Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs in Edmonton

Mar 7, 2022

March is Women's History Month, a time to celebrate women from our past and our present, whose resolve and determination contribute to the vibrancy of our communities. Congruently, International Women's Day falls on March 8 - all the more reason to highlight the incredible women entrepreneurs who make Edmonton the city we know and love.

We are proud to showcase the local trailblazers who work to open-up a world of possibility to the next generation of groundbreakers. One thing is for certain - there is no shortage of inspiring women in this city!

Header image provided by: Dallas Curow

Seble Isaac: Tiramisu Bistro

If you've been walking down 124th Street recently, you've seen the transparent geodesic domes lining the sidewalk near 108th Avenue. Maybe you've been stopped in your tracks by the smell of authentic Italian cuisine lingering in the air or witnessed the pilgrimage of sleepy patrons lining-up for the ultimate Sunday brunch. There's no doubt about it, Tiramisu Bistro is a standout in a district known for it's legendary dining (we're talking the likes of Bodega 124 and RNG RD).

Speaking of supportive neighbours, Tiramisu's owner draws inspiration from the other amazing entrepreneurs on 124th Street, like Angela Larson, the owner of Swish Vintage. Angela pursued her passion for vintage clothing long before it was 'in' to do so. She uses her own uniqueness to fuel Swish Vintage, something Seble says is driven by a combination of her passion and personality.

There are big things in the works for this local restauranteur. She has received a number of requests to open a 'Spaghetti Cone' location (that's right, a portable cone filled with pasta. It is as delicious as it sounds!) and a second Tiramisu Bistro location on the southside will hopefully be coming soon - so get your appetites - and napkins - ready! You can also book one of Tiramisu's transparent geo-domes for breakfast, lunch or dinner for the ultimate 124th Street dining experience, no matter the season.

Seble's advice for future women entrepreneurs?

Decision making is painful, and fear is always present, but you just have to have the courage to go through the 'what if's'. Allow your imagination to guide you and just do it!

Linda Hoang: Blogger & Digital Strategist

As the woman behind the guide to Edmonton's Instagrammable Walls and the International Cat Festival, local social media maven, blogger, and digital strategist, Linda Hoang, wears many hats. Born and raised in Edmonton, Linda went to school for journalism and television broadcasting. Though how she tells stories (and the platforms she tells them on) has evolved over the years, she remains a true storyteller at heart.

Linda is a go-to resource for supporting local, and the best to see, do and perhaps most of all, eat, in Edmonton. She is inspired by the work of innovative local entrepreneurs like fashion designer Alèthe Kaboré of KYN Apparel (who custom made Linda's all-time favourite jacket) and Rochelle Ignacio of Black Owned Market - an organization which supports and highlights the Black community including Black creatives, entrepreneurs, and businesses.

In true Linda fashion, she is using this opportunity to shine a spotlight on the countless other women-owned businesses in the city. Linda recommends referencing this list of 41 Edmonton area Woman Artists, Makers and Entrepreneurs or checking out her Women-Owned Businesses in Edmonton article. You can also find many amazing Black and women-owned businesses through Black Owned Market Edmonton.

Linda's advice for future women entrepreneurs?
Connecting with the community and sharing those moments online along the way - the good, bad, tough, fun, whatever those moments may be, humanizes you and makes your business special because it’s yours. People want to work with you. People want to buy from you. People want to support you. You become the unique and selling feature of your business, which I think is pretty cool.

Rochelle Ignacio: BOM YEG

When Rochelle Ignacio isn't providing consultation surrounding diversity, equity, inclusion, and psychological safety as a Safety & Inclusion Specialist, you can find her bolstering the community as a managing partner and core team member of Black Owned Market (BOM YEG) - a volunteer run collective which exists to uplift Black businesses in Edmonton.

This local business owner and advocate works with an entire collective of outstanding women and is grateful to have a wider community that she interacts with every single day. She recently connected with Sina Zere from Buff Experts & Buff Waxspot, who provided feedback and resources which will help Black Owned Market to grow. "Sina is an incredibly genuine and kind human," Rochelle says, "in addition to being an incredibly talented and smart business owner".

The most important piece of guidance Rochelle has learned along the way is to find a supportive mentor who can provide feedback, and to always be on the look out for programs, grants, and workshops where you can build invaluable connections.

Rochelle is excited to see how BOM YEG evolves over the next year and can't wait to share this growth with the community. If you're interested in volunteering with the team (and gaining valuable skills while giving back to the community), you can reach out to hello@bomyeg.ca to learn more. You can also find BOM YEG at their ongoing retail pop-up in partnership with Unite by TMK on the 2nd floor of Kingsway Mall. What are you waiting for? Get shopping!

Rochelle's advice for future women entrepreneurs?
My last piece of advice is to start your business! We never created BOM to become an ongoing organization and I don't have a business background. If BOM can do it, then so can you!

Robyn Kerr: Runaway Workout Club

Keeping a local business afloat over the last couple of years has been no small feat. When Runaway Workout Club opened in November of 2019, it was only 3 months before their first closure due to the COVID 19 pandemic. This unique concept blends instructor-led run intervals with dynamic, high-intensity exercises for the ultimate workout.

The fitness industry has taken some hard hits recently, but owner Robyn Kerr's resiliency is nothing short of inspiring. She credits Edmontonians, who showed their support when it was needed most. "It has been really amazing to see how strong the community in Edmonton is and how community members rally behind what you are up to in this city," she says, "I love building services and products that I am proud of for people I care about".

On the horizon, Robyn is excited to be offering a new class option called “All Run”. In this 45-minute class, you spend approximately 40 minutes on the treadmill running instructor-led run intervals and then they cap it off with 5 minutes of core work. Dust off your sneakers and try something new! Your body (and your mind) will thank you.

Robyn's advice for future women entrepreneurs?

As a new entrepreneur during very different and difficult times, I would say my biggest learning has been to know when it is best, and sometimes even advantageous, to let go and move in a different direction and when to be unyielding on your path forward. Finding a balance between staying the course, giving your idea enough time to get off the ground and when it is time to make changes.

Kirsta Franke: The Public, Wild Heart Collective

Kirsta's entrepreneurial path began at just 23 years old. A born and raised Edmontonian, she credits the community for her success, "I am grateful everyday for the support and connections I have made here," she reflects, "I don't know if I would be where I am today if I chose to start my career in another city". It's no stretch to say that Edmonton is grateful for her as well - she is the woman behind countless events and programs that make the city a vibrant place to live, work and play.

In 2019, she co-founded The Public, a new 15,000 square foot food incubator and hub in the city's core, which can be found in the historical Central McDougall Neighborhood. This facility will be the first of its kind in Alberta, working with market vendors, farmers, culinary creatives, chefs, producers, educators, and more. After some delays opening the food hub, Kirsta is excited to finally open The Public this summer/fall to food lovers and food makers in the city.

This local innovator respects and admires the many women that make up the small business fabric in our city. Particularly all the hard-working women that she gets to work with at the markets and through the work she does in the 124th Street, Beverly, and Alberta Avenue neighbourhoods.

Kirsta's advice for future women entrepreneurs?

You never know if you don't ask. You deserve a seat at the table, so take it.

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