Every year on March 8th, the world celebrates International Women’s Day. It’s a day to celebrate the achievements of women and look for ways to create a more equal future.
This year, we want to throw a spotlight onto just a tiny handful of the many incredible women entrepreneurs in London. London is a city that is bursting at the seams with small, local businesses and many of those businesses are here because of the powerful, fierce, and intelligent women who started them.
Learn all about these women and their incredible businesses that make London such a fantastic place to love.
Purdy Natural offers 100% natural skincare and makeup. They believe that our bodies should only ever use products that are made from the things that grow from the Earth. The basic principle is that if you can’t eat it, you shouldn’t put it on your skin. Everything that they make is created with the best and completely natural ingredients that will keep your body happy and healthy.
Rokhsana’s vision for Purdy Natural is all about community. When you walk into Purdy Natural or check out their online store, you’ll find plenty of products from other incredible local businesses. Rokhsana believes in growing collectively together, cross-promoting, and being community-focused. She raises up other small, local businesses that create all-natural and organic products and promote their offerings.
The company is also committed to giving back to the community. They’ve partnered with Good Neighbours and donated 50% of the sale of their artisanal soap for the Better Life for Girls. They’ve also done fundraising events for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Angela Murphy wanted to create a new fine dining experience in London. Grace is a farm-to-table that works with local farmers and has sustainable and environmentally conscious food practices. The restaurant also supports other local small businesses.
Everything in Grace is made from scratch, including making their own ricotta and curing their own fish. When COVID hit, the company quickly pivoted and created Grace Pantry, which offers prepared foods, farm-fresh produce, meats, and eggs, local beers and ciders, and in-house-made ingredients like cream cheese, sauces, dressings, and pasta. Grace Pantry has become a community staple through COVID.
When Angela started Grace, she wanted to create a restaurant with a culture that is mutually beneficial for owners, staff, guests, and the community. She wanted to get away from the “machismo culture” that happens in many kitchens. Angela is open to letting everyone have a chance to contribute, develop, and grow. She has created a supportive environment and all staff is paid above minimum wage.
Learn more about Angela Murphy and Grace Restaurant / Pantry here.
Alana is a classically trained chef who moved to London a couple of years before starting up Haven’s Creamery. Haven’s Creamy is an ice cream shop that makes all handmade, small-batch ice cream. Even the waffle cones are hand-made in store! Shortly after moving here from Calgary she was walking through the city late at night, trying to find handmade ice cream and couldn’t find what she was looking for. So, she made it herself!
What really sets Haven’s Creamery apart from other ice cream parlours is that it’s flavoured with real, local ingredients. Alana supports local farms and other local businesses by only using local, sustainable ingredients in her ice cream in a very farm-to-spoon type of way. Haven’s offers up unique and delicious flavours like apple pie, salty caramel, London fog, and salty malty pretzel. Because she uses locally sourced ingredients, the flavours change with the season so there is always something new and delicious to try.
Speaking of ingredients, another thing that keeps people coming back to Haven’s time and time again is the feel and the taste of the ice cream. And that is thanks to the fact that the ice cream is made with all real ingredients. There are no preservatives, no enhancers and no stabilizers. It’s only made with pure cream, whole milk, egg yolks and sugar.
Check out Haven’s Creamery here.
Nicole started her company, Hairstrong, at the young age of 22. Nicole’s company creates a product that solves an issue that many long-haired individuals have faced for years: the infuriating scrunchy. Those of us with long, luscious locks who love to have active lifestyles have had to deal with hair ties falling out and not holding our hair out of our faces as we move or hair ties causing damage from being too tight and pulling your strands. Nicole didn’t want to have to choose between having long hair and being a competitive athlete. So, she created Hairstrong. Hairstrong is an adjustable Strongband (scrunchy) that actually keeps your hair in place, no matter how hard you work out. It’s built to last and not break on you or damage your hair.
This brand isn’t just providing a solution for the issues that so many of us with long hair face, it’s also empowering women to feel confident about how they look and feel.
Nicole is an incredibly competitive and hardworking individual. She was a varsity rowing athlete, the 2020 MBA Ivey Business School Pitch Competition winner, Propel at Western University Incubator alumni, and she even won the People’s Choice Award for the Western University Seed Your Startup.
Learn more about Nicole and her incredible product and company here.
The OVer Company
Like many products, The OVer was created out of necessity. Sabrina’s second child had a 5 week-long stay at the NICU when she was born. When Sabrina and her husband brought their tiny, 5lb baby out of the hospital, Sabrina wanted something more than just a blanket to keep her little one protected from the germs of the outside world, but that something needed to be breathable since her baby had been on monitors for the first few weeks of her life and needed to have good airflow.
The OVer is a cover for car seats, strollers, nursing, and more! It’s incredibly stretchy to fit over most car seats and strollers and is made from very breathable materials. The company provided a much-needed product to so many moms that the company has expanded since then, offering options for both mom and baby!
The OVer Company Corporation gives back to the community by donating to the Ronald McDonald House and other organizations. They also ensure that all of their products are ethically made and use natural materials that are good for you and baby.
Learn more about Sabrina’s incredible company and see everything The OVer Company has to offer here.
Kay Habib is an interior designer set on making a difference in her community by reducing unemployment in the marginalized communities and reducing fabric waste. Skilled Accents employs refugee women right here from London to create beautiful home decor from recycled fabric collected from local furniture and drapery stores.
Skilled Accents has three main focuses: people, planet, and purpose. They use only the highest quality fabrics that are 100% recycled in their creations. They take custom orders too so that you can get the size and design that you’re looking for.
You can see Kay’s team and learn their incredible stories (and hers) here.
Here you can check out Skilled Accents and the beautiful decor that they offer.
Erika started Os&Oakes when she was looking to find clothing for her two toddlers that would be fashionable and on-trend but that would be durable, last, and super comfy for them to play in. So, she designed a contemporary brand that would create clothing made out of high-quality fabrics that were made for kids but was a style that adults would adore. All of her clothes are super comfy and soft and are unisex.
Her designs are created from sustainable fabric that is highly durable and ethically made. Their pieces are made from super soft bamboo cotton that is sustainably sourced and is created to last. Their clothing is manufactured in Toronto and their accessories are handmade here in London. With Erika’s incredible success, she was able to expand her company and also create clothing for adults too!
You can check out Os & Oakes here.
Craft Farmacy, North Moore Catering, The River Room, and The Rhino Lounge
You can’t talk about women entrepreneurs in London without talking about Jess Jazey-Spoelstra. This woman is the President and CEO of North Moore Catering, The Rover Room, The Rhino Lounge and Bakery and is CEO of the newest addition to her impressive resume, Craft Farmacy. Some of London’s greatest food spots are all under this one fierce, successful woman.
Jess was inspired by her time spent working in New York. She spent evenings enjoying the most delicious food. This refined her palette and stirred up her passion for cooking and good food. When she came back to London, she wanted to have those same sorts of food experiences that she had in New York here. She started by creating a catering company that was focused on delivering high-quality and insanely delicious food: North Moore Catering.
Her friend owned The Brass Door and let her use his commercial kitchen for her catering business. She didn’t have a sign and she didn’t have advertising. She relied totally on word of mouth, meaning that she had to be more than just good. She had to be excellent. Excellent she was. Her reputation grew and in 2012 Museum London asked her to open River Room in the space above the museum, overlooking the Thames River. She did. Two years later, Jess had more ideas and opened The Rhino Lounge bakery.
In 2017 Jess partnered with the co-owner, Andrew Wolwowicz and created Craft Farmacy, a restaurant that delivers inventive and mouth-watering food paired with really good cocktails. Jess isn’t slowing down either. While COVID may have set some plans back a bit, Jess has plenty of ideas for more elevated food spots for this city.
Allison DeBlaire & Amber Irvine
Five One Nine Pursuit started when Allison made a pot of chicken noodle soup at home. She had a ton of extra and instead of just storing the leftovers, she brought it outside of a shelter to serve any of those who were not able to make it into the shelter (because it was full). A man came over and had some and announced that the soup had real chicken in it and people flocked to her feet to have some.
When she went home, she talked to Amber, her roommate, and they discussed how to do better as a community. They started 519 Pursuit, which brings humanity back to those who were experiencing homelessness. Their entire approach is based on friendship. They develop relationships with those who are facing poverty and homelessness and bring them care packages (clothing, food, hygiene, medicine, and PPE) to help them survive.
As they build trust and mutual respect, they can help their friends connect with local services, outreach programs, and help them get back on their feet and see better days.
You can learn all about 519 Pursuit and the amazing things that they’re doing here.
HEN + Bear
Genevieve got her Bachelor of Design from Ryerson and then moved to London. Her jewellery has become somewhat of a cult favourite in London and across Canada. Her handmade creations can be found in over 30 boutiques across the country, from coast to coast.
Hen + Bear creates jewellery for both men and women. Since every piece is handmade, each one is unique, which adds to the charm of the brand. The materials used are vintage or raw and have aboriginal, vintage, and bohemian vibes.
Hen + Bear is a well-known brand for quality and unique, distinctive designs. You can find a wide variety of pieces to choose from!
Jennifer Grant is a biochemical engineer. She has her Master’s in biochemical and environmental engineering. She used that passion for formulation to create a new skincare product that combines modern science with Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Jennifer, who is passionate about sustainable living, discovered the healing powers of cannabis root extract (which does not have THC or CBD, which are the ingredients in marijuana that are psychoactive). She combined the benefits of cannabis root extract with her three-step oil cleansing skincare ritual and created a product that is changing the game for skincare.
Her plant-powered, all-natural, cruelty-free products work with your skin, instead of stripping it of its natural oil production with harsh chemicals like most off-the-shelf skin cleaners do. The result is soft, healthy, clean skin.
Learn more about empyri and Jennifer here.
Judy created Kosuma bars in her kitchen at home. She was tired of energy bars that either didn’t taste great or didn’t meet her family’s dietary needs. She wanted something delicious and nutritious that could keep her busy family going throughout the day. So she made her own. Friends and family loved her bars and encouraged her to turn them into a business.
Judy did just that. She launched her business at the Western Fair Market back in 2012 and her bars are now sold in a dozen different cities and dozens of different stores throughout those cities. You can also buy them on Shop Locorum and get rewarded when you do! Judy passed her business off to two incredibly capable women so that she could pursue new and exciting endeavours!
These bars are handmade and are only made from 100% natural, whole foods. They’re gluten-free, vegan, and sweetened naturally. Every single bar delivers 9-1 grams of protein and 4-6 grams of fibre, but the best part is that they are delicious.
Learn all about their story here.