Yes, one nation can have an inspiring entrepreneurial scene and Justin Trudeau. Read about five women entrepreneurs from the north in honor of Canada Day. (Credit: Pexels)
Yes, one nation can have an inspiring entrepreneurial scene and Justin Trudeau. Read about five women entrepreneurs from the north in honor of Canada Day. (Credit: Pexels)

Yes, one nation can have an inspiring entrepreneurial scene and Justin Trudeau. It’s a win-win for our neighbor to the North, which today celebrates Canada Day.

According to the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Canada is a world leader both in terms of having startup aspirations and turning them into action. There are some 1 million entrepreneurs building brands and creating jobs for their fellow Canadians. As a country, Canada has been ranked the third best startup ecosystem in the world (following the U.S. and U.K.), and cities like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver consistently rank high on “best hubs for entrepreneurs” lists.

[Related: Toronto-Based Carol Mark is Selling Social Change in Every Cup]

In honor of the national holiday, here are six women entrepreneurs born and/or based in Canada that we like, who all promote healing, health and happiness through their businesses.

1. Leslie Bradford-Scott of Walton Wood Farm

Near the shores of a Canadian lake, Bradford-Scott’s farm is growing into a formidable business. This Fearless #Over50 winner — who was also the subject of a video feature on our site — launched her beauty business from her kitchen, and quickly gained a following with her bath products. Now, the once-single mother and former car saleswoman’s salts, lotions and creams are in all 50 American states and every province in Canada. Her 6-employee company, based in Bailieboro, Ontario, makes over $2 million in annual revenue. Her online business continues to fill orders during the pandemic — though its Instagram account has more photos and videos of self-isolating staffers than it used to.

[Related: Canadian Entrepreneur Tanya Chernova is Encouraging the Courageous]

2. Melissa Austria of Gotstyle

The owner of Gotstyle, an independent menswear retailer in Toronto, Canada, says men want shopping to be easy. Her in-depth understanding of their shopping habits and preferences helped her develop stores that offer everything men need — right down to grooming supplies — and staff that are trained to offer honest opinions. She was surely onto something, since Gotstyle was clearing $5 million in annual revenue when we last spoke with her. Her retail location is now open for private in-store consultations and virtual shopping sessions.

3. Tanya Heath of Tanya Heath

Though she now lives and works in Paris, Heath was born and raised in Ottawa, Canada. When her drive and passion took her abroad to the City of Light in 1996, she found a culture where working women were expected to wear high heels, no matter how tiring their day. This inspired her to launch a self-named shoe brand that lets women swap stilettos for flats in the click of a heel. Today, it’s an international venture. Her stores, like Austria’s, are offering both scheduled in-person and virtual visits.

4. Norine Hill of Mother Nation

Hill, born in London, Ontario, uses cultural traditions to help Native American women recover from abuse and homelessness through her Seattle nonprofit. She brings years of experience to her work, as a member of the Oneida Nation of the Thames, in addition to a deep understanding of the issues as a survivor of abuse, homelessness and alcoholism. By connecting clients to services like sweats, talking circles and the building of dream catchers, Hill hopes to spark both physical and spiritual cleansing. To ensure the safety of the people she serves, as well as her employees, in-person meetings have been suspended and online ones are being hosted in their place.

[Related: Empowering Enterprising Indigenous Women in Canada]

5. Amanda Bernard of Bitter Gold

Bernard, a 1,000+ Stories campaign participant from Toronto, started up after creating a solution to her own bad habit: nail-biting. Her self-created odorless serum strengthens nails but discourages chomping on them thanks to a non-toxic but bitter taste agent, she says. Now that she’s found the right Canadian manufacturer for her products, Bernard aims to grow Bitter Gold into her full-time focus. On top of fulfilling online orders, Bitter Gold has also been gifting first responders with free products, to negate the drying effects of hand sanitizers.

6. Danielle French of South Pond Farms

In 2006, after years of city living, French left Toronto behind to move with her four young daughters to a 60-acre farm nestled in the rolling hills of rural Ontario. Today, that oasis — South Pond Farms — is a “culinary destination” for barn weddings, retreats and special events like bread-baking and wreath-making workshops. And it’s a money-maker — when we last checked in with French, she reported an annual revenue close to C$900,000 (about $680,000). Though she is not presently hosting events, South Pond Farms is still open and offering grocery box pick-ups full of items from her farm.

[Related: Toronto-Based Carol Mark is Selling Social Change in Every Cup]

This article, originally published in 2019, has been updated.

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