Despite the rising number of women choosing to pursue entrepreneurship as a career, the gender gap in business remains present in 2020. Studies show that women who start a small business make on average 58 percent less than their male counterparts who run similar businesses, which translates to an income difference of roughly $68,000.
This disparity is due to barriers including women being less likely to get access to venture capital funding and business loans. And with such obstacles barring the road to success, it’s no surprise that women remain “underrepresented in high-growth industries”, according to David Haber’s 2017 Bond Street article.
To help draw attention to the vibrant women’s business community in Vancouver, here are 13 women-owned businesses worth checking out.
Mumgry – Lilian Umurungi-Jung
With the million responsibilities and mile-long to-do lists that mums have to take care of, healthy snacking can now be one less thing to worry about. Lilian Umurungi-Jung created Mumgry, a plant-based snack brand, to meet the “dietary needs of Mums throughout every stage of motherhood: pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, postpartum and beyond.” Featuring a selection of roasted nut butters (Um, hello, Pistachio Chocolate Almond Butter!), Mumgry is a wholesome addition to any breakfast or snack for mums on the go. It was even endorsed by Beyonce!
Flourist – Janna Bishop + Shira McDermott
“Fresh is best” and “edible transparency” are the running themes at Flourist, an East Van-based artisan bakery and flour mill founded by Janna Bishop and Shira McDermott. They take a 100% transparency approach to their business, working directly with Canadian farmers to deliver traceable origins of their milled flours, grains, and other dried goods to customers. Visit their shop on the south of Commercial Drive to sample their freshly baked, mouth-watering pastries and sourdough loaves (and take a few home with you)!
Fantasy Cuts – Julie Vu
If you want to get an amazing haircut or balayage at an affordable price, Fantasy Cuts is the place to go. This little gem of a salon is tucked away on the side of West Broadway and Fraser–a bit hard to find if you’re not looking for it, but patrons who visit for a first-time appointment are often charmed by the quality of Julie, Anne, and Pam’s expertise and remain devoted regulars. Fantasy Cuts offer a variety of services from men, women, and children’s hair cut and colour to ear piercings. They don’t have an official website, but you can find their contact details on their Facebook page.
Kara Yoo Jewellery – Kara Yoo
Fans of minimalistic jewellery with clean lines will love Kara Yoo’s collection of handmade jewels. Kara Yoo Jewellery is an entirely female-run business led by Kara Yoo herself. Her unique designs draw inspiration from fashion, architecture, and nature and are crafted in their False Creek studio using recycled metals and vintage pearls.
We are Flik – Michelle Kwok
FLIK (Female Laboratory of Innovative Knowledge) is an online portal built by entrepreneurs Michelle Kwok and Ravina Anand. Its mission is to join female leaders with female apprentices in various industries across the globe for mutual benefit and learning. As the gender gap currently stands in 2020, women in the business ecosystem still do not have the same access to resources (business funding, training, mentorship opportunities) as men, but the FLIK community is here to change that.
NADA – Brianne Miller + Alison Carr
NADA is Canada’s only zero waste grocery store. It opened in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant in 2018 and quickly became a favourite among eco-conscious consumers. Apart from offering a large selection of package-free groceries, founders Brianne and Alison also host regular community events that allow people to connect with and learn from local leaders in the sustainability movement.
Foe and Dear – Katherine Schlattman
Foe and Dear is a local jewellery and accessories brand that draws its design inspiration from nature. Everything in the shop, from the engagement rings to hair accessories, is handmade by Katherine Schlattman and her all-female team using recycled or fair-trade gold and conflict-free gemstones. On top of being environmentally conscious, Foe and Dear has a community outreach program committed to donating a portion of their proceeds to nonprofits fighting for racial justice, animal rights, nature conservation, and girl’s empowerment.
Mala the Brand – Melody Lim
Melody Lim’s eco-friendly soy candles are the latest hit among candle-lovers. It’s no surprise when they come in a wide array of comforting scents like Cereal (seriously, this candle smells like Froot Loops!), Mimosa, Sweet Fig, Clean Cotton, and more. They are hand poured using the most basic sustainable ingredients: natural soy wax, wood wicks, lead-free cotton wicks, and a blend of phthalate-free fragrance and essential oils. Plus, Mala the Brand is partnered with Tree Era and Plant the Peace to plant a tree for each purchase.
JamPR – Ada Slivinski
Helping the underdog is the motivation behind Ada Slivinski’s work at JamPR, a boutique PR agency based in Gastown. JamPR is made of a team of journalists, creatives, and content strategists whose mission is to help small businesses get the best exposure through social media management, media relations, PR events, and more.
Line Spa and Polish – Seiko Kono
Seiko Kono is the owner of Line Spa and Polish, a nail salon located on Vancouver’s bustling West Broadway street. She has reimagined the modern manicure by using only non-toxic nail products and natural nail care practices. In response to covid-19, Kono partnered with the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation to support frontline workers; $10 from every appointment on Tuesdays and Wednesdays will be donated to the foundation. These donations will go towards “the purchase of critical equipment, funding high-impact research projects (such as a COVID-19 vaccine), and support advancements in patient care.”
Fortiv – Michelle Larsen
Reclaim. Reimagine. Redefine. Michelle Larsen is the creative behind Fortiv, a slow fashion brand, which she founded to counter the fashion industry’s massive textile waste problem. Through Fortiv, she reclaims used fabric materials and lovingly reconstructs them into wearable, stylish pieces using natural dyes. Her products can be found at Picnics and Pottery on East Hastings or custom-ordered through her website.
Taffystep – Lorraine Ng
From 30 years of family history and industry expertise is born the modern woman’s perfect shoe–and they’re environmentally friendly! Lorraine Ng is the founder and owner of Taffystep, a local e-commerce start up that sells a range of stylish, work-appropriate shoes made from vegan leather. Lorraine specifically designed Taffystep’s collection of ballet flats and heels to be comfortable and versatile to allow women to step from work to play with ease. Gone are the days of bringing an extra pair of shoes to work!
Salt and Design Co. – Lucy Gregory and Daphne Wong
Salt and Design Co. is a brand design and development agency based on Vancouver’s popular Main Street. Owned by branding experts Lucy Gregory and Daphne Wong, Salt and Design’s include brand and web design, SEO, and content marketing services are designed to help small businesses create purposeful and strategy-driven content.
There are many reasons why women-run businesses are poised to benefit the economy in innovative and economic ways, but supporting female entrepreneurs and business owners is about more than closing the gender gap in the industry; it’s also about creating opportunities for other marginalized and underrepresented communities and cultivating an inclusive society that is not influenced by misogynistic and discriminatory beliefs. As consumers, we thankfully have some ability to help women-owned businesses thrive with none other than the power of our wallets and attention.