On Sunday, I hosted a group of young entrepreneurs from various industries at an event called “Cupcakes + Conversations.” When I came up with the idea for the event, I thought it would be a great way to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week and support millennial women entrepreneurs in the area. As mentioned in my last post, young women entrepreneurs face challenges that are unique to being young and being a woman (read more here). Because I faced these challenges in the past, I felt that it was important for me to do something. At the coffeehouse event, I wanted to provide a supportive atmosphere where these entrepreneurs can connect with each other and connect with community resources. And I am so pleased to see this little dream fulfilled. During the event we discussed how we were inspired to become entrepreneurs, our start-up challenges, the importance of giving back to the community through business and challenging stereotypes of what “powerful” looks like. It was truly an honour to host this event. Because it was essentially a passion project, I made sure to cover all the expenses on my own so the event could be free to attendees. I thought that it would be my gift to the community. But it was more; it was a gift of inspiration and motivation everyone including myself. I would like to send a huge thank you to all the attendees and Studio 89’s Aanchal for making the event as amazing as it was. I’m looking forward to seeing you all again in 2016. Below are a few photos from the event.
I would also like to send another huge thank you to all the gift bag contributors. Several went over and beyond to make sure we had a special token to mark the event. I’m so grateful. And so, here is the gift bag reveal.
This year I’ve been slowly detoxing my beauty regimen and trying to replace my conventional beauty buys with more natural options. I was really excited to come across Original Mineral, an Australian hair care line that bridges that gap between natural and luxury haircare. Original Mineral was the first gift bag contributor for the event. They provided travel-sized bottles of their “Know Knott” detangler for each guest. This bottle of Aussie goodness is made with cold-pressed organic argan oil and macademia nut oil. It is designed to nourish and recondition your hair, while leaving it tangle free. The full-size bottle (250 ml) is available on Net-a-Porter for $32USD.
Just in time for the winter weather, the makers of Bio-Oil have launched a face cleansing oil called Lipidol. Lightly fragranced with naiouli and rosemary essential oils, it is formulated to be safe for sensitive skin and not clog your pores. This cleansing oil melts away dirt and makeup without stripping your skin of its natural moisture barrier. Skin cleansing oils are a huge beauty trend right now, so I’m glad we were able to get these for our gift bags. If you’re interested in testing it out, the 125 ml bottle is available exclusively at Wal-Mart for only $8.97 CDN.
If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know L’Occitane has quickly become my favourite bath time indulgence. When I reached out to my local boutique about the event, I wasn’t expecting anything more than just a few sample packets. I was completely surprised when the manager provided each attendee with a whole sachet full of samples and a certificate for a full pampering ritual (as in mini-facial, deluxe hand massage and custom fragrance layering). If you’re looking for gifts this holiday season stop by an L’Occitane Boutique. They have several luxurious gift sets for both men and women. You can also check out their selection of gifts online here.
And to top off “the beauté” portion of the gift bag was a 1.5 ml sample of Azzaro Pour Elle. This perfume is the feminine version of Azzaro’s classic cologne for men. The fragrance is a fusion of cardamom, florals (rose and lys) followed by notes of cashmere wood and incense. It’s floral but sensual. The full-size version of this fragrance is available at Hudson’s Bay for $70 CDN (50 ml).
Each sweet contributor is Canadian and has a special start-up story. Squish Candy contributed samples of their Strawberry Rhubarb gummies which are made with real fruit extracts and no artificial colouring. Squish has a full section of candies that cater to different tastes and dietary requirements (e.g. vegan/vegetarian or nut-free). And behind these yummy treats is the sweet entrepreneurship story of Sarah Segal, who was recently profiled by Futurepreneur here. You can find Squish at Hudson’s Bay Queen Street flagship in Toronto or online here.
Our next sweet contributor was Camino. Each guest received a 100g bar of Camino hazel milk chocolate. The crunch of hazelnuts and the creaminess of the chocolate are enough to love. But knowing that the chocolates are made of organic and fair-trade ingredients is something to really feel good about. Camino is produced by La Siembra, a Canadian-owned co-op that was founded by three friends out of a community kitchen. You can read more about their story in this Globe and Mail article. You can find out where Camino is available for sale here.
Our final sweet contributor was Pur Gum. Each guest received a sample of gum along with a promo code for $10 off an online purchase. Pur Gum is all the goodness gum should be – vegan, nut/soy-free, gluten-free, and aspartame-free. Whenever I see Pur Gum at Whole Foods or the health food store, I grab a pack of their pomegranate mint flavour. I first heard of Pur Gum by watching their founder’s pitch on Dragon’s Den (watch here) and I’m really happy to see how the business has grown. Pur Gum is available for sale online here.
This month marks the beginning of the inaugural season of Raptors 905, Canada’s first NBA D-League team. The team plays home games in Hershey Centre in Mississauga. Raptors 905 provided us with a “2 for 1” ticket offer; perfect for date night. You can buy tickets to their games here.
Established by millennial entrepreneurs Jenny Le and Sivonn Ra in May 2015, The Cold Pressary is quickly becoming the go-to destination for foodies looking for healthier options. Located near Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga, The Cold Pressary offers a menu of nutrition-rich and delicious café items (including my beloved pistachio rose donut). Each guest at the event received a voucher for a free melon mojito. You can check out their menu here.
Avazera provided our guests with 20% off their selection of organic superfoods, loose leaf teas and jewelry. Avazera’s founders also attended the event to share their start-up story. The company was founded by parents who found their son had allergies to common foods like milk and rice. They struggled to find nutrient-rich alternatives and started the company as a way to make these alternatives more accessible to others. You can check out Avazera online here.
Mogo Money is known as “the uber of the financial world” and is on a mission to disrupt the industry. Their goal is to help millennials get rid of bad debt with a line of prepaid visa cards and a smart loan system. Mogo also hosts an event series for members called “Adulting 101” focusing on financial literacy. Mogo provided pens, pencils and a zipper wallet for the event gift bags.
The next addition to the gift bags were pocket notebooks from Yeates School of Graduate Studies at Ryerson University. Yeates is known as Canada’s most creative, connected and entrepreneurial graduate schools. If you’re interested in graduate studies, you can check out a listing of their programs here.
When curating the gift bags, I really wanted to make sure it was filled with local resources young entrepreneurs could really use. So, I reached out to Mississauga Business Enterprise Centre (MBEC). MBEC provides free or affordable information sessions on how to start or grow your small business. The centre also offers several online business courses. MBEC is a partner site of Starter Company that provides funding and mentorship to entrepreneurs under 30 years old. Along with brochures about their programs, MBEC also provided a special stylus/highlighter pen.
For many young entrepreneurs, finding start-up capital is the biggest challenge. If you’re looking for $20,000 to start or expand your business Ignite Capital’s competition may be of interest to you. Applicants compete for $20,000 in funding ($10,000 as a grant, $10,000 as a loan), mentorship and workspace. The next round of competition begins in May 2016. You can find out more about the competition at ignitecapital.ca.
Another resource is Access Community Capital Fund that provides loans up to $5,000 to small and emerging businesses in the Greater Toronto Area. The organization’s goal is to provide affordable loans to help others improve their standard of living through entrepreneurship. You can find out more at accessccf.com.
The next resource is available online. Each guest received a copy of Empower Women’s brochure. Empower Women is an initiative of United Nations Women and is dedicated to “empowering women to achieve their economic potential.” The online portal provides tools, resources and inspiration for women globally. There’s an online community for story sharing as well as a library and learning centre. You can sign up for an account or learn more at empowerwomen.org.
I would also like to acknowledge Futurepreneur (another great resource) for facilitating all the Global Entrepreneurship Week Canada events and providing us with Global Entrepreneurship Week buttons. And thank you to David’s Tea Square One and Bloglovin’ for providing icebreaker prizes for the networking session (I purchased the sets of L’Occitane hand creams that were bundled with these prize items). I hope everyone enjoyed the gift bags and resources. I’ll be sure to post updates about the next event (January 2016) as soon the details are finalized. You can also follow @curatedlifeca on Twitter and Instagram for updates.