Women of the week: Diana Dickson

For Diana Dickson the itch to keep looking onwards and upwards may have been planted early on. Born to European parents in Toronto her childhood was rife with trips abroad, making Dickson a self-described Europhile from the start. Perhaps her bold career viewpoints are stemmed from her exposure to the world at such a young age — or perhaps Dickson’s natural ambition, intelligence, and attitude comprise the lynchpin to her success.

The owner of the staging, design, and decorating firm Diana Dickson Design in Toronto, Ontario. “My knowledge base in visual arts, art direction, and design combined with a practical, innovative working style offers a proven method for transforming problem properties into highly desirable ones.”

Art, design, innovation — three key ingredients in this recipe for success. And, of course, one other: Dickson herself.

“I am artsy, intuitive and gutsy,” says Dickson when asked what three words could describe herself and her career. “I often venture where angels fear to tread because basically I’m adventurous and trust myself.”

With her heart drawn to art and music from an early age and a passion that has never waned it is little wonder that she has been married to a professional photographer for 24 years. The couple has two children, a son who is 23 and a daughter who is 21.

For Dickson, like many women, starting a family and raising her children didn’t come without its own share of career choices. “I think women are still faced with the struggle of juggling family life and their career aspirations. I left a great job in advertising to raise my kids because at that point in my life my kids were the most important thing to me and I really wanted to focus on them. I was adopted myself, and an only child, so it was very important for me to do the family thing above all else.”

The decision to take time to start a family didn’t come without a price, however. “I knew I would have to change gears and forge a new career for myself that could combine my talents with my need to be flexible and available for my kids,” she says, a move which has made Dickson dynamic and focused.

“That wasn’t easy,” she explains. “But it started with freelance work as a garden designer and eventually came to include the whole domestic sphere, indoors and out.”

Her womanhood — and motherhood — may have made influenced her career path, but at the same time her perspective as a woman in business has given her a more unique outlook. “I do think that my perspective as a woman has guided me in my career,” she explains. “I believe in the importance of the softer side of life and of beauty and order in one’s surroundings.” Softness, beauty, and order have long been in the female sphere of influence, says Dickson, who draws from these concepts regularly in her design and home setting work.

“There’s also a nurturing quality to what I do. I listen to what people need and want, and I try to deliver because I want to see them happy. I love transforming things for the better. But I really take the time to understand my clients.”

“The yin-yang thing really works for me,” says Dickson, but don’t think she’s afraid of shouting out in the name of girl power. “I’m not afraid of pumping up the feminine energy because the world really needs it.”

Her nurturing quality also seems to extend to her chosen projects. “At the moment, I’m focusing on projects that turn dysfunctional spaces into ones that work,” says Dickson. “Simplifying complexity.”

But for a woman as involved as Dickson there is always something to do. Currently working on a series of paintings centered around bromeliad flowers in her free time, she also serves as Chair on the board of the non-profit Gallery 1313 art gallery in Toronto’s west end that focuses on new and emerging art. “I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting work!”

For Diana Dickson though, the art is always behind everything she does. “I’m moving more towards the concept of art and how it can transform one’s surroundings.”

In the painting of Diana’s life there are still many more brushstrokes to come.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.


Women of the Week: Sarah Jean Aguinaldo

Sarah Jean Aguinaldo, also known as Serena Jean, is the founder of Lifeward Choices Empowerment Centre. With over 15 years of experience, she is skilled at helping people uncover their life focus areas and guiding them to empowerment.

Her interest in this field (as she defines it, a “humanitarian interest”) started very early in her life, and she retained it throughout her schooling.In fact, as a teenager, she received the University of Women Award for her volunteer work.

“I was very passionate about helping others grow and experience quality living,” she says.

When it came time to pursue higher education, her path was easy to choose.

“I wanted to help people experience improved living/great quality living, help people take care of planet…wanted to be a part of finding solutions to making this happen,” she says. So, through a double major in Environment and Resource Management and Urban, Economic and Social Geography, Aguinaldo was able to explore the many important global issues humanity is currently facing.

After completing her BA, Aguinaldo went after a B.Ed, before starting work as a teacher. It was here, she says, that she fully realized her desire to work in the life coaching field.

“There is nothing more important in life than personal betterment and helping others grow – the two go hand-in-hand and such care is needed to help our planet become healthier and more wonderful. These things are all interconnected.”

Thus, in March of 2013 she launched the website for the Lifeward Choices Empowerment Centre. The Centre, she says, “sees life coaching as a two-way and collaborative process; learning and development occurs for both parties involved.” Through each interaction, both the coaches and the clients are given the opportunity “to learn from one another/from other’s experiences and constantly adjust our self-views and worldviews.”

As well as offering access to skilled life coaches, the Centre reaches out to clients in unique ways through its conventions and mentorship programs.

The conferences, Aguinaldo says, “build rapport and genuine community,” which in turn creates “long-term clients who are satisfied clients, and they further recommend the business.”

On the other end of the spectrum, the mentorship program (which Aguinaldo calls “extremely fun”) sees coaches reach out to adolescent girls through social outings designed to increase their self worth.

“It is wonderful to witness their transformation into strong aspiring ladies who love themselves and their lives,” she says.

Furthering her reach, Aguinaldo is currently working with YourDailyMentor.com “to provide online mentoring and coaching to reach the deaf community through subtitles and sign language” and is planning to launch a line of coaching videos, translated into multiple languages, in October of this year.

As a life coach, Aguinaldo has found her niche. Not surprisingly, when asked what her most important piece of advice is, Aguinaldo quickly responds,  “Ensure you are genuinely going after your personal passion, what naturally calls to you, and not simply what societal norms is directing you to follow; thus, success is already yours from the outset.”

Wise words indeed.

Women of the week: Hina Rizvi

Hina Rizvi figured out her role in this world very early on. “I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer, since I was very young,” she tells me.

To be fair, Rizvi is still what many would define as young. But this makes her success in her field all the more remarkable.

She received her law degree from the University of East London in London, UK. After graduating at the top of her class in 2008, Rizvi set out to conquer the legal world. While working in the field, she would gain an important mentor, a sole practitioner, who, she says, “gave me the confidence to not only be a lawyer but an entrepreneur.”

Yes, not willing to be simply a cog in an established legal firm, in November of 2012 Rizvi set out on her own. The reasons for going solo, she says, are threefold:

“One, I have more freedom to choose cases; two, it’s a better investment [in terms of salary and economy control]; and I can expand into New York. Not all firms have New York clients.”

She chose a good time to explore an independent firm, as clients are starting to look beyond established Bay Street firms. One reason is the cost: solo practitioners’ fees are lower than those of Bay Street, yet they still have the resources to provide clients with quality services.

Rizvi has an extra edge, as she has UK experience and has qualified for the bar in both Ontario and New York. In this new “localized” corporate world, she provides her clients the option of having one lawyer serve their needs across borders.

She also understands the need to adjust and work within the client’s specific needs, as her international education, she says, “opens your mind to different morals and principles.”

“It is very important where the client is coming from […] what their values are.”

One of Rizvi’s areas of specialty is collaborative law, a legal option for divorcing parties. It is an area Rizvi would like to be more well known. “Quite a few people are not aware of it, and would pursue this option if they were aware of it,” she says.

Collaborative law allows her to help people minimize the negative effects of a divorce, as it “promotes out of court settlements between families” and “healthy relationships between families,” which is important when children are involved and the parties need to work together.

As well, Rizvi, through social media, is doing her part to help the general public become more aware of the legal process. Using her blog (“blawg”), she defines areas of the law to her readers. This initiative of hers allows people the chance to learn more about areas of the law on their own time.

With an impressive resume so early in her career, Rizvi is sure to go far. Yet she is quick to stress that she is not done the learning process.

“I am still adapting and developing myself as a person and lawyer,” she says.

It is safe to say these future permutations will be an asset to the legal field.

Women of the week: Maryam and Nargues Mansouri

I meet the Mansouri sisters in the presentation gallery of the Perry. Stunningly gorgeous, it is a great illustration of why they are the builders to watch in today’s condo market.

Maryam and Nargues Mansouri are easily recognizable as siblings, sharing a cup of tea and playfully interrupting each other throughout the interview. But this familial dynamic does not affect their work environment. In fact, as the sisters tell it, it helps.

“Siblings bicker here and there and I think as part of the work experience and work life it’s easier to tell your partner how you feel about certain situations rather than keeping things pent up and inside.”

“We’re really honest with each other. It’s not rivalry though, because we’re all on the same team, trying to get to the same goal,” Nargues says.

“We have a really good dynamic and fit,” Maryam adds.

As co-vice-presidents of Mansouri Living, they take on a company created by their father, Sharok. According to the sisters, it was “really natural” for them to join the family business. As children, Maryam and Nargues were often taken by their father to sites to see what he was currently developing. “We were always surrounded by it growing up,” Nargues says.

Both are heavily involved in every step of the Perry’s development, yet each sister chose to explore different areas of the field academically and focus more on the areas that hold their strengths. This was a choice made with solid logic as, as Maryam explains, “You have an incredible mind when it comes to business and numbers and finance and legal so you get it when I don’t, and likewise.”

Their great dynamic and combined grasp of the overall process is vital, given the competition they are up against. Toronto has an oversaturated housing market, with more condos under development that any other city in North America.

“From the beginning we knew it was going to be an issue, so we really tried to make the Perry different. It came down to the finishes, the scale, the location. Just the details we put into every single suite, regardless of the size,” Nargues says.

The result is a design that encapsulates the word elegance. People who come to live in the Perry get beautifully designed suites furnished by Poliform, a membership to the Perry’s executive concierge service, Quintessentially, and access to the building’s incredible extra features, which include a piano lounge and the serenity garden.

What’s a serenity garden? This feature of the building was designed to serve as an oasis to today’s busy business life. The logic behind it: “Take 10 minutes to relax and that makes all the difference,” Nargues says. To businesswomen who spend so much time in the concrete jungle, it is the ideal escape.

As well, the Perry was designed with sustainability in mind. This, the Mansouris stress, was very important. Plumbing and lighting choices were made to create an environmentally-sound structure and green products were (and are) used throughout the building.

In such a competitive market, it is fantastic to see two women rise above the pack and create an all-around quality condo residence that people will be happy to call home. Watch for the Perry as it joins the ranks of successful condo developments. And watch for Maryam and Nargues Mansouri as they join the ranks of real estate titans.

Women of the week: Susan Wright

Susan Wright has helped hundreds of people stay the course over the last 15 years.

As a life coach and founder of Wright Momentum, she has worked with entrepreneurs, organizations and a handful of creative professionals enthused about making significant changes in their lives.

“It’s really cool when you get to light somebody’s fire,” says Wright. “They get that spark. They get the focus to stay steady.”

Before Wright started coaching and consulting she worked as a recreation therapist in a clinical environment, helping people to effectively cope with an illness or disease. She enjoyed working with people, but realized she wanted to focus her energy on performance, professional and personal development. She also wanted to integrate it with her health and wellness background.

“I tend to know when I’m ready for change and I knew that my career would take me only so far,” she says. “So there was a ceiling with what I was doing. I had already challenged myself in that area [and] felt fully confident and proficient at what I was doing. I knew that to take myself to the next level, to the next step, I would need to expand my horizons.”

Wright started seeking information about coaching when it was an emerging profession and information about it wasn’t easily accessible. She discovered a number of coaches and was coached herself. She then went on to be certified through the Adler School in Toronto, one of the first few students to go through the coaching program.

“For me it’s a personal philosophy,” she says. “Everybody has the potential, it’s just figuring out how do we tap into that.”

Wright’s approach is very holistic. She takes into consideration the various facets of a person’s life, discovering how they interact in their relationships and what’s important to them.

“Taking care of ourselves in all aspects of health and wellbeing is essential so we can actually bring the best of ourselves in no matter what we do,” she said. “It’s finding what that is for you as an individual.”

Pilates is another large part of Wright’s life. She is a certified Second Wind® Pilates Plus® and Integrated Movement Therapies (IMT) ® instructor. Practicing pilates improves coordination and brings awareness to the body. It can also reduce headaches, mental stress and increases energy.

To Wright, everyone has the potential to drive forward and develop. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to do it and then finding the perfect coach. Wright tends to work with high-energy creative individuals who are dedicated to improving their lives.

“If somebody has far too many excuses and no level of commitment, it’s not going to work,” she says. “You’re not ready for coaching. You really need to want something and want something to change. Whether it’s a team leader, a professional, it doesn’t matter. The commitment needs to be there.”

Wright’s book, Seven Steps To Change The Status Quo, looks at what prevents people from making change in their lives and how to go beyond the fears that prevent change from happening. Reaching goals comes with no shortage of roadblocks.

“There will be barriers when we’re making any change in life,” she says. “We’ll hit a cross barrier. Sometimes they’ll be even more mountains to climb. It’s staying the course, staying steady and strong on that course.”

Women of the week: Susan Jamieson

Sometimes a personal crisis can give you the needed perspective to change your life.

In 1995, Susan Jamieson’s daughter was diagnosed with A-plastic Anemia. Doctors prescribed a treatment of blood transfusions, a treatment neither her daughter nor Jamieson supported.

“We are grateful to live in a country that respects religious freedoms and our family supported our daughter’s constitutional right to ask that hers be respected. Now 31, Tarin still remains the youngest child in Canada to have gone to court and ask for the right to have a say in her medical management,” says Jamieson.

Prior to her daughter’s illness, Jamieson had overseen marketing and sales programs for numerous high profile companies such as Sheraton Hotels, American Express, Budweiser and Pepsi. She took a leave of absence to focus on this medical battle but in 2001, with the disease in remission, Jamieson returned to the work world with a new, more refined focus.

She now serves as a managing partner in JoSuTa Group, a company whose directive is “A desire to help people be healthy.” With clients such as Greenzone, Food Diva and Score-Up, JoSuTa is helping people make informed decisions and working to make the world a better place.

A fine example of her impact: In 2007, she travelled to Dubai to be a guest on a radio show and discuss organic fertilizer. Her segment would prove to be incredibly popular, bringing in a floodgate of callers. The show quickly made the decision to cancel the other scheduled guests and Jamieson was the featured guest for the full hour.

In 2012, Jamieson learned about First Do No Harm. Produced by Asia Geographic Entertainment, this documentary, according to its website, details the “controversial and paternalistic” history of blood transfusions and “the knee-jerk rejection of new knowledge because it contradicts entrenched norms.”

Very excited by the concept of the film, Jamieson sought out the producer and asked for Canadian distribution rights.

“You might say I came to the table a little more motivated than most,” she says.

A key source for her pitch: “She Decides: How to Reach the Most Important Audience for Your Health Campaign,” a report published by Fenton Communications which details the critical role women play in making health decisions for their families.

Once she successfully secured the rights, Jamieson began reaching out to Canadian and U.S. companies, using both her personal story and statistics on targeting the women’s segment of the market. Her goal, she says, is to get these companies to support a potential paradigm shift on the subject of blood transfusion use.

“I am not interested in starting a discussion about individual choice – the question I am asking all women to think about and answer for themselves is have you made an informed choice about the use of blood in your medical management?”

“Yes, I recommend all women make the time to watch the film, educate themselves and then consider, with the assistance of your family doctor, what your stand on blood transfusion use is for your family,” concludes Susan.




Women of the Week: Krista Bridge

Bullying knows no boundaries. It can happen to children in a schoolyard, to adults working away at the office and between siblings at the dinner table. In Krista Bridge’s new novel, The Eliot Girls, she draws from personal experience as she explores the various depths of bullying at a private school for girls.

The germ of the novel had been kicking around in the back of Bridge’s mind for years and stems from a time when she was a student at St. Clement’s, a private school in Toronto where bullying was afoot.

“It really was just something I’ve lived through and it really made me want to write about it because it’s such a key experience to the development to my own identity,” says Bridge. “It was something that went on every day, sometimes in subtle ways, not necessarily in big ways. And it’s such a huge part of growing up.”

Bridge eventually left St. Clement’s to attend a public school for the last two years of high school.

In 2007, when she was pregnant with her first son, Bridge became serious about writing the novel. After her son was born, she mastered the parenting skill of maintaining a regular naptime routine, which allowed her to write for an hour and a half each day, chipping away at the novel a little more as her son slept.

Not too long after she started to get the foundation for the novel, the theme of bullying emerged.

“I’ve been through bullying and I’ve been on both ends of it really,” she says. “I’ve been a bully and I’ve been a victim. I haven’t been a bully in any sort of terrible offence, but I think a lot of students occupy this kind of middle ground where they move between those roles. And, at least in my schooling experience, most people weren’t always the victim or always the bully. Although some people certainly were.”

Even though there are some parallels between the novel and her youth, at the end of the day it’s a writer and her fiction. George Eliot Academy is not St. Clement’s – it’s a fictionalized private school.

Even with such a strong theme of bullying threaded through, Bridge didn’t write it with a principled message in mind.

“I really wasn’t trying to construct a moral message. I really didn’t really have that objective at all,” she says. “I wasn’t thinking about it from that vantage point of, you know, the social good. But I was really just thinking about it as a writer and how much that story interested me as something that I had lived through.”

She also looks into the lives of the educators, exposing their humanity and the way their private lives are reflected in the way they teach.

Bridge’s writing career began in 2002 when she had a short story published in Toronto Life.  She also attended the Humber School for Writers under the mentorship of Elizabeth Harvor.

“She was wonderful. She was so supportive, so helpful, so instrumental to my development as a writer in the beginning,” she says.

The program resonated with Bridge so much she decided to take the program for a second year, furthering her relationship with Harvor.

In 2006, Bridge released The Virgin Spy (Douglas & McIntyre), her debut collection of short stories. She was shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award and the Relit Award.

The Eliot Girls (Douglas & McIntyre) was launched on June 19 at the Dora Keogh Pub as part of the Fine Print Reading Series.


Women of the week: ILana Tarutina

Music has always been a big part of ILana Tarutina’s life. She started singing in choirs at the age of 8, then started taking private vocal lessons and piano lessons at the Royal Conservatory of Music. With the knowledge gained from this, she started composing and creating tracks.

“By the age of 14 I was writing my own songs and at 16 I got my first set of music production equipment and started dabbling with arranging and beat making,” she says.

Now, she owns ILE Records, a company that offers songwriting, composition, production, recording and mixing.
“I’m proud of myself for building my production studio from scratch,“ she says.

As a female producer, she is an oddity in her field. She is quick to recognize this fact, yet remains hopeful for change.
“Unfortunately in my industry, men still heavily dominate the role of a music producer. I’m sure that will change within time, as there are more and more female producers on the rise.”

Despite this amazing accomplishment, she is still incredibly humble and is quick to recognize that she is not a perfect fit for everyone.
“As far as me producing for other artists goes, it’s all about what the artist is looking for, sometimes I may be a good fit sometimes someone else may be a better fit. I know what I bring to the table, I know my sound and production styles and I am aware that it doesn’t suit everybody.”

Although her producing venture has been a success, she hasn’t given up on her writing, and cites that her goal “is to write great songs, be it for me or other artists.”

And, yes, she is still a singer—and an original one at that.

“I’ve been told that I have a unique sound, perhaps it’s because I use original sounds in my production, perhaps it’s because when I sing I have a Russian accent!”

As a female producer with a unique sound, it is safe to say that ILana Tarutina is one of a kind. She is also a fighter, which is why she made it in her industry.

“Anybody entering the music industry has to be resilient,” she says. “Expect lots of pit falls and disappointments and forget overnight success. To make it in every industry requires lots of determination and hard work, in music industry that is especially true since it’s 1000 times more competitive than other industries. A song can be an overnight hit, but the legwork to make that song can be years.”

Sound advice from someone who has spent her entire life in the field.

Women of the week: Sandra Dawes

One look at the Twitter feed of Sandra Dawes says it all. The stream of inspirational mantras reflect the bubbly, inspirational personality of this motivated and focused professional life coach just as much as the glimmer of hope and inspiration that comes through in her smile. Sandra Dawes is a woman who has a brain for business and a compassionate heart for her clients.

Sandra, born in Toronto and currently calling Mississauga home, has been at the helm of Embrace Your Destiny life coaching since November 2009 and hasn’t stopped looking onward and upward since then, even finding inspiration in the tragic passing of her father.

“After my dad died I thought that life would never be the same – and it hasn’t been, but not in the negative way I had originally thought. I’ve become more self-aware and confident about the person that I am and what I can accomplish,” she explains on the topic of how far she has come to be the woman she is today.

“I never thought I would enjoy speaking to large groups of people, yet now I enjoy doing talks where I can share my experiences and the tools that I use to overcome many of life’s obstacles,” says Sandra, showing us that she certainly has learned the secrets to self-improvement and betterment within herself and is anxious to share her story with others.

By opening herself up to the power of possibility she has taken her life’s adventure across the globe and back. “Life has definitely taken me to some interesting places,” says Sandra. “Both in my journey of self-discovery and literally, I have been able to visit places such as Europe, Central America, and the Caribbean.”

For Sandra Dawes balancing her life is important, and with family, friends, and one furry critter at her side it all seems to fall into place. “My partner is also an entrepreneur, which is great because he is the one who encouraged me to start my own business, and he understand the ups and downs that come with being self-employed,” she explains. “I also have a 7-year-old dog who is a great teacher on how to enjoy the simple things in life.”

As a woman in the business world she certainly has seen both sides of the coin. “I believe that women connect on a level that goes beyond the bottom line,” she says in regards to the unique position women hold as entrepreneurs. “We are more heart-centred about the relationships we build, even on a business level. I think this type of relationship allows for more focus on cooperation rather than competition as we look to encourage one another.”

She’s even seen a changing landscape for women like herself she entered the entrepreneurial world. “I believe that more women are stepping outside the comfort of a nine-to-five job and follow their dreams.”

“I do believe that it is possible for women to have it all when they aspire for greatness,” she says in regards to her own achievements so far and the fabric of support in her life that has helped her dreams become reality. “The key is to recognise that we can’t do it alone and it is okay to ask for help, whether it is from friends, family, or industry colleagues.”

As for her own business, Embrace Your Destiny, she’s confident that she has the perfect edge to help you unlock all of your potential. “I believe that I am able to use the experiences and what I’ve gained from my own journey to help others achieve their goals and realise their dreams,” she tells us.

“I go beyond just being an accountability partner and challenge my clients to really step out of their comfort zones and shift their mindset. We can be our own worst enemy or our own biggest cheerleader. I help my clients to question the beliefs they have that tell them what they want isn’t possible and help them reframe those beliefs so that they can that they realise that they really can live the life they’ve always wanted and that they deserve it!”

Sandra has one bit of advice to give to every woman. “Listen to your intuition and don’t overthink or over-analyse things too much,” she says. “If you’re looking for an excuse not to follow your dreams, you will find one.”


Follow Sandra Dawes on Twitter at @SandraDawes, and visit Embrace Your Destiny online at www.embraceurdestiny.com.

Women of the week: Michele Romanow

For Michele Romanow, co-founder of Buytopia.ca, there are three words that easily describe both her and her business. “Fun, hardworking, and bold,” she says in her breezy, upbeat tone.

After speaking with her it is hard to disagree that her approach to business is one grounded in hard work. At only 27 this businesswoman has achieved goals that most people twice her age can only dream of. An entrepreneur starting from her days as a student—while completing her undergrad, she started the Tea Room, a zero consumer waste coffee shop—she is now at the helm of her third successful business venture with Buytopia.ca and the key to her success is hard work.

“You always want to be adding the most value,” she advises women who aspire for greatness. “If you’re that person making sure projects always get things done and driving the relationships — if you are constantly the most valuable team member, it doesn’t matter if you’re a woman or not.”

For Romanow, being bold is a second nature. “I think that we’re bold when we go out to find the best deals for Buytopia. We try to be innovative for brands and I think that’s a huge part of what has made us successful and a huge part of what makes our business work.”

But to her, boldness stems from her personality. Her strong interpersonal skills shine through in every situation, giving her the advantage of winning over others in every walk of life. “I think I’m just a naturally social person. I enjoy meeting people and hearing their stories, and I think that has given me an advantage in business.”

“I’m a natural extrovert, which means I come up with my best ideas by talking and sharing with people. What really balances my life are the people in it.”

And an advantage it has been. With Buytopia approaching 2 million subscribers the bond that Romanow forges between her company and Buytopia’s users is built upon the strength of communication, trust and, of course, great deals. By striking out to create the same kinds of bonds with national brands Romanow has successfully created a chain of trust from retailer to consumer that is unparalleled in Canadian business.

Romanow’s fun side is also displayed up front and centre. Her infectious laugh and easy demeanour puts others at ease. While many other 27-year-old women might balk at receiving a Mother’s Day note from an employee, to her it is a symbol of something more. “I think of my team at work as family.” As for her real family, she laughs as she explains the universally humbling nature of siblings despite the fantastic level of success she has achieved: “There’s nothing like a sibling to put you in your place.”

In her downtime she switches gears ever so slightly from running a business to running half marathons. For her, running is a calming, focusing experience. “Your body just falls into a rhythm,” she explains of her favourite pastime.

Buytopia is unique in the way it approaches the daily deals business, a field that can be tricky to master. By focusing on delivering quality unique experiences to subscribers they’ve managed to keep the colourfully decorated website in the hearts and minds of members even when they are offline.

“On Buytopia you should be buying things that make your life more wonderful: be it a spa packages or great restaurants, we want you to discover that gem in the city that you’ve never expected and try it out at half price. I want the website to have great pictures and be easy to use for a seamless experience. I don’t want you to be spending time there; I want you to be spending time in your life discovering these great services.”

On the future of web-based businesses, Romanow is looking up. “I’m optimistic the internet will have a lot of wonderful surprises in the years to come.”

Right now it seems like two lovely surprises, Michele Romanow and Buytopia.ca, are already here.