Forum to empower women held in Burns Lake

The 'Women Building Communities' panel event was about women sharing their life experiences and the future outlook for the community.

A small group of women gathered at the Burns Lake and District Chamber of Commerce last week to participate in the ‘Women Building Communities’ panel event.

Kelly Holliday, local resident and owner of Aksenz Studios was a panelist for the event.

Holliday and four local participants spoke candidly about their life experiences, successes, challenges and the future outlook for the community.

They spoke about juggling motherhood with careers and how to raise children with a spirit of volunteerism.

Each of the women introduced themselves and spoke about their lives, their careers and their families.

Holliday, who was chosen to be a panelist based on her ability to inspire local women and her success as a local business woman, said she started her career off in direct sales.

“I began working for Mary Kay Cosmetics in 1988 as a sales director. There was no Mary Kay consultant working in the Yukon, so I moved there. I was told it would never work, but within three months I had recruited 63 people and earned a pink Cadillac.”

According to the Mary Kay Cosmetics website, in order to earn the use of a Mary Kay Cadillac, the sales associate has to build a team of 12 members, signing up others to sell Mary Kay Cosmetics and they must also have a minimum sales of $18,000 within four months.

Holliday said she also worked for The Peak radio station in advertising sales soon after moving to Burns Lake.

“I worked for The Peak when their name was mud in Burns Lake because they had just relocated their office to Smithers and closed their Burns Lake office down. But I sold more advertising here in Burns Lake for The Peak in one week, than the past sales person had sold the entire year before and I rebuilt The Peak’s presence in Burns Lake …. when a business is in trouble or has to make cutbacks the first thing to go is advertising, but in reality this is the last thing that should go.”

Holliday said three years ago she decided to open up a women’s clothing store in Burns Lake and forged ahead, despite being told that she would fail. “I was told it would never work and told that everyone wants to go to Prince George to shop, but I said, ‘just watch me. I will build a successful clothing store.’ And my store has been successful for three years now.”

On the topic of creating a work life balance, Holliday said, “I think we all have specific boxes that we need to fill. They may be freedom, finance or entertainment … everyone has different boxes that they place in different orders. For me the most important thing as an entrepreneur is to be able to provide for my family. It’s a balance and my family works together … everyone helps out, but when we have family time we play hard because we have earned that right. My business is very important because everything inside those four walls is my life and my ability to provide for my family.”

The group also spoke about how to involve more youth in community volunteering.

“I don’t think we give youth enough credit,” Holliday said, adding that adults can sometimes be intimidating for youth to approach. She said Mary Kay Cosmetics had an ‘each one, reach one’ system where each person goes out and recruits one person, which quickly doubles numbers.

“We could use that system here in the Lakes District to help boost our volunteer numbers. Each volunteer in any organization could recruit one person or youth to help get them involved,” she said.

The group discussed planning a similar event in Burns Lake in the future, perhaps incorporating a fashion show. Holliday said, “This has been great. Today was about women empowering women and women networking.”

The event was sponsored by Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines and panelists also included Michele Perret, senior manager of community relations for Enbridge.

Terri Dickson and Carla Fox were both asked to be panelists but later declined for unknown reasons.


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