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Fostering female business

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Laura Allard, owner of Plain Jane Ink, sells all Canadian products from local women and a couple in Kelowna B.C. The products range from soaps to oils to shawls.

STEPH CROSIER Enlarge Image

Laura Allard, owner of Plain Jane Ink, sells all Canadian products from local women and a couple in Kelowna B.C. The products range from soaps to oils to shawls. Photo Store

Through a door between two restaurants, up a flight of stairs, and beyond the yoga/meditation room is Plain Jane Ink’s The Showroom.

Laura Allard, 49, a certified life coach and meditation teacher, started Plain Jane Ink on Corydon Avenue in April 2012, both to host workshops and help independent Winnipeg businesses grow.

"I grew up in Winnipeg but have only been back here from B.C. for just over two years," said Allard. "In B.C. the spirit of collaboration is alive and well, and you can always find people to work with, and I wasn’t finding that as much here. So I decided that I needed to start it."

So Allard put out some feelers and though she was open to male- and female-owned businesses, only women responded eagerly.

"So we managed to put it together, and it sort of goes beyond networking, and it’s more of a really supportive culture of women in business," said Allard. "It just seemed that women were the ones that were all ‘yeah, let’s do this.’"

The Showroom boasts essential oils, soaps, shawls, and meditation tools, all handmade.

Wolseley resident Louise Vargas, 52, has been making soap since 1998. She started SoGa Artisan Soaperie in 2011, and her soaps started to take off after they were distributed at the 84th Academy Awards in February 2012.
 
Though most of her sales are online, Vargas, who also works as a surgical neuro-monitoring technologist, sells her soap products in The Showroom where
Allard distributes them.

Allard also provides Vargas with business and marketing advice.

"She’s actually helping me plan ahead," said Vargas. "My business is really busy but I don’t have time to sit down and structure it properly, so she’s been really instrumental in helping me structure the business so it’s more organized and I know what’s coming up."

The Showroom also includes more commercial products distributed by local women like Tupperware and Body Wraps.

Allard thinks women were more willing to work in co-operation with her because men are more inclined to conventional employment.

"Women do that as well but women are the ultimate multi-taskers," said Allard, "so they’re always looking for opportunities to better themselves through a self-improvement perspective, a professional development perspective, and to do more for their families."

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