girlboss

I Should Feel One Way But I'm Guilty For Feeling the Opposite

As I sit here typing this, I’m 17 weeks pregnant. I can feel this little bean moving around now and my husband has felt her/him kick twice. My breasts are bigger and tender. I’m still nauseous and eating is a struggle to keep the food down. I’m emotional and weep at most movies, regardless of the genre. I have a small bump but really, it’s mostly a layer of fat from winter hibernation. The reality that I am pregnant after four recurrent losses should excite me. I’m FINALLY pregnant! I should be ectatic! But I have a confession: I’m not excited. I’m scared senseless.

Pregnancy #6: 14 weeks here and the night before my husband and I both felt baby kick! 

Pregnancy #6: 14 weeks here and the night before my husband and I both felt baby kick! 

For a long time, I thought I needed a second child to complete my family. The primitive and physiological desire for a baby overrode my logical mind. I had to have two kids and they had to be no more than three years apart and boy, did I try to make that happen! The need consumed me for almost five years and like I’ve mentioned previously in other posts, 2017 was full of loss and grief but also of acceptance and peace. A second child no longer holds the same weight it once did. A second child doesn’t feel necessary anymore. And I feel incredibly guilty for saying that.

 

Just because I wanted this doesn’t mean it won’t be hard

We have a good life as a family of three. We all sleep through the night, our daughter is toilet trained and she can independently play without me worrying what she’s getting into. She goes to daycare two days a week so I can work and write and clean without distraction. We can travel without hassle and she can communicate her needs and frustrations. We have our routine and our life and it’s perfectly imperfect for us. This new baby will change everything!

I’m scared of losing my autonomy as a person, as a woman. I’m afraid this baby will be a nightmare baby; one of the ones that are colicky and don’t sleep and grow into wild, difficult toddlers (re: the opposite of our daughter!). I’m afraid of the toll sleepless nights will take on my marriage. I can confidently say I’m a horrible person when I’m tired. Exhaustion seems to be the one common thing other moms are telling me about the transition to two kids.

The early days when I believed even having one child would ruin my life because I'd be the worst mother ever. I think we're doing okay though. 

The early days when I believed even having one child would ruin my life because I'd be the worst mother ever. I think we're doing okay though. 

I’m scared I won’t have time for my business, Potions, or my non-profit, The Family Fertility Fund of Saskatchewan. More, I’m worried I’ll no longer make time to fulfill my dream of becoming an author and that the book I’ve been working on for months now will fall to the back burner among the other things that will become neglected: exercise, self-care, showering and probably laughter.

I’m scared I won’t be able to manage my priorities and I’ll become that person who loves the “I’m too busy” or “I’m too tired” excuse. I worry that the things that are important to me as a woman now will become obsolete as I try to keep a newborn alive while simultaneously taking care of my daughter, husband, two businesses and home. And my dreams? What dreams? I've always wanted to be a writer but put those dreams on hold because of my fears and beliefs that I was inadequate. Now that I'm facing those fears and writing anyways, I'm scared to lose the momentum and that those old beliefs of not being good enough will resurface.

I’ve met countless women who, when asked who they are, automatically start with “I’m a mother of two, (name) is (age) and (name) is (age).” I’m afraid I’ll become her: the one who identifies solely as a mother and who has forgotten who the woman underneath is. The mother who believes she isn’t worthy of a quiet bubble bath. The mother who gives so much of herself, selflessly, that she doesn’t feel like there’s time or money or even the energy to invest in herself. I’m scared I’ll lose the person I’ve grown into. I’m scared it’ll take me years to find her again once the second baby is in school. I can’t imagine 3-5 years of just “momming.” Being a mother is an amazing gift and one I am blessed to have received but I don't want to lose myself in the vomit, poopy diapers and haze of exhaustion. I'm horrible for it, I know. 

I wanted another baby with such a desperation and hope that I looked crazy to those not involved in the infertility community. I wanted this! But I’m so scared. And I’m not sure if that’s normal because I’ve been too ashamed of these feelings to ask fellow mothers (of 2+ kids) their opinions.

Amidst all of this swirling anguish and worry, deep down I know I’m speaking from a place of fear. I know once this little rainbow baby is in my arms, I will fall madly in love and all previous doubts will vanish. I will probably willingly accept the sleepless nights and constant sleep interruptions. I know the primitive side of me will awaken and I will just know what to do and how to do it and I’ll mostly do it with love as my motivation. I know my husband and I will argue and fight and probably sleep separately for a long time and I’m sure there will be some nights when it’s welcomed.

Our family of three on vacation to Vancouver Island in June 2017. Vacations will be on pause for awhile but I hope we can take both kids back out west to enjoy!

Our family of three on vacation to Vancouver Island in June 2017. Vacations will be on pause for awhile but I hope we can take both kids back out west to enjoy!

I know this baby will complete our family; probably in a way I can’t even comprehend right now. She or he will be a delight some days, a nightmare on others. And somehow, I know we will all survive these next few years. I hope my tribe will remind me that underneath the messy hair, vomit and soaked breast pads, there’s still a woman in there. She’s just busy right now trying to raise her family but she’s there. She’ll emerge eventually. My time will come to focus on me. My dreams will just be on hold, not crushed as I’m imagining now, as I try to raise the best children I can for my community and planet.

I’ll probably worry and continue to feel scared for these huge life changes coming our way. In the meantime, I’ll be shopping for better breast pads and sleep training books. Wish me luck!

Women in BIZ - a Rock Star panel of local women entrepreneurs

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Behind every successful woman is her story. We have gathered a panel of brilliant trail blazers within our community of women entrepreneurs. On Sunday April 23rd at 1:00 p.m. join us as we chat about how they began their journey, what inspires them, and tip and tricks for those with the entrepreneurial spirit.  

  • We are storytellers.
  • We are inspiration.
  • We are knowledge.
  • We are powerful.

Who should run more of the world? Women. Until then, enjoy the guidance of some awesome women who lead fiercely and fearlessly.

Here are the power houses on our 2017 panel:

Jana Danielson

Owner of Lead Pilates

As the owner of Lead Pilates, Cycle & Fitness and Lead Integrated Health Therapies, Jana has worked to create unique business devoted to providing clients with the latest trends in health and fitness and therapies including Chiropractic, Physiotherapy, Naturopathic Medicine, Reflexology and Massage Therapy. Jana is dedicated to an all-around healthy lifestyle and shares this passion with her team and clients. Jana went from teaching Pilates out her basement studio to opening a studio in 2010 on Taylor Street to just this past summer, expanding her Pilates studio to launch a unique organization that integrates multiple movement therapies under one roof.

Jana completed her Bachelor of Commerce and Masters in Business Administration Degrees at the University of Saskatchewan. Jana worked as a Business Consultant before making a career change into the wonderful world of Pilates. She was certified thorough the Pilates Core Integration Program in 2008 and since then has completed certifications through Physical Mind, is PMA Certified and in 2013 joined Balanced Body as a Faculty Member. She is also a CoreAlign Master Instructor.

 

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Mackenzie Firby

Owner of Two Fifty Two Boutique

Mackenzie Firby was raised on a farm near Kenaston, Saskatchewan.  After the completion of High School, Mackenzie moved to Saskatoon where she obtained her Bachelors of Commerce at the University of Saskatchewan in 2003.  Mackenzie was then employed at SaskTel and Hershey as a Sales and Training Representative. She shone in her positions and was awarded various awards within both companies.

Mackenzie realized there was a need for a high-end women’s clothing store in Saskatoon. In 2014, after over a year of research and preparation, Mackenzie opened Two Fifty Two Boutique. Two Fifty Two Boutique carries world renowned brands including Eileen Fisher, DVF, Kate Spade and Vince among many more.

In 2016 and 2017 Mackenzie was honored to be a YWCA Women of Distinction Award nominee in Entrepreneurship. Two Fifty Two was the recipient of two 2016 SABEX Awards, Customer Service and New Business Venture.  They were again nominated in 2017 for Customer Service and Community Involvement. Mackenzie was also nominated for the 2016 ABEX Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Community involvement and having a positive effect in our city and province are extremely important to Mackenzie. She believes in supporting local charities and events as a way of giving back to the community that has been so supportive to her and TFT. Mackenzie is involved and regularly attends charitable events, donates items for fundraising and has in store promotions that support local charities including: The Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, Ronald McDonald House, The Heart and Stroke Foundation, Dress for Success, Hope’s Home and numerous others. Mackenzie has also had speaking engagements at the University of Saskatchewan, on Global and CTV TV and various Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce events.

 

Mandi Newman

Manager of Operations at Vendasta Technologies

Mandi Newman is a typical Type A personality. She’s a lover of lists, calendars and organization — even her closet is color-coded. After graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Regina in 2010, she joined the sales and finance world with Scotiabank. She is now the Manager of Operations at Vendasta, and looks forward to building her career within the growing Saskatchewan Technology sector!

Vendasta’s platform empowers agencies and media companies to grow their sales of marketing solutions for small and medium-size businesses. Their system identifies hot leads who are interested in the products you offer and allows you to provide scalable tools at the right price and service model when businesses are ready-to-buy. Vendasta has won many awards including: 

SABEX Award - Business of the Year 2016

SABEX Award - Growth & Expansion 2016

Deliotte Tech Fast 50

PROFIT 500 ranking of Canada's Fastest-Growing Companies

Flow Magazine "Best Places to Work in Saskatoon" 2016

 

Candace Ippolito

CEO & Owner of SaskMade Marketplace

Candace Ippolito was raised on a cattle operation near Kisbey, Saskatchewan and remains active in the livestock industry.  An animal science graduate from the College of Agriculture, U of S, Candace is a committee member of Canadian Western Agribition, and an active 4-H alumnus.

SaskMade Marketplace is a specialty grocery store focused on the best in local ingredients. SaskMade connects consumers with farmers through transparency & education of food production. They have created meaningful conversation about where food comes from by offering farm fresh produce & meat, take home ready meals, uniquely Sask ingredients and many more pantry staples, snacks & treats. Join SaskMade today to taste the local difference. Buying local - Good for the community, Good for the soul.

Paula Collins

CEO and Owner of Masala Model & Talent

Established in 2000, MASALA Model & Talent is a Saskatchewan based full service agency providing representation for models, actors, singers & dancers for local & international placement. Masala provides professional services for to clients across Canada & The U.S. from fundraisers to major productions.

The MASALA School of Professional & Personal Development courses enhances confidence/self-esteem in modeling & acting to healthy body image, peer pressure, posture/poise, personal hygiene, etiquette, public speaking, job preparation & professionalism. Paula holds weekly classes to promote confidence, poise, along with a focus on workplace and social etiquette. You can find Paula engaged within the community and supporting other local women entrepreneurs.

We hope to see you on Sunday April 23rd at 1:00 p.m. for an informative and interactive seminar with these ladies!

The Fabulously Unfit Girl's Guide to Health & Wellness: traffic

I've recently started learning about meditation. It's something I've always wondered about but really had zero idea of what it was all about other than the obvious stereotypes we all have of monks chanting, people in hypnotic trances, Buddha worshipers, and whatnot. When I mapped out the posts I wanted to do in this blog series, a guided meditation was on the list from the very beginning. Even better, during a nail appointment, my bud Kristen explained to me that she was training to teach meditation. Well, perfect. 

I set up an appointment with her to lead me in a guided meditation and give me the low down on this stuff. I had a million questions - What do I need? What do I bring? Did I need incense or a robe? Was there going to be hand holding or chanting? I didn't ask all these questions but I sincerely hoped that there wouldn't be hand holding... a robe might have been cool though. 

Turns out there was neither. We sat comfortably on my big sofa in my chill living room area off my home studio where the lighting is dim, it's quiet, and there was no husband or dogs to run around terrorizing the village. 

She explained the science behind the practice and to put it simply: meditation is simply taking time to breathe, calm your mind and body, and to try take some time for yourself in the space between your thoughts. The ultimate result being a greater sense of self awareness, an increase in patience, an increased ability to think situations through rather than being immediately reactive, increased brain function, relaxation, and stress relief. The benefits really were endless. Seems pretty cool for something that seems so simple, right? 

As someone who battles a mental illness that comes along with extreme amounts of anxiety, it seemed ridiculous that I hadn't dipped my toes in these waters before. Anything to help me chill the f*ck out, I was down with. 

Her session focused on a basic guided practice that helped me pay attention to my breath and body, with gentle direction and the use of a silent mantra (no chanting required)  - which I expected to be super weird, but was actually really helpful in bringing my focus back when my mind would wander off. It sounds easy, but it really isn't. Calming our minds in today's crazy world takes practice... but if things were always easy, what would we ever learn?

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She helped me download an app (yes, there's an app for that) called Headspace which gives you a free "Take 10" mediation challenge consists of 10 minutes a day for 10 days of guided meditation with a man named Andy. Andy seems like a nice guy... maybe a geeky friend you might have a latte with once in awhile. He explains about meditation and includes cute animations in between sessions. 

My favourite animation of Andy's explains that our thoughts are like traffic. Coming and going at a rapid pace all day. We are constantly swept away with the traffic in our hectic lives. The goal of mediation is to find a way to teach ourselves to sit on the side of the road once in awhile and just let the traffic go by. Finding the space in your mind where you aren't swept away by the speeding traffic; the space outside or in between the thoughts. 

I found the challenge interesting. To sit there and quiet my mind was sometimes so simple and soothing, and other times it was like being trapped in a nightmare trying to get through it... like I was drowning in anxiety within it, but knew I would come out on the other side stronger for having stuck it out. It's obviously not always as easy as it sounds to get out of your own head. It's downright hard. Those times were the ones I found would make me anticipate the next time I did a session because I wanted to get "better" and "stronger" when it came to meditating. The truth is, there is no better or stronger - it's not a competition or a race, it's a personal practice that is just taking time to pay attention to yourself. Andy wasn't going to pass or fail me. He might buy me a latte though, or at least I'd like to think so. 

There are amazing apps out there with guided meditations for almost anything you might want to focus on - anxiety, sleep, sports, fear of flying - even sessions specifically for children. It's a cool thing because it's something you can do anytime, anywhere. 

Before diving in, I highly recommend a session with a real, live person who can explain and help you to understand the science behind meditation. Local gals, Kristen Antunes and Danica Slattery have started a new venture that allows you to book guided sessions with them in your home, office, or even schools. They can get you started with a single session or meet with you on an on-going basis. Kristen was a wealth of knowledge... plus we talked about our mutual love of doggo memes afterwards, so that was extra awesome. And there was no hand holding or chanting.

Danica Slattery (left) & Kristen Antunes (right). Photo by DeMo Photography.  Kristen and Danica are both Certified Lifestyle Meditation Teachers with a passion for mindfulness and meditation. Ever since incorporating meditation into their daily lives the benefits have transformed their ability to cope with stress, make more aligned choices, and create a stronger connection with themselves and others.   Contact Kristen at kristenantunesmeditation@gmail.com and Danica at danicaslattery@gmail.com for more information. You can also sign up for a mediation class right at Modern Woman Show & Expo on Sunday April 23rd.  Click here for workshop info!

Danica Slattery (left) & Kristen Antunes (right). Photo by DeMo Photography.

Kristen and Danica are both Certified Lifestyle Meditation Teachers with a passion for mindfulness and meditation. Ever since incorporating meditation into their daily lives the benefits have transformed their ability to cope with stress, make more aligned choices, and create a stronger connection with themselves and others. 

Contact Kristen at kristenantunesmeditation@gmail.com and Danica at danicaslattery@gmail.com for more information. You can also sign up for a mediation class right at Modern Woman Show & Expo on Sunday April 23rd. Click here for workshop info!

So, until my next post, I hope you all find some time to quiet your minds, sit on the side of the road, and watch the traffic go by. 

Katie xoxo

and the Modern Hustle recipient is.....

Freedom Bound Books

We are thrilled to announce the winner of Our Modern Hustle presented by The Creative Hustle - the four week mentorship program by deMo Photography, Modern Woman Show & Expo, and Our Collective Muse is Leah Robinson of Freedom Bound Books

Photo by Freedom Bound Books via Facebook

Photo by Freedom Bound Books via Facebook

Leah designs, prints, cuts, and binds year planners and journals. This journey started with an idea and need for a daily planner to fit the needs of her busy schedule. Leah is a super mom of three with a wickedly supportive husband to help give her guidance along the way. She is ready to help out those busy households with her intricate book designs. There is nothing on the market like her creations and she is ready to expand her passion. We are so excited to be a part of her entrepreneur journey. 

Leah will be featured on an upcoming post for Our Collective Muse, she will be participating in a four week mentorship program with deMo Photography - The Creative Hustle. You will also be able to visit her booth at the 2017 Modern Woman Show & Expo at Prairieland Park on April 22nd & 23rd.  We can NOT WAIT to see how Freedom Bound Books and Leah grow through this experience. 

Let's give her some love by visiting her page and showing her a LIKE  - Freedom Bound Books. 

 

You CAN sit with us.

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Uh. That sinking feeling. A bit of anxiety. Knots in your stomach. The feeling of a little (sometimes a lot of) DEFLATION. And the innate desire to "squash them". 

What is it that I'm referring to? A new store has opened. A new product has launched. A direct competition. Your competition. Dang it. What does this mean for you? What will you need to change or improve to win the consumer's business. How do you keep your edge???? 

Being an entrepreneur is hard. Holy H E double hockey sticks. Competition is frightening but it is truly necessary and I want to share with you why -

"Competition is a good thing, It forces us to do our best.

-Nancy Pearcey

Change the way you think about your competition. The reason why you're in business is because you are offering a product or service that people want.  I call these people your tribe. Your tribe isn't just looking at the necklace you're selling but probably has similar values to your company. Maybe your tribe is environmentally conscious and the necklaces you make out of recycled materials hits them in the sweet spot. It is no longer just about a necklace. Boom you have built a relationship. Your relationship with your tribe is more important than anything else. Your competition most likely has their own values and it's not that often that they lineup exactly

I have a few examples of this in my world of business. I wear a lot of hats - from the world of managing cosmetic laser clinics to tradeshow producer to hotel owner. They are very different but one thing remains the same - I know my tribes and I value my relationships with clientele in each of them. I provide the best service I can in each industry and never trade my reputation for money

So what happens when your competition starts "biting your shit"? Imitation is flattery. It also pushes you to continue to be innovative. This is why you're an entrepreneur!! You are most likely a go-getter. A stagnant business is a closed business. Find your niche. Grow it like only you can. Recently I received a colorful review from a competitor. It was broadcast for all to see that they felt I had "copied" their business model. The truth was that I might sell a similar service but my values, integrity, ability to be innovative is what sets me apart. Also....to anyone who thinks writing poor reviews on your competitions social media site is valuable you should just stop reading this and basically take a hike. 

Understand that some competition isn't actually competition at all. You may be able to form some pretty sweet partnerships. A key example of this is my relationship with Michelle Strawford from Regina's What Women Want Tradeshow. She produces a successful tradeshow for women, she is well respected (this chick has INTEGRITY), and is always innovative. When asked by businesses what other shows I think they should be apart of I will always suggest hers because I value our relationship more than money. We have created a partnership through this and we are actually vendors in each others show's. Look for those opportunities. 

One upping is a waste of your time. March to the beat of your own drum. It is good to know what your competition is doing but you don't have to obsess over it. We get phone calls at our clinics inquiring all the time about our pricing, asking questions that only very very knowledgeable (within our field) people would ask and with the power of call display shows that they are coming from the phones of our competitors. Again FLATTERY.... but stop yourself from feeling like you have to play a game. Price wars are also a race to the bottom not the top. You may lose a few customers but in the long run you gain the business by educating your tribe. Creating the trust. Building the relationship.

Now, when you see another coffee shop open down the street - don't devise ways to burn it down. Grab a few slices of your grandma's famous lemon cake (don't give them the recipe but maybe see if you can become their supplier) and welcome them to the block. 

Chantal 

For those of you that want to join our Modern Woman "Tribe" we would love to have you! Our tradeshow takes place April 22nd & 23rd at Prairieland Park in Saskatoon, SK. We focus on promoting women in business throughout the year, we offer mentor-ship opportunities with experienced #GIRLBOSSES, complimentary social media reputation seminars, and a plethora of add-ons to capture the essence of your business and make you stand out to your target audience. Click Here to learn more about being a vendor and HERE to apply for Our Modern Hustle Mentorship Opportunity. See you all very soon ;)

 

OUR MODERN HUSTLE...calling all #GIRLBOSSES!!!

OUR MODERN HUSTLE – this amazing opportunity is brought to you by Our Collective Muse, Modern Woman Show & Expo, and The Creative Hustle by deMo Photography.

What is Our Modern Hustle?

Who has started a business and is needing a little help? Do you or someone you know have a great idea, awesome product or service that just needs to be seen? We have created an opportunity to expand your reach, learn from some seasoned #girlbosses, and get some free sh$*! to expand your business in 2017 and beyond!

What do you get?

1. Get featured on Our Collective Muse – the popular blog featuring 12 women with 12 different views on everything from fashion, food, crafts, how-to guides, and everything in between. Receive an exclusive blog post featuring your business.

2. A complimentary standard booth package at The Modern Woman Show & Expo on April 22nd & 23rd at Prairieland Park. This event sees over 3500 attendees- in your demographic. Whether you sell a product or service, your business NEEDS to be at the show. You will also receive an invitation to the Social Media Reputation seminar by Vendasta Technologies- we talk all things internet & social media marketing.

3. And to top it off – receive a spot in The Creative Hustle by deMo Photography. A 4 week mentor-ship program with a primary focus is YOU and your goals. This hands on teaching touches on everything from branding, marketing and social media. The intimate classes (of only 4 women entrepreneurs) encourages you to dig down deep within yourself to best represent your business.

Who can apply?

                  -you are a female entrepreneur

                  -your business is based in Saskatchewan

                  -you have never had a booth or have been involved in The Modern Woman Show & Expo or The Creative Hustle

                  -you have the drive to want to succeed as a women entrepreneur!

That sounds amazing! Where do I apply?

                  Click here to nominate yourself or someone you think deserves this great opportunity!

Nominations are open until February 15th 2017 . Recipient to be announced March 1st 2017

I am a Modern Woman: Meet Modern Sole

Meet Shanna Simon: Owner of Modern Sole Saskatoon

 

Tell us about your business?

Modern Sole in a locally owned and operated boutique located in Stonebridge. We carry a wide selection of quality brand name ladies footwear, handbags and accessories. Our goal is to provide women of Saskatoon with beautiful, unique additions to their shoe closets that are of a high quality and one of a kind pieces -while giving them a comfortable, fashionable atmosphere, and honest shopping experience.

 

How did you get started?

The business process started years ago with a deep love for fashion (specifically footwear) and business. Several years ago a plan was put into motion. The research and decision making process transitioned from paper to real life back in 2015. Both Chad and I come from backgrounds of family businesses. We are so grateful to have the unconditional love and support of our families throughout this process.

What inspires you?

Having the chance to be a part of the evolving Saskatoon fashion world inspires me to be apart of the business community.

 

What is your idea of a Modern Woman?

A Modern Woman is positive, up lifting and supportive to herself and everyone she surrounds herself with. I believe the Modern Woman is confident in herself, her style, and her surroundings.

 

What tips can you give to aspiring women entrepreneurs?

Never give up. Write your goals down and make a plan to see them through.  Never be afraid to make a decision. You have to wake up everyday and decide to take as many steps as you can to get you closer to achieving your goals.

 

Do you think having a mentor is valuable both while you're starting out and even after you are more experienced?

Having a mentor is so important! If you can find someone in your community and in the field you desire to be apart of even better! Mentor's are people who have taken steps to be successful. Finding one who will support and help you along the way is a valuable piece to your personal success.

 

Do you feel a strong sense of community among business woman and female entrepreneurs in Saskatoon and in Saskatchewan?

The community of business women in Saskatoon are nothing short of amazing. Every lady I have had the pleasure of meeting has been outstanding and supportive!

Check out this amazing store online at Modern Sole or treat yourself to some great shopping in person at 150- 3020 Preston Avenue, Saskatoon. Modern Sole is a GOLD Sponsor at the Modern Woman Show & Expo and will be bringing all their great brands to the event. Make sure to come and meet the team and shop on April 16th & 17th at Prairieland Park.

Interview by Chantal Schulte

 

I am a Modern Woman: Meet Red Lotus

 

Meet Moneca McLean, Owner of Red Lotus

 

Tell us about your business?

Red Lotus brings to Saskatoon and the surrounding area, a stunning European clothing line, post-surgery garments, world leading breast forms and symmetry products, wigs, scarves, hats, yoga/meditation accessories, and giftware.  Although our clothing and products are designed for all women, Red Lotus specializes in women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, women who have had mastectomy, lumpectomy, breast reduction, augmentation surgery, and/or women in transition who require the use of breast forms and symmetry products.

How did you get started?

I worked in healthcare for 8 years prior to going into business.  Through the company’s re-organization, my position was eliminated in 2014.  It was then that I began reflecting on where/what I was going to do moving forward as a career.  During that time of reflection, I set up a criteria for myself that consisted of 3 items:

Whatever I decided to do moving forward, it must be something:

  1. that I feel very passionate about
  2. where I can make a positive difference in the lives of people
  3. that will provide financial stability for my family

From there I started reflecting on my life and experiences and exactly ‘what’ those things could possibly be and Red Lotus very quickly became an idea, then a plan, and now a reality.

What inspires you?

I was inspired to open Red Lotus through my own personal experience of supporting women close to me who required the use of breast forms. Through witnessing their journey, my desire to open a boutique that was warm, tranquil, fun, compassionate and inspiring became my mission. I was determined to provide women the ability to shop in a retail environment where they have access to a beautiful selection of clothing that is fashionable, fun, sexy, and (of course) comfortable!  My goal is to provide women the opportunity to feel confident and leave my shop carrying a higher positive body image!

What is your idea of a Modern Woman?

My idea of a modern woman is a woman who walks to the beat of her own drum, who is confident in who she is and confident in her abilities.  She makes a conscious choice to positively contribute to herself, her family and to her community regardless of career or finances.

What tips can you give to aspiring women entrepreneurs?

Whatever it is that you decide to do be sure it is something that feeds your passion. If you are wishy-washy in any way don’t do it!  When you are consumed so much that you are never more than 5 minutes between thinking/planning/imagining it – you’re meant to do it! Know that it IS going to happen and do your homework…all of it!

What is one piece of advice you would give yourself looking back?

In those moments of doubt when I was stressed and second guessing my decision to open a business, I would have said to myself, “Relax and Let Go – it’s meant to happen” and it all works out in the end.

What is in the future for Red Lotus?

Red Lotus will continue to establish itself in Saskatoon and Saskatchewan as the only business in the province to offer women the complete Amoena of Germany clothing line, mastectomy/symmetry and meditation/yoga accessories.

What would we find you doing in your free time?

My free time is spent with my family! I have a wonderful partner of 12 years and 3 children; a 26 yr old daughter, a 23 year old son and a 20 year old daughter! They are the loves of my life and spending time with them is always my priority!

Who is someone that you find is a role model for women in business?

A woman who I have always admired is Maya Angelou.  Her personal story of triumph over her diverse and unstable upbringing to becoming one of the most profound women in literature is incredibly inspiring.

Do you think having a mentor is valuable both while you're starting out and even after you are more experienced?

I believe having a mentor before, during, and after you open your business is valuable. I had the support of Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan throughout my process and I continue to access their support and services today.  They are crucial in my success.

Do you feel a strong sense of community among business woman and female entrepreneurs in Saskatoon and in Saskatchewan?

I believe there are avenues for women in business to meet.  As I am early on in my business I have not met these women but plan on increasing my attendance at events, seminars and socials to build my network.

 

Visit the beautiful and serene Red Lotus at #170 –  3020 Preston Ave, Saskatoon. We are proud to have Moneca and her team as a Gold Sponsor at The Modern Woman Show & Expo at Prairieland Park April 16th & 17th. Not only will their experienced and trained staff be there with their products but you can also see their clothing line and jewellery on the runway Saturday April 16th at 7:00 p.m.

 

Interview by Mandi Brown

Photo of Moneca courtesy of deMo Photography

Meet our Vendors: Soul Salons

 Janalyn Mehler - Owner of Soul Salons

 

Tell us about your business?

We serve to give each and every client a safer and healthier experience in our salon environment. We specialize in cleaner hairdressing techniques and products to protect the integrity of the hair and the condition of the scalp without compromising the results. Furthermore, we guide and educate our clients towards healthier lifestyles. Combining cleaner salon practices with overall health is our way of alchemizing true beauty. That's why we are Soul Salons- Hair, Body, and Spirit.

 

How did you get started?

I bought the salon five years ago off my previous boss and mentor. She stayed with me for a year to get things up and going. I got really lucky to have that kind of help.

 

What inspires you?

Nature in all its glory! Nature has this way of grounding me. When I am grounded I think clearer, feel lighter, and more relaxed.  I feel inspired and motivated to work hard so I can spend more time outside in Momma nature. -The ultimate modern woman!

What is your idea of a Modern Woman?

A modern woman has total freedom of choice when it comes to what she wants to do with her life. She is limitless in her choices and because her desire is so strong, nothing or no one will stop her. I believe a modern woman could and should have total time and financial freedom and I see more and more women going down the home based business route doing very very well for themselves and creating positive changes in their family and relationships. I feel for job security reasons these days it's a good thing to diversify and have your eggs in a few different baskets.

 

What tips can you give to aspiring women entrepreneurs?

-Stay true to yourself. What do YOU want to create?! Do not let outside influences steer you away from your dreams and desires.

-Meditate, do yoga, go for a float, get outside....spend time with YOURSELF once a day. If you have a partner or kids find the time to have some alone time, it's worth every minute!

-Morning pages- 3 pages, first thing every morning as soon as you wake up. Just write. Don't worry about spelling or it not making sense. This allows you to put anything that's bothering you on paper so you don't carry that energy around with you all day. And if your goal is to write a book imagine what 3 pages will add up to after a few months of this super powerful morning ritual.

-Build solid relationships. Allow people into your life. Your network is your greatest asset.

What is one piece of advise you would give yourself looking back?

Don't be so hard on yourself!

What can we find you doing in your free time?

You can find me at Moksha yoga studio, a spin class or biking around the river, walking my dog Osito, hanging out at the market/ cafes for hours, or at some sort of community event or music festival.

 

Who is someone that you find is a role model for women in business?

I've been spending a lot of time with this woman lately and my goodness has she taught me a lot, Celeste Lemieux of Balance Within. I've never met anyone with her life experiences who's been able to show up fully present everyday and hold space and help so many people. I've taken a few courses with Celeste over the past year. I can truly say I am a more compassionate and a more loving person because of her...especially towards myself.

 

Do you think having a mentor is valuable both while you’re starting out and even after you are more experienced?

I had a mentor when I started hairdressing, Jacquelyn Marquis.  I would have quit a year after I began if it wasn't for her believing in me and spending the time and energy to teach me everything I still use until this day. I am currently mentoring an apprentice. Next month she will be completing her Journeymen's. Mentoring has shown me just how much I relied on my mentor to get me through some pretty tough experiences and if I didn't have that support I probably would have quit early on in my career. The power of a mentor goes a long long way.

 

Do you feel a strong sense of community among business woman and female entrepreneurs in Saskatoon and in Saskatchewan?

1000% yes!

Many of my friends I grew up with in Saskatoon are now some sort of entrepreneur. We have all came across the same struggles and know what it's like getting started. I feel anyone who moves to Saskatchewan would have no problem being welcomed and supported in their business.

Make sure to visit Janalyn and her Soul Team at the Modern Woman Show & Expo on April 16th & 17th at Prairieland Park. We have always learned so much from her each year at the event and we know you will find her products and knowledge eye opening and her presence filled with positivity.

Soul Salons can be found at #7-405 Circle Drive East in Saskatoon. Call them at 306-978-2411 to book an appointment.

 

Interview by Chantal Schulte

Photos by deMo Photography

Meet our Vendors: Midwest Laser Centre

 

Sabrina Stewart, owner of Midwest Laser Centre

 

Tell us about your business?

Midwest Laser is a business that provides non-invasive cosmetic treatments. We focus on cutting edge anti-aging treatments, skin rejuvenation, laser treatments, and even vaginal tightening treatments for laxity and bladder leak.

How did you get started?

My original training is in obstetrics and gynecology; I had a serious shoulder injury and it’s a very physical position. This led me into a new direction in medicine. I was blessed as the physician before me had Midwest for over 30 years. I became the new medical director and owner a year ago January. I am loving it so far! There are a lot of challenges, but always something new to push me.

What inspires you?

My biggest inspiration is to have my family be proud, have the respect of the community, and to be proud of what I am doing with a good reputation.

What is your idea of a Modern Woman?

Self-esteem and self-confidence; the ability to make educated choices for herself. Owning our decisions; woman can do anything, but making the right choices of what we SHOULD do is what makes a modern woman.

What tips can you give to aspiring women entrepreneurs?

Don’t be afraid to try something new, don't let fear of the unknown stop you from trying. The worst that can happen is failure and it may make you better for it. Mistakes are OKAY. Look at what other people are doing, take the positives and walk by the negatives. Listen, take advice, and learn to delegate to people with better skills.

What is one piece of advice you would give yourself looking back?

Sometimes your original “dream” turns out much differently than what you envisioned and that's OK!  Don't be afraid of change, accept the journey. Don’t waste energy worrying about what “might” happen. When you see something at winners BUY IT :).

What is in the future for Midwest Laser?

I see a growth in the services we are currently providing, and expanding our clientele. There is lots of potential for improvement- always. We are a leader as a clinic and we want to continue to be that in our industry.

What would we find you doing in your free time?

Full time taxi driver to my children, and entertaining family and friends. If I am not at the clinic- I am always busy with family and friends.

Who is someone that you find is a role model for women in business?

I didn’t have a mentor on this path, I have been creating a path on my own, and I am hoping I can provide that mentorship for other woman in the industry going forward.

Do you feel a strong sense of community among business woman and female entrepreneurs in Saskatoon and in Saskatchewan?

I am starting to to feel that there is a network out there, I am new to this world but I feel very strongly about connecting and supporting the community. In order to network and lift Midwest up as a business we understand that it is crucial to support our own community, charities, and events in Saskatoon. It’s so important to give back.

 

Located at #6-701 2nd Ave North Saskatoon

Serving Saskatoon-Regina-Edmonton

1-800-463-8700

Check out Midwest Laser Centre as a GOLD Sponsor of the Modern Woman Show on April 16th & 17th at Prairieland Park. They will be onsite with their technicians giving information about their services and providing demonstrations!

Interview by Mandi Brown

 

LIA REESE CANADA presents Gretchen Christine Rossi

Designer & Creative Director Gretchen Christine Rossi

Gretchen-Rossi-pic-1-683x1024.jpg

 

"Gretchen Christine was born to design."

Gretchen Christine Rossi is the Creative Director for The Gretchen Christine Collection. Ever since debuting her first handbag line, Gretchen Christine has steadily grown the company to be a well-respected and highly sought after fashion and beauty brand. With fans and customers in more than 144 countries, the companies’ extreme attention to detail, the quality craftsmanship, forward thinking colorways, yet simple and classic designs make Gretchen Christine handbags extremely desirable. Gretchen was born into a designer family legacy, Gretchen’s father Scott Forward, is a hugely successful designer and engineer who instilled in Gretchen a passion for colors, textures and designs at a very early age.

After obtaining her BA from Baylor University in Texas, her love of design, lead her to a very lucrative career in Real Estate and Interior Design. Her accomplishments by 2008 landed in her a very exclusive group of agents. Gretchen was recognized by Coldwell Banker International for being in the top 7% of the world for sales volume and interior design installations. In 2009 Gretchen decided to follow her dreams and make a transition into accessories and fashion. Gretchen Christine debuted her first handbag designs, The Gretchen Christine Collection during New York Fashion week in 2009 working very closely with David Manning and his Style360 Company to huge success.

In June of 2008 Gretchen’s desires to create and perform where noticed by Hollywood producers who approached her about joining the wildly popular NBC/Bravo Television series, "The Real Housewives of Orange County." Gretchen embraced the offer as a business opportunity, she saw the show as a way to showcase her designs to the masses. Gretchen’s presence and popularity had been a consistent factor with-in the TV series over 6 seasons. Now entering its 11th season, the show is a huge international success recently celebrating more than 120th episodes being aired in just over 160 countries.

Being owned and syndicated by NBC Universal, it has become a billion-dollar franchise for the network. Gretchen immediately became one of the shows break out stars. With adoring fans all over the world, the show has been seen by over 400 million people, from the UK to Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa, Dubai, Asia and Mexico. Gretchen now has more than 675,000 twitter followers, she has 660,000 fans on Facebook and another 466,000 on Instagram.

In 2010 Gretchen launched "Gretchen Christine Cosmetics", Gretchen’s name sake cosmetics line has almost 300 sku’s and is a staple among top salons and make-up artists. In 2011 Gretchen launched Gretchen Christine Swim wear into retail. An exclusive deal with Swim Spot retail stores, Gretchen Christine Swim was completely sold out around the country in less than 7 days.

Gretchen’s desire to design and create show no signs of slowing down as she is prepping to launch several other categories with in the Gretchen Christine collection by the summer of 2016. In addition, Gretchen Christine Rossi was named in the top 30 on Twitters 2015 top 100 Entrepreneurs to watch.

Learn more about Gretchen and her journey as an entrepreneur on Sunday April 17th at 2:00 p.m. at the Modern Woman Show & Expo held at Prairieland Park, Saskatoon. Your general admission of $10 gets you in to watch her and take in the tradeshow for the day! Don't MISS out on $20 VIP Tickets available March 1st at www.modernwomansaskatoon.com - Get a reserved seat and the opportunity to meet her with access to the tradeshow!

I am a Modern Woman: Mint Mortgage Group

Sarah Schiess

Mint Mortgage Group

 

Tell us about your business?

 We are a boutique mortgage brokerage based in Saskatoon, but serving the entire country :) We use the best technology to simplify and connect on a genuine human level for a more enriching experience. Before we do anything we first learn how will it benefit the mint crew, as well as, enhance the lives of others. Then we do it better.

How did you get started?

I was a single mother trying to buy a house on my own and found the entire experience degrading and exhausting. I was declined because I "didn't look good on paper" so I got a job at the bank thinking it would make me look better. It didn't :) I still had to get my first mortgage through a broker instead of through my own employer. I learned the ropes and felt that I still wasn't able to give people the experience I felt they deserved while I was working for someone else. So I went in to business as a mortgage broker and have grown from there to the point where we opened our own brokerage.

What inspires you?

Possibility and the people who reach to make what might seem impossible a reality.

What is your idea of a Modern Woman?

A woman who sees her potential and owns herself. She doesn't have to prove anything to anyone but herself and she walks her path understanding that she doesn't have to let anyone else define her.

What tips can you give to aspiring women entrepreneurs?

Be prepared to work hard and to fail a lot. You'll doubt yourself, but that's good because it forces you to see flaws and then you can work to correct them. Have faith in your vision and don't compromise on that even if it seems like it's the route that will please everyone else. Don't ever stop learning. Also, I'm borrowing from Ben Horowitz here in his book, "The Hard Thing About Hard Things" but this little tidbit has become a bit of a north star for me- "If you have to eat shit, don't nibble"

What is one piece of advice you would give yourself looking back?

Ask why more. "Why do this, or why do that?" Or even, "why do my customers need this? Why would they like this?" Understanding the purpose of something helps determine whether or not it's worth spending time on. I wasted a lot of time doing things because I didn't use my brain and I just followed the crowd doing the same things only with a new coat of paint. Understanding what I'm trying to accomplish ahead of time helps me keep my eye on the prize and figure out how to get to the goal.

What would we find you doing in your free time?

No time is free. We're all living on borrowed time so I try to make mine count. Family, health, work and friends are most important to me so anything I do would be related to one of those 4 things.

Who is someone that you find is a role model for women in business?

Elizabeth Holmes kicks so much ass.

http://www.inc.com/magazine/201510/kimberly-weisul/the-longest-game.html

Do you think having a mentor is valuable both while you're starting out and even after you are more experienced?

Having a mentor at every stage is absolutely essential. It's critical to honour and learn from those who came before you.

What is in the future for Mint Mortgage?

Change, growth and hustle. All mixed in with some fun;)

 

Mint Mortgage can be found at 205-310 Wall Street, Saskatoon

Visit their awesome website at http://mintmortgage.me/

You can also have a chat with Sarah and her team at the Modern Woman Show on April 16th & 17th at Prairieland Park

Interview by Mandi Brown

Photos courtesy of deMo Photography

I am a Modern Woman: Le Lash Lash & Makeup Boutique

Melissa Wyant- Taylor

Owner of Le Lash Lash & Makeup Boutique

                                                                                                                                                          Photo courtesy of deMo Photography

Tell us about your business?

Le Lash is a boutique full of luxury beauty products for any kind of woman! We offer lash extension services, makeup services, and brow services. We believe in having the best quality training, and hold the highest standards with all safety and sanitary procedures.

How did you get started?

I decided to start Le Lash after 8 years in the industry, I felt Saskatoon needed a luxury boutique for woman to have these services done. Saskatoon is a growing city and community, and women needed high quality services, alongside high quality products for their lash, brow, and makeup needs. We needed a place where women could escape, relax, and be pampered. We want all women to feel comfortable in Le Lash!

What inspires you?

Many things! Mostly successful female entrepreneurs. I love seeing women work together, and empower one another.

What is your idea of a Modern Woman?

A woman who is strong, proud to be her own person, and not afraid to stand up for what's right.

What tips can you give to aspiring women entrepreneurs?

Don't be afraid to follow your dreams, they may seem far away, but you can do anything you want to. Don't give up... Struggle and hurdles are all a part of getting where you are supposed to end up.

What is one piece of advice you would give yourself looking back?

Not to be afraid of doing things alone, and to take advice from other successful entrepreneurs! They have usually lived it, and know there stuff!

What is in the future for Le Lash?

I can't spill the beans yet, but we have some very exciting things coming for Le Lash!

What would we find you doing in your free time?

Spending as much time with my daughter and family as possible.

Who is someone that you find is a role model for women in business?

I think we can view all positive women in business who portray self worth and inner beauty as role models.

Do you think having a mentor is valuable both while you're starting out and even after you are more experienced?

Absolutely. A mentor is a huge part of owning a business. It's not always easy, but having someone to help you through is a very valuable thing.

Le Lash Lash & Makeup Boutique can be found at 245 3rd Ave South, Saskatoon 1-306-933-5274

Appointments can be made online @ www.lelash.ca

Be sure to watch them in action at Modern Woman Show & Expo on April 16th & 17th at Prairieland Park

 

Interview by Mandi Brown

 

The 'Modern Woman' Food Bank Challenge

Could you live off $32 dollars a week for food?

As a prudent planner and control freak I thought I could do this without issue. I spent the weeks leading up to this challenge thinking and re-thinking how I could demonstrate that a proper meal plan and budget could make this more than possible, but I ended up being part of an experience I wasn't at all prepared for.

But first, some things you should know...

Recent statistics (and a CTV news segment that inspired this blog post) reported that over 18,000 people utilize the Saskatoon Food Bank every month, with over half of those people being children. I wanted to find out why that figure was so high. In a casual conversation, someone suggested that in a city of roughly 255,000, as a statistic, 14% of the population living below the poverty line wasn't as bad as some places. However, I looked at it not as a statistic, but as 18,000 individual people... and that seemed like a whole lot of people. People that couldn't be pigeonholed into a certain demographic. Students, seniors, working families, those collecting social assistance or disability, and a variety of people who have just simply fallen on hard times due to any number of circumstances.

I did some digging into the data reported by HungerCount, a comprehensive study of food bank use in Canada, and found that Canadians visited food banks 14,000,000 times in 2014 with an average of 310,461 recipients each month being children. Yikes. Numbers are numbers, but I wanted more information - not just statistics, but a perspective from someone who could address the problem on behalf of the people utilizing the food bank right here in Saskatoon.

I was very lucky to correspond with Deborah Hamp, Director of Operations and Engagement for the Saskatoon Food Bank who was about to provide me with more insight.

I learned that there are four sizes of hampers available depending on how many people the hamper is designed to feed, and that the monetary value can change daily depending on what is available. A food basket is designed to last 2-3 days and can be accessed every 14 days. These baskets can contain soups, bread, lentils, oatmeal, canned protein frozen meat, pasta or rice, fresh produce (when available), and milk for children until 17 or nursing women. Deborah explained that the obvious key issues with the high usage of our food bank are inadequate social assistance rates, supplements for low-income seniors, and other income assitance such as disability. However, a bigger issue still is that wages for many low-income earners cannot keep up with the cost of living.

As I recently heard Bernie Sanders say, "Jobs should lift people of poverty, not keep them in it."

True dat, Bernie. The idea of "working for a living" has never been more untrue for a lot of people in low paying jobs. So what is happening to cause this problem among working people?

Well, think about it. People are working unskilled jobs that can't pay them enough to compete with increasing expenses, so there is consistenly a shortfall. Shortfalls that inevitably lead to crippling personal debt, increased government health care spending, increased social isolation, and increased incidence of mental illness such as depression and anxiety. Listen up people, you would be depressed too if had been eating the same thing for a week, if you didn't know where your next meal was coming from, or how you were going to feed your child a nutrious diet. People are quick to judge though, we've all done it.

So then, how do we elevate the quality of life for Canadians living below the poverty line? Well, HungerCount's findings suggest that affordable housing initatives, investments into education, and to improve support systems for low income families with children. But sadly, this is altogether easier said than done because, just as the people who utilize the food bank are multi-faceted, so are the solutions to each individual sitution. Plus, in a global economy that is sketchy at best - where does the money come from? In my discussion with Deborah Hamp, I then asked how people can help at a personal level, and she said the most powerful way to help begins with education.

So I decided to do just that. I wanted to do something to better educate myself and others about what it's like to experience food insecurity.

I designed a project based on similar challenges taking place all over North America, but adjusted the numbers to reflect the numbers here in Saskatchewan as best I could. I based this calculation on what the Saskatchewan monthly allotment for a single person on assistance would receive monthly, took away half for other necessities (soap, cleaning supplies, medication, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, etc.) and then divided by 4 to get an estimate of a weekly food budget. I realize that number may vary depending on the other expenses that could occur in a month, and the food budget could end up being slightly or not-so-slightly less depending on an individual's personal expenses. It is also noted that with an entire month's installment of money more savings could be accrued with bulk purchases as opposed to a single week's allotment, but for our purposes, a week's estimate was what we were going to work with. After speaking to a few people that either receive this benefit or work in this industry, I felt this number was fairly accurate and similar to what the other challenges presented in terms of a budget.

I needed some minions for this project so I asked some "modern women" to help me out. I'm so proud of these people for accepting this challenge whole-heartedly, and taking it so seriously with nothing to gain except a greater knowledge about themselves and others. We were very lucky to have each other as a support system via a Facebook group chat, where we could talk about our experience throughout the week. Many people in this situation wouldn't have that kind of support. There were laughs, frustrations, anger, and sadness as we all got a very small glimspe into a life of food insecurity. Our experience was only 7 days, but this is a long-term reality for too many people.

The rules were simple:

  1. Spend no more than $32 on your food for the week.
  2. No use of your previously purchased items that can be very pricey and likely to not be in your fridge or pantry. We were to treat it as a worst case scenario that left you starting from scratch; condiments, cooking sprays, oils, coffee, tea, or spices. It all had to be in the budget. We allowed random condiment packages collected from fast food places, because no matter your income - I'm pretty sure everyone has those atrocities laying around, and truly, if you wanted to go so far as to go grab them from somewhere, you could.
  3. No use of expensive convenience appliances - no Actifrys, Vitamixes or Keurigs,etc.
  4. Friends could not take you out for lunch, cocktails, or bring you Starbucks. Those living well below the poverty line often experience social isolation due to lack of funds and the challenge attempted to reflect that.
  5. You could not participate in unlikely workplace situations such as events with expensive dinners or office luncheons.
  6. Most people have family, so if you were invited for a gathering and offered a meal, you could have it - but you had to be invited and couldn't ask them to do so.

It wasn't easy. Not even a little bit. I actually really recommend everyone try this for a week. It should change your perspective, and if not... well, you're an asshole. Ok, just kidding, but I can't imagine it wouldn't.Meet the Challengers, have a peek at our grocery baskets for the week and what everyone had to say about their experience...

 

JENNA ROUFOSSE - REALTOR®

 

I am accustomed to a fairly comfortable lifestyle, which entails my trusty Keurig machine, my Culligan machine, a fridge, pantry and freezer full of food, and dining out on a frequent basis. Due to my job, I spend a significant amount of time wining and dining my sphere, past clients, and new connections.

I went into this challenge thinking – how hard can this be? I was very wrong. My strategy was to purchase as many “filling” items as I could, which included the items below. Needless to say, the change in diet, and for the most part, drastic increase in carbs, and lack of protein and fresh produce, hit my body hard. By the end of the week, I felt very ill, sick to my stomach, and I was both mentally and physically exhausted. I was emotional, very moody, and quick to anger. My motivation and drive to do anything was at an all time low. This is even evident in the diary I kept for this challenge – by the end of the week, my accounts are brief and to the point. I found it difficult to pay attention, focus at work, and I felt cognitively slower to react to everything. I could even feel my confidence diminish slowly as the week progressed. We were asked to weigh ourselves both before and following the challenge, and although my weight did not fluctuate at all, I felt like I had gained at least 10 pounds, and it was affecting me mentally. I just felt unhealthy, and by the 7th day, I could hardly find the motivation to even leave my house. Obviously, I could see how this was affecting my job, which demands a very high level of energy. I also found this challenge difficult as I do much of my prospecting through active meetings with past clients, new connections, and my sphere, which generally occur at coffee, lunches, and/or dinners.

 

I took a lot away from this challenge. It was incredibly eye opening, and allowed me to see things in an entirely different light. I think that the most important thing that this has taught me is that even though there is “financial help” for those in need, and I use that term lightly after this past week, it is not nearly enough to provide someone with the nutrients and diet that is needed in order to function and live a normal life on a daily basis. I think that the results of this challenge are HUGE – we can see a correlation between diet and motivation, mental, cognitive and physical functions, and the ability to function on a daily basis in its most general sense. If our aim is to help those in need, the current system, standards, and expectations need to be re-evaluated.

 

 

 

MACKENZIE FIRBY - Owner of Two Fifty Two Boutique

When grocery shopping, I usually purchase what I feel like eating with little emphasis on cost. I usually do a small bit of comparison on price but if I really want something I will purchase it regardless of the cost. I belong to many social groups and attend many events where I eat out- I often find that I ate at a restaurant or at an event almost every day of the week. I had not thought about what a luxury these two points were until doing this challenge!

I completed the challenge without cheating. There were many times that I was tempted but knowing that I could “go back to normal” after the challenge kept me going. It is a harsh reality knowing that there are numerous people in our community that this is their diet and nutrition every day.

 

The first few days of the challenge were ok- I felt quite normal physically and emotionally. It was almost like a diet plan- I didn’t want to cheat. By about Tuesday, Day 3, I started to feel sluggish. I had little to no energy and no drive or focus. By day 4 I had developed a dull headache that would not subside. I was tired of eating the same few items and I was hungry before going to bed. Day 5 and Day 6 came and I was in rough shape. Headache, energy zapped and I was hungry by afternoon and before bed. By the end of the challenge I only had some rice and oatmeal left- no fruits or veggies or protein. In total, I lost 5 pounds on the challenge.

 Before doing this challenge, I never thought about the impact of a proper diet and nutrition. It really opened my eyes and has made me more aware of what people face on a daily basis. The tired, sluggish feeling, lack of focus and the jitters were all effects I felt and I am sure that anyone eating like this on a regular basis would feel the same. Going forward I know that I will be much more aware of what I am spending on food and what I am eating. I really feel for those that do not get proper nutrition and I will make every effort to assist those in need whether it be donating to the food bank or by giving a monetary gift to any organization that assists those not able to afford nutritious foods.

CHANTEL HUBER - Co-anchor CTV News Saskatoon

 

When I was asked to be part of the Food Bank Challenge and live off $32 in food for the week, I thought, ‘sure no problem'. I would just be buying for me and no one can budget better than this gal who’s an expert shopper and can see a sale miles away! So, when I set off to do some shopping for the challenge, I did my research first, as I always do when hunting for a bargain. It wasn’t until I got to the store that I actually had to pull out my phone and use my calculator to make sure I wasn’t adding in my head wrong! I actually had to make multiple trips and to different stores to make my dollars stretch. When I had finally found everything I thought I needed, I went home proud I had stuck to my budget. Then, the week began and reality started to hit.

 

At first, the hardest thing for me, as trivial as it sounds, was not being able to grab a coffee mid morning or midday at Starbucks or Tim’s. It’s a habit I’ve been accustomed to and it was hard to remember I couldn’t just indulge if I was out or wanted to meet friends or coworkers for a coffee. As the week went on, I felt more hungry and had fewer choices for food. With a busy schedule, it was hard to preplan meals with very few ingredients. By the end of the week, I felt really low energy, tired and irritable and didn’t feel like eating anything I had left. I kept my workout schedule in tact because I wanted to experience what that felt like but also because it helped boost energy levels despite a lack of nutrition. By the end of the week, I started to feel nauseous and was counting the hours until the end of the food challenge. I was really noticing the lack of protein and fresh vegetables, even though everything I bought was relatively healthy. I didn’t buy any junk because it was cheaper.

The biggest thing I took away from doing this, was the realization of just how much food or a lack of it and the proper balance of foods impact your physical and mental state. I always knew of this, but to experience it was a different story. I realized how fortunate I am for what I have. I hope by doing this challenge, it raises awareness for others that hunger is a real issue in our community and if we all find ways to do what we can, whether it’s donating to the food bank, helping serve a hot lunch at a local school or helping someone we know who is struggling, hopefully we can each make a difference.

 KAREN MARTIN - Store Manager of Home Outfitters, Saskatoon

 

The initial shopping experience was a huge shock for me. I had to make decisions between certain foods-a loaf of bread or a box of crackers- I went with the crackers and glad that I did because there were many days when that’s what got me through. There was not enough money for both tea and yogurt, so I went without tea (my little bit of daily caffeine-that I was used to) for the week.

I shopped at Dollarama and Walmart, but realistically if I only had $31 for food, I probably didn’t have bus fare and unless I lived within walking distance to these two places, I would have to buy my groceries at one or the other. Neither place offered the best quality in product-but it was all I could afford.

I started out the week feeling like I could stretch this food out for the week, but as I was having less and less food left, my thinking certainly changed. I didn’t throw out the leaves from the celery-thinking I could fry them and throw them in my soup for anything extra. I started slicing the cheese super thin and rationing it, but then I was starting to feel quite hungry.

 

I work at a job that requires quite a bit of physical movement, so it definitely was not enough to keep me working to my full capacity. I had headaches, felt bloated and quite frankly a bit depressed about the lack of variety that a strict monetary diet like this gave me. I started to no longer look forward to eating because it was really just something to stop the stomach from feeling so horrible.

Even though it was only for a week, it was definitely an eye opener and brought awareness to what a lot of people in our city must deal with everyday. I strongly believe that in order to help people with life’s basics, we need decent affordable housing. When this market is so out of balance with everything else, there remains nothing for the simple basics of food and water.

 

KATIE MARTIN - Makeup Artist/Esthetician; Modern Woman Staff & Blogger

 

I organized this challenge to raise awareness for the Saskatoon Food Bank and to educate our readers about food insecurity. I truly thought with proper planning it wouldn't be that hard. I tried to shop smart with the budget I had to work with, planning for at least 1-2 servings of protein a day, 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, and 2 cups of coffee (albeit instant... barf) per day. The rest I had to go for satiety over my usual choices of complex carbs and ended up with a lot of bread and pasta. I've heard several people argue that "you can buy rice and beans in bulk and eat healthy on a budget". Ok, I wish those people would actually try that. Not only will eating nothing but rice and beans get old fast, but lack of variety in your diet is not only unhealthy due to zero variance in micronutrients, but its super depressing. So, I have to respectfully disagree with those people.

The first few days weren't that bad because I had most of my food to pick and choose from. However, right from the get-go the instant coffee upset my stomach and the margarine I could afford made me gag from the taste... "I Can't Believe Its Not Butter?" Believe it. It isn't. I was desperate for real coffee but I was still in good spirits.

 

Mid-week I was really starting to get that gross feeling when you eat too much sugar, even though I hadn't had any sweets at all. I wasn't sleeping well, I was more than a little irritable, my emotions were starting to run rampant and I was having a hard time focusing at work. I had started skipping meals due to lack of appealing food despite being physically hungry. Full disclosure alert: I have bi-polar disorder. I rely on routine and consistency, and it never occured to me that this project would affect me so drastically. By Thursday, I was all over the place. I was sleeping about 4 hours a night and when I wasn't mad about nothing, I was near tears over nothing. Friday (Day 6) was one of the worst days I can recall in a long time for not being able to manage my thoughts and moods. But, though my husband begged me to throw in the towel, I told him that there were so many people out there who suffer from mental illness that don't have the option to just throw in the towel. How many people can't succeed mentally because they don't have to means to care for themselves physically? How many children are being told they have a variety of behavioral or attention disorders when perhaps some of these behaviors could (at least partially) be due to a poor quality diet? I truly have no idea, but it definitely raised some questions for me. Nope, I was not throwing in the towel... I was determined to finish the challenge.

Saturday I went to work all day and while I felt physically drained I was in a bit better spirits because I knew it was the last day. By the end I felt defeated, physically and mentally unwell, and had lost 7 pounds despite feeling like I gained 1000. For the sake of giving readers the best account of my experience that I could, I tracked my diet via My Fitness Pal. I found I was eating between 1100-1500 calories a day, 60-70% coming from (not-so-complex) carbs and was below the recommended amount for protein, fat, fiber, many essential vitamins, and drastically below in iron and calcium. I realize that part of my struggle was the shock of going from a nutritious diet to something quite the opposite despite my planning, but nobody should have to treat their body less than optimal because of food insecurity - short or long term. Everyone in our community deserves to have access to a healthy, well-balanced diet. We definitely need more affordable housing to offset the high cost of living, community supports including educating the public about food insecurity, to provide accessible and quality education to people living below the poverty line about proper nutrition and how to prepare healthy meals, and we need to inform the public about how to get involved by donating and volunteering. We are all one community, and hopefully this inspires everyone to do a little bit more.

So there you have it. Please take the time to reflect and be grateful for all the good things in your life and never take them for granted.

Change can begin with helping just one person.

You can find the Saskatoon Food Bank at 202 Ave C S and visit their website at www.saskatoonfoodbank.org for information on their most wanted items for donation or how to volunteer.

Peace out Saskatoon... go be nice to each other.

Katie

 

I am a Modern Woman: Two Fifty Two Boutique

Mackenzie Firby with

Two Fifty Two Boutique

PicofMackenzie.jpeg

Photo Courtesy of deMo Photography

Tell us about your business?

Two Fifty Two Boutique specializes in women’s designer ready to wear, handbags, accessories, shoes, outerwear and more! We carry designer labels including DVF, Kate Spade, Vince, Eileen Fisher and Cynthia Rowley just to name a few. We pride ourselves on customer service and ensure you leave with not only an outfit that you love but an experience that you will tell your friends about.

How did you get started?

The Boutique opened in August of 2014. I have always had a love of fashion and shopping and wanted to bring the big city shopping feel to Saskatoon. Our city is growing, but I still found that I shopped a lot while away on business or vacation. I wondered why no one in Saskatoon was selling my favourite brands and decided it was a niche I could fill.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by a lot of people. My entire family is successful entrepreneurs and I look up to them. I go to them for mentorship, advice and support to ensure I succeed. I am inspired everyday by customers that enter the boutique. Each one has a unique story- problems they have overcome, personal failure and triumphs which all inspire me to create a positive atmosphere that they are drawn to. I am also inspired by fashion icons including Diane Von Furstenberg- she says that success does not come by chance or with luck but with hard work. I agree with this and try to live it everyday!

What is your idea of a Modern Woman?

My idea of a Modern Woman is someone that is positive and confident in her own self. She is on trend but has her own style. She takes cues from others, but ultimately makes her own path. She takes chances and both fails and succeeds but learns from her failures. She is someone that others want to be around and want to be like.

What tips can you give to aspiring women entrepreneurs?

You never know what will be until you try! It isn’t easy- you will work more than you ever have before. Sweat and tears are inevitable but are needed for success. When you think you have done all the research, planning and preparing you can ever do- do some more! Ask for advice and help when you need it, even if you think you don’t! Surround yourself with positive people- the ones that lift you up and inspire you and the road won’t be so rocky!

Visit Mackenzie and her amazing staff at Two Fifty Two Boutique @ 134 - 1824 McOrmond Dr, University Heights Square and watch for their booth at the 2016 Modern Woman Show & Expo on April 16th and 17th at Prairieland Park.

Don't miss them on stage for the fashion show Saturday April 16th at 7 p.m.

Interview by Mandi Brown