As a company established and upheld by women, we place great importance on recognizing and celebrating them – on International Women’s Day and every day. Laura Canada would be nothing without the community-oriented, trailblazing women who are the heart and soul of our brands.
Last year, we honoured Laura Wolstein, the one who started it all. This year, we thought we’d celebrate some of the amazing women who make our company what it is today.
LAURA – Women Making a Difference
For Laura, we decided to spotlight five wonderful women within our team, who actively give back to their communities. As part of our International Women’s Day initiative, and to celebrate them, Laura Canada is donating $5,000 to the non-profits of their choice. Meet them below to discover how they’re making a difference and see which organization they’ve selected.
1. Graziella De Maria, Domestic Production Manager
“The philosophy is quite simple. When you can… Do. We always think that, to change the world, actions have to be big. This couldn’t be further from the truth. What makes things happen is the million little actions along the way. Fourteen years ago, a beautiful group of do-gooders and I decided we would throw together a toy and food drive. A small little idea that came purely from the heart. We filled up a small truck for the Welcome Hall Mission in Montreal. Fast forward to today, SS Toy & Food Drive is the biggest non-profit toy and food drive in the city. We provided the foundation and the direction, but the success of it has come from people’s willingness to lend a helping hand to those in need.”
Graziella would like to donate $1,000 to the Welcome Hall Mission.
2. Marcia Fraser, Store Manager – Melanie Lyne
📍Fairview Mall, Toronto, ON
“Giving back, helping in any way, is my passion. I’ve worked in many charity organizations and donated my time. I even did a fashion show to raise money for Habitat for Humanity and women’s shelters that help women re-enter the workforce. In my own personal community, I’ve donated clothing to women’s shelters and churches.”
Marcia would like to donate $1,000 to St. Philip Neri Church.
3. Erika Spedding, Copywriter
“I’m a big believer in mutual aid. Redistributing funds and resources to your community for the good of all. Tangible support and solidarity can go a long way, regardless of whether the actions are big or small, or whether you go through a non-profit, local initiative or give directly to an individual in need. Mutual aid is something I try to integrate into my daily life and I encourage others to do the same. A few recent examples: gathering winter coats for The Open Door; fundraising to help displaced Armenian families; donating to Black Healing Fund, a community effort to help Black people access mental health and wellness services; volunteering at Welcome Hall Mission with Laura Canada, sorting food to be distributed to those facing food insecurity.”
Erika would like to donate $1,000 to Resilience Montreal.
4. Rosemary Couto, Sales Associate – Laura
📍King’s Crossing Outlets, Kingston, ON
“Prior to COVID, I was frequently volunteering my time at church. Once they opened after the first lockdown, I got back into it and helped clean and sanitize. For the past year or so, I’ve been a member of the team of eight that rotate on Sundays to do the bookkeeping of the weekly collections and donations. I like to see the good in everyone I meet and help out whenever I can.”
Rosemary would like to donate $1,000 to the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
5. Terri Robinson, Sales Associate – Laura
📍Lime Ridge Mall, Hamilton, ON
“What better way to celebrate International Women’s Day than to support other women? I volunteer bi-monthly at Kingdom Worship Centre in Hamilton and work within a team to offer support and encouragement to women during difficult periods of their lives. These women may have lost their jobs, spouses or are experiencing personal hardship.”
Terri would like to donate $1,000 to the Kingdom Worship Centre.
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MELANIE LYNE – Women Paving the Way
For Melanie Lyne, we wanted to celebrate some of our key players. True trailblazers who we are oh-so-proud of. Meet the women who make it all happen:
- Tanya Papadopoulos, Vice-President of Merchandising
- Pina Iannelli, Director of Design
- Arita Lerikos, Category Manager of Bottoms, Jackets and Sweaters
- Mima Argento, Category Manager of Tops and Dresses
- Anita Ormos, Category Manager of Accessories and Swimwear
- Johanne Ruffolo, Category Manager of Outerwear
For International Women’s Day, we sat down with these highly successful women for an exclusive Q&A. Let’s see what they had to say…
2. Why did you choose fashion as a career?
3. Was it difficult climbing the career ladder and getting to where you are now as a woman?
4. What is your direct impact working for a women’s brand?
5. What advice would you give to women who are just entering the workforce?
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Pina: “It’s about solidarity. It’s about then and now, and how far we’ve come. It’s to celebrate all women, but also to remind us of how much more there is to do.”
Anita: “To me, it means gratitude. To all the brave women who made it possible for my generation to have the freedom and opportunities we have today.”
Mima: “Women’s Day is special because the world gets to acknowledge both our struggles and our victories. Today, we pay homage to all the courageous, inspirational women, past and present, who continue to pave the way to equality and fight injustice towards women worldwide.”
Why did you choose fashion as a career?
Johanne: “I like to think it chose me. I always loved fashion. The saying is true, ‘do something you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.’ I still love what I do. I get total satisfaction from seeing a sketch on a piece of paper come to life.”
Pina: “I’m not sure I can put it into words… I just knew at nine years old! I love every aspect of design. I trust my gut, my hands to choose the right fabric and my eyes to catch the right colour and trend.”
Was it difficult climbing the career ladder and getting to where you are now as a woman?
Arita: “I never considered it to be an obstacle. I had passion, drive and a strong desire to achieve my goals to show the universe that women are worthy and a force that can and will conquer all challenges. I was fortunate to have strong, fabulous and intelligent women as role models in the early stages of my career. They believed in me and showed me that nothing was impossible.”
Tanya: “Yes and no. After 30 years in the retail business, I tend to forget the struggles I faced in my youth. I moved to Canada on my own when I was 20, with limited resources. Today, I can say it was all worth it. I am very proud of how far I’ve come and very thankful for the incredible people who mentored me and gave me the chance to grow.”
What is your direct impact working for a women’s brand?
Tanya: “As a women’s brand, our focus is to make our customers feel and look good with outstanding services and products. If we can contribute—just one bit—to enhancing their confidence, then we succeed.”
Mima: “I love what I do because I have the chance to influence the way women dress and present themselves to the world. I know what is important to me when I shop: value, quality, comfort and the credibility of a brand. I am proud to deliver that and honoured to see women across Canada pulling off our looks so confidently.”
Johanne: “As a buyer, I always want to think of my customer first and hopefully, she appreciates the thought that goes into the making of a garment. I want her to feel powerful and beautiful, and like she can do anything. I truly believe clothes make the woman, and when you feel good inside it shines through.”
What advice would you give to women who are just entering the workforce?
Anita: “Be passionate about the career path you choose. You need to get up in the morning and be excited to go to work and see what challenges, curveballs and achievements the day holds.”
Arita: “Your voice has power. Be confident, be strong. Because what you have to say is important.”
Happy International Women’s Day! Who are you celebrating today? Tell us in the comments below!
P.S. It can definitely be yourself… Here’s to you! 💖