Badass Ladies’ Ball
County’s women entrepreneurs celebrate successful year
Entrepreneurial acumen took a back seat to glitter and glamour as members of the County’s FEM network celebrated with a dance night at the Wexford House in Picton last Friday. The group was started two years ago by Katy McIntyre and Hilary Foster as a way for the County’s women entrepreneurs and professionals to get together and provide support for each other. “In Prince Edward County, we have a lot of women-led businesses or women-managed operations and it’s just meant to have a place to draw inspiration and support and troubleshoot through the ‘lady brain’, as we call it, and give a little bit more encouragement to each other and to keep taking on the world no matter what it looks like,” says McIntyre.
Although it started as a women’s business group, it has evolved a social component as well. “FEM stands for female entrepreneurial masterminds,” says Foster. “I was really seeking out connections between women who have entrepreneurial backgrounds, because I was missing that support in my life. So it started that way, but it’s actually taken on a life of its own and it’s become more of a way of us, of women in the County, to connect. It’s been amazing to watch these little things blossom, whether they are friendships with people that they would not have met otherwise, or even supporting each other in their businesses. I think this is what women do best—they collaborate.”
The group is loosely organized and communicates through its Facebook page (facebook.com/groups/555114331314256/). It has created a series of meetings at smaller venues over the past couple of years, but Friday’s event was the first celebratory dance party—the brainchild of Sonya Szabo. At its root, it was an occasion to dress up and have a good time. “One of the things a lot of women say when they move to the County is that their wardrobe changes drastically,” says Szabo, prompting a peal of laughter from Foster. “There are things you put in your closet and they never see the light of day again. This is a great opportunity to wear some high heels, wear some designer clothes that just don’t make sense to wear every day in the County. And it’s kind of fun to dress up with just women, too.” Forty-two County women came out to the self-described Badass Ladies’ Ball, and as with any good party there was lively music, plenty of good food—provided by Bree Seely of County Yum Club—and lots of laughter.
However, McIntyre and her co-organizers are acutely aware that not all women in the County have the opportunity to dress up and enjoy a carefree evening. The event was also a fundraiser for Alternatives for Women, an organization that provides support for women in crisis. “We are a network of women who support each other, and that’s the same mission for Alternatives for Women, albeit in a more intense situation with crisis counselling and things like that,” says McIntyre. “I’ve worked with them before and it seemed like a natural fit for what we believe in and what is in need in this community. December is a month to raise awareness about domestic violence issues in our community. It doesn’t matter what age you are, there is something that Alternatives for Women can do for you if you are going through a tough time, either in relationship violence or crisis situation. They do great work and they don’t get enough financial support, so this is our little drop in the bucket for recognizing that.”
For more information about Alternatives for Women, visit alternativesforwomen.org. The crisis hotline is 613.476.2787.