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Woman of the Week: Angie Draskovic

Angie Draskovic is someone who puts others before herself and firmly believes in the power of faith — faith in religion and faith in humanity. As President and CEO of Yonge Street Mission, Draskovic has seen first hand the difference this kind of faith can make in a person’s life.

Draskovic always had a passion for helping others, but it took her a while to figure out how she could put her abilities to use. Prior to her time with the Mission, she spent 16 years working in telecommunications. It wasn’t until she took a maternity leave that she began to re-evaluate what she wanted in a career, and that led her down a spiritual path of self-discovery and altruism.

 “I started to investigate what I really wanted to do and at that stage I had a greater sense of what my skill set was – marketing,” Draskovic said. “What I was passionate about was advocating for the poor and marginalized. That led to taking my skill set, marketing and sales, and having that benefit the poor and marginalized.” 

She worked in non-profit fundraising for a season before venturing out on her own to found the ZOË Alliance, a social enterprise that empowers village-based businesses in developing countries by providing a platform for their products. Shoppers can purchase hand-crafted items from businesses across the world knowing they were making a real economic difference in the lives of the people who created them.

The goal, Draskovic says, is to allow communities to grow alongside the business. It’s a concept called social sourcing and sustainable employment. The for-profit business encourages ethical employment and uses part of the funds collected to help create infrastructure within that community.

“I went alongside indigenous business owners and helped them develop products and business plans. Instead of it being a crafty business without much profit they were able to develop a growing businesses and more steadily employee people in the community.”

When ZOË Alliance was doing well as a successful commercial business, Draskovic felt like it was time to move on. She was on the board of the Yonge Street Mission at the time, and when a position opened up for the CEO’s role, she immediately felt drawn to it.

“I grew up, like many people we serve, in a single-parent family on social assistance. I know what it’s like to live in a rent-geared family,” she said. This history helped her connect with both the staff and the people the Mission worked for.

For Draskovic, working at the Yonge Street Mission is exciting and incredibly important. The people she serves count on the Mission. As she says, it’s not a career or a sector, “it’s a vocation.”

“I think the one thing I like about working at Yonge Street Mission is that it is an organization that has great historical depth and experience,” she said. “We are trusted, which gives us the opportunity to step into being a leader in the city around to truly reducing, or dare I say it eliminating, chronic poverty in Toronto.”

In addition to her work at Yonge Street Mission, Draskovic also sits on the advisory panel for Toronto’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. She says there is no “intellectually defensive argument” for the lack of resources spent on poverty reduction. At the same time, she acknowledged the bureaucracy that has led to resource limitations, saying that Toronto is doing what it can with the parameters it has to work with.

She said there are a few things that can be done to make an honest difference in the poverty gap. The first is to have faith in people and believe they can move up from poverty. Draskovic says too many people believe that those in poverty can’t change. “That’s a community thing. How do we respond to someone who dresses a little different than us and conducts themselves in a way that’s uncomfortable?”

Businesses need to provide jobs at a meaningful income so that families don’t require social assistance. As a founder of a for-profit business, Draskovic understands that making money is important, but many businesses put this profit before their community and the wellbeing of their employees. The increase in minimum wage in Toronto is a good start, she said. “If we could pay everyone enough to live on – that would be the biggest thing we could do. We would stop feeding it.”

Resources for poverty also need to be more proactive and preventative rather than reactionary. There are programs in place to help those who are below the poverty line; however, that help disappears the moment that person or family makes a little more money, which in turn throws them back into poverty. “It’s punitive,” Draskovic says. “We assume we have to make sure you don’t game the system and this prevents you from earning income and working your way out of poverty.”

Yonge Street Mission is currently executing a research project to determine specific policies that, if changed, would drastically reduce poverty in Toronto. Once these policies are identified, Draskovic will focus on providing evidence and business case studies for public partners with the goal of transforming Toronto. “I’m excited,” she said. “We will see. I’m newer to the sector than many of my colleagues so perhaps that makes me optimistic, but I can’t imagine doing anything in a way you weren’t playing to win. Winning in this case means reducing poverty.”

When Draskovic isn’t working, she is studying part-time in an attempt to finish her master’s in leadership and management.

Stick to your knitting Minnan-Wong, Keesmaat is out of your league

“Stick to your knitting.” Reaction to this phrase can be mixed — and it completely depends on the context in which it is used.

For example, using it in a business meeting to indicate that employees should play to their strengths while allowing others to do the same is a commonly acceptable use of the phrase. “Stick to the knitting” when used by a professional colleague to describe an incredibly accomplished woman who has her foot in all aspects of her craft can come across as derogatory, sexist, and downright rude.

Toronto Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong is being accused of sexism for using the phrase in relation to outgoing Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat in an interview with the Toronto Sun last week. Minnan Wong said this in response to Keesmaat’s use of Twitter and how she debates municipal affairs publicly on the platform.

The history of “stick to your knitting” is a bit obscure, but the phrase has been used widespread in the business community since the mid 1800s. Many business professionals use this phrase when giving advice to young entrepreneurs. Stick to what you know and let others stick to what they know. That way you have the benefit of different experience instead of pretending to be an expert in all fields.

And yet, many politicians get in trouble for using this common phrase — and it’s all because of the context. Especially considering most of the time it’s used to describe women.

Despite its history, the phrase in itself is slightly derogatory. The person who uses it is telling their co-worker they don’t value their opinions. As a woman, this is especially offensive because women fight hard to be heard in the first place. In the case of Keesmaat, she has expertise in city building and most of her tweeting revolves around different aspects of this field. To say she shouldn’t have an opinion on how the City of Toronto is run and/or built is a bit farfetched and, frankly, sexist.

There is also the democracy angle that makes the use of this phrase even more strange. Minnan-Wong decided that posting discussion on city affairs on Twitter was not appropriate, but isn’t public discussion a foundation of democracy? Keesmaat has previously told Women’s Post that defending her planning choices and discussing them with the public was a critical step for accountability. In that case, her activity on social media is an extension of her role as city planner and an active citizen.

“If you have planners gone wild you could end up in a totalitarian type of environment, so the due diligence that comes from the vigour of being questioned by councillors and by the public is an essential part of the planning process from my perspective,” she said.

Why shouldn’t Keesmaat, or any person for that matter, use social media as a platform for public discussion? If everyone on Twitter was told to stick to their knitting, then it would be a pretty boring place. The whole purpose of social media is to allow people to share information and opinions.

And then there is the final point — why would Minnan-Wong care about the social media habits of a city staff member who is leaving their position in a month’s time? The only reason to use this phrase is to remind them that once they leave city hall, their opinions shouldn’t matter. Well, what does that mean for the rest of us? I hope Minnan-Wong’s constituents don’t have any opinions they want to share or ideas they want to suggest, because it appears like he won’t be listening to them.

Ultimately, Minnan-Wong made the same mistake many politicians make — trying to create a sound bite using clichés, hyperbole, and commonly used phrases in order to capture the attention of the media and the public.

Looks like he did — just not in the way he expected.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

Celebrating Women: Martha Lowry

Craft liquor is becoming a big business in Canada, with new distilleries popping up in big cities across the country. Despite the popularity gain, it’s still very much a male-oriented field, even in Toronto where is seems as though there is a beer or spirit festival every month. Meet Martha Lowry, the only female distiller in Toronto, who recently launched Mill Street Brewery’s first ever Small Bach Gin.

Women’s Post sat down with Lowry to talk about how her work with Mill Street and how she became a distiller.

Q: Congrats on recently launching the first ever Small Bach Gin at Mill Street Brewery in Toronto. Tell us what the process was like for you?

A: Thank you! I am very excited about the gin. The gin was a long time in the making with many test batches on my trial still. When thinking about how to make the gin I started by thinking about what botanicals I would want to use. Gin always contains juniper and typically has coriander. I knew I also wanted to include hops because they have so many different flavour possibilities. I was sure I could find one that would work with the bright and fresh gin I was dreaming of and I thought it would be a great connection to our brewing roots here at Mill Street. After I found my favourite hops I experimented with all kinds of botanicals, wanting to create something complex but not muddled. I settled on my ten botanicals after many trials and combinations of flavours.

You are the only female distiller in Toronto – how does make you feel and was it difficult to follow your passion?

It makes me very excited for the industry. I think we are only going to start seeing more women in distilling. I can’t wait for the day when I see a whole crew of women running a distillery. So far, I have been really fortunate in that I have, for the most part, been met with people who want to help me on my journey. Sometimes I get a bit of surprise, and not full understanding, but not too much has really stood in my way.

You are a handful of female distillers in Canada what would you say to someone who wanted to follow in your career footsteps?

Reach out to women’s industry groups and connect with as many women in the industry as you can. The women I know in the industry are amazing, strong, passionate, and we tend to look out for one another. Do a lot of research and reading, and tasting (the fun part)! Try to get yourself into a distillery to see it all in action and decide if it is something you love. There are a million different ways to get yourself into distilling. See what others have done and figure out if that is a path that can get you there.

What kind of skill set does one need to be successful in what you do?

One of the best parts and craziest parts of my job is that you are doing a million things at once. So you must be good at multitasking and prioritizing. A small distillery means that you get to do everything, which keeps it wonderfully fun and wonderfully busy. You must have a good palate and confidence to make decisions on product flavours. A love of people is a must. I work alone, but I am constantly interacting with the public on tours and tastings. A strong science background is necessary to understand distilling. Although I do know distillers who are more artistically-minded than science-minded and make great products. It’s all about the balance between science and art for creating flavours.

Tell us about the type of craft gin you make? Is it for everyone and which food pairings does it taste well with?

Mill Street Small Batch Gin is new distilled gin. It is smooth, citrusy, and fresh and a real crowd pleaser. It has the classic juniper, but it is dialled back to let the other botanicals shine through. This is the kind of gin that can convert gin haters. At first taste, the craft gin is very fresh, like zested citrus, reminiscent of lemon drop candies, accompanied by floral notes of violets and rose. The gin is smooth and sweet, with a top note of grapefruit zest. A peppery spice comes in the middle, along with a bottom note of angelica and hops giving an earthy, celery note. The juniper comes through as a fresh pine note and the gin finishes leaving a lingering floral note. The gin has ten botanicals: Juniper, Coriander, Citra hops, Lemon zest, Grapefruit zest, Angelica, Liquorice, Orris root, Rose petals and Grains of Paradise.

I would recommend pairing this gin with sushi, smoked salmon, waxy baby potatoes, grilled chicken, and soft cheeses such as buffalo mozzarella or goat cheese.

How did you come with the popular citrus flavour for summer?

I love a citrusy gin in the summer. All I crave are bright fresh flavours in the summer. I eat a lot of salads out of my garden in the summer, sipping a fresh bright gin alongside a caprese salad is probably my favourite summer evening.

Is there a typical day and what do you like most about your job?

I don’t have typical days. Which is one of the best things about my job. My favourite thing is definitely coming up with new recipes. I have a blast exploring flavours and running test batches through my lab size still. It feels like the world is your oyster when you are making something new.

When people ask you what you do as a career is it an unique title to have as head distiller?

It is. Often people do not know what “distiller” means. Most people assume it has something to do with beer, a fact that is confused by the fact that I did work as a brewer for a time. Being a distiller leads to many interesting conversations after the question “and what do you do for a living” at dinner parties.

What is next for you?

I want to keep expanding Mill Street’s Whisky program, putting down more barrels and playing with different malts and yeasts to create really unique casks.

 

 

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Are shorts ever acceptable at work?

It’s the age-old question: can I wear shorts to work?

According to most experts, the answer is usually no, which is unfortunate during those hot summer months of July and August.

The question surrounding appropriate work-wear is an age-old and genderless one. Sure, women can wear dresses, skirts, or even a classy pair of capris, but those items aren’t necessarily comfortable. Often, women wear tights, nylons, or spanx underneath those form-fitting outfits. Men, while their suits are probably more comfortable, are still forced to wear lots of layers. The pants, dress shirt, coat, and of course, the suffocating tie. How much easier would it be if women and men could wear shorts to the office?

Can men wear shorts to work?

Of course, whether or not shorts are acceptable to wear at work depends on the workplace. If the office environment is generally more casual, then shorts should be acceptable. However, if you do choose to wear shorts, make sure they are classy. Skip the denim and choose a solid coloured material. Pick shorts that are either pleated, bohemian-style, or a fitted cotton base with a belt.

Try to pair it with a matching blazer to make it appear more business-class than summer-class. Always wear a blouse with your shorts with matching jewellery and either nice sandals, heels, or closed-toe flats.

Pair the shorts with a matching blazer

Despite the availability of these “dress shorts”, most people still think it’s inappropriate to wear them to the office — and they are right. You have to be very careful about how you present yourself to your boss and coworkers. Unless you are prepared to pair these shorts with blouses and blazers, just like you would with a pair of pants, then don’t bother. It’s easy to look sloppy when wearing shorts, so a little extra care is needed to make it work.

At the end of the day — judge your office accordingly. While comfort is key in increasing productivity, there is also something to be said about dressing to impress. Here at Women’s Post, we don’t think it should matter what you wear as long as you rock your job. But, it’s not always that simple. Your best bet is to ask around — and maybe start on casual Fridays just to be safe!

 

Would you ever wear shorts to the office? Let us know in the comments below!

Toronto top 10 city for female entrepreneurs

Toronto has been listed as one of the top 10 cities for women entrepreneurs!

The Dell Women Entrepreneur Network Summit released days on the h2017 Women Entrepreneur cities earlier this week, ranking 50 cities around the world based on how they support female entrepreneurs. This is the eight year Dell has hosted such a summit.

Toronto is listed as number nine on the top 10 cities list, with Vancouver making it on the list for the first time at number 26 in the rankings.

Dell teamed up with IHS Markit, an analytics firm that helped the company gather data on various cities, to see which cities qualified to be listed. One key factor of determination was based on a city’s ability to attract as well as support women entrepreneurs. Their research does not include data from previous years — each study is conducted fresh each time and the company also changes and adds factors.

Karen Quinto, the executive VP and chief customer officer at Dell, remarked the number of women entrepreneurs is growing globally at a rate of more than 10 per cent each year. “Women are likely or more likely than men to start businesses in many markets,” he said. “However, financial, cultural, and political barriers can limit the success of these businesses.”

Factors of determination were based on city characteristics such as capital, technology, talent, culture, and markets. Other factors include local policy, national laws, and customs. There were categories that were broken down even more, for instance culture was determined based on areas things like role models, mentors , networks and attitudes towards women entrepreneurs. In this instance, Toronto ranked third and Vancouver ranked 17th.

Vancouver has made the list thanks to their paid maternity leave for women which is a plus to their businesses. It is also easy to start a business there as the city ranks 26th in terms of access to capital.

Dell continues to be committed to empowering women in business especially in the sue of technology. The company believes that this venture can lead to an increase in global economic growth and development. Dell believes that women especially understand the connection that is necessary with your customers in business.

Twenty-five cities was added to the list for 2017. Here are the top 10 in the list:

1. New York

2. San Francisco

3. London

4. Boston

5. Stockholm

6. Los Angeles

7. Washington, D.C.

8. Singapore

9. Toronto

10. Seattle

For the full list of countries, check out this link to get the full executive summary index.

Woman of the Week: Sarah Jacobs Barrs

Named one of the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) Future Leaders and one of Canada’s 2016 100 Most Powerful Women, Sarah Jacob Barrs exudes passion for what she does. On the phone with Women’s Post, Barrs doesn’t glamorize her profession, but instead stresses how much she enjoys her work. As she says, “It’s important to have fun in everything you do.”

Barrs is the director of events for Klick, one of the largest marketing and commercialization agencies in the world, headquartered in Toronto. She manages a small team of women who organize internal and external events for the company. Some of the special guests that have spoken at Barr’s events at Klick include include Bill Clinton, Margaret Atwood, Arianna Huffington, David Cronenberg, Deepak Chopra, Craig Kielburger, and Steven Page.

It’s hard work that involves long hours and impressive people skills. Barrs’ events are highly curated for a wide audience, whether it’s 20 people at a managers’ retreat or 2000 guests at a town hall or a conference. She is also responsible for Klick’s external marketing events and coordinates international events for clients. All of this is in addition to the internal leadership conferences, wellness or fitness courses, and retreats she plans for staff.

“People come to me and ask about event planning. It’s a lot of work. There is glamour behind it,” she says. “But it’s also understanding your industry and knowing you need to stay on top of trends – you are constantly having to recreate what you do and change and do new things – not every career does that.”

Barrs was brought up with a strong sense of community, something that inspired her career path. In particular, she wanted to help the sick because everyone has been touched by loss or illness in one way or another. Since she was unable to donate money, Barrs decided she could help fundraise and plan events, which she did with great success. Throughout her roles as an event coordinator for Mount Sinai Hospital Auxiliary, Chair of the Leadership Board Toronto for Save a Child’s Heart, and Community Development Coordinator for the SickKids Foundation, she was able to land her dream job of working in both the event planning and health sectors.

“I grew up in a family where giving back was really important,” she said. “Over the holiday season we supported families to ensure they had wonderful Christmas and Hanukkah – picking out gifts for children my age,” she said.

One of Barrs’ first jobs following graduation was with Women of Influence, an organization dedicated to the advancement of professional women. She started working there as a receptionist in 2007, but was promoted a few months later to event coordinator. For Barrs, this opportunity spearheaded her career as well as a passion for helping other women. She even helped start a group based in Toronto for young women in business.

Although Barrs no longer works with Women of Influence, she continues to try to mentor and offer advice to young women pursuing event planning. She is also active in planning celebrations for International Women’s Day within Klick, something she is incredibly proud of.

When she isn’t working, Barrs enjoys fitness, spending time with family and friends and traveling. “I really enjoy doing nothing,” she says. “Sometimes you just need your downtime with this type of career.” She also finds a bit of relief through shopping, finding clothing that allows her to showcase her creativity.

Barrs is working on a big internal celebration in September to mark Klick’s 20th anniversary, as well as the company’s annual town hall marketing event in December.

 

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TV hosts, mompreneurs Vanessa and Melissa share lifestyle tips

Meet Vanessa Rempel and Melissa Shad, television hosts on the Rogers network and self-proclaimed mompreneurs, believe health and fitness are very important aspect in any woman’s life, especially parents.  In our Q&A interview, they share their parenthood and lifestyle tips, as well as their new parenting show/brand Vanessa & Melissa:

Q: As busy TV hosts, mompreneurs. and social media influencers how do you maintain a healthy lifestyle?

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a big priority for both of us, but with six kids and a business it can be challenging. We often workout early mornings when the kids are still sleeping, or late at night. We both actually prefer clean eating, so when it comes to food choices we are always on the same page. That doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy some wine and treats here and there, as well, but all in moderation. But, let’s be honest, some weeks we kill it and some weeks we totally fail, but we’re always trying to make good choices when we can.

Tell us how you began working together as a duo and your new Vanessa + Melissa new venture?

We both previously moonlighted as correspondents for an entertainment show on Rogers TV, and simultaneously we were both pitching the idea of a parenting show. A producer set us up on a blind date and we’ve literally been working together ever since.

Our show was originally called Diapers & Lipgloss, which is our business name, but we’ve evolved into solelyVanessa+Melissa on all our platforms, because we also cover lifestyle topics beyond motherhood.

How are you making a difference doing what you do in addressing parenthood to women’s lifestyle?

We’re talking about subjects that people are often too scared or embarrassed to talk about. Topics that have previously been deemed taboo or were just swept under the rug. We want moms, and women, to feel safe, comfortable and accepted no matter what is going on in their lives. To know they’re not alone and we’re all in this together.

You both lead active lifestyles and practice “what you preach”, how does it make you both feel you are inspiring others or making a difference?

To be honest, it’s everything to us. It’s actually the best part of what we do. We get so many messages from women around the world asking us for advice and thanking us for covering a certain topic and almost every message we receive ends with ‘please keep doing what we’re doing’.

What are some tips to work out safely during pregnancy and after post-baby?

 Don’t stop working out!  It is so beneficial to you and babe.

If you are new to working out though, work with a personal trainer to make sure you are using proper and safe form.

Make sure that you do not raise your heart rate over 140.

Stay away from heavy squats and stop running if you experience round ligament pain.

Make sure to have fun, and enjoy your workouts.  Never feel pressure to workout, or workout if your body is telling you to relax!

What is next for you?

We plan to continue to grow our parenting/ lifestyle brand , Vanessa+Melissa globally, in many new ways, through all our social channels. We also have lots of projects & ideas in the works, so stay tuned!! 

 

www.runwithit.ca

Twitter: @christineruns

Run With It on YouTube Channel

Gender parity could add $150 billion to Canada GDP

Pushing for gender equality in Canada could add $150 billion in incremental GDP in 2026, or at least that is what a new report released by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) is saying.

The report, entitled The Power of Parity: Advancing Women’s Equality in Canada, was released earlier this June and outlines a number of things Canada has to do in order to take advantage of this $150 billion opportunity. This includes being more than just a vocal supporter of gender parity.

Too often, companies outline goals for gender diversity on boards or make promises to consider more women in the hiring process — but there is no follow up or accountability. Seventy-five per cent of companies do not track female recruitment or reward leaders for fostering gender diversity. This means there is less accountability and goals of gender parity may actually never be achieved.

The report also indicates only 14 per cent of businesses have “clearly articulated a business case for change” when it comes to considering gender diversity.

Canada is ranked in the top 10 countries of 95 when it comes to women’s equality, but as the report says, “progress towards gender parity has stalled over the past 20 years, and Canada must find anew ways to keep pace.”

More importantly, women should be hired in “high-productivity sectors” such as mining and STEM-related industries. Currently, women only hold 29 per cent of political seats and hold 65 per cent of unpaid care work.

Canada’s GDP growth has slowed to approximately 2 per cent a year, according to the Canadian government. The report shows that unless Canadian businesses make a significant investment in women and continue to grow this rate will remain stagnate.

“A significant part of the solution is for Canada to tap into the vast unrealized potential of women. Accelerating progress toward gender equality is not only a moral and social imperative; it would also deliver a growth dividend.”

In order to see this GDP growth, businesses will not only have to hire more women (create 650,000 more jobs), but they also will need to raise the number of hours worked by female employees and raise productivity levels. The analysis found that the structure of each province’s economy had little factor into the state of gender inequality. Rather, it was formal policies that mandate quotas for women on boards of Crown corporation and universal child-care programs that determined economic gender inequality.

Women, the report says, are willing to work. Unfortunately, there are a number of barriers that either prevent them from doing so, or prevent them from growing in their role.

“This research highlights best practices in Canadian companies that others can emulate. But initiatives need to be implemented holistically and effectively, and measures to tackle gender imbalance in companies only work if they are considered to be a true business imperative. Changing attitudes takes time, and persistence is vital,” says Sandrine Devillard, a Senior Partner in McKinsey’s Montreal office, in a statement.

Hopefully, it doesn’t take too much time to change. Gender parity within the workplace is vital to both the social and economic success of this country — and yet, there are still gender gaps when it comes to positions of power, both in the private and public sector. How many reports like this are necessary before those with the power to do something actually change?

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below! 

Women of the Week: Patti-Anne Tarlton

Patti-Anne Tarlton is one of the women magnates of the music industry in Toronto. Her success can be attributed to her charismatic business attitude and exceptional managerial skills with her staff. She has a friendly, down-to-earth demeanour, and values collaboration and connecting people invested in music across the country.

As COO, Canada for Ticketmaster North America, Tarlton oversees the business-end operations of the Canadian ticketing market. She is in charge of the features and products that Ticketmaster sells, including the technology that is used to sell and market tickets. These products are sold on international markets across North America. Tarlton is also in charge of overseeing the business relationship with Ticketmaster’s clients, managing business deals with clients (teams, festivals, clubs) and holds relationships with B2B to sell product on their behalf.

Before joining Ticketmaster, Tarlton worked as the Vice President of Live Entertainment at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. “I spent 13 years at Maple Leaf. There are a whole host of precious moments, including New Years Eve with the Tragically Hip and when Googoosh performed for the first time in 21 years outside of her home country Iran,” Tarlton says. “It is always fun to see Canadian attractions sell out the arena. It is also great to see how the Toronto marketplace is so multicultural.”

Tarlton’s interest in music began at a very young age when her Uncle, Donald Tarlton, who was one of the most famous record label owners in Canadian music history, came to visit her hometown in Vancouver and his nieces would accompany him to various music events. Donald Tarlton owned Aquarius Records, which represented April Wine, Sum 41, and Corey Hart. “It was likely a slow burn to my love for music,” Tarlton says. “Donald was always a part of our lives and very close to my father. He always had a great record label and grew that over the years. It was always about the next thing and a bunch of vinyl would come my way.” Tarlton got her start in operations as a concert promotor in the music industry. Over the next 14 years, she was a concert promotor for Perryscope Concerts, DKD Concerts, and House of Blues Concerts.

When Tarlton reached adulthood, she decided to move to Montreal and pursue her dream of working in music with her uncle. She recollects the first concert she attended in Montreal was to see Paul Simon and she was impressed by the crowd. “Having grown up in Vancouver, the audience settings were quite different,” Tarlton says. “Montreal audiences stand on their feet and it had this super international flavour to it.” Even as a young adult, Tarlton was interested in how live audiences were affected by the music and how to engage people to enjoy shows they attended.  Her passion with live shows eventually led her to being the VP of Live Entertainment for the Air Canada Centre, the fifth largest venue in the world.

Tarlton believes music creates better communities and a stronger cultural environment. She is an appointed member of the Toronto Music Advisory Council, which is a group of individuals in the industry that meet to exchange ideas and advice on how to create opportunities and respond to challenges in the city’s music industry. She is also a board member on Music Canada Live, which promotes live music. “I feel as I live here in Toronto I, I can advocate for the rest of the country. It was natural for me to try and rally the arenas in sports and entertainment,” Tarlton says. “The benefit of being in Toronto is you have the population and local economy and it is in part our responsibility to advocate for every neck of the woods in Canada. Canadians tend to network and collaborate, be it a local level or countrywide. It is our natural tendency as a nation. Even in a multinational setting, Canadians tend to lean in to find solutions rather than elbows out.”

Tarlton has received the Women of Influence Award from Venues Today, won Coach of the Year from Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, and was nominated for Facility Executive of the Year twice for Pollstar.

Tarlton wants to inspire women to reach for high-ranking roles in the music industry. “While I have enjoyed a career and not been set back by my gender, I have two girls and I envision a world where they don’t have to think about gender. I do know that we have a network of really talented women across the country though there are not enough women on civic or government advisory boards,” Tarlton says. “I do feel like I have a responsibility to push women along as well as well as motivate and inspire. If I take lessons from my own life, it is about putting yourself out there. I do not think twice about delivering myself in a conversation and pushing something forward without the one to one.”

When Tarlton isn’t working, she enjoys going to the cottage and waterskiing. She also finds cooking very relaxing after work. She was an avid sewer when she was younger and made over 150 costumes that her two daughters enjoyed playing with as they grew up. Tarlton’s sense of humour and positivity is infectious and listening to her stories is wildly entertaining and deeply inspirational. It is moving to see a strong and high-ranking role in the music industry.  Just don’t forget Tarlton’s advice for Canadian women; network, get yourself out there, and do it on your own terms.

Celebrating Women: Kristy Fletcher

Kristy Fletcher didn’t expect to work in the music industry. She left her previous job at Maple Leafs Sport and Entertainment after 20 years with the company in 2016 and hasn’t looked back.

Fletcher started working for the NHL’s Calgary Flames when she was 15. It was, as she puts it, the “family business”. Her father Cliff, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, was the President and GM of the Flames at the time and provided both Kristy and her brother Chuck, the current General Manager of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, an insight into the world of sports business and management.  As an avid sports fan herself, she knew that was where she wanted to be.

Fletcher did a little bit of everything, working in communications, PR, sales, and premium ticket service. She was also instrumental in the development of the Leafs Fund, the precursor for what is now the Maple Entertainment Foundation. This position allowed her to merge her love of sports with the charitable world and help create a fundraising strategy for the company.

And then, after 20 years of working with the NHL, Fletcher decided to take the plunge and try something new.

“On paper I had reached a level of success within my company,” she said. “It was taking a big risk to quit my job, but I felt it was the moment. I had 2 kids [and] I wanted to feel like I was contributing to the community in which I lived and worked.”

Fletcher is now the Executive Director of MusiCounts, a music education charity that raises money for instruments and programs in schools across Canada. She said that as soon as she walked through the door for the interview, she immediately knew MusiCounts was where she wanted to be.

“I always liked the music industry,” she said. “I had friends in the industry. It was not a big stretch to me. I think both of the industries have a lot more similarities then imagined. Sports and music bring people together, rooted in passion, social connectors, everyone has an opinion. It was a natural transition. “

Over the past 20 years, MusiCounts has awarded nearly $10 million worth of musical instruments to schools and community groups across Canada. Their mandate is to raise awareness about the importance of music education, as much as it is to generate funds for these programs.

“Our priority for this year is making people aware of the work we do and that music education is at risk. [There is] a generation of students missing out on the value of creating and understanding music,” Fletcher said.

In September, the charity is set to launch this year’s Band Aid Program. Schools are welcome to apply for musical instruments in increments of $5,000 or $10,000. They also started a micro-funding campaign in which Canadians can donate by texting MUSIC to 20222.

Fletcher said she feels lucky to have been involved in both the sports and the music industry, and has never felt anything but supported by her mostly-male colleagues.

“I was certainly aware that I was in a male-dominated industry,” she said. “But I found my own way to manage it. I never let it get in my way. I have not personally felt I was held back due to gender, but I also think that has to do with women who blazed the trail before me.”

In that form, Fletcher offers advice to women trying to move up in their respective fields.

My advice would be … you need to build your network and you can’t let it go. It takes time to do that and it takes energy and a lot of confidence. You need to get out of there and establish those contacts,” she said. “We get busy in our careers, but you have to be out there making sure you are promoting yourself.”

It is MusiCounts 20th anniversary this year. To commemorate this occasion, MusiCounts announced that, with the support of singer Eleanor McCain, they will issue five enhanced “True North: The Canadian Songbook” commemorative Band Aid grants of $20,000 in conjunction with her new CD release.

 

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