Alberta, Canada. 

She also grew up around horses and loved spending time at her extended relatives’ farms. In her first job she worked for free mucking stalls in exchange for riding the horses.

She fell in love with the animals and went on to become a competitive show jumper. 

Riding provided her with a sense of comfort and freedom and trust that is present to this day. 

“A horse will know how I’m feeling before I do,” she says.

Shannon Pestun with her horse, circa 1981. Photo provided.

But the outgoing, horseback-riding girl turned inward after she was sexually assaulted in her teens. Pestun dropped out of high school and ended up working two minimum wage jobs just to keep a roof over her head. There were times she had four hours of sleep between her shift selling hot dogs at a nightclub (while underage) and being a sales clerk at a Merle Norman cosmetics store. 

“I know what it’s like to be at the poverty line. I understand what it’s like to live in fear of finances.” 

Fierce tenacity and the generosity of others — like the Merle Norman shop owner and the guy at the night club who allowed her to work underage — enabled Pestun to get her life back on track. 

Pestun eventually went back to high school then on to college and university where she got a degree in management.

She landed a marketing job at ATB, a financial institution with a focus on small business owners. Before she became ATB’s first Director of Women’s Entrepreneurship, she jumped at the opportunity to become a lender even though she had little experience in finance. 

Her tenacity returned and Pestun taught herself how to be a banker after hours by going through finance and business rules to understand what the lending business was all about. Soon, a pattern emerged. She had no female clients. Where were all the women? 

Pestun took to social media under the alias @agirlsbizbanker to have conversations and learn why women weren’t coming to ATB, or anywhere else, for financing. 

“The banking system was never designed with women in mind,” she says. It was impossible to ignore the financial industry was not effectively serving women and systemic barriers were being upheld. 

As an advocate for women in business, Pestun is a mentor for Fifth Wave, Canada’s first feminist accelerator program for women in digital media.

Pestun knew of Shauna Frederick because they were both on the Board of Directors for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization (WEDO). When Frederick, a respected chartered professional accountant (CPA) invited her to lunch in 2020, Pestun knew she’d found someone who shared her passion for supporting women entrepreneurs. 

The two finance pros knew that confidence and financial know-how impacts women’s emotional connection to their businesses. Together they realized their combined knowledge could help women overcome these challenges of confidence by creating a hub for business financial literacy. The two women holed up in a Canmore hotel room for a weekend in the fall of 2020 to hash out the details of new business. 

The duo officially launched the Finance Cafe in 2021.

Confidence is Key  

Pestun and Frederick teamed up to change the narrative about how women talk about money. They wanted to create a place where women could ask all their financial questions without being judged or feeling berated. How am I going to earn money from this? Will it be enough so I can pay myself a living wage? I don’t want to have investors or take out big loans. How else can I finance my business? 

“We have a very gendered focus on the curriculum,” says Pestun. “We’re aiming to make financial literacy not feel judgmental when it’s being led by two women, particularly an accountant and a former banker.”

A 2020 report by Scotiabank’s Women Initiative found that, “women business owners are 56 per cent  more likely to be ranked as ‘below average’ in financial knowledge than counterpart men business owners.” They are also less confident about their knowledge of small business finance. The full report — Financial Knowledge & Financial Confidence – Closing Gender Gaps in Financing Canadian Small Businesses — indicated that closing gender gaps in small business financial knowledge, financial confidence and financing will further women’s economic security. 

The report also revealed that fewer women are applying for loans, but when they do apply, they get funding. 

Among study participants, 7 per cent  of women and 11 per cent of men had applied for a business loan in the 12 months leading up to the survey. However, among loan applicants, 88 per cent of women and 77 per cent  of men had their loan applications approved. 

Why don’t more women apply for loans? Financial literacy is a factor. 

For women about to put their savings on the line for a business, adding a loan can be scary. Knowing when a loan makes sense, what type of loan to apply for and basic loan terms is something training in financial literacy can help with. 

Women face additional barriers than men in terms of starting their businesses as well. This includes accessing social capital and political power to impact policy that would assist in unlocking potential opportunities. Male-centered entrepreneur narratives and stereotypes are another huge barrier for women entrepreneurs. 

One of The Finance Cafe’s goals is to help women understand the current mindset, system and how to wrangle it to meet their authentic needs. Things like being told that you need to make a certain amount of money to be successful. 

“Screw that,” says Pestun. “We want to give women the confidence to say I’m doing this on my terms and this is enough. Let’s quit treating women like they need to build  massive corporations. Because who wants to enter entrepreneurship with that being the guiding principle?”

To make the course as accessible to as many women as possible, the seven-module online program is priced purposely low at a one time payment of CAD$379 + GST or four payments of CAD$99 + GST. The program includes access to the course for a year, video tutorials, quizzes, worksheets and priority support. There’s even a free financial literacy quiz you can take to test your knowledge.

The lived experience between the two financial gurus is priceless. 

“We see some of the mistakes women entrepreneurs make and we share our own stories about mistakes we’ve made,” Pestun says. “We know the importance of role models for women so it’s about information, mentorship, capacity building, all those wraparound services.”

The New Return on Investment (ROI) 

But what if success was measured not only in terms of profit? What if it was about physical wellbeing, mental health and safety? What about environmental impact or community impact? How could we measure the stronger family aspects of your enterprise? 

Pestun is a proud Métis woman who credits her grandmother, a Métis elder in Manitoba in the 1930s, with learning about resilience and resourcefulness. As farmers, her grandparents lived off the land. They valued family and community and were always willing to share what they had. Pestun’s ideas for the future mean revisiting the past. 

“When we think about Indigenous communities and how they functioned, I think the principles are changing now. We’re seeing women entrepreneurs starting micro-sized businesses or working together to form co-ops.”

Greater accountability and different measurements of value are starting to happen with organizations like B-corporation and the rise of ESG reporting. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) is at the forefront for many organizations, even though the idea has been around for decades. 

Gro Harlem Bundtlund, Norway’s first female prime minister and Chair of the World Commission of Environment and Development (known as the Brundtland Commission), put sustainable development on the international agenda with the Commission’s landmark report, Our Common Future

Leslie Kern is a Canadian scholar, geographer and author focused on feminist cities, city-building and reimagining home and family

Guillermo (Gil) Penalosa is founder and chair of the non-profit organization 8 80 Cities and is the first ambassador of the World Urban Parks with a mission to create safe and happy cities that prioritize people’s wellbeing. 

Kate Raworth has been talking about doughnut economics for years. Accountability and social impact is being addressed in the finance community with Leanne Keddie’s research on sustainable accounting.

But profit is still a driver for banks. We live in a capitalist society and by its nature, capitalism is not inclusive. 

“If you look at the financial system or angel investors, venture capitalists or lenders, they all want to see how profitable the company is–or will be,” Pestun says. 

So what will it take for change to happen? 

A revised definition of success? Redefining value? More data to prove that women entrepreneurs are profitable? Agreeing that a micro-sized business can have major impact?  

Want Different Metrics? Ask Different Questions

Lenders use the traditional five C’s of credit to gauge the creditworthiness of potential borrowers. The five C’s are: character (read: credit history), capacity (debt-to-income ratio), capital (how much money you have), collateral (assets that act as security for a loan) and conditions (purpose and amount of the loan, prevailing interest rates). 

But what if the five C’s aligned more with values and purpose over financials. We need money, yes, but what if there was greater emphasis on why the enterprise was being created?

What if the business was going to create a healthier neighbourhood, or safer schools, or increase the overall wellbeing of a population? What if a product or service provided food, shelter or educational outcomes? What if a business was about art and creativity that was measured in community impact? 

What if it was a different system altogether?

Flash Forward 20 Years 

It’s 2041. Rural Alberta. Shannon Pestun is 65 years old. She is out riding her horse on the property she shares with six other women and their partners. A billion people died from the novel Ceasariovirus (CEASE-55) that swept the globe in 2032. Water is scarce in many regions. Border patrol is enforced. Global trade has come to a halt. There is life on Mars.

Two thousand kilometres away, in Tkaranto (formerly Toronto), purposepreneur Lee Ladybug puts the finishing touches on their info kit for the CEVO (Care Economy Virtual Office) where Pestun is an advisory board member. The bi-monthly review is in 24 hours. Applicants are judged blindly and most are approved and given a purposepreneur lender grant (PLG). 

Racialized barriers don’t exist. Capitalism is no longer toxic. There is no stereotyping. 

Lee Ladybug is one third of Insectifit, an enterprise that produces protein beverages from locusts. They have crowdsourced production of their test product, Beetlejuice, that won best new beverage at the Canadian Natural Exhibition (CNE). Predictive modelling shows that if Beetlejuice is distributed to learning centres and care hospices across the country, Insectifit will be able to create 100 PLGs to give back to CEVO. Their products are sold on a subscription-based model, sliding scale. Insectifit is made up of three sub-companies: Bug Out, the farming collective that grows and harvests the insects in an ethical manner; Venus Source, an electric energy enterprise that packages and ships the product; and Spidey Sense Marketing who promote the wellness, environmental and social stability benefits of Insectifit. 

Pestun arrives at the stable and watches the sunset. She dismounts the horse and lands on solid ground with her riding boots.

She loves what she does. 

She is grateful to have the opportunity to give back and to use her life experiences to pay it forward to the next generation. The Gifting Circle Bursary for Indigenous Women in Entrepreneurship at Mount Royal University that she started just celebrated its 20th anniversary. Pestun is honoured and thrilled there are now thirty-two other similar bursaries associated at post-secondary institutions across Canada. 

She reflects on The Finance Cafe and how it has grown into the hub for girls and women across the country and beyond. The original vision came to fruition.  

She thinks back to her fortieth birthday, twenty-five years ago, when she gave herself the gift of riding again. She remembers how her best ideas came to her when she was out riding. Solutions arrived when she was galloping in the field with the wind on her face, the sound of hooves on the soil, deeply connected to the natural world.

Pestun strokes the horse’s neck then lets it run free into the field.


Publishers Note: The Fifth Wave is a year-round program offered by CFC Media Lab and its partners to support the growth and development of women entrepreneurs in the digital media sector in southern Ontario. All enterprise founders in the Fifth Wave community are selected for both their potential and commitment toward weaving intersectional feminist ideals of equity and fairness into sustainable and scalable business growth strategies. Fifth Wave Initiative is committed to 30% participation by members of underrepresented groups. The Fifth Wave is a LiisBeth Media partner and ally. Apply here.

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Our Voices

This Queer Recovery

What do LGBTQ2+ businesses contribute to Canada? How many are there and what do they do? What challenges do they face? 

Nobody knew, until Canada’s LGBT+ Chambers of Commerce (CGLCC) conducted the first ever survey of the queer entrepreneurship  landscape in 2019.

The survey found that Canada’s 28,000 LGBTQ2+ owned businesses generate more than $22 billion in economic activity and employ around  435,000 Canadians. 

Yet, they face unique and significant challenges, and according to the chief-operating officer of the CGLCC, Dale McDermont (he/him), were hit “not just differently but harder” by the pandemic.

When COVID-19 hit Canada, many queer business owners found little to no targeted support for LGBTQ2+ businesses, primarily as a result of their size .  Most LGBTQ2+ enterprises fall into the micro category, which are businesses that have less than four waged people working within or less than $40, 000 in non deferrable expenses. 

This results in a disproportionate impact on their businesses, including a significant number of closures. 

Who is Looking Out for Queer Canadian Businesses?

The CGLCC’s survey, done in partnership with Deloitte and soon to be released, found that one in four respondents said their LGBTQ2+ ownership resulted in loss of business due to their identity; one in three indicated that on at least one occasion they hid that they are LGBTQ2+ owned to protect themselves against potential losses. 

Nine months into the pandemic, and for the first time ever, Canada’s 2021 budget declared LGBTQ2+ businesses as one of the diverse communities that will benefit from the $100 million targeted for the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Fund. Previously diverse communities included Indigenous, Black, and women-owned businesses. 

This was good news for the CGLCC, which was founded in 2003 and has the data that demonstrates that LGBTQ2+ businesses are a “really sizable part of the economy.” 

McDermont says they can “highlight the struggles and advocate for the community” as Canada prepares for its post-pandemic recovery, but the targeted funds are crucial. Often minority groups “fall through the cracks” with general funding, but the CGLCC is striving to ensure that this much needed finance is delivered to the LGBTQ2+ community “as quickly as possible.”

The funds to assist LGBTQ2+ businesses have been allocated, although details of how it will be distributed and to whom have yet to be released. 

For queer businesses who were struggling with funding and support even before the pandemic, this has meant getting creative with how they do business.   

When Small is Too Small

Kaela Malozewski (left) and her fiancée, Steph La Posta. Photo via Common People’s Instagram

Before the pandemic hit, Common People  was not only a general store featuring crafts by small makers, but a “community space where folks could gather for workshops, fundraisers, and events.” hosted every month, co-owner Kaela Malozewski (she/her) told LiisBeth. Malozewski and her fiancée, Steph La Posta (she/her), launched their Toronto-based store in late 2017. 

Malozewski said they consider themselves a micro business, though the government sees them as a small business — and this compounded the challenges they faced during the pandemic.

Malozewski and La Posta received less than $600 in rent support from the Ontario Government and did not qualify for any other supports due to the discrepancy between micro and small businesses. For instance, they did not meet certain criteria  —such as having a payroll of over $50,000 a year. Even at their busiest, they had only one employee in addition to themselves. 

“Community is Everything” poster via Common People’s website. For sale online.

Kaela said the whole process trying to get support was “disappointing and very frustrating” and they “felt like [they] weren’t being acknowledged or heard” by the government that was meant to be helping them. In December 2020, Common People closed their brick-and-mortar shop in Parkdale and moved online, where they will remain for the foreseeable future. 

Though the co-owners and fiancées say the pandemic has been exhausting, the community they built pre-pandemic has supported them “from the start with their encouragement, purchases, and messages of love and support.”

Pandemic Sex Play

Kira Gregory (she/her) founded Toronto-based Shop Fleure just before the pandemic hit and was also unable to qualify for any relief grants. 

The queer-friendly online space sells luxury lifestyle products and intimate sex toys to help individuals “explore their inner sensualities and embrace their true selves by way of pleasure.” 

Gregory says she would have “[loved] to see more support specifically for LGBTQ2+ small businesses such as programs or grants that specifically apply to this community.” Though the pandemic has kept Shop Fleure “in the shadows” due to advertisers filtering or hiding anything that “remotely covers topics of sexual health, pleasure, or sex work” and many small businesses  —including Shop Fleure — struggle to get started due to this inability to post advertisements. 

Self-care became a much-discussed topic as the world stayed in their homes, so Gregory found the plus side to her industry was that “the world of self-love and pleasure has been in the spotlight during lockdown,” even though, as the owner of a self-love business, Gregory struggled. Without a large team, the work fell into her lap, and it took a toll on her mental health. 

Where the government and media platforms disappointed her, however, Gregory’s community provided tremendous support, which has been heartwarming and better than anticipated. 

For now, Gregory said she is taking it one day at a time, remaining hopeful, and taking rests and breaks when needed.

A Queer Village, Online

Pax Santos, founder of QT Mag. Photo provided.

McDermont told LiisBeth that “unique challenges require unique solutions.”

Pax Santos (she/her) started a non-profit business during the pandemic when she felt the void of queer spaces and missed the connection she found there. 

Disappearing queer spaces have been a growing concern among the community and many LGBTQ2+ people found themselves uniquely isolated. 

Santos founded QT, the Queer Toronto Literary Magazine, to elevate and celebrate queer voices in Canada and recreate the physical community spaces that had wilted during lockdown online. 

Queer bars, cafes, restaurants, sports leagues, and cultural activities take on an oversize importance in the queer community as places to find and meet friends, form family, nurture voices and identity. 

When Pax looked for government support to launch her non-profit, she said there was nothing. 

Yet, QT found its digital footing to create the sense of a shared space when a physical one was not possible and grew to a nine-person volunteer team and a thriving community readership. 

Since QT is a fledgling business, they rely on volunteers and donations; while memberships are $20, QT believes “finances should never be a barrier to community engagement” and offers a no-questions-asked sliding scale. 

The priority is community.

Community for Recovery

As Canada moves into the recovery stage, queer businesses continue to struggle. While financial support from the government has been announced, it’s unclear how the support will be distributed and to whom. It’s also unclear if the support will continue and for how long. 

The CGLCC’s message during this time is clear: to encourage the government to move forward supporting LGBTQ2+ businesses, and in particular micro businesses, like Common People and Shop Fleure, as well as startup ventures which launched in response to the distinctive challenges of the pandemic. 

With targeted recovery support, the LGBTQ economy has at least a fair shot of making a comeback at the same pace as the rest of the economy, especially with the strength of the community behind them.

McDermont says that LGBTQ2+ businesses are a safe space where queer people often find safety and support in their community, and it is through these shared experiences that LGBTQ2+ businesses will overcome the challenges of the pandemic and reach the potential they dream to achieve.

“As we look at diverse communities, entrepreneurship and creating businesses, what we need to focus on is supporting entrepreneurship in diverse communities and overcoming these unique challenges are the stories we need to hear.”

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Activism & Action Allied Arts & Media

Virtual reality—leads new reality?

Joanne-Aśka Popińska and her partner Tom Hall, cofounders of Tribe of Pan. Photo via Instagram.

If I say “virtual reality” your response is not likely to be “the next tool in the arsenal of progressive social movements.” VR has been relegated to the game space; it’s expensive, the headsets (helmets, really) are clunky, and it takes vision to imagine how the technology can be a weapon for good. But Toronto-based Tribe of Pan—headed by Joanne-Aśka Popińska and her husband and business partner, Tom Hall—is using VR to change minds in the worldwide struggle for access to safe, legal abortion. Okay, I was skeptical too, until I jumped on a meandering yet fascinating Zoom with Tribe of Pan.

Joanne and Tom dressed in dark, comfortable clothes—relics from the days when they met working on 3D-movie sets. Joanne explains, “I’m a sociologist, and I came to Canada from Poland to work on 3D movies in 2013. Funnily enough, 3D movies died when I came to Canada. I killed them,” she says, punctuating the story with a laugh.

The partners initially bonded over their dismay at the macho climate of film sets. Joanne describes her disillusionment: “Film is this vessel for change. Society is changed by movies, but on film sets even though we had Me Too, [the sexist attitude] is still there.” Tom agrees, adding, “The making of a film is an inherently toxic experience for everybody involved.”

So they quit their jobs to start Tribe of Pan, looking to do interesting work that was also socially meaningful.

Educating Humanity

Tribe of Pan also committed to having different values than the average film production company. Joanne recounts when she, a lifelong vegan, worked on a film glorifying meat that made her question her career path. She thought about how to have more control over the projects she worked on. She and Tom “wanted to do something that is either fun or has meaning, and to work with people we want to work with.” She pauses and looks at her partner. “VR technology is super new, super expensive, but our logo is an ape in a headset. The name is from a zoological term. The tribe of pan encompasses the great apes, who are closest to humans. It speaks to what we want to do as a company: to show the subject’s humanity.” That concept of educating humanity remains central to the company’s work.

Joanne started to think about abortion rights in 2016, when the situation for women in her native Poland became dire. After discussing it with Canadian friends and others, she and Tom embarked on their VR abortion rights documentary, The Choice. It had a successful but exhausting Kickstarter in January 2018, timed around Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration. The Choice uses proprietary technology developed by Tribe of Pan to bring more immediacy to VR. Their tech is a stereoscopic volumetric camera which harnesses 3D-cinematography to create a realistic experience of interacting with another person.  Joanne and Tom are equally passionate about this technology—which they see as key to using interactive VR for social change—as their mission.

Getting Real With Stories

For The Choice, they theorized that if they could film women telling their stories and answering questions (about why they had chosen to abort their pregnancies), the film might be able to change people’s minds. What was missing in the abortion debate was personal stories. Joanne explains, “I think what works best is personal conversation. It’s much easier to find connections through talking, even if you’re on the other side politically. We used virtual reality to introduce these women directly to the viewer.” For their first interview, they chose a woman whose story was both relatable and terrible. She and her husband had planned the pregnancy, and she was 13 weeks along when she was rushed to the hospital with bleeding. Her doctor reassured her it was because she had been walking too much the night before. As she lived in Texas, however, her doctor was permitted to conceal medical information to head off an abortion. Six weeks later, she went to a doctor in another city who confirmed the fetus had serious abnormalities, including Turner’s Syndrome, which reduced the chances of the fetus’s survival to one percent.

“The idea behind The Choice is that you put on the VR headset and talk to women who had abortions and they share their personal stories,” Joanne says. Thanks to Tribe of Pan’s technology, you can also ask the woman questions and get real answers. Their technology makes the VR figure more lifelike, with light in their eyes and realistic contours on their skin. Their tech is also mobile so you can use it anywhere—not just on the huge (and expensive) stages the industry relies upon.

Joanne-Aśka Popińska, cofounder, Tribe of Pan. Photo: Canadian Film Centre

Joanne interviewed the Texas woman for days, trying to film answers to all the questions a curious person would ask—even one hostile to abortion rights. She and Tom comprised the crew, from planning the shoot to doing all of the post-production work. Their two-minute film was designed to raise funds, which they are still seeking. In the meantime, they are busy helping clients tell VR stories, including the City of Toronto and XL Outerworlds, a company making a 3D IMAX film which is a collaboration between five Canadian artists. Among their socially conscious projects is a VR tour of the Ernestine Women’s Shelter, which they made to raise consciousness about the plight of victims of domestic violence.

Funding has been difficult because of the controversial subject matter of The Choice. The company applied for Canadian grants at both the provincial and national levels with no success. They did win two Kaleidoscope grants, which are awarded by the VR community, but the amounts were way too small to fund The Choice. Joanne says that readers can help directly by making a donation to their PayPal account. They are also looking for potential sponsors and partners in the private sector.

Yet the project has already been transformative. “I didn’t expect a two-minute film to have this effect. We had some anti-choice people at a local VR conference in 2018 trying the headset on after telling us directly why they are anti-choice and why we’re doing an awful thing. I said, can you just give it a try?” They plan to make the existing film the first chapter in a series of six stories which will comprise the documentary (they hope to release it in late 2020 or early 2021).

Joanne continues, “One guy put the headset on and after two minutes, he took it off and was silent. Then he said, ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t think about it this way.’ Later he introduced us to other people, saying this is a very powerful project.” Tribe of Pan know that they have a potent weapon that can influence the abortion debate, even if change happens one headset at a time.


Publishers Note:  Tribe of Pan is a member of Fifth Wave Connect,  Canada’s first feminist entrepreneur and accelerator program for womxn in digital media, Fifth Wave Labs. The Fifth Wave is a year-round program offered by CFC Media Lab and its partners to support the growth and development of women entrepreneurs in the digital media sector in southern Ontario. All enterprise founders in the Fifth Wave community are selected for both their potential and commitment toward weaving intersectional feminist ideals of equity and fairness into sustainable and scalable business growth strategies. Fifth Wave Initiative is committed to 30% participation by members of underrepresented groups. Interested? Apply here. The Fifth Wave is a LiisBeth Media partner. 


Did you enjoy and find value in this article?  Please consider helping us publish more of them!  LiisBeth is an indie, womxn-led/owned media outlet.  We depend 100% on reader donations.  Please consider a contribution today! [direct-stripe value=”ds1577108876188″]


Related reading:

The Power of Two

Moving Pictures: What We Learned from Women Filmmakers at TIFF 2019

 

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Sample Newsletter

LIISBETH DISPTACH #46

Image by Clique

VIEWPOINT

Growing Into Feminism

In her book “Living a Feminist Life”, Sara Ahmed asked the question: “When did feminism become a word that not only spoke to you, but spoke you, spoke of your existence, spoke you into existence?”

In other words, how does someone reach a point when, without apology, you identify as a feminist? Especially when it seems the only place you can find courses on the subject are in university calendars?

Last week, CV Harquail, a colleague, shared this remarkable article with me: Amanda Sinclair’s Five movements in an embodied feminist: A memoir. Sinclair says we become feminists over time by experiencing physical and intellectual struggles thrown at us by a system that routinely subordinates women and gender minorities. She says our lived experiences and feelings lead us to feminism. We don’t seek it out. It finds us. 

I decided to consider my own journey and put this theory to the test.

My first awareness of feminism came in 1975, which coincided with the United Nations’ declaration of the Year of the Woman. I learned about Gloria Steinem. Morgentaler risking his life to open abortion clinics to make the procedure safe and more available to women in Canada. The Equal Rights Amendment in the United States (and a woman!) Phyliss Schafly fighting against the extension of women’s rights. Cheeky Iona Campagnolo who ran for leadership of the Canadian liberal party and endured a pat on the bum from the eventual winner…and returned it! Iris Rivera, who taught us you can get fired for not making your boss a cup of coffee.

When all this turbulent media coverage swept over me, I was 13 years old…

To continue reading VIEWPOINT, by LiisBeth Founder and Publisher, Petra Kassun-Mutch, click here.

THIS WEEK ON LIISBETH 

Parachute Voltige (photo credit: Daniel Lepôt)

100% Feminine: 14 Women Reaching New Heights in Canadian Skydiving 

When it feels like the sky is falling, why not jump out of a plane? Lana Pesch takes us on her journey of setting a new Canadian skydiving record this past summer and the value of role modelscollaboration and discipline, and taking calculated risks. Read about the power of passion here.

Heads up! This is a longer than usual piece for us. 3200 words worth of adrenaline infused narrative. Buckle your seatbelts and enjoy the ride.

WEAR IT LOUD AND PROUD 

We love political T’s.

It’s how we discovered Jamie “Boots” Marshall’s t-shirt shop on Etsy. Marshall is an artist and graphic designer. In the past she’s worked as a freelance illustrator and art director, but her main focus has always been t-shirt design. Currently, she owns and runs Boots Tees, an online shop for her t-shirts, art, and other fun stuff. Her hobbies include: reading, board games, and fighting the patriarchy

We LOVE her work so we got her to help us create our first feminist entrepreneurship T-shirt!  LiisBeth is not in the T-shirt business. But Marshall is. So we promote and she gets the sales. A win-win collaboration!  #buywomenled

The shirt is available at $32.00 hereFor a 10% discount use the LiisBeth reader discount code: LIISBETH10

We will also be selling the shirts at the upcoming FAC “Framed by Feminists” market at the Gladstone Hotel, in Toronto, on Sunday, Oct 28th, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Come and see us! Sitting behind a computer gets a little lonely sometimes!

ATTENTION: THIS FORUM IS DESIGNED FOR ENTERPRISES LOOKING TO ADVANCE SOCIAL JUSTICE AND GENDER EQUALITY

The 2018 Entrepreneurial Feminist Forum in Toronto is only 6 weeks away!

What’s in store this year? If the list above is too small to read on your phone, get the full speaker bios and session details here! The EFF 2018 includes three thought provoking foundational talks, three deep dive lab sessions, six 90 minute “think and do” workshops, two embodied movement classes, journaling and creative writing break rooms, a poster session, reception and more! Watch for updates and get your tickets here.

The early bird rate is $250 (till Oct 31st). Regular $299. Student rate is $99. FOR TWO WHOLE DAYS! 

Watch for news about our official transportation partner & childcare support!  And local dog walking services too! 

SEE YOU THERE! 

Biusual Studios

HOW TO UNLOCK BILLIONS OF UNREALIZED GROWTH LED BY ENTREPRENEURIAL WOMEN?

Did you miss LiisBeth’s Op Ed in the October 16th Globe and Mail Small Business Report online?

No worries, you can also read it here.

The main point?  We called on Mary Ng, the Canadian minister of small business and export promotion, to do something bold with the new $85M in funding for support for women entrepreneurs she announced in September. You can read the release here.

We would love your input and comments!

Design by Merian Media

What is the Story Behind LiisBeth’s Symbol?

When you start exploring LiisBeth, you will see our ¤ icon throughout and you might wonder, what does it represent? It is actually an adaptation of the international typographic symbol used to denote an unknown currency, which we thought was the perfect starting point for creating a graphic representation of LiisBeth’s inclusive and empowering ethos. And more!  To read the full story, click here.

LIISBETH FIELD NOTES

Gender Equality Network Canada – Youth Panel Discussion – Sept 18 2017

Have You Heard about Canada’s Gender Equality Network (GEN)?

Well, we had, but weren’t exactly sure what it was. So we spoke with Ann Decter, Director of Community Initiatives & Gender Equality Network Canada at the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

GEN is a three-year project to create a network of 150 women across the country who are already working to advance gender equality. To be eligible to join the network, you have to be involved or leading a project that is funded by the Status of Women of Canada. The goal? To deliver a National Action Plan for the advancement of gender equality in about 1.5 years.

One of the key themes they are working on is to identify policies and ways in which women, who live longer than men, can become more economically secure given the accumulated effects of the gender wage gap.

We asked Decter if a recommendation related to support of women’s entrepreneurship might be one of the topics in the report. “You have to have some means to use entrerpreneurship to move yourself up. And it’s not the most secure way to go,” Decter said.  She believes that a universal childcare policy would be a key part of any plan looking to advance the economic security for all women. 

When asked about what keeps her up at night these days, Decter expressed concern over Canada’s Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s recent use of the notwithstanding clause to undermine rights guaranteed by the Charter of Rights, explaining that “unlike our American sisters, Canadian women’s rights are written into the Charter, but that means nothing if we continue to elect governments who choose to invoke the notwithstanding clause to override them.

To protect women’s rights that have already been won, Decter adds, “We need to do what we can to protect the Charter. The more we elect governments supportive of the Charter of Rights, the more safe we [women, women’s rights] are.

Partner (photo credit: Jennifer Hyc)

Venus Fest Round Up

The vibe at this year’s Venus Fest was excited, open, and connected. With close to 1000 people over 3 nights, attendance was up by 65% from last year! The music fest dedicated to celebrating feminism in the arts extended the event to 3 nights instead of one full day, and added a kick off show and panel, plus a stellar afterparty!

Feature acts included Maylee Todd who included a full harp for her performance and used her live programming skills to create an incredible show. Moor Mother brought the full intensity of her work to the stage and the audience was 100% entranced. On closing night, Partner (pictured above), fresh off their Polaris short-list performance, gave a high-energy Venus Fest-loving set.

Plans for Venus Fest 2019 are underway and you can bet it will as beautiful and treasured by the community as this year, featuring new artists who are paving the way and dancing to the beat of their own drum.

FEMINIST FREEBIE!

LiisBeth is giving away a ticket to WEConnect’s Power the Economy conference on October 26th in Toronto. Be the first person to email the names of the two keynote speakers here. Value: $400

Attention ALL women-owned businesses!
Less than 1% of large corporate and government spending goes to women-owned businesses… globally and WEConnect corporate members are committed to getting more money into the hands of women.

Join WEConnect to have networking opportunities in a global network of over 80 corporate buyers and thousands of businesses around the world. Matchmaking events expose you to leaders in supplier diversity and inclusion, business experts, and successful women business owners. You’ll get business leads, valuable contacts, and gain access to an incredible ecosystem.

Gender Physics: Flying on Both Wings

“Gender is social construct,” says Heggie, author of Gender Physics“We’re each made up of a myriad of characteristics. We should be using the actions and options available to us.” The book encourages people to let go of gender stereotypes and think of people as humans, not male or female.

Heggie sees the #metoo movement as a good example of using both masculine and feminine energies. The paradox is that masculinity is getting bashed because women are finding their masculine voice. Women are speaking out, a masculine trait, and also banding together in solidarity, a feminine characteristic that exists in all of us.

If you are in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan this Thursday, October 18th, join Heggie at her book launch at McNally Robinson’s book store, 7:00 pm CT.

MORE FEMINIST FREEBIES!

We’re giving away SIX SIGNED COPIES of Gender Physics to the first six people who take the energy evaluation test. Let us know if your natural approach to life and relationships is controlled by Feminine or Masculine Energy! Email your answer here.

ANOTHER FEMINIST FREEBIE!

LiisBeth is giving away TWO tickets to the #MoveTheDial Summit being held on November 7th in Toronto. #Movethedial is an organization that seeks to advance women in STEM. Over 1000 women signed up to attend and the event is now sold out!

To earn these tickets, take a few minutes to complete LiisBeth’s reader survey here. The first two respondents to email and tell us they have completed the survey on the day the newsletter is released will be the lucky recipients. Value: $500/ticket

WHAT WE’RE READING 

The Red Word is set in the 1990s but speaks directly to the present feminist moment. Sarah Henstra takes us into two worlds: that of Women’s Studies classes and lesbian pagan rituals, and of frat boys and S&M theme parties. As I watched Karen struggle with politics, power, and her own culpability in the fallout of it all, I could not put this book down.” —Darcey Steinke, author of Suicide Blonde and Sister Golden Hair

The job of cultural criticism is to examine the world and its stories, picking apart what is problematic and shining a light on unconscious or unexamined biases and attitudes….The timely, relevant topic of campus rape culture is addressed bravely; there aren’t enough works of fiction that tackle the material so honestly and prudently.” —Quill &Quire

Henstra will be on a panel discussing themes of feminism and power at the Toronto International Festival of Authors this month with Vivek Shraya and Rachel Giese.

Each of us will lead with masculine or feminine energy. We are socialized to be like our biological gender, but the reality is we are individuals, and there are lots of good reasons to use both energies.

Heggie wrote Gender Physics to create more awareness and acceptance around people exploring their energy options. The book includes a step by step system with exercises you can practice to build (like a muscle) the energy you may not be using to its full potential. The goal is, in part, to give up gender bias and encourage people to be themselves.

“If you are questioning what is correct behaviour at work and in life while wanting the freedom to express yourself and be successful on your own terms, Gender Physics is the book for you. It is a must read for everyone looking to be courageously authentic.”
– Dr. Marcia Reynolds, author of Outsmart Your Brain and Wander Woman

AND FINALLY . . . IN CASE YOU MISSED IT!

  • Use your voice and take our survey. We launched a unique survey last month because we want to hear from feminist entrepreneurs and innovators in your own words. Results we be shared when we reach 100 responses. We’re not there yet, but we will be with your help.
    Our survey takes 12 minutes 

  • Jonathan Hera, Founder of Marigold, an impact investing company, shares key points Marigold Capital looks for when deciding on investment placements.
    Download Marigold’s Feminist Entrepreneur Investment Checklist PDF here

  • The next Women’s March is scheduled for January 19, 2019 with the main protest in Washington, DC. Linda Sarsour, a chairwoman of the Women’s March says the 2019 march will call for a specific set of public policies they want enacted that will be announced in the coming weeks.

  • We’re In! LiisBeth Media is now an official member of the Women’s Enterprise Centres of Canada (WEOC)! WEOC is an umbrella group for organizations that interact with women entrepreneurs through their services which may include training, loans, advisory services or mentorship or networking. WEOC’S Chair Sandra Altner says, “Access to capital, access to markets, technology adoption, and women in STEM are just a few of the arenas in which we are challenged to level the playing field. These are the issues that WEOC members address…” 

  • Christine Hallquist is paving the way for trangender politicians as nominee for Vermont Governor. Watch her journey in this Her Stories VIDEO from Now This

  • Are diversity and inclusion in the tech industry just buzzwords? Read how the recent Elevate Tech Fest missed the mark in Nabeel Ahmed’s article in NOW Magazine 

That brings us to the end of our October newsletter. The next website refresh and newsletter is scheduled for mid-November, 2018.  

Did you read something of value in this newsletter?

LiisBeth is the only media voice in the world which supports the work of feminist entrepreneurs and innovators. We are 100% reader supported.

If you love what we do, become a donor subscriber to LiisBeth so we can continue to serve!

We humbly remind you that subscriptions are $3/month, $7/month or $10/month.

We are now also on Patreon!  You can choose to donate to us there!

Funds go directly towards paying writers, editors, proofreaders, photo permission fees, and illustrators. Building a more just future requires time, love—and financial support.

Happy Halloween! Peace out.