Retail

Pivoting from a career in the financial industry to being an entrepreneur

Robin Kovitz is the President & CEO of Baskits Inc., one of Canada’s fastest growing companies. Baskits designs, manufactures and delivers unique and luxurious gifts across Canada and the US. With over 50,000 customers from around the world, Baskits makes the art of gifting quick and easy through its online stores, catalog/call center, warehouse, and retail locations. In 2020, and again in 2021, Baskits was recognized as one of the Top Growing Companies in Canada by the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business Magazine.

Prior to acquiring Baskits in 2014, Robin worked in private equity on the buyouts of mid-sized companies and as a Summer Consultant at the Boston Consulting Group where she led a part of a large-scale cost reduction project at a Canadian bank. She also played an active role in the sale of her family’s western Canadian food manufacturing and distribution businesses. She began her career in Mergers and Acquisitions investment banking at CIBC World Markets and was recognized with the Chairman’s Award in 2005.

As a sought-after speaker and commentator on “Entrepreneurship through Acquisition”, digital retail and the topic of “Mompreneurship” Robin frequently serves as a guest lecturer at both the Yale School of Management and the Harvard Business School. She and/or Baskits have been featured in a number of leading publications, including: Forbes, House & Home, Elle Canada, Canadian Business, Huffington Post, Style at Home and on Global News, Your Morning Show.

Robin currently serves as a consultant to the Admissions Marketing team at the Harvard Business School and as a member of Young Presidents’ Organization. She holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Commerce from Queen’s University where she was a Rutherford Scholar. In 2017, and again in 2021, she was recognized as a Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 award winner. In 2021, Robin received the Women of Inspiration Award from the Universal Womens Network. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two children.


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A woman of many hats as a lawyer, realtor and fashion retailer

Emma May is the Founder of the digitally native fashion brand SophieGrace and the boutique real estate brokerage Charles Real Estate. A former corporate lawyer, Emma has worked in film and television and was a senior staffer to former Alberta Premier Jim Prentice.

Emma has consistently demonstrated commitment to her community. Following the floods of 2013 she Co-Founded the Calgary River Communities Action Group and advocated on behalf of her fellow Calgarians for policy and mitigation that would protect the City of Calgary in years to come.

In 2014, because of her activism, Premier Jim Prentice appointed Emma Executive Director, Office of the Premier, Southern Alberta. Her responsibilities included stakeholder relations, strategic policy development, issues management, and public affairs. She was responsible for the management and public programming of McDougall Centre and directed and collaborated with Provincial Administration on Flood Recovery Policy and Process. Emma also assisted in the consultation and re-write of Bill 10 (Gay Straight Alliances In Schools) in order for it to achieve unanimous all-party support.

Emma was called to the British Columbia Bar in 2000 and to the Alberta Bar in 2002.

As a lawyer, Emma explored best practices regarding corporate structure, intellectual property matters, strategic planning, and contractual concerns. She was also responsible for the negotiation and drafting contracts relating to financing, insurance, cast, union and guild related matters.


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D’éducatrice spécialisée à entrepreneure éco-responsable

Marie-Pier Béland travaille depuis 14 ans en milieu scolaire avec des jeunes du primaire. Ayant œuvré longtemps auprès d’élèves du régulier, elle travaille depuis 5 ans auprès de jeunes ayant un trouble du spectre de l’autisme.

Marie-Pier a une bonne capacité d’adaptation aux changements ainsi qu’une approche humaine et empathique. Elle est capable de créer un lien de confiance et d’écoute avec les enfants et leurs parents. Ceci constitue une grande force chez elle. Son côté créatif, sa pro activité et sa vision globale sont de bonnes aptitudes pour l’entreprise. Marie-Pier est maman de 3 jeunes enfants. Par souci de bien alimenter sa famille, elle a développé une curiosité à s’informer sur l’alimentation saine, sur le zéro déchet et sur la création de produits ménagers utilisés au quotidien. Elle souhaite donc trouver des façons de faire pour réduire son impact négatif sur la planète afin de transmettre ces valeurs à ses enfants. De là est venu l’idée d’ouvrir une épicerie écologique en vrac pour faciliter l’accessibilité à d’autres familles de faire le pas vers une consommation consciente ainsi que de réduire les déchets, le suremballage et le gaspillage


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The challenges of opening a tea shop in the busy tourist town of Banff

Jolene Brewster’s ties to the Rockies really start at her family’s roots in the area. They are among the pioneers of Banff’s hospitality industry hosting tours and hikes throughout the Rockies since the early 1900’s. The lifelong Banff resident seeks the harmony of nature, activity, & community on a daily basis. With an degree in Land Resource Management, the equestrian and former Stampede Queen (current ambassador for the Calgary Stampede) founded Natur’el Tea in 2005 which rebranded Jolene’s Tea House upon opening a retail spot on Bear Street this year. Jolene’s entrepreneurial spirit is dedicated to a deep rooted passion for people, health, and happiness.

Jess McNally was born and raised in Alberta, and grew up ski racing at Lake Louise. She is passionate about the environment and ecology, and received her undergraduate and master’s degrees in Earth Systems from Stanford University. After university she worked as a science journalist and a vegetable farmer before deciding to become a Buddhist monastic. She spent three years living at Zen Mountain Monastery in New York. She travelled to Asia where she was ordained in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. She lived in the Indian Himalayas for two years, with most of that time spent in solitary meditation retreat. Afterwards, she spent a year in Madison, Wisconsin, where she was a fellow at The Center for Healthy Minds, which is a global leader in studying mind, happiness and well-being.

About four years ago Jess decided to take off her monastic robes and move back to Canada. Her family had moved to Banff and she’d always loved these mountains, so it was an easy decision to live here.

Jess has always loved tea, and was delighted when Jolene approached her in 2020 to become a partner in the business.


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Faire sa place dans le monde des artistes du Québec

Virginie Fisette, pour Tamélo boutique. Nous sommes établis à Montréal. Après mes études en art dramatique au Cégep Marie-Victorin, j’ai complété un certificat en Histoire de l’art à l’UQAM, puis on BAC en communication également à l’UQAM. Je me suis ensuite investi dans la mise en place du projet de centre d’art Le Livart à Montréal, j’y suis restée environ 3 ans à titre de directrice des opérations. À cette époque, ma soeur Mélodie et mon amie Tamara avaient lancé Tamélo Boutique et m’ont demandé de me joindre à l’aventure. Depuis maintenant 4 ans, je m’occupe notamment des communications (internes et externes), du marketing, de la publicité, des partenariats, collaborations et de toutes autres tâches connexes !


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Les entrepreneurs sont l’épine dorsale de l’économie canadienne.

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Canada‘s rich and diverse Indigenous economy is on the rise

Nicole McLaren is a multi-award-winning Métis entrepreneur from British Columbia and Saskatchewan. Her extensive knowledge of industry supply chains and economic development coupled with a passion for supporting fellow Indigenous entrepreneurs allowed her to transform a small book club into Raven Reads, the world’s first Indigenous subscription box.

Through her hard work and ambition, Raven Reads has grown exponentially, with thousands of subscribers across Canada, the US, and Europe. Once a sole proprietor, curating and packaging boxes in her garage, Nicole now manages an elite team and operations out of their Kamloops warehouse and distribution centre.

Nicole is the recipient of Startup Canada’s National Indigenous Business of the Year (2018) and the BC Achievement Foundation’s Indigenous Business of the Year (2020). She was also a finalist in the Small Business BC’s Premier’s People’s Award (2021) and the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade’s Business Resilience Regional Export Plan of the Year (2020).

Through the incredible success of Raven Reads, Nicole has invested over $250,000 back into the Indigenous economy, and donated over $2,000 to literacy programs for Indigenous children and youth. She is the Founder and Chair of the Indigenous Women’s Business Network, an organization that she created to provide coaching and mentoring to other Indigenous women business owners.

Nicole holds two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Saskatchewan, and will complete her Masters of Business Administration in 2023 from the University of Illinois’ Gies School of Business. She currently resides in Logan Lake, BC with her husband and two young children.


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Adapt your business for each province‘s culture

Ritou Maloni is the Co-Founder, President and COO of Pür & Simple, a proudly Canadian-owned breakfast and lunch franchise. Originally founded in Quebec in 2016, Pür & Simple has become one of Canada’s fastest growing breakfast chains with more than 20 locations from the Maritimes to British Columbia. Ritou is driven by a passion for hospitality that has allowed her and her team to successfully reinvent breakfast, bringing affordable luxury to diners from coast to coast.

Growing up in a very entrepreneurial family herself, Ritou has always been eager to run her own business. A dynamic leader, Ritou’s charismatic nature and genuine interest in the success of everyone around her have allowed her to excel in business development and in providing an intuitive support system for her franchise partners.

Ritou has maintained hands-on involvement in opening every Pür & Simple location over the years. She has trained both franchise partners and front/back of house staff firsthand, while finding balance as a parent to also be hands-on in her family life. For Ritou, finding balance and setting an example as a strong female entrepreneur has been about understanding the ebbs and flows of both her personal and professional life. Equally important to her success has been having a support system in place that has allowed her to prioritize each aspect based on where her focus was most needed at any given point in time. Ritou credits her business partner, her family and the Pür & Simple team with the success of the business and encourages her franchise partners to find their own definition of success.

Ritou holds a BAC in marketing from Concordia University and has more than a decade of entrepreneurial experience from a variety of business ventures. She currently resides in Montreal, QC.


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Second-hand fashion is growing 15 times faster than ever before!

From her earliest memories of playing dress-up in her mother’s closet, Courtney Watkins has always loved fashion and finding creative ways to showcase her style for less. She got her start in fashion pursuing a degree in Merchandise Marketing in Los Angeles. From working as a celeb stylist to a trend forecaster, she ran and scaled a Saw Mill to start her entrepreneurial journey. She then went on to create a company that values sustainability, interpersonal relationships and luxury fashion. Watkins has nearly a decade of experience running Canada’s fastest-growing luxury e-commerce + retail resale boutique, Mine & Yours, based in Vancouver BC.


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Indigenous-owned ethical, sustainable and natural hair care products from Edmonton

Vanessa Marshall was born and raised in a small town in northern Alberta. She has two kids and a loving husband. She grew up in a sustainably oriented family and taking care of the earth and its animals has always been a passion of hers. She leads a plant-based lifestyle and does her best to reduce her carbon footprint whenever possible. She is passionate about her family and business and loves to spread kindness. Jack59 is an Indigenous-owned and operated company located in Edmonton Alberta, Canada. They believe in the highest quality ingredients, locally sourced whenever possible. Their passion lies in creating amazing hair products and their mission is to provide amazing hair days while reducing people’s carbon footprints.


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A Flower Shop Named After a Shakespearean Character

Marika Styba is the Owner of Peaseblossoms, which opened its doors in 1995 with a unique name based on the work of playwright William Shakespeare.

Peaseblossom was an attending flower fairy to Titania the fairy queen in William Shakespeare’s play ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. As time wore on, by the Victorian Era, a peaseblossom became synonymous with simply being a flower fairy. Sweet, charming and whimsical are all traits Styba loves about her shop and she thinks the name suits them to a ‘t’. The small flower shop has seen steady business in the past year even during the pandemic as people continue to want connections with others through the beauty of flowers.


Entrepreneurs are the backbone of Canada’s economy. To support Canada’s businesses, subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow us on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn and Twitter.

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