Exhibitors at the expo

By Olivia Barrett

Tuesday 17 October 2023

The supportive and inspiring ambience of Kanata-Carleton Small Business Network’s First Businesswomen Expo

Looking around the first ever businesswomen’s expo hosted by the Kanata-Carleton Small Business Network (KCSBN) and Leading Ladies Canada, one thing was clear: there was something for everyone.

Hosted at Head Office on October 14, a co-working space in Kanata, businesses of all types attended to promote themselves and support the other businesswomen who attended.

The event serves the same purpose as the business network: connect business owners with others to grow. “My idea was to provide [the small businesses] this venue and this opportunity so they can learn from each other and they can grow,” said Rouba Fattal, the founder of KCSBN.

Fattal added that the diversity at the expo was outstanding. She spoke about how great it was to look around and be able to see a variety of people from different backgrounds both as vendors and as attendees.

The diversity of businesses was not be dismissed either as there was something for everyone at the expo. Businesses ranged from health and wellness to teaching to food and drinks to literature and everything in between.

A display booth at the the expo

Maria Cherkasskaya, an entrepreneur who runs a business consulting service and a personal growth and development service for women, talked about how events like these help businesses with being seen and helping new entrepreneurs go outside of their comfort zones to make connections. “This kind of networking event where you have face-to-face communication is just so important,” she said, adding that you can create a more personal relationship with potential clients.

The connection with other business owners is a crucial part of events like this, Cherkasskaya explained. She talked about the importance of seeing the other businesses out there and learning from these other businesswomen. “When you connect with people who are doing the same, you really feel inspired,” she said, “it’s such a great opportunity to go and talk to other business owners and figure out ‘maybe there is a way we can work together in the future.’”

Many of the other entrepreneurs at the expo shared this sentiment, along with wanting to empower and encourage young women and girls to get into business and not be afraid to branch out and stand out.

Ottawa bestselling author Louise H. Reid talked about the experience of writing her book, Humanizing Leadership, and how she hopes it will encourage others to break the cycle and become good leaders. She explained how working in human resources for years showed her that people were becoming unfulfilled because they did not have “good leaders” helping them out of monotonous routines that drained their creativity and potential. Reid also talked about what it was like writing the book and her excitement now that the book is out and already helping others, while also quickly becoming a bestselling book on Amazon.

Reid was not alone in taking this level of passion and pride in her work.

Anna Stubbe, owner of Anna Stubbe Chocolates and Confectioneries, talked about being the first woman in six generations of her family to carry on the chocolatier and pastry chef legacy. Stubbe said both her father and brother have shops in Ontario but added that her shop has a more “contemporary and feminine touch,” making her brand unique, giving a special mention to the logo’s turquoise colour.

Handmade products, like Stubbe’s confectioneries and chocolates, were dispersed throughout the expo. Cynthia Batotele is the founder of Asantys Haircare, a hair product line that uses only natural and organic ingredients and is made right here at home in Ottawa.

This was Batotele’s first time attending an expo like this, and she said it was an honour to be there with other inspiring women in business.  “This is a dream coming true,” Batotele said, “I’ve become what I’ve always wished to be and I’m very very glad and happy to inspire people around me.” She added that the supportive nature of the expo and being surrounded by other “wonderful women that love business and love what they do” made being there feel very special.

While she was feeling inspired at the expo, Batotele also hoped to inspire others, offering some advice for people thinking about getting into business. “Do what you love. Do what you are passionate about,” Batotele said, “as long as you are proud of yourself, keep going. You can do it.”