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Fancy hats and fashion with "Ladies Who Lunch"

Photos by Kelly Jean Marion @kellyjean247

What happens when you throw a multitude of entrepreneurial women into a banquet room in a private club?

An inspiring afternoon of chatter, fancy hats, high heels, healthy food, decadent dessert, and a slew of new connections. At least that's what happened at October's edition of Ladies Who Lunch.

The series, which is hosted by Maria Kritikos, aims to bring together like-minded women in an attempt to foster new relationships and essentially expand businesses by bridging the gap between other businesses. It holds the sentiment of "How can you help me and, in turn, how can I help you?"

Mid-way through the event I got over myself and started chatting with the lovely Kari Beaudoin of Ah Perfect Petals Floral & Design, who designed all of the floral centrepieces at our lunch. Our conversation eased me into the networking aspect of the event, and later had me flitting around the room taking photos, shaking hands, exchanging business cards and sharing cupcakes (because women like to "half things" for portion control).

The theme of this particular event was the "Secret to Success”, and it was exemplified by some extremely inspiring speakers.

Maria set the tone of the event with her enlightening speech and bubbly personality. "Success is the relentless desire to achieve what you want," she stated.

Fashion TV Host Mandy J Ross took the stage next and introduced our lineup of speakers. 

The afternoon unfolded with short speeches by Miss Canada Casar Jacobson, Tracey Drake CEO of Niche Magazine and Jennifer Halinda the executive director of Dress For Success.

Jennifer Halinda kept it short and sweet at the pedestal and let her company speak for itself. In a nutshell, Dress for Success empowers and supports disadvantaged women so that they can take charge of their lives.

"The women that come to us are from many walks of life. I would say 70% of the women we serve are single mothers, just as some of you in the room are," she said, noting that some women have it all, while others are new immigrants who have come from another country and don't know how to navigate the muddy waters of job-searching.

"Six years ago, I started volunteering for dress for success, and from the moment I walked in the door I was 'home'. They never had any jobs available, so I thought, okay, I'll just volunteer... Last year I lost a sales job that I had been doing for over a decade and still,  I kept volunteering. At that moment I thought, 'here is a chance to reinvent myself'. So, instead of going back to were I could've gone in my comfort zone,  I kept volunteering and I started spending all my time where I loved to be. Now here I am. In February I was offered the job of Executive Director at Dress for Success."

"It's not the dress that's important in our name, it's the success." 

Following Jennifer's speech was an incredibly engaging speech by Tracey Drake, CEO and Founder of Niche Magazine. 

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