OOAK is here, which means spring is too, and with all this positivity in the air, we’re channeling that energy into singing the praises of three totally inspiring entrepreneurs, ladies who are not only their own boss, but they’re artisans and creators too. All three shared their story- how they got their business idea, their start, and how they carried that momentum to the next level.

Denise Williams, Founder- Matter Company

Matter Company- Denise Williams

LR- What’s your origin story?
DW-The company has been around for over 20 years. My background is in therapeutic herbalism. I created the mom and baby collection which is what we’re really known for. I created the line for a best friend and fellow herbalist who was and studying midwifery. We’re one of the first companies dealing with holistic, organic natural skincare for pregnancy and babies. My background is in environmental studies and I did my own self study on wild edible plants. My friend was living in an off the grid community, she was a young mom and there was nothing at the time that was paraben and petroleum free, so we started creating products for her and approached it from a therapeutic angle, to help with symptoms with her pregnancy and that of her young child. We have lots of other products, all our collections are lifestyle based- I do a lot of camping so we have a lot of biodegradable products that are multipurpose too. We have a body care line that is really luxe with rose hip seed oil and sugar scrub with sumac berries. We just launched a facial line as well, and our zinc-based sun care products are a top seller.
LR-Any advice for women who are starting out?
DW-I think it’s stick-to-it-ness and ambition. Have a strong vision and see it through!

Julie Dorion, Founder- Undercarriage

Under Carriage-
Julie Dorion

LR-What’s your origin story?
JD-When my daughter three years ago started to wear deodorant, I wasn’t confident in the products that were available to us. We tried natural products, went back to drug store items, we went back and forth back and forth, we did find a natural product we did like, but it was a bit cakey. So, I just started making our own and starting wearing it. Friends and family loved it, so we went into testing for 9 months. Testing on odors. We wanted to avoid the smell, but not the sweat, you’re meant to sweat! We came up with coconut lime which keeps you odor free for up to 24hrs. We brought it to market in January 2017 and started selling. We’re in 16 stores in Ottawa, and now we’re moving west. We’re growing the business and doing well on line. I’m a graphic design and marketing person, and it started out as a weekend warrior thing and then we decided to do it for ourselves.
I suffered from a lot of environmental and food allergies. People will always get me to try and try new things but I would avoid anything new. I clean my house with vinegar and water and try to live clean.
LR-Any advice for women who are starting out?
JD-I’m big on testing the market with small groups, getting honest feedback from 6 people you trust, different walks of life, get really honest feedback. See where that goes, do focus groups and pull from other people and what they like and what they’re using.

Kelly Ka Ling Kan, Founder- Oz & Ella

Oz & Ella- Kelly Ka Ling Kan

LR-What’s your origin story?
KK-I’m a 3rd generation jewelry designer, my company’s name is Elemental Jewelry design. I’m also a gemologist. One day, I caught my little son chewing on a piece of jewelry he shouldn’t have been chewing on. So, I decided he if he needed to chew on something I better buy a necklace that was meant for teething. But I wasn’t super thrilled with the design or safety wise too- if you look at the back on them, they’re technically not for kids. I was concerned so I went out on my own. I took the knowledge I had and started with my own line that’s good looking and that you can chew on it.I’m expanding my line too, working with physical therapists to create a line for kids who have autism, ADHD, sometimes they chew on things- I’m developing a line for them to have something to chew on that’s not their sleeve or lapel. What’s it made of- Silicon, and maple wood, it’s jewelry you actually want to wear. And they look really good too!
LR-Any advice for women who are starting out?
KK-What advice do you have, this is your first OOAK- Really keep at it! Find your niche, everyone has one, everyone is good at something, and do it. You’ve got to enjoy it, you’ve got to let fate work into this too. Be open to different things!
The spring One of a Kind Show is on until April 1st at the Enercare Centre.

Interviews may have been edited for length and clarity.