International Women’s Day: In Conversation With Inspiring Creatives

Today we begin our annual, month-long International Women’s Day series, where we feature prominent, trailblazing women. For the first series we spoke to Penny Oleksiak, Canada’s most decorated Olympian, Yasaman Haj-shafiei of Organic Bytes, and Jennifer Winter of Have A Nice Day Pilates. S/ asked all of these women two important questions: How do women inspire you in your personal life and your work? and how do you celebrate women all year round? Get inspired by their responses below.

Penny Oleksiak, Olympian

Photo by Nikki Ross.

“I am inspired by the strong women I have in my life, but my mom has been the most significant of all. She has instilled the importance hard work, dedication, and empathy for others. Her support is incomparable, she pushes me to do better and be better every day.

Even though its Women’s History Month, we all should be celebrating women all year round! It’s essential to empower and lift up the women around us on a daily basis. I have been fortunate enough to be in a position where I am able to inspire women all over the country. Given the platform I have, it’s critical that I try and be a good role model in my day-to-day life, by trying to better myself everyday as a person and an athlete. I cannot stress the importance of empowering young girls, encouraging them to pursue their passions and never limiting themselves. I celebrate women by being intentional about advocating, supporting, and contributing to the development of our future athletes, teachers, doctors, and leaders.”

Yasaman Haj-shafiei, Co-Founder of Organic Bytes

Photo by Madeleine Dalkie.

“One of the reasons my sister and I started our company, Organic Bytes, was because of the detail and care we saw women around us put into how they nourished themselves, their children, and their families. Paying attention to what they are feeding them, doing their due diligence in knowing about ingredients, and making sure both their physical and mental well-beings were being nourished. These women inspired us to create a brand that provides them with the means to have clean and wholesome cakes and treats for all of life’s celebrations. These women and the community of women we have built along the way provide us with the inspiration and strength to keep going, while fuelling powerhouse women who are showing up for themselves, their children, and their families. 

It’s really about taking a moment out of my day to thank, connect, and give back to the community of women that I’m so blessed to be surrounded with, not just today, but throughout the year. Women who motivate, who inspire, who lift me up, and who show me the true meaning of being graceful, courageous, and resilient.”

Jennifer Winter, Founder and Creator of Have a Nice Day Pilates

Photo by Shelby Fenlon.

“Women inspire me to live my truth every day. From the moment I wake up, I am reminded of all the incredible, brave, and clever women who came before me. I am reminded of the strength of my ancestors who paved the way and I honour them by wearing their name with pride. I am inspired to take the leap and push the envelope as much as I can with my business, Have a Nice Day Pilates. Ideas and concepts are never too big to grasp when I know I am empowered by women.

I celebrate women all year around by encouraging my fellow peers to live their fantasies and wildest dreams. I remind them that no dream is too small and that we are simply capable of doing anything. I celebrate even the smallest of goals and ensure that we feel supported from the ground up.”