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Tourism Vaughan

Celebrating women in business

This International Women’s Day, we are celebrating women entrepreneurs, business owners, professional leaders and all-out boss women in Vaughan. Vaughan is home to some of the most unique and hardworking entrepreneurs, with a percentage of these representing women and women-identifying leaders. So, for this International Women’s Day, we wanted to shine a light on five inspiring women business leaders in the community who are doing incredible things for Vaughan and surrounding areas. Learn more about these incredible business leaders and how they #InspireInclusion:

10060 Keele St., Unit 1

Jinyoung Choi set out on a mission: to be Maple’s number one flower shop. As a woman entrepreneur and business owner, the hurdles to achieving such goals can sometimes feel out of reach, but Jinyoung set forward on her quest for success. Joining the 2022-2023 Starter Company Plus cohort, Jinyoung was devoted to taking her flower shop above and beyond, offering freshness and services that could not be matched by her competitors. Coming out of the COVID-19 global pandemic with progressive methods, enforcing a strong e-commerce presence throughout this time, Jinyoung has no intentions of looking back.

7500 Highway 27, Unit 26B

With over a decade of experience in the industry, Melissa Kando, owner and clinical educator at GLO Laser and Skin, is putting her passion for the science of skin to good use. Melissa, a graduate of a two-year Esthetics program and a six-month intense Medical Aesthetics program, also joined the Starter Company Plus cohort for the 2022-2023 program to continue her business on the road to success. Not only does Melissa lead her team with incredible dedication and flare, she also has been an educator for clinics across the GTA as one of Alma Laser’s Clinical Educators since 2014. And while Melissa knows that her industry is popular, she says that knowing the science behind her work is what truly makes all the difference! Melissa continues to be a mentor for young professionals following along her path.

200 Edgeley Blvd., Unit 16

What do you get when you take an IT worker with a Master’s degree in geology and Bachelor’s degree in computer science and mix it with a side hustle of clowning? I bet your guess wasn’t a successful woman business owner: namely, Nadia Bentolila, owner of Hokey Pokey. Nadia took a side gig of clowning and made it her full-time calling, operating a colourful brick-and-mortar shop that sells more than 700 unique specialty products, from face paint supplies to special-effect materials. Nadia created a one-stop-shop where entertainers, artists and performers alike could purchase supplies, and she has a ball of a time doing it! And although she had been in the clowning business for over a decade, she found added business support through the Starter Company Plus and My Main Street programs to continue to excel her truly one-of-a-kind business. As a strong business leader and model to anyone who has been told, “you can’t turn your side hustle into a full-time business,” the most incredible piece of advice to take from Nadia is simply in how she sees her work: “We love what we do and don’t think of this as a job, rather, it’s a work of enjoyment.”

A woman holding two specialty products with shelves lining the shop around her.
Two women standing in front of a store.

8234 Yonge St.

Many would agree when a fur baby enters your home, it instantly becomes a member of the family, an extension of your own heart. So, when you need to leave your pet in the care of someone else, why wouldn’t you turn to the people whose very business model is based off the “promise to provide the highest quality standards in pet care while promoting proper dog socialization in a safe and healthy environment?” Cheryl Orletsky and Solange Hendricks, owners of Holiday Pet Care, have been running their business for over two decades. They offer a completely cage-free, comprehensive pet care facility, giving you invaluable peace of mind, and your pet the care and comfort they deserve. While their business has boomed through word-of-mouth of the exceptional service their team provides to the fur babies of Vaughan and beyond, Cheryl and Solange are extremely active throughout the community through many Vaughan business communities and programs, and successfully participated in VBEC’s Starter Company Plus, as well as My Main Street. These inspiring women run their business on the fuel of their passion and love for animals. All of their staff are certified in Pet First Aid and have passed the company’s Canine Behaviour and Care Training Program. Amongst a long list of facility health, safety and comfort standards, Cheryl, Solange and their team ensure no guests are ever caged, meaning they never feel abandoned or neglected. In addition to business excellence, Cheryl and Solange provide you with peace of mind, and lots of love and care for your beloved pet!  


Turning your passion into a business is not easy work, but Marnie Lippa, owner of Parties Made Simple, proves it’s not just possible but a dream come true. Marnie began by making cookie decorating and gingerbread house kits to share her love for baking with other families with young kids, something she was experiencing as a new mom when she started her business back in the ‘90s. After branching out into other options, including cake decorating, Marnie returned to her decorating kit roots in 2019, and hasn’t looked back since. From this stemmed the creation of her Entertainment Candy and the launch of her Easter Candy, which have led to Marnie’s success, being featured at events like Winterlicious and Welcoming of Santa, and even gained her a spot on CP24! The thing is, Marnie isn’t just an incredible business leader, she is also devotedly active within her community, assisting with school fundraisers with the help of her cookie kits. Marnie successfully participated in VBEC’s Starter Company Plus and is an inspiration to any business owner looking to transform their passion into purpose!

8100 Yonge St.

Second Skin is a staple in the dance, gymnastics and ice-skating industry. The beautiful dancewear, body-wear and even custom-made costuming offered by the shop, accommodating everyone from dance-loving toddlers to older adults. But perhaps the key to the company running for almost four decades (yes – the store has been operating since 1985!) is store owner Rochelle Levi’s passion for bringing better service, beautiful clothing and lower prices to her customers, old and new. And, of course, the fact that you are always greeted with a smile by Rochelle herself when entering the store – for many, it feels like walking into their ‘second’ home. Second Skin has been the recipient of numerous best costume awards for their unique designs and craftsmanship, and was even nominated for a Vaughan Chamber of Commerce 2023 Business Achievement Award. And Rochelle has no intention of slowing down, participating in VBEC’s My Main Street in 2022, as well as the Starter Company Plus program in the same year. Rochelle represents the true definition of a leading woman in business, #InspiringInclusion by standing tall as a trailblazer for aspiring women entrepreneurs.

777 Weston Rd. Unit 158

Madonna Cicconi started on a quest toward self-care at the age of 21, deciding to invest time into exploring what her body needed to achieve and maintain mental and overall wellness. She learned very quickly how skin is an avenue for toxins entering the body and found relief in exploring natural, toxin-free solutions that would support self-care and put her health first. With the tagline “curate your care,” The Wellness Studio offers customers self-care solutions made in-house using plant-based solutions and ingredients. Madonna participated in several programs, including successfully completing both the Starter Company Plus and My Main Street programs in the 2022-2023 cohort. She moved from a solely e-commerce business to a one-of-a-kind, in-store shopping experience. Above all else, Madonna is a BIPOC woman business owner breaking barriers in the industry, while avidly opening up the dialogue on the realities faced by BIPOC communities in many realms, but specifically on the barriers BIPOC individuals face in terms of self-care and barriers in accessing mental health support.

A woman speaking with a man by her side assisting and a table of candle making products before them.

Vaughan is a hub for business excellence, and a large percentage of this includes strong, empowering women business owners and leaders. While this is just a snapshot of the incredible women-owned businesses in Vaughan, we encourage you to explore our online directories and discover more of the unique local businesses!