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Women In Power





Janette Ewen,  Interior Designer and Television Personality





Q:  What do you do?

A:  I'm a designer, stylist and lifestyle expert.


Q:  Describe yourself in three words?

A:  Adventurous, silly, eclectic


Q:  How long have you been in the this industry? Why did you start?

A:  I have been in this industry since 2002 when I started at Chatelaine magazine as an editorial assistant to the fashion, beauty and home departments.


Q:  What challenges have you faced over the years?

A:  So many! The industry I was in (publishing) has changed and many jobs have disappeared. I have had to recreate myself and what I do many, many times. I have had many "failed" projects- a magazine, a TV show and so on. Many of these projects only ran for a year.


Q:  How do you overcome these challenges?

A:  I have learned there is no real failure (well the only real failure is not trying). I have learned that each failed plan or project leads to a success and as long as you keep moving forward and learn as you go.


Q:  What gives you the courage to continue your pursuit?

A:  I don't see any alternative. I mentally suffer severe depression if I am not creating something everyday, or seeing new things. For me my pursuit is my survival.


Q:  How do you persevere? What choice do we have?

A:  The way I see it is I have an 100% success rate as I am standing here (or sitting here) today. To persevere is to survive. Never ever loose faith in yourself.


Q:  Do you have any inspirational individuals you look up to?

A:  YES! Don Watt was a huge inspiration to me. I learned so much working from him.  I'm hugely inspired by the risk takers in life, those who chase their passions.


Q:  Who would you call your biggest supporter?

A:  Annabelle Philips became a mentor to me, believed in me and supported my career always. I will never be able to thank her enough. My parents and friends have been a huge support to me as well. I can't pick just one person.


Q:  What advice do you have for women who want to pursue their own business?

A:  DO it, dig in, devote your all to it and it will give you back more than you ever thought anyone or thing can give back to you.


Q:  What has been your favourite moment/experience thus far?

A:  I think the last week of my life has been the best week ever. I showcased my design collection with Mobilia at IDS and the response was overwhelming. In one week I was in LA, Toronto, at a friends ski chalet and as I type this I am in the Cayman Islands. My life is magical to me, I am SO grateful, I hope these "pinch me" moments never end.


Q:  What advice would you give your childhood/younger you?

A:  I'd tell myself that you are alright, it's ok not to fit in, keep creating and hug those you love really hard- tell them you love them.





Michele Romanow, Tech Entrepreneur and Dragon on CBC Dragon's Den 





Q: What do you do? 

A: I'm a serial entrepreneur and a Dragon on CBC's Dragons' Den. I'm the Co-Founder of ClearbancSnapSaves (acquired by Groupon), Buytopia (acquired by Transformational Capital), Evandale Caviar and The Tea Room.


Q: Describe yourself in three words 

A: Driven, courageous, kind


Q: How long have you been in the this industry? Why did you start? [I've never been in a single industry so you may need to revise the question]

A: I started my first business when I was in undergrad and haven't stopped!


Q: What challenges have you faced over the years? 

A: So many. During the first year of Buytopia every day I was scared. I felt like we were always a day away from bankruptcy, markets were shifting very quickly and at any moment this could all fall apart, and I would of been the hardest-working person of all my friends and missed every birthday party, neglected my body and destroyed my personal relationships, and I would be left here with nothing.


Q: How do you overcome these challenges? 

A: Starting a great business doesn’t happen by having a light bulb moment one day. Its starts by having a mediocre idea, testing it and iterating it until you have an awesome idea. For every good idea I’ve started there were 5 that I tried that failed.  You have to surround yourself with a strong network, but most importantly just start trying things! 


Q: What gives you the courage to continue your pursuit

A: Be curious everyday. Go back to questioning everything the way things the way kids do. Google everything. Curiosity is the root of so many great ideas.


Q: How do you persevere? 

A: You have to be courageous. I wasn’t sure how a lot of the actions I took would turn out when I was making those decisions. There was a lot of risk in the early days, but I knew if I waited the opportunity would disappear; I had to force myself to act.


Q: Do you have any inspirational individuals you look up to?  

A: My grandfather is a great inspiration to me.  He was a veterinary medicine professor in Czechoslovakia and left the country to come to Canada with 3 teenagers, 4 suitcases and $400 when he was 48 years old.  From there he built a new career in Canada – at 48!  I look at that and remember someone worked really hard to give me the opportunities I have in Canada.


Q: Who would you call your biggest supporter? 

A: My parents, my business partner, Anatoliy Melnichuk and my partner, Andrew D'Souza.


Q: What advice do you have for women who want to pursue their own business? 

A: My best advice was to start now, work hard and stop believing I needed a job or a career path before taking the plunge to do something on my own. This mindset that you need a certain educational or career path before you get started is so limiting.  You just have to believe in yourself and then have to do it. Society rewards great ideas no matter what background, age or gender they come from. 


Q: What has been your favourite moment/experience thus far?  

A: The first time I overheard two people on the subway talking about your company it a surreal moment. Like, all that insane work to get the word out and here it was - two strangers talking about it. 


Q: What advice would you give your childhood/younger you?  

A: Start now. You'll only learn by trying. School can't teach entrepreneurship. 





Brand Consultant and Trend Forecaster, Barbara Atkin (Former V.P. of Fashion Direction Holt Renfrew)





Q: What do you do? 

A: I am a brand consultant and trend forecaster.


Q: Describe yourself in three words?

A: Unpretentious, curious, teacher 


Q: How long have you been in the this industry?

A: Over 49 years!!


Q: Why did you start?

A: Life lead me in this direction due to my love of fashion, my innate sense as to what the next big thing will be and my desire to work with the creative class.

 

Q: What challenges have you faced over the years?

A: Staying true to my convictions and helping people open their eyes to future opportunities.


Q: How do you overcome these challenges?

A: Understanding the fears that prevent great companies, great brands and people in general from moving quickly into the future and helping them to let go of the past.


Q: What gives you the courage to continue your pursuit?

A: Believing in my vision knowing that it is consumer driven and not crystal ball gazing. I watch people every day, understand their lifestyle needs and behaviours and then give them more of what they want and are not getting. 


Q: How do you persevere? 

A: Tenacity and never giving up and understanding that there is no right or wrong decision but just making a decision and getting people to rally around it in support.

 

Q: Do you have any inspirational individuals you look up to?

A: My father was my greatest inspiration and teacher. He taught me to always look around and understand where the world is going. He listened and taught me to believe in my decisions. He was a great story teller and helped me understand that people are moved emotionally by great human stories. It is great story telling that is the foundation of great brands. 


Q: Who would you call your biggest supporter?

A: Again my father who never doubted any decision I made.

 

Q: What advice do you have for women who want to pursue their own business?

A: Understand what it is you are trying to accomplish and be able to answer the question "why should anyone invest or buy your brand" and "what are you doing to make a difference" and be able to define your business idea in less than 7 words. 


Q: What has been your favourite moment/experience thus far?

A: Being recognized by my peers as a woman of influence in the fashion industry both locally and Internationally and becoming a grandmother to 3 children, my grand daughter Ty and my twin grandsons Jackson and Wilder who already inspire me with their curiosity everyday. 


Q: What advice would you give your childhood/younger you?

A: Don't hang on to the need for control, approval or security. Believe in and trust yourself, take risks, respect all people, stay true to your values and the universe will open the right doors for you. 




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