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Rachael Hatala is a Fabulous Female

Rachael Hatala is a Fabulous Female

Every month, we feature a Fabulous Female whose business savvy and confidence inspires us. We believe in supporting fellow female entrepreneurs and their incredible business ventures. If you know of a Fabulous Female whose story deserves to be told, please email us to nominate them.

This month, we are excited to feature Rachael Hatala, owner and designer of Laughing Sparrow, as our Fabulous Female. We are even more delighted to announce our recent collaboration with Rachael! Laughing Sparrow has created an exclusive line of delicate jewelry for our customers, inspired by our Carolily Rose . It was an absolute delight to work with Rachael and Laughing Sparrow and we look forward to future collaborations.

Please introduce yourself and tell us about Laughing Sparrow.

Hello, I’m Rachael Hatala, the creator of Laughing Sparrow. Laughing Sparrow is a modern and minimalistic jewelry line that I have designed and make in my studio in the historic brewery district of Sapperton in New Westminster BC. I work primarily in recycled sterling silver and ethically sourced gemstones. 

When did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I have always loved making things. As a child I did embroidery, sewing, knitting and lots and lots of beadwork. I remember someone asking me at a very young age what I wanted to be when I grew up to which I replied “I don't know! I’m only 6. But I want to do something I love and get payed for it!” At the age of 12 I was selling my wire wrapped sea glass creations in my grandmother's store on Mayne Island. In my 20’s I took my first silversmithing class and would wear my latest designs to my waitressing job, where my customers would literally buy my work right off of me. After the birth on my daughter in 2013 I dreaded the idea of returning to the service industry and decided to take the plunge to becoming a full time jeweller. I work 7 days a week on my business and have never been busier, more stressed...or happier in my life!

What were your steps to make your idea/dream become a reality?

To be honest I never really had a concrete plan. As new challenges and situations arise I embrace them and figure it out as I go. The scariest part was jumping in full time without any sort of safety net. Not succeeding just wasn't an option.

How do you differentiate yourself and your company?

I think when someone is truly passionate and loves what they are doing, they automatically stand out in the crowd. I make each piece of jewellery by hand in very small batches and pay close attention to detail and quality. I've been asked many times why I don't hire someone to do production for me and the answer is that I simply love making each piece. I think it’s that love that people feel and see when they buy a piece of jewellery from me.

How do you balance family and career?

Thats a good one, and something I’m always working on. It's easy for me to get super wrapped up in my work and never take a moment to remember why I am doing it. I was talking to a friend recently about feeling guilty that my 3 year old daughter is at daycare and she reminded me that I am teaching Sofia to be a successful strong woman who is following her dreams. I do keep at least 1 day a week that is exclusively for family time, and make sure that we all communicate. I wish I could say that I leave all my work at the studio, but my dining room table will call me out as a liar!

When struggling with a challenge, how do you overcome the challenge?

I make lists. Sometimes I make lists of my lists! I find that taking the time to write everything out and break it down into small manageable tasks that I can check off helps me to feel less overwhelmed and to focus less on the thing that feels unattainable or unmanageable. I will admit though that sometimes I get overwhelmed by my list. That's when I know I need to take a breather and usually can find some clarity by doing something else for a bit.

What is the most rewarding aspects of being a female entrepreneur?

I think knowing that my daughter will grow up knowing that she can do anything she puts her mind to.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years I would love to see my brand in stores across Canada and even the world. Hey dream big right!

How should our audience get in touch with you?

My website is a great resource for getting in touch with me. I am reachable by email, or you can make an appointment to visit me in my studio. There is also a calendar of all the markets and festivals I participate in, and a list of all the stores that are currently carrying my jewelry.

A special thank you to Owl & Lily Photography for the photos of Laughing Sparrow.

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Helen from EcoLuxLuv is a Fabulous Female

Every month, we feature a Fabulous Female whose business savvy and confidence inspires us. We believe in supporting fellow female entrepreneurs and their incredible business ventures. If you know of a Fabulous Female whose story deserves to be told, please email us to nominate them.

This month, we interviewed the honest, open and inspiring Helen Siwak. Helen is a passionate eco-entrepreneur and the driving force behind lifestyle blog EcoLuxLuvsocial media services via THEClosetYVR, contributor to VancityBuzz, StyleDemocracy Retail-Insider.


Please introduce yourself

My name is Helen and this year I turn 50 years old. In 2016, I find myself an eco-entrepreneur, writing full-time, wrangling a younger husband and 2 rescue pets, advocating for the rights of humans and non-humans, striving to live an ethical vegan lifestyle and coming to terms with being an secular humanist.

Tell us more about your current businesses

Until late last year, my business was THEClosetYVR – defined as luxury designer resale company specializing in hard-to-find pieces that gave shoppers a taste of ‘the good life’ at an affordable price point. We sold online, at curated pop-up’s and at private shopping events, we even had a go at retail boutique in Gastown. When the boutique closed last October, my husband and I decided we wanted to stay in the pre-owned fashion business but acting more as a hub for other luxury re-sellers as it was the acquisition of pieces that was definitely where our passion was. So now, we are re-branding the THEClosetYVR to be specific to be curators of luxury clothing and services associated this and expanding the Eco.Lux.Luv blog into a lifestyle magazine for sharing the philosophy of living ecoluxury on a thrift budget.

We love the quote you have by Oscar de le Renta, “Luxury to me is not about buying expensive things; it’s about living in a way where you appreciate things.” What does that quote mean to you? How do you live a luxurious life?

We are bombarded by inspirational quotes every day but none of them spoke to me so, when my website template required one, I went on the search and found this one by legendary designer Oscar de la Renta. It said it all. I own very little and am very happy this way. I do not enjoy ‘consuming’ and have always felt there was better use of my hard earned cash than to ‘buy things’, especially crappy things.

In the world we live in, it is possible to purchase luxury designer clothing ‘second hand’ with the tags still hanging on them, to buy beautiful home furnishing from Facebook, to rent literally everything from our homes to appliances to dogs for the weekend! We can use vehicle-sharing initiatives to access cars, truck, vans, to use home swaps websites for vacations, and the list just goes on and on, and every day clever entrepreneurs come up with new businesses to make life even more eco-friendly.

Then, you can take the money you save from not buying all those things and support change that you would like to see in the world. To me, that is a luxury. To be able to feed and house my family and still send money to a struggling animal shelter, to an exhausted activist trying to stop the sex-trade of children in her village, to help a family fleeing war and to a group of volunteers fighting senseless eco-destruction.

Is there a difference between “style” and “fashion”? What do the two words mean to you? How would you describe your style?

Style is ‘personal’ and fits your inner beauty and fashion is a ‘business’. My style tends to be classic with clean lines and definitely does not follow trends or the dictates of an industry that is STILL trying to figure out what a real woman is!

Have you had any experiences that are unique to you as a woman that have helped you become a successful entrepreneur?

I describe myself as a serial entrepreneur. I see opportunity around every corner and I am not afraid to speak up with my ideas. In 1990, when fleeing an abusive relationship in Calgary, I ended up in Vancouver and needed to work quickly and registered with 11 temp agencies. I never turned down work when the phone rang. I was in my early 20’s and everyone around me was slaving away at minimum wage jobs, like bussing at nightclubs or clerking at the mall and they just didn’t seem happy. I went somewhere new literally every day and picked up a diverse set of skills from bankers, accountants, interior and graphic designers, property managers, lawyers, home renovators, etc. It wasn’t until the summer of 1994 that I had that ‘unique experience’ that made me think that a 9-5pm job wasn’t for me.

I had taken a (very unsatisfying) union job at UBC and in the evenings/weekend’s was publishing an underground magazine called ‘In Hell’s Belly’. My friends and I covered a wide range of topics and had been receiving national press for having developed one of the first online sales portals in Canada on the ‘world wide web’. We rented a kiosk at Lollapalooza in Cloverdale, to show people that they could buy things online (crazy right!). We had set up an old computer with a gas-powered generator and was showing the members of the Breeders, when a representative for the then mayor of Surrey approached and asked if I wanted to be on the evening news talking about what we were doing. Of course, I jumped on the opportunity and then the mayor came over he said something like ‘Why did you get all those tattoo’s on your arms?’ Dumbfounded, I sputtered into the microphone ‘So I will never have to work for a man like you again!’ Probably not so nicely - but you get the gist. That was the moment realized I was going to have to do it for myself and have been working on my own terms ever since.

What advice would you have for a woman wanting to start her own company?

I would say - Is this company idea something you want to live and breathe for a very long time? If ‘Yes’, then you have passion and go for it, and bring in as many people with skills as you can, to make it a reality. If ‘No’, then look around and see who else is doing it (or something very similar) and doing it well, and join them and help them grow. Nowhere does it say that everyone has to start their own company, compete and constantly be watching over their shoulder. There are some that thrive on that approach but if you want to be happy and successful, you can make your own terms, and it may involve taking your idea to someone else and building from there.

How do you strike a healthy work/life balance?

I don’t! I don’t even know what that means - is it really attainable for an entrepreneur? I don’t know but right now, I have added a new full-time writing contract with to my roster (in addition to VancityBuzz and Retail-Insider) and time is so tight that I am writing 7 days a week from 8am to 11pm and blocking off bits of time in my Google calendar to ‘play with dog and cat’ or ‘have date night’. It is kind of ridiculous but incredibly satisfying at the same time. Something will have to give eventually but not right now. 

Final words?

Just go for it and have a sense of humour – don’t sweat the small stuff.


If you would like to connect with Helen you can do so on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest!

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Bethany from The Free Woman is a Fabulous Female

Bethany from The Free Woman is a Fabulous Female

Every month, we feature a Fabulous Female whose business savvy and confidence inspires us. We believe in supporting fellow female entrepreneurs and their incredible business ventures. If you know of a Fabulous Female whose story deserves to be told, please email us to nominate them.

This month, we interviewed the inspiring and oh so sweet Bethany Morris, of The Free Woman. We connected with Bethany through Instagram and it has been such a pleasure getting to know her!

  1. Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about The Free Woman.

Hello, I’m Bethany, born and currently living in Melbourne, Australia. I’m known to giggle and laugh (a lot), love a delicious brunch and coffee with friends, and seek to savour the beauty in the every day.

The Free Woman (TFW) is a global community that celebrates, inspires and equips feminine hearts to lead more purposeful and authentic lives. This is outworked predominantly through the content on our website, thriving social media community and products. It’s a space where women can be championed and welcomed as they are, while encouraging them to dig deeper and uncover the gold within so they can live fully alive, fully present and fully engaged with their purpose.

  1. Who and/or what inspired you to create The Free Woman?

The concept of TFW had been brewing since I was a young girl. I always loved magazines, and then blogs as I got older, but was continually frustrated that there were nothing encompassing all the qualities within a woman. I’m a firm believer that every person is designed a leader, yet for some, that is a quality they really doubt and would never even think about themselves. So TFW seeks to break down those notions by focusing on the everyday girl and the sphere of influence she has in her everyday living, from her career to friendship and relationships, creativity, wellness and even social justice.

  1. What experience did you have that helped prepare you for where you are now?

Studying Journalism at university definitely helped a lot in terms of skill and understanding the industry. I’d also been previously blogging for a couple of years, too!

  1. You often say that the Free Woman is “so lovely, so free”. What does being lovely and free mean to you?

Great question! Being so lovely and so free is simply living life with purpose and delight. It’s often a two-edged sword - loveliness speaks of femininity and the beauty in each day, while free is more often the messy, grit-filled journey or living on the other side full of hope and vision.


  1. Aside from running The Free Woman and Gem & Thread, what are some of your passions in life?

A recent season of health-related issues has definitely made me passionate about pursuing wellness in the mind, body and soul. I’m also passionate about kindness, women empowering women, supporting small businesses, pursuing experiences over things, and kicking fear by exercising courage.

  1. You have a beautiful community behind you. Was building a strong community a part of your business plan or did it just come naturally?

Thank you - appreciate the kind words! Yes to both. Building a strong community was always the plan, but at the same time, it’s been building in a natural and beautiful way. A lot of work has gone into it and I’m really excited about where it’s heading!

  1. What community initiatives will you support this year?

We love and will continue to support social enterprises, movements and non-profit organisations that are impacting women’s lives. Each month we put a spotlight on and bring awareness to a different brand or person doing this.

  1. How do you connect with your audience?

By being intentional and present in engagement. I try my best to direct message new followers, respond to comments and interact on the #solovelysofree Instagram feed. The point of difference though is that the interaction is tailored to the person - from something I saw on their profile to actually reading their captions and commenting specific to that instead of simply commenting with an emoji or generic phrase (quality over quantity!). It doesn’t need to take long, but it is about being present and intentional. When authenticity and generosity are consistent, success, reputation and longevity will come.

  1. What advice would you have for those unsure of how to connect with their own?

What I mentioned above. And also, just begin. Any kind of relationship begins with a hello, and is built and strengthened with consistent communication. Love your audience for them and they’ll love you right back.

  1. Any closing remarks? How can readers find out more about you?
Thank you for the opportunity to share on here! You can join The Free Woman community online at, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. I’m also over on Twitter and Instagram if you ever want to say hey!


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Codi Lynn from Creative Wife & Joyful Worker is a Fabulous Female!

Every month, we feature a Fabulous Female whose business savvy and confidence inspires us. We believe in supporting fellow female entrepreneurs and their incredible business ventures. If you know of a Fabulous Female whose story deserves to be told, please email us to nominate them.

This month, we interviewed the wonderful Codi Lynn, voice behind the lifestyle blog Creative Wife and Joyful Worker. We know Codi Lynn both personally and professionally and consider ourselves lucky to call her a friend!

Please describe yourself, your blog and how you came up with the name.

Hello, my name is Codi Lynn, I am a wife and momma to two little ones. When my youngest was six months old and I was on maternity leave with her I decided to create a space to share my passions for small business and photography. I didn’t fully see how they both went together at the time, but I decided to create a lifestyle blog focusing around these main things. One of the hardest parts of starting is deciding on a business name. I wanted it to be different, memorable and something that represented me and my family. I had the idea to come up with something that represented both myself and my husband by using our initials. Mine CW (Creative Wife) which encompases all things creative about the blog, and then my husbands JW (Joyful Worker) which I wanted to highlight the joy found in these small business workers that I am drawn too (Also you can almost always find my husband working).

What made you decide to start blogging?

There are a number of things that lead me to it, but the main breaking point was when we were away on a family vacation and we were driving in the car. I turned to my husband and said, I think I am going to start a blog. It wasn't until I said the words out loud that I turned my thoughts into goals. At this point I had no idea the amount of work and devotion it took, I just knew that it was something I was drawn to. I began to do a lot of research and have learned so much along the way.

In a world of female bloggers, how do you differentiate yourself?

I don’t think I really focus too much on differentiating myself actually, but more so just being true to myself.

What do you do to connect with your audience?

It is important to me to connect with those that are working at connecting with me, though not always possible, I work hard at responding to comments on social media. I often ask questions in my posts to try to start a conversation as well as welcome emails at any time.

Are your life experiences the source from which you decide what your blog posts will be?

Blog post inspiration really comes from anywhere. Lately I have been focusing on style posts, whether it is me, the kids or even my husband has been getting behind the camera a little lately. I have always loved highlighting small businesses that I discover on Instagram and from those connections usually sprouts new ideas and collaborations that turn into posts.

What does the future hold for you? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

If life treats us well I will be home with my husband and kids while still following my dreams on the blog and pursuing my other passions in advertising and graphic design. I am open to new adventures and experiences so long as we enjoy ourselves along the way

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start a blog?

Reach out to others who are doing what you are doing something similar to what you want to start. I did the same when I started (though super nervous) it was one of the best things I could have done. There are so many bloggers out there and mostly all of us just love making new connections. Putting yourself out there, telling someone that what they are doing has inspired you is a huge compliment -- one worth sharing.

What advice would you give your daughter when she grows up on how to navigate through life as a female?

Oh goodness, this could be a mouthful. However, I was thinking about this last night, thinking about how when people say that she reminds them of me. I can only pray that she grows up to be understanding, confident and social. Three qualities that I feel are my strong suits and that I already see so much in her


What is the best advice you received about being your own boss? 

Some of the best advice that I got was to not try to make everything perfect before sharing otherwise you would never get your work out there.

How do you measure success?

There are so many ways, sometimes it is as simple as an email from a friend saying that I am doing a great job, or someone letting me know that they purchased something from a business I shared about and LOVED it!

Any closing remarks/comments/advice? How should our readers connect with you?

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share. If you would like to see more about what I am about please check out my blog

You can also find me on Instagram (@creativewifeandjoyfulworker) Twitter (/cwandjwblog) and Facebook (/creativewifeandjoyfulworker)

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Angie from Georgie Girl is a Fabulous Female!

Angie from Georgie Girl is a Fabulous Female!

Every month, we will be featuring a Fabulous Female whose business savvy and confidence inspires us. We believe in supporting fellow female entrepreneurs and their incredible business ventures. If you know of a Fabulous Female whose story deserves to be told, please email us to nominate them.

This month, we interviewed the lovely Angela Bricker, owner of Kelowna's Georgie Girl Vintage. We have been fortunate enough to work with Angela during our photo shoot this past September and it was an absolute pleasure. 


Tell us a little about yourself and Georgie Girl

Hi there! I am a Kelowna girl, having lived here for 40 of my years on this planet. I graduated from Kelowna Secondary. I moved to the Big City of Vancouver for 11 years before returning in 1991. Starting a family in Kelowna changed a few dynamics for me, now a mom anda homeowner, I needed to find a way to make a living in the Okanagan. I had always been a self-starter and the urge to create my own viable business was like breathing, it just had to be, there was no other way for me. I have always been fascinated by style and fashion, but at this time, with young children, I saw the opportunity in the marketplace in 1995 was children’s products, both new and used. Vancouver had it’s share of children’s shops that I had frequented, but Kelowna was wide open and ready to embrace this concept. I am also very choosy about presentation, cleanliness and customer service: many “used” stores in these times were very little different from thrift shops, and I thought that this was missing the mark. I predicted that shopping for “second hand” goods was bound to be a direct alternative to “brand new”, and in accordance I made our store sparkle and the customer service to high standards. I knew very little about retail operations or running a business, and I needed to learn it all as I went along. Much trial, plenty of error...and loads of learning! The shop I named Yellow Brick Road, and it was a huge success in spite of my lack of experience. The concept was greeted with enthusiasm, and I added many brand new products over the next 15 years, separated the new and used to 2 shops after moving to a larger premise close to Orchard Park. After 10 years in that location, I decided to make a move to Downtown Kelowna in our current location on Ellis Street. I was welcoming change, but the path proved a difficult one.

After so many years in baby and child retail, and declining sales due to several factors, I was forced into a position of rethinking my direction. This was very tough! Once established in one arena, it is a challenge reinvent your career! I struggled with ideas and concepts daily, while still in operations as a baby shop. The idea for Georgie Girl started very organically, as my customers indicated their enthusiasm for shopping in a vintage store and I realized the dream could be real.



How did you know that opening a vintage clothing boutique was the right career move for you?

It happened so naturally! Vintage clothing and fashion has always been a “passion” for me, one that I self-
judged was a bad habit or perhaps...frivolous. I had added a small vintage clothing section to the store - as an “eco-friendly” option for my customers - and that was what sparked the interest of my passers-by. I began to learn about vintage and actively seek vintage apparel...and the pathway became clear. It all happened very quickly once my mind was made up: we had a website, social media, and new signage in less than a month! Sales doubled as soon as the signs were up...and we were in the vintage clothing business. Wow!

In the 3.5 years since Georgie Girl launched, I have educated myself regarding the women’s fashion industry, and continue to do so each and every day. I am a research fanatic, and like to keep on top of what is happening in the fashion industry from all aspects: culturally, regionally, globally trending, innovations, sourcing. Georgie Girl Vintage has morphed into an entity I could never have predicted. I learned that style and fashion - although influenced by eras - is a fluid, uber-creative force that we as humans embrace for as many reasons as there are people.


What was the scariest part of opening Georgie Girl? How did you deal with that fear?

The scariest part of presenting any business to the public is that the idea will be a failure. I am very
 committed to building a business that inspires my customers, contributes to the community and employs people. To do that, the company must be successful and well received. Making this happen is a mixed bag of values, vision, conversations with clients, research and a huge dose of hope and hard work. How do I deal with it? A beverage consisting of fine okanagan grapes served in a goblet with a stem...and running. Endorphins rule.

As a female entrepreneur, how do you define “success”?

Great question! Being able to support your family and pay all the bills on time is a barometer, however boring, of success for all genders. Just the basics. Beyond that, it is being able to spark change or contribute beyond making a living - to participate in the enrichment of the community and the world. Being able to do this is a hallmark of success. “ To have the ability to meet the financial obligations of the business, while contributing to the wellness of those around you and involved with your business, and to do this in good health and happy heart.”

Have you experienced any prejudice against you for being a female business owner?
No, not at all!

What is the best business advice you have received? Why did it resonate with you?

The best business advice I have ever received is to keep going in the face of all evidence that you are failing: take each day as it comes, do what you have to and watch your numbers without allowing them to kill you, allow the numbers to guide you to take the next step. Look for the positive and keep going: you will see light at the end of the tunnel, then inch in that direction - you will get there! It saved my business to take this approach, and it guides me to some extent on a daily basis now that the light is much brighter. It resonated with me because it is practical and doable, not a fanciful “feel good” quote without a practical tool kit.

What advice do you have for a woman wanting to start her own business?

Do your homework with regards to numbers: cash flow, margins and use a spreadsheet. Over estimate your expenses to create a buffer zone. Learn social marketing or hire someone to help you. Keep your eyes wide open and listen to your customers or clients religiously. Honor your employees. Remember that a business is built one client at a time. Take at least one day off a week for you and get some air!

Explain your sense of style. Where did it come from?

Not sure! I loved fashion magazines even as a child and was always designing clothing in my head. My
 favourite childhood pastime, other than reading, was to make my own paper dolls and design clothing for them. I could do this for hours. When I left school, I got a job as a cocktail waitress which suited me at the time as I could dress up every day and being a cocktail waitress is kind of like running your own little mini show - especially so in the crazy 80’s! I spent much of my booty on clothing in Vancouver in the 80’s at vintage shops - I never shop with friends, always alone - I need my mind clear to concentrate on fabrics, textures, colours and what is hiding between the lines. I can shop for clothing anywhere, but my favorite has ever been thrift and vintage for it’s diversity. I continue to follow the fashion industry from all angles now: runway to thrift, street to high fashion and marketplace trends.





In your eyes, is there a difference between fashion and style? If so, what?

Yes, indeed. Fashion to me is the apparel itself - the actual garments - whereas style is how it is presented with attitude. To say something is “fashionable” is to say it is “on trend”, but to say something is “stylish” encompasses more than the clothing you choose: it is how you accessorize it and your attitude around it. Select fashions your love to create your style!

What would you tell someone who hasn’t found their sense of style?

I would encourage that person to look beyond current fashion trends, and explore style from the past 100 years in order to get a sense of modern fashion history. Looking at lifestyle is critical as there is no point choosing to dress in a way that is impractical. Body type is a deciding factor when creating a sense of style. To appear stylish a person must be at ease and confident that the garments are flattering to the body and movement is fluid. Lastly, be daring! Many people are timid to embrace a look because they think it is different and they will stand out. If you love it, go for it!

Any closing remarks? How would you like readers to connect with you?

Thanks for this opportunity to chat, Carolilly Finery! Wishing you all the best with your gorgeous vintage inspired jewellery line! Readers can find us in Kelowna at 1331 Ellis Street in the Cultural District and online at We are on Instagram as Georgie Girl Vintage and on Facebook

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