Tag Archives: community

Make a meaningful relationship with your customers online.

Kelly headshot (2)

 Your main goal for Social Media Marketing isn’t really about sales, it’s about relationship building with your customers and target audience.  Building this relationship will then drive sales and growth.

 A major advantage that small business’ have over larger ones, is that you are able to give your brand a personality that should fit the community you work in.  You have the ability to talk about topics that are important to your community.

 Social Media has changed the way that business MUST operate, it has given your consumers more of a voice in your brand and what you do.  One doesn’t need to look hard online to see this in action, one example that comes to mind is Doritos and their rainbow coloured chips that they made to support the LGBT, there were a lot of people who supported the move, and those that didn’t.  The ones that don’t support something you are doing will tend to be more verbal on your pages about it, but the beautiful part about this is that your community will generally come to defend you, and that only happens if you can create a meaningful relationship with them.

 Now, you are probably asking, how do I start that meaningful relationship? There are a few ways to go about this.  Twitter and Facebook have great tools to use to find out what people are interested in in your community, apart from reading a local paper (which is a great way to stay informed about your community) you can try surveying your current followers and get their opinions on issues and your industry.  If you start to talk about their interests, they will be more likely to like, comment and share your content which will lead to more followers.

 Another way is to build your email marketing list.  Use social posts to ask people to sign up to it, and let them know what kind of content will be in your emails.  Also ask them to sign up when they buy something from you. It’s important to not make your emails too salesy, instead, again, cover topics that affect your community AND your industry.  When you provide content that solves a problem of your customers, you are more likely to have repeat customers and build a better relationship with them.

 Digital Customer Service is becoming huge.  Most customers that now have a problem with your service or product won’t tend to phone you, they will come and talk to you online though a post to your page or directly chat with you.  The quicker you respond and address their issue, the stronger relationship you build.  Make sure you have some sort of policy in place for acceptable response time, most businesses a generally within 24 hours, and yes, even on weekends.  So whether you do your social media yourself or have a vendor that does it for you, make sure that your expectations are communicated to them.

 The last thing you can do to build the relationship is have some sort of rewards program that offers some benefit to your repeat customers, because the worst thing you can do as a business, is not appreciate loyalty, just look at the big phone companies like Rogers and Bell, do you feel that you are being rewarded for being a customer for years?

 As more and more networks pop up, catching your customers attention and building a trusting relationship is going to become harder and harder, be sure to stay adaptive to your business and customer needs and think outside the box, bland doesn’t sell.


Teach Me Social owner Kelly Farrell has been helping empower Canadian Small Business owners through social media for over three years. Her team now offers services ranging from training sessions for small business owners and their teams, to full-service social media account management. Visit teachmesocial.ca to learn more about our service offerings or to contact us today for a no obligation consultation, including an audit of your existing social media channels.

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IWAA 2016 Award Recipients: Canadian Small Business Women of the Month of February 2016



Marcia Brown  (Changing Lives Award)

Marcia Brown founded Trust 15 Youth Community Support Organization in 2011.  She started her career with the Toronto District School Board as an Educational Assistant in 2005.  She has been working diligently to educated mentor and inspire the young men and women in her community ever since.

Marcia recognized that there was a significant need in her community for a place where youth could come and feel safe and accepted, and receive much needed support.  So she decided to walk from door-to door-in the neighborhood asking parents if they would allow their children to participate in this enriching after-school program.

Earning the trust from the community and the 15 girls that showed up on the first day the program started, led to the name, TRUST 15.  Then came 3 programs that changed the community of Etobicoke.  The programs are Ladies on the Rise, Men of Distinction and Girls on the Rise.

Marcia Brown has acted as the active link between education, community and family.  She has engaged parents and community members in the success of our youth and encouraged the engagement of our youth in their own success, through education and mentorship.  The young ladies and young men have showered Marcia with praises and appreciations for her care, compassion and support.  She has provided them with better access to jobs, resources for university, and access to achieving career and life goals.

Joy Foster:    (Art & Culture Award)

 Joy Foster, an accomplished Motivational Speaker, Singer, Professional Recording Artist and Television Talk Show Host “Future Prospects” she will help unlock the invisible door that so often stands between people and their ultimate personal and professional goals. Whether its leadership, communication, change management, or stress Joy’s training is fast-paced, information-packed, interactive and guaranteed to deliver skills, techniques that can be used right away. She has a natural approach with her audience on the issues of self-esteem and motivation in the competitive marketplace. 

Close to her heart Joy has taken up a mission to empower our future generation today’s youth towards greatness. To leave the pain they may endure and pursue, discover the diamond they are born to be! Her presentations have embraced and delivered messages that leave student body and teachers wanting more! Joy pulls no punches and allows no excuses to be expected only solutions. Students are allowed to talk openly feeling their opinions are heard and not judged but listened too with an empathic ear. Sharing her own real life stories students are touched, empowered and inspired towards their inner greatness.

Joy shows great compassion with students and also holds a very safe, supportive, respectful and inclusive space for the training and learning to take place. She is able to perform with students and not lose them in the process. She also has a unique presentation delivered to parents titled “Parents Curtain Call Please!” Joy grew up in a home where her parents had not known how to communicate to their children that contributed to a concrete wall for all her siblings including herself. Joy endured pain, loneliness and confusion throughout her childhood. Constant arguments and a dysfunctional home life she decided enough is enough and found the strength to overcome her adversities. She knows the importance of love that parents today MUST employ to their children everyday. Communication is vital to the improvement of our youth today. They need their parents not media but parents whom love them unconditionally. “Parents Curtain Call Please” is an eye opener for all parents to attend and learn the true meaning of parenthood.

Yvette Thakurdial: (Women In Business Award)

Yvette Thakurdial was born in Kingston, Jamaica. She migrated to Canada in 1987. Yvette is a graduate of Centennial College, where she receives a diploma in Automotive Technology in 1994. Yvette launched her career in Automotive Sales and Customer Service, she is currently the Co-owner of Meineke Car Care Center, an Automotive Franchise here in North York.  Yvette has over 20 years experienced Sales and Customer Service industry.

Yvette believes it is the responsibility of business owners to give back locally and internationally as much as possible to those in need.  She currently lives in Maple with her husband, 3 daughters, 2 grandchildren and 3 cats.

Grace Nakajje: (Humanitarian Ambassador Award)

Grace Nakajje is a Ugandan Health Advocate. Nakajje founded Grace Works Initiative, a not-for-profit organization promoting healthcare for less-privileged women and children in Uganda. Nakajje Authors a book “Voice in the Jungle” that brings to light the depth of Africa’s cultural crisis of Female Genital Mutilation, child marriages, and girl education.

Nakajje Nakajje is an alumni of the International Leadership Institute. Currently, she is pursuing a degree of Master of Science Public Health at the International Health Science University, Uganda. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree of Journalism, an experience that paved her way for recognition at UMAC Annual meeting in USA as the best female UMC Communicator from Africa. Nakajje wants to see a free world where women will have right to healthy life with dignity.

Salina Khan: (Positive Impact Award)

Salina Khan is an ambitious recent graduate student from the University of Toronto with an honors degree in Health Sciences.

She has devoted her time, energy and education in hopes to improve Clinical Research studies within the realms of Cancer. Having worked as a Clinical Researcher in Thoracic Surgery within Oncology at UHN, she hopes to work toward bettering our understanding of different causes, developing strategies for prevention, diagnoses, treatment plans and cures for Cancer. Presently, she is working on her publication on various techniques that can be used to better identify cancer antigens suitable for testing in vaccines.

Her hard work and dedication have been appreciated by The University of Toronto, JYI, The Peel District School board, Toronto General Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital and the Premier of Ontario.

Alongside her research, she spends her free time volunteering with Let’s Talk Science – a national charitable organization who aim to engage children in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. She is also a member of Canadian Helping Arms –a non-profit organization currently working on the Syrian Refugee Crisis. Furthermore, she is apart of SMILE- another non-profit organization whose mandate is to develop awareness of the limitations faced by children with disabilities and critical illnesses.

 Sophia Findlay: (Media Award)

Sophia Findlay is a Toronto-based journalist and advertising executive. She is currently employed to The Gleaner Company and G98.7 FM Radio.

Sophia has written for print and online publications, which includes The Jamaica Observer Newspaper and its magazine, All Woman; The Toronto Star Newspaper and its glossy magazine, Sway, as well as, Huffington Post and The Globe and Mail.

She also specializes in content branding, marketing and promotions. But before all of her prestigious appointments and job roles, she describes her journey as “cut my high teeth” at Contrast Newspaper, Canada first Black newspaper, where she did her internship.

Sophia studied the Arts at The University of Toronto at the beginning of her post-secondary education but later changed to Ryerson University when a placement became available in their journalism programme. During those years, she maintained a regular part-time position at the main branch of The Royal Bank of Canada, downtown Toronto.

As a businesswoman in the country of her birth, Jamaica, which she had returned to in 2003,  after living in Canada for over 17 years, she owned and operated a franchise as an authorized dealer of one of the island’s largest telecommunications firm, LIME (Landline, Internet, Mobile and Entertainment), formerly Cable & wireless Ltd.

Nina Hallie Dixon: (Youth Leadership Award)

Nina Hallie Ruth Dixon is the Founder, Producer and Host of In the Loop.

She made her mark as a producer when creating the online interactive program in 2010 which transitioned to television shortly after. Dixon has been a successful correspondent with Rogers TV since 2011. Her area of special interest is helping youths and other members of society become their best selves personally and professionally by bridging the gap between community’s members regardless of their age, race, gender or economic strata. Known for her devotion to volunteerism and hard work Nina has established herself as a woman who cares about her community and she brings that unique talent to In the Loop, as it continues to break borders and blaze paths through communities and within the entertainment industry.

At a young age she surrounded herself with mentors and leaders in her community which opened the doors to much of her success in print and the world of entertainment media. Since then she has graced the sets of movies such as 16 Blocks starring, Bruce Willis, Four Brothers starring Mark Walberg, Tyrese Gibson and Andre Benjamin and Ice Princess starring Kim Cattrall. She has conducted exclusive interviews with (but are not limited to): Toronto Maple Leafs’ Alumni, Johnny Bower, Bill Derlago, Dave McLIwain; Canadian Olympic Gold Medalist, Brianne Jenner, CNN Strategist, Roland Martin, CBC News Anchor, Ann Marie Mediwake, fashion designer, David Dixon, Lead Reporter of ET Canada Rick Campanelli, renowned singer, Percy Sledge, member of Parliament, Senator Don Meredith, artist Beress Hammond and many more.

Nina can be found volunteering with various charities and speaking at events geared to youth who she encourages to participate in charitable work and contribute to their communities. She is an active member of the Rotary Club of Brampton Flower City Centennial; an international group compiled of over 1.2 million leaders who work together create change and positively impact communities around the world.

ALMAS JIWANI: (Lifetime Achiever 2016)

A global voice for gender equality and women’s economic empowerment “People often ask me why we choose to focus specifically on women. My answer is simple – we focus on women and girls because evidence accrued over decades of international development work has proven that the status and role of women is the best clue to a nation’s growth potential, and is a key factor in determining a society’s standard of living.” UNWNCC President Almas Jiwani, HSBC Canada, November 2012 Almas Jiwani, President of UN Women Canada National Committee and CEO of Frontier Canada Inc, is a fiercely vocal champion for gender equality. She is internationally renowned for her efforts to encourage women’s social, economic, and political empowerment. She spearheads initiatives where corporate growth intersects with humanitarian development.

A model of perseverance and determination, Ms. Jiwani’s efforts to strengthen women’s economic capacity as entrepreneurs and producers have earned her accolades. She plays a crucial role in building networks among charitable institutions and socially responsible businesses. Ms. Jiwani is a powerful and influential speaker and she continues to travel across the globe to deliver keynote addresses, speeches, and presentations on improving the status of women. She addressed over 400 parliamentarians from 42 countries on the benefits of economically empowering women and the roles and responsibilities of parliamentarians at the International Assembly in the Dominican Republic and Quebec City. More recently, she addressed the Pan Africa Media Conference, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, World Bank, Women in Leadership Forum in Abu Dhabi, African Development Bank conference, and the World Forum alongside Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and holistic health/New Age guru Deepak Chopra.

She is CEO of Frontier Canada, a communications and marketing company based in Toronto, Ontario. In 2013, Ms. Jiwani was appointed as a member of Magna Carta Canada honorary committee alongside with former Country Prime Ministers and high level political dignitaries. She was also appointed as good will Ambassador of the World NGO. 2 In 2012, Ms. Jiwani made history as a state visitor in Pakistan when she addressed one million women on gender inequality. In June 2012, she was appointed as a Global Ambassador of Peace by the Universal Peace Federation. She is a member of the Global Advisory Board of Women in Leadership – NASEBA Corporation in the Middle East and Dean, Faculty of Law at Istanbul University in Turkey, Pamoja Kenya Mentorship Alliance, Enerdynamic and Global Warming Prevention Technologies. Ms. Jiwani has gained international recognition and commendations from governments and the media: •

 Tylaine Duggan: (Diversity Award)

Tylaine is a driven and passionate entrepreneur with an ambition to conceptualize, operate start-ups, and has created winning solutions and profitable organizations under her unique management.

As an only child raised in Europe by Corporate Executives, she wrote her first business plan by age 8, formed her first company at age 11 in a foreign country, and has not stopped since – now into her ‘50’s.

In 1995 as CEO she sold the Canadian Profit Magazine “Top 100 Profitable company ISDN” (a 24/7 newswire sending Press Releases for Publicly Listed Traded Companies to the Stock Exchanges, Governing Authorities, Financial Brokerage Firms and Media).  It later merged with BCE Emergis (Bell Canada), and she is noted in the “Canadian Who’s Who” for her telephony and IT expertise.  Ms. Duggan continues to operate 4 companies in myriad genres including natural body care products, an import export construction company, plus concurrently for the last decade YOUTH DAY Global – a free family festival celebrating the positive achievements of young aspiring artists to enable them a place of expression and find their passion to build self-esteem towards a bright future.  The Volunteer driven event now attracts over 32,000 people in one day each summer in Toronto.  Her 4th is poised for market.

Having lived and travelled from Europe to Dubai to North America, her 6 languages have served her well in International negotiations and diplomacy to meet the goals and objectives of her entities to improve social, solutions driven companies – while driving their financial operations without outside investment.

Tylaine has also been recognized as the recipient of the International Women’s Achievements Awards for Arts & Culture; is a regular invited Speaker at the United Nations; is known for her relentless and dedicated Community work; her International efforts; and has received numerous Proclamations for her creation of an “Event of Municipal Significance for the City of Toronto” for the unique YOUTH DAY platform festivals designed for our young people.

Stella Ebere Opara: (Woman of Distinction Award)

My name is Stella Ebere Opara from Imo State Nigeria. Born 8th January 1981, I am married and blessed with two beautiful girls. I am a graduate of Federal Polytechnic Oko from the department of Business Administration and Management. I have worked with the following organizations; NAL Bank Plc (now Sterling Bank Plc) 2004 – 2005 Industrial Training Staff Michael Imodu National Institute for Labour Studies 2007 – 2008 National Youth Service Corps Staff Standard Alliance Life Assurance Company Ltd 2009 – 2011 Financial Planner I currently work with these following organizations in various capacities; Managing Director Moniseed International Limited Stellamaris Cooperative Thrift and Credit Society Ltd registered in 2012 Founder and President Federation of Agricultural Commodity Associations of Nigeria (FACAN). Coordinator Imo State Chapter since 2013 till date Women in Agriculture & Entrepreneurship Cooperative Thrift & Credit Union, as the Founder and President since 2014 till date. Association of Non-Bank Microfinance Institution of Nigeria (ANMFIN) Vice Chairman Imo State Chapter National Banana/Plantain Growers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NABPAN). National Treasurer Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA) State PRO & Organizing Secretary

Through my participation in these organizations and working hand in hand with the State and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment and members at the grassroots, I have gotten the opportunity to promote the interest of women in Agriculture and farmers in general who live in remote areas and have no access to agricultural assisted programs by the Nigerian Government. I look forward to recording more progress in all my endeavors.

Dwania Peele: (Entrepreneurship Award)

Dwania Peele is the founder and Executive Director of Canadian Small Business Women, a website and blog that aims to provide aspiring small business women of Canada a place to find all the resources required to start a business. It also provides marketing tools for current business owners who wish to take their businesses to the next level.

Kemi Amusan: (IWAA Volunteer Award)

 Kemi Amusan lives in Toronto, Canada. She is the Executive Director of Global Women Ambassadors. The Organization celebrates women leaders, empowers women through life skills training, mentoring, family mediation, referrals and counseling. She is a voracious advocate for eradication of violence against women. Madam Global as she is fondly called volunteers a huge percentage of her time supporting women based organizations, planting unifying community-based groups and also promoting stability in homes, with the ultimate aim of having stability in our communities.

Andrea Tabnor: (IWAA Role Model Award)

Andrea Tabnor was born at Kingston Jamaica in1970. She migrated to Canada at age seven to be reunited with her mother and father.  Tabnor and her family moved to the Jane and Finch (J-F) area in 1978 where her mother known as “Mama Ivy“ resides to this day. Tabnor grew up in the J-F and attended Yorkwoods Public School, Oakdale Junior High, and Westview Centennial Secondary School.  Tabnor became a mother at age fifteen and a grandmother at age twenty-nine. English was Tabnor greatest strength but attendance was her weakness so she decided to drop out of school in grade nine and took her educational skills to the streets.  While out of school with no job and financially unstable she made a decision out of desperation and no sense of direction to live a life of crime to gain financial stability. She became a notorious shoplifter, sold drugs (cocaine), walked with gang members, (Bloods and Crips), exposed to guns,  and lived a lavish lifestyle in dancehall with a girl crew called Lushus Crew.

In August 2010 she sat down in a backyard in the Firgrove community and she said to some community members that she was tired of the gun violence, funerals, and separation within her community. She said we need to stop keeping BBQ’s that separate us and instead try to do something in the name of “Unity”. With just a thought she brought her idea to the J-F Community Ministry and executed it on August 28, 2010. She had the Fire Department bring out their Fire Truck to talk about safety and for the children to explore, an experience they never had. The police were not involved because she never understood the concept that police also engage in community events. She thought they were only there to arrest criminals and with her background she had much fear in going to the police. Toronto Community Housing never gave me permission to access space so a community member named Kerri without hesitation gave me access to space which was her home.  She sent a promotional flyer into the community that had a poem on it called GUNS. Tabnor is a Spoken Word artist and the poems that she writes can relate to people that have walked in her shoes. Through her poems she delivers a message to a community that doesn’t engage but can relate to her.

The first J-F Unity event was so successful she was asked if she would be interested in doing it again. Tabnor is now the founder of the J-F Unity BBQ and J-F Unity Soccer Tournament and President of the Jane and Finch Unity Organization, a non-profit organization that has been created to decrease gun violence between the Bloods and the Crips, engage community relationships with the police, and to bring an impact around cultural diversity within the community. Her partner Ironman owner of Ghetto Entourage Sound is the one that takes care of entertainment and stage management. His motivation and dedication has brought J-F Unity to an impact level. Since then the J-F Unity org has been sponsored by business, organization, politicians, and community members. J-F Unity BBQ now has the yellow cruiser, mounted police unit, police on bicycles and the community engages with them at this event to promote decreasing of gun violence through unity.  J-F Unity org has collaborated in events such as Kiddie’s Caribana Flags and Colours Parade, which Tabnor was the organizer of the Jamaican float that was featured on Cp24. Also Bright the Night BBQ with Enbridge Gas, Oakdale Toy Drive with City Councilor Anthony Perruzza, Harriet Tubman Track-Field, and J-F Culture Village Unity Festival that was organized to welcome the Pan Am /Parapan Am Games 2015 coming to J-F by the Culture committee which Tabnor was part of. She was also a member of the Host Committee, Economic Working Group, and the Torch Relay representing the Pan Am Games.  She has performed her spoken words at Youth Day in July 2012 at Dundas Square, Mayfair event at Yorkwoods Library, Churches, and at her J-F Unity BBQ.

Jessica Ama Oppong: (Academic Award)

Jessica Ama Oppong . My hobbies consists of soccer, basketball and also like playing the alto saxophone. My favorite subject is math and I love debates. I plan to be a lawyer when I grow up. I do have a great role model which is my mom.”

Janet S. Fearon: (Academia Award)

Samantha Fearon has been making a significant contribution to Jamaica’s education system for fifteen years.  She loves working with children and believes there are myriad lessons to be learnt from them, including forgiveness. She took charge of the Kiwanis Club of Hopewell sponsored K-Kids Club in 2008. Their first major project was the beautification of the wall at the entrance of the school. The students and Miss Fearon decorated the wall by painting letters, shapes and words. Since then they have done many other projects such as: visit to Blossom Gardens Children’s Home, painting of the school bathroom; as labour day project, they have cleaned up beaches as Saturday projects, visiting  basic schools in their local community and offering assistance to the teachers. They have helped the Sandy Bay Methodist Church in their labour Day Projects to paint walls and create a garden. Under Miss Fearon’s dedicated leadership the K-Kids have done a Christmas Concert to raise money for the club. They have also done a lemonade sale to raise money for the Kiwanis International Eliminate Project.

Miss Fearon received an award from the Principal of Sandy Bay Primary School for outstanding contribution to K-Kkids, award from The Kiwanis Club of Hopewell in recognition of outstanding service, a certificate of appreciation on the occasion of Kiwanis International’s 100th Anniversary and award for Outstanding Leadership of the grade 2 classes at Sandy Bay Primary School.

Miss Fearon’s most recent act of selflessness and significant contribution to academia is her stewardship in guiding twenty-five students in the Kiwanis Sponsored Bring Up Grades (BUG) Program that encourages students to improve their grades from one grading period to the next. All twenty five students improved their grades and will be awarded with their BUG Certificates at the start of the new school year.

Naomi Ackerman: (Community Leadership Awards)

Naomi  Ackerman  the founder and executive director of The Advot (ripples )Project was born in the United States and then immigrated to Israel in her childhood.

Served 2 years in the Israeli Defense Forces and then received a BA in Education and Theatre from Hebrew University as well as a special-ed teaching credential from the David Yellin Teachers Seminar. Naomi is an experienced actress, who has trained extensively in varied settings and methods.  Her credits include theater, musicals, films, television as well as being an accomplished street performer stilt walker and professional clown.

Founding member of “View Points” an Arab Jewish dialogue theater produced by the “Shimon Peres Center for Peace.” Naomi was the creator of the Jerusalem municipality children’s clown school. Writing and initiating programs that used performance art to engage the entire community .She was part of the first groups of clowns in Israel to engage in medical clowning.

She wrote directed and performs the acclaimed one woman show “Flowers Aren’t Enough” that deals with the issue of domestic violence and has been featured over 1900 times globally. Including the United Nations for the Commission for the Status of woman. (CSW). Flowers has been translated to 4 different languages.

Naomi works internationally consulting, training, speaking and creating curriculums that use drama techniques to deal with social, gender and educational issues, as well as exploring identity and promoting tolerance and dialogue between diverse participants.

In 2011 she founded The Advot (ripples ) Project that uses theatre for transformation .

Naomi is the creator of  the “Relationships 101”; “Out and UP” ;  “listen to me when I speak” curriculums. The Advot project works with incarcerated girls in the Los Angeles County probation incarceration facilities.  Naomi  is a social activist who produces events and gatherings that teach engage and call to action communities and individuals to take a stand, and find their voice to fight injustice.  But most important of all she is the mother of three beautiful girls Zohar, Ella and Hadar .

Recipient of the KCET –Link Local Hero 2014 Award, Naomi and the Advot project were featured in the Bobbie Brown giving back glam Superwoman episode 8 – 2014

Manesha Annie Persaud: (Entertainment Award)

14 years old Manesha Persaud, also known as Annie by family and friends have been singing since she was 7 years old. She has received a lot of support from her family and friends, especially from her older sister. She is a talented young woman, who is ambitious and inspiring to others. She is a caring individual and she also loves animals. Over the years, Annie has accomplished many things such as winning competitions, performing at many different events, as well as meeting many major artists such as, Lady Luscious, Vanessa Bling, Luciano, Gyptian, and many others.

Annually, since 2010, she enters a competition at the Canadian Music League of Music. She has also performed at fund raisers since she started singing. Another achievement was entering JAAMM Idol in 2013 to 2015, which was founded by Jannett Scott who is also the President of JAAMM Idol. Annie Persaud was the runner up of JAAMM Idol for 2 years in a row (2013 & 2014) and with a lot of determination and persistence; she finally won JAAMM Idol in 2015. She also won a trip to Jamaica to perform at Mini Miss Portland on July 26, 2015, which was sponsored by the President of Mini Miss Portland, Sonia Patterson. While in Jamaica, she recorded cover songs, appeared twice in the Jamaica Star newspaper, and was interviewed on CVM Television, as well as on Sun City Radio, which was an amazing experience for her. After her trip to Jamaica, she went to Ottawa to perform at Jam Day, where she met many more artists.

In 2014, Annie had the opportunity to perform at the International Women Achievers Awards on March 8th.  Recently, Annie Persaud was invited to perform for the President of Guyana, His Excellency David Arthur Granger, on September 12, 2015. She also had a chance to perform at a Relief Concert for Dominica on the 25th of September 2015. Another opportunity that Annie received was to perform at Oakdale Park Middle School’s 50th anniversary, which was on October 3, 2015. Annie was also invited to perform at the Annual Banquet & Scholarship Awards on November 7, 2015. So far, the experience has been wonderful, and she looks forward to what the future has in store and following her dreams and passion. She would like to thank everyone for all of their love and support, as well as those who have given her the opportunity to perform.

Learn more about these empowering ladies, meet them at this year’s IWAA 2016 Award show being held on March 6th.  For more information, visit their website at www.iwaawards.com

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For Women on the Move

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JDC met Heather and Nicky from Women on the Move at the start of summer. Friends since 1981, they have shared successes, challenges and many adventures. As serial entrepreneurs they now join forces to bring an unparalleled depth of knowledge, understanding, experience and passion to help women start and grow prosperous businesses. Women on the Move is Heather’s third business startup and Nicky’s second. Prior to her first startup, Heather climbed the corporate ladder and was VP of Sales and Marketing for Lucent Technology before she was 35. Nicky fast tracked her entrepreneurial path within a franchise structure. She started with Arthur Murray Dance Studio as an instructor at 30, two years later becoming a sales manager and shortly after that a successful franchisee.  As we learned more about these wonderful women’s individual and collective successes, we just had to share their experiences and learnings with you. Here are 4 great pieces of  advice from Heather and Women;

  1. Best piece of advice for women struggling with sales: Invest in yourself and get some training. Sales is a skill and like any other skill it is acquired, and that takes time and training.  You need a process so you can look back and see where you made a wrong turn and where you made good turns.  Otherwise you are just shooting in the dark. Learn to drive sales and develop strong closing skills and excellent communication skills. Make sure you know how your product is relevant to your buyer and make sure you know how to present your product as critical.
  1. Women are by nature more collaborative than competitive. Community and teamwork are part of how we are wired. We thrive on community and confidence, which is a key factor in sales and entrepreneurship, that soars when women work together towards a common goal.  We love to contribute to one another’s success, it is our instinct to nurture and that sets us apart from men.
  1. More than I have from my success! Failing forward is important. When we fail we examine where we went wrong and where we can improve next time. One rarely looks at one’s success with the same intensity. I always say that Olympic medalists have failed more than anyone else on the planet.  They kept getting up when everyone stayed down.  If you keep on keeping on regardless of failure, at some point you will be the last one standing.  That is one of the key secrets to success….keep on keeping on.
  1. Never, never, never give up. It always takes more money and more time than you think it will. And always marry your passion with your skills. That is a winning combination.  Never stop learning.

 For more information on Women on the Move.


Written by Marisol and Silvia Fornoni, Founders of JDC.

JDC supports socially conscious organizations with finding sustainable ways to tell their stories using visual design, engaging content and non-traditional media. We help you with anything from organizing fundraising campaigns to web design and social media management.



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Grant Misconceptions

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Are you a business looking to apply for grants and a bit confused about the process? Well, we’re here to help you demystify some general misconceptions about grant funding and applications.

Misconception #1: Anyone can apply for a grant

The majority of grantmakers narrow the pool of grant applicants to registered charitable organizations and nonprofits. Incorporated businesses and startups are usually left out of the grant equation because, unlike nonprofits, they have the ability to sell a product or service for a profit. That’s why it’s important to be 100% sure your organization is eligible for funding before starting the grant-writing process.

This is not to say that there is no funding out there for small businesses and startups. It is just unlikely it will be in the form of grants, and rather in the form of tax incentives, hiring credits, and when possible, venture capital funding.

Misconception #2: Grant applications consist only of ‘writing’ and ‘submitting’

Grantwriting is based less on your style of writing and more on your capacity to plan a detailed project successfully. Forget flowery language, and focus on the content.

For first-time grant applicants, it is important to research grantmakers’ mandates, as well as their previously funded initiatives. Grantmakers want to make sure your organization is accountable for the funds they distribute to you.

Seeing as they don’t know you personally (yet), the onus is on you to make your case, and back it up with targeted research, data, and information. Take time to prepare grant applications. Make sure you are able to thoroughly analyze your project’s strengths and provide tangible solutions to mitigate any weaknesses.

Misconception #3: If your project is good, you’ll receive funding

This is by far the biggest misconception of all. In fact, there are a lot of great projects out there, created by trustworthy organizations, that will never receive funding.

Grantmakers tend to award funds based on a project’s expected impact in the community. Because grantmakers tend to receive a lot of applications during any given grant cycle, it’s their responsibility to find the ‘best’ projects within very large pools of applicants. They do this by reviewing applicants’:

  • Existing partnerships with community organizations and stakeholders
  • Social media networks and reach
  • Past organizational successes

If you are a new organization, it is likely you won’t have this information yet. To make it easier for your project to receive grant funding consider collaborating directly with a partner organization to build a track record for your project, as well as expand support for it in the community.

Misconception #4: Receiving grant money is easy and quick

The task of the grant reviewing committee is to thoroughly assess hundreds, if not thousands of applications per grant. Of course, this takes a lot of time and patience. That’s why grant funding decisions often take anywhere between 3-8 months, depending on the size of the grant (the bigger the dollar amount, the longer you are likely to wait).

So, if you are counting on a particular grant to fund your latest project, make sure you have alternative funding options at your disposal just in case grant funding is delayed, or doesn’t come through.

Some Final Questions    

Want to know how to avoid unnecessary pain when applying for grants? Prepare answers to the following questions before starting the application process:

  • Which community members and stakeholders will benefit the most from your project?
  • How will you involve participants during the planning and execution phases?
  • How will you measure or evaluate the impact of your project?
  • Do you have a workplan outlining all project steps, timeline, and resources?
  • What experience and/or qualifications does your organization have to carry out this project?
  • If activities continue beyond the term of the grant, how will they be sustained?

Written by Marisol and Silvia Fornoni, Founders of JDC.

JDC supports socially conscious organizations with finding sustainable ways to tell their stories using visual design, engaging content and non-traditional media. We help you with anything from organizing fundraising campaigns to web design and social media management.



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Stephanie Lowe: Canadian Small Business Woman of the Month of March


Stephanie Lowe, the founder of Destiny Wellness Centre, is a Registered Kinesiologist, Personal Trainer and Yoga Teacher.   It was during her undergraduate years that she developed her passion for health and fitness while working with Varsity sports teams, the Toronto Track and Field Centre and the York University Fitness Centre. Stephanie also experienced her own transformation during her personal health journey to  successfully lose 70lbs through a balanced regime of healthy eating and exercise.  She designed and taught her first “Women on Weights” Fitness class and has since then continued her passion for empowering women through health & fitness.

It was following her employment with various physiotherapy clinics, Hospitals and Rehabilitation companies that she saw need to provide an environment where people could address their health needs in a Wholistic environment. Many people looking for a fitness program suffer from chronic pain, repetitive strain injuries and the like. People with serious health conditions also have a need for strength and conditioning programs that assist in increasing function following a rehabilitation program; it was here Stephanie decided to bridge the gap. After pursuing a post graduate degree in Clinical Kinesiology and Orthopaedic Assessments, Stephanie was inspired to open the Destiny Wellness Center in 2014 an expansion of her personal training studio opened in 2009.  The clinic is where she is able to merge her passion for fitness (i.e., personal training, yoga and nutrition) with her love for rehabilitation (i.e., exercise therapy, aquatic therapy and therapeutic group classes). The centre also offers massage therapy, naturopathic medicine and other wellness related services.

Stephanie works within the local community providing rehabilitation services to individuals suffering from:

  • musculoskeletal & soft tissue injuries
  • arthritis and diabetes
  • rehabilitation from motor vehicle accidents
  • strokes

These services are delivered in a variety of settings such as in-pool, in-home and in-facility exercise therapy.  Fitness services are promoted via a number of formats including personal training, a Ladies ONLY boot camp, community events, and seminars, DVD’s, online coaching and corporate wellness programs.

Her passion for yoga has inspired Stephanie to create a unique fusion class called YogaCise (a combination of stretching and toning exercises) to help people stay fit using yoga. She also uses yoga and relaxation techniques to facilitate the rehabilitation process in her private Yoga Therapy sessions.


Our Q & A with Stephanie 

What inspires you?

I am deeply inspired by the people I work with and the amazing life changing transformations they achieve. I LOVE knowing that I am helping people live healthier more fulfilling lives. The confidence they build, the challenges they overcome… it’s amazing what people can do when they start believing in themselves and start reaching for the things they thought were completely out of their grasp!

I am also  inspired by my passion to serve women. I have always had a special place in my heart for their health needs and personally identify with the weight struggles of younger girls. I feel as women we are up against so many odds and I want to empower them to develop self love, good health, confidence and community. When we come together in love there is little we cannot accomplish.

As a small business owner what achievements make you most proud?

I am most proud of the culture and community that the Destiny Wellness Center has created in our 6 years of business. Our boot campers, yoga students and personal training clients have collected toys and raised funds to assist orphans in Haiti. We sponsored 4 orphans through our YogaThon in Oct 2014! We have also held events to support the Breast Cancer society and other local charities within the Oakville/Mississauga community. It’s wonderful that so many people have been able to develop long lasting friendships while also transforming their health and lives through fitness programs and charity events at Destiny Wellness Centre.

I am also proud to have developed “a voice” in our community. I had the opportunity to hold a 1 year fitness segment on Rogers TV that provided fun fitness solutionsto the community. Short 10 minute routines addressing yoga for pregnancy, family/group fitness, how to stay fit during the holidays and more. In addition, Stephannie has given seminars to hundreds of women and hundreds of teenage girls as a guest speaker on topics of health and fitness in various venues including women’s workshops, local businesses and schools across the GTA.

What advice would you give to other aspiring small business owners?

I would advise to clearly create a “vision” of what you would like your company to look like; and how would you like it to run. All of your processes, efforts and investments should consistently lead you to your end goal, building your vision.

I would also encourage entrepreneurs to enjoy the journey! You will make mistakes along the way, things will certainly go wrong. Take those bumps in the road as learning experiences to build upon instead of viewing them as failures and dead stops.


What new things can we look forward to from your business in the upcoming year?

Destiny Wellness Centre holds monthly events for the community that encourage a sense of community and health. Some of these events include a vision board workshop, “Yoga on the Beach, a “Yoga and Wine” charity fundraiser and a Paint night! The vision board workshop help women set a clear vision and purpose for their lives, we incorporate meditation and yoga to prepare for the session. “Yoga on the Beach” is an annual event. We meet along the beach for an afternoon of sun, yoga and relaxation. Our Yoga and wine events feature a guest speaker and we address topics such as fear, forgiveness, menopause; whatever topics I hear are of interest to the Destiny Wellness Community.  The paint night will be a new charity event to raise funds for a microfinance initiative in Haiti for women.

This spring and summer you can expect our usual fun and exciting programs such as our Ladies ONLY Boot Camp, YogaCise (yoga with weights) and the launch of our two new therapeutic classes on Osteoporosis and Maintaining a Healthy Back (therapeutic classes designed specifically for individuals suffering from Osteoporosis and chronic back pain).

Connect with Stephanie

Web: Www.destinywellness.org
Address: 1115 Clarkson rd N, Mississauga


Social Media:



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Leadership Opportunities



Much has been made recently about two excellent books, “Thrive” and “Lean In,” both written by successful female leaders.  Each highlights in a different way, the importance and value of the role women can and should play in the corporate world.  Regardless of your career choice, women should collectively draw strength and inspiration from these books but it can sometimes be hard to parlay the experiences of a corporate executive into that of a SOHO entrepreneur.  How for example, do we seize opportunities to develop our leadership style, to “lean in” at the table when we have only our dog for company as we work diligently away in our home office?  How do we engage in the “third metric” looking after ourselves, our own health and planning for giving back to our communities when it seems we need every hour of every day just to keep our small business afloat? It might be challenging but leadership opportunities exist where leadership opportunities are sought. In other words, find them! Here’s how you can both “lean in” and “thrive” even while operating your SOHO business.

The first thing you need to do, for the sake of your business and your ability to learn, practice and engage in leadership style behaviours, is join your local Chamber of Commerce or Board of Trade.  Typically, fees for doing so are nominal and the benefit exponential.  Not only are you opening the doors of your business to potential customers and referral networking opportunities but you are also affiliating yourself with a known and respected entity in the community.  This official office might also help lend an air of authenticity to your business.  Once a member, it’s up to you to lean in and seize opportunities to become further involved, perhaps by taking on a leadership role in the governing body of the organization or by volunteering for speaking engagements or trade shows where presentations and public speaking may be required. This will provide you with plenty of opportunities to enhance your skills in these areas and to make new contacts and develop new relationships.  Personal growth and business growth will both result from these experiences and each, in turn, provides you with the tools to learn and grow your leadership skills.

While time remains the enemy of us all, with a bit of planning and a little dose of ingenuity and foresight, take on a voluntary role with a community social service agency.  Join the Board of an organization or charity that you already support and believe in or leverage your current business skills and link with an agency that mirrors the type of service your business offers and requires someone with your expertise. These volunteer positions represent networking opportunities, a chance to enhance and grow your personal leadership skill sets and you will be doing a good thing, engaging in your community. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

Many towns and cities also have Small Business Enterprise Centres and these offices often look for Guest Speakers and Experts in the field to come in and provide one hour seminars to program participants.  Again, this is another fantastic way to reach out, share your expertise and learn public speaking skills while engaging in a leadership role. Often these programs are geared to new immigrants and/or young entrepreneurs just starting out who are looking for mentors and the type of sage business advice you have to offer.

Consider your skill sets and what you can give back. How can you package your experiences into an opportunity that benefits both you and your business? There is nothing wrong with offering your services to community organizations in a way that also enhances your business profile. If you need practice with public speaking Toastmasters is an excellent way to learn confidence, speaking skills and further develop your leadership abilities. Give each of these suggestions some serious consideration.  By leaning in, getting involved in your community and taking on a leadership role you will help foster your own personal and professional growth.  Watch your business thrive as a result and Rover will no longer be your only companion in the office!


As Owner and Principal partner of “Writing Right For You” Sheralyn is a Communications Strategist – working together with entrepreneurs to maximize profit through effective use of the written word. Looking for web content that works, blog articles that engage or communications strategies that help you get noticed?  Contact Sheralyn today. Sheralyn is also the mother of two children now entering the “terrible and terrific teens” and spends her free time volunteering for several non-profit organizations.

Sheralyn Roman B.A., B.Ed.

Writing Right For You

Communications Strategies that help you GET TO THE POINT!

416-420-9415 Cell/Business


LinkedIn / Facebook / www.writingrightforyou.weebly.com

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Tania DeSa: Canadian Small Business Woman of the Month of July 2014

Tania DeSa

Tania DeSa is a Personal Branding Strategist, Leadership Coach and Corporate Trainer whose mission is to inspire professionals to own their awesomeness to be seen and heard in any community.  She inspires professionals to see themselves differently then kick up their communication style to add value and achieve results- in business and in life.   http://www.taniadesa.com

Tania draws from intercultural experiences of traveling to over 70 countries and living, studying and working in Australia, Japan, Hungary, Spain, China and Switzerland. She holds an International MBA from ESADE Business School in Spain and Peking University in China, Honors Bachelor of Business Administration from Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada. She is a professionally trained coach from the Coaches Training Institute(CTI).

Tania has thrived in corporate sales and marketing management roles within the healthcare industry in such companies as Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Medtronic, Ecolab, Johnson & Johnson and has led strategic discussions at the World Health Organization in Switzerland.  Tania’s unique presentation style is a high energy collaborative one where she asks powerful questions, offers strategic frameworks and brings in real life stories to engage, educate and enlighten participants.


Tania offers customized corporate training programs in the area of Leadership Communication, such as:

  • Powerful Presenting: Empowering managers to enhance their presentation style and content in order to influence and persuade to achieve results. Ideal for marketing, sales, cross functional teams, R&D and management.
  • Leveraging your Personal Brand to Win: Inspiring employees to discover their strengths and learn how to maximize them to perform better, gain fulfillment in their work and create lasting impact. Ideal for new employees, teams, female leadership development and management.
  • Champion Building- How to create raving fans & long term partners: Learning how to create strong partners & key opinion leaders to champion messages and  help launch campaigns/new products in order to catapult sales growth. Ideal for sales, marketing, communications, PR & investor relations, and management.

Formats: Multimodal training programs with blend of group workshops and one on one coaching.  Ideal as a lunch and learn series, rotational program/development program course, team retreats, talent pipeline development and executive training.


Our Q & A with Tania DeSa


*What inspires you?
 People who are creating change in their world in a small way that’s having a big impact. Witnessing random acts of kindness and connection ( in the bus, grocery store or elevators). It’s inspiring to see people recognize their greatness and then act from it- it reminds me whats possible.
*As a small business owner, what achievements make you most proud?
I’m most proud of consistently extending my comfort zone and its always lead to awesome results when I have. First, leaving a very comfortable corporate life in Europe to repatriate to Toronto and start up a new business from scratch ( and to grow myself daily as a result). Second, starting before I felt totally ready- having the guts to make bold requests and pitch to big clients before I felt 110% ready. This year, its already led to running corporate training in the UK, leading workshops in San Francisco and planning a speaking tour in India.  I encourage myself to step over fear more often as its a huge part of being an entrepreneur.
*What advice would you give to other aspiring small business owners?
As Jim Rohn says” You are the average of the 5 people you hang around with most.”
Consciously seek out and develop your A Team- a  community of cheerleaders and supporters, accountability partners,  collaborators, mentors and employees. Invest in your own personal growth and development- I continually invest in coaching, online programs, attending conferences because I find people and resources to help me achieve my wildest goals. And community feels good!
*What new things can we look forward to from your business in the upcoming year?

I’m on a mission to help professionals see themselves differently and then kick up their communication style ( personal brand, presentation skills & leadership style) so that they can add value and achieve results- in business and life. I’m committed to taking this message globally and helping as many people take action as I possibly can. I’ll be running worskhops & webinars for small- large businesses to motivate their teams to take leadership to the next level and by early next year I’ll be heading to India to spread the message there too.

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CO-WORKING: A Solution for “Cabin Fever” Entrepreneurs


Up and running, but feeling a little squeezed out of space and time and human interaction working solo from the confines of a small room, basement, or kitchen table of your residence?  Are you feeling like a case of “cabin fever”? You are not alone.  An all too familiar territory for so many home-based small business operator.   But, many solo-preneurs are finding solutions to this problem by looking to the growing trend of Co-Working spaces opening up all across their cities.  Here are 8 Reasons Why Co-Working is A Solution for “Cabin Fever” Entrepreneurs:

  1.   Entrepreneurs, especially those working from home, find the sound of their own breathing quite deafening and over time can kill the level of enthusiasm and motivation required to run a business.  The isolation and silo-effect that often comes with the territory is a challenge for many.  The co-working experience can infuse much needed energy and action.  Human interaction, stepping outside of your comfort zone and embracing unplanned opportunities are sometime all that’s needed to rid that stagnant, unproductive feeling.
  2.    It’s amazing how much more you can accomplish when you are not distracted by personal phone calls, interruptions from kids and/or spouses or the clamour of visual clutter in your home settings.  Home-based entrepreneurs find this particularly challenging.  The co-working experience offers independent  business people the opportunity to gain better organizational habits, regain focus and stay organized.
  3.   Your opportunity to network and build present and future connections is now ever-present.  You have just multiplied your business presence tenfold.  Co-working environments are an excellent breeding ground for collaboration of all kinds.  It is often something nurtured by groups and sub groups of entrepreneurs that have complementary skills, experience and resource.  This can be  invaluable when you are just getting started and needing to now create your own networking circles.

GUILT FREE.  You can avoid much of the guilt that goes with spending your 8 plus hours of a workday in the mocha scented havens of your nearby coffee shop.  Although, you are offered free Wi-Fi and little pressure to “move on” so other patrons can get their “fill on”, you are often left feeling guilty for taking up so much time and space, especially when you haven’t made a purchase.  So, you feel the pressure and head to the barista to place your order of a piping hot tall one.

OFFICE OFFICIAL.  Co-working spaces vary from space to space.  But, a common theme to most is the open-concept combination of casually home but officially business, meaning there may be lounging areas, a common eating/kitchen space alongside the far more official looking a conference room and walled offices for those needing more privacy and structure.  For some of entrepreneurs, although we love the idea of working from home and have the entrepreneurial freedom to “work from anywhere” stationed in our minds, the reality is that your space may not be large enough to designate an office that is distinct from the rest of your residential quarters.  For others it may be a case that their business is mobile and allows for a lot of travel, so the co-working option gives them an official home base wherein they can forward their mail and meeting clients.

  1.  As much as we like to think that working from home gives us the comfort to roam as we will in our PJs and sweats, we are often uneasy by the discomfort of having to meet up with a client and risk appearing a little less professional we operate from the sidearm of our loveseats or kitchen tables.  A co-working space can lend some credibility to your business profile and give a far more professional image.  Now this does not mean that all businesses have to perform at the standardized level of office-desk-chair, which is what many clients are used to, but for many, having an office-type environment to welcome and engage the public is the best choice.  A neutral meeting place in no way infringes on the privacy of your home. You may need to “meet your clients where they are” meaning, they may not be as comfortable in your armchair as they might be in a chair that swivels.

COMMON GROUND.  Co-working spaces continues to be a growing trend, with spaces popping up everywhere in all major cities across Canada.  Many of these environments have catered its quarters to  -Preneurs of every kind.  There you will find people with similar businesses, common visions, and complimentary services.  Some are niche-focused, for example, co-working spaces with daycare facilities.  Look around and find some common ground.  Find a co-working organization that is tailored to your specific needs.

COMMUNITY.  The water cooler is alive and well, even in this electronic world of text messages and emails.  A great stress reliever are the benefits of not-so-mindless chit-chat and where better to do that than around the proverbial “water cooler”.  Social engagement face-to-face will never get old, whether in the lunchroom, common area, over lunch at the neighbourhood hotspot, engaging in that day’s events, latest celeb gossip, or sports scores can truly rejuvenate your creative flow, can put you in a better, more positive mood.  You can regain focus and creativity.

As an entrepreneur and owner of a home based business, I currently have an opportunity to engage with a co-working organization right here in Toronto.  Camaraderie Co-Working is a membership based organization of entrepreneurs offering office and event space, private offices, boardroom, networking, peer support, community and camaraderie.  Camaraderie (camaraderie.ca) is a member of CoworkingTorontoCoworkingOntario, and CoworkingCanada. Co-working is a solution to Work close to home but not at home”.  Find a co-working arrangement that works for you.


Rose Nixon, is Your “Anything” Organizer, Chief Professional Organizer and Principal Owner of ReallyOrganizedNow(RON), A Professional organizing company that brings Mindful Solutions for Stress-Less Living.  Rose knows that Life can be stressful enough without having the added burden of Disorganization.  Rose also knows that when you’re Organized you Smile more.  You are more pleasant to be around.  You enjoy people, places and things with greater ease, comfort and focus.  Rose helps active women and families find solutions and support to Stress-Less and Live More. She helps them BE ReallyOrganizedNow. Are you ReallyOrganizeNow?  Rose Nixon is the is an active volunteer in her community, offering support to several causes and organizations.  She is a business owner, aspiring blogger and author, and an ambassador of creative expression. 

Contact Rose on social media





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