On November 9, 2023, the Business and Entrepreneurship Centre Northumberland (BECN) hosted over 120 women from Northumberland County and beyond, to celebrate and highlight women in business at their sold-out ‘She Owns It’ Women’s Entrepreneurship Conference.
“It was moving to be in the room with so many strong, influential and inspirational leaders from our community today,” states County Warden Mandy Martin. “Our local network of women in business holds a significance for me, as a woman, a professional, and a Northumberland community member. This community has so much to offer Northumberland, including unique perspectives, talents and skills that are helping our community thrive.”
The half-day conference, hosted at the Best Western Plus Cobourg Inn & Convention Centre, was presented in partnership with Regional Tourism Organization 8 (RTO8). It featured a remarkable panel of industry experts, including keynote presentations from Founder and CEO of Cheekbone Beauty Jenn Harper and Co-Founders of The June Motel, April Brown and Sarah Sklash.
Jenn Harper is an award-winning social entrepreneur, leading the way in sustainable cosmetics with her company Cheekbone Beauty, while giving back to the Indigenous community. Her business quickly gained popularity after appearing on CBC’s hit show, ‘Dragon’s Den’ in 2019.
April Brown and Sarah Sklash left their desk jobs in 2016 to convert a rundown motel in Prince Edward County into The June Motel – a destination that is now globally recognized. Their entrepreneurial journey was featured on the 2021 Netflix reality show ‘Motel Makeover’, which followed the renovation of their second location in Sauble Beach. They have since announced a third location coming to Beaver Valley in early 2024.
Presentations also included a professional development session led by Digital Main St. E-Commerce Program Manager Candice Cristovao, which focused on the key trends to consider in 2024 to maximize small businesses’ online presence.
Throughout the event, attendees also had the opportunity to network with like-minded business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals from the community – many of which have participated in the BECN’s business development programs. These programs offer business support for entrepreneurs in various stages and categories of business, through micro grants, mentorship, education, business planning and networking.
“Small businesses are very important to rural communities like Northumberland,” states BECN Business Development Coordinator Kailyn Coupland. “They increase our local workforce, strengthen the local economy, and inspire innovation, creativity and growth. However, research shows that women often face additional barriers to entering the business marketplace and experience lower survival rates than male-owned businesses. The purpose of today’s event is to connect local women in business with knowledge, skills and supports to help them successfully start or grow their business, and to present the opportunity to build a strong, supportive and collaborative network of support.”