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THE FREE PRESS Thursday, March 2, 2017 B1


Women in Business

Stephanie Fleming / Infinitea, Fernie

A celebration of Elk Valley Business Women THE FREE PRESS ~ MARCH 2017

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THE FREE PRESS Thursday, March 2, 2017


Tammy Ogden

Celebrating Women in Business

Community Liaison for Teck

By Andrea Horton


s you leaf through the next few pages take a close look at the businesswomen in our community who allowed us the privilege of getting to know them behind the scenes. Focus on their experiences and what makes the passion that they have for their businesses grow day in and day out. This year, we have chosen five interesting ladies to showcase their lives and the businesses they love. Throughout the articles we ask them questions regarding the balance between work and their personal lives, what, if anything makes it difficult being a women in their profession and what led them to their current jobs. As I read their stories, the quality that struck me the most is the dedication that each of these women have for their chosen fields. Being professional businesswomen requires hard work and dedication to be successful, and they are. As a businesswoman myself, I can relate to a lot of their answers, especially around balance. I don’t think it matters who you are, man or woman; it is hard to keep a healthy balance between work and your home life. I am fortunate in my career to be able to showcase such dynamic business people in our community. From Stephanie Fleming, owning her own business to Joanne Wilton managing Causeway Bay, each story is distinct yet also familiar. Please turn the page and join me in celebrating Women in Business.

How many years have you been in the community? I grew up in Elkford and moved away for almost a decade. I came back to the Elk Valley almost 12 years ago to raise a family. What is your job title, and role? Community Liaison for Teck. I engage with the community and represent Teck on many local community boards. I help coordinate Teck’s community investment budget, as well as manage Teck’s housing and offices located in Sparwood and Elkford. What inspired you to get into this field of work? I’ve always enjoyed working on projects and supporting organizations that enhance our communities. When I became aware of the Community Liaison role at Teck I jumped on the opportunity to pursue that work professionally. How has your role changed from when you started to now?

Women in Business

Alexandra DeMartini

Assistant Manager of Operations


lexandra has lived in Fernie since 1986, and joined Save-On-Foods (formerly Overwaitea) in 2006, accepting a position as pharmacy clerk. In 2008, she was promoted to Assistant Manager of Operations, a position that requires a great deal of interaction with the public and staff, which is Alexandra’s favourite part of the job. In a position that has many moving parts, the ability to multi-task is key, and, although admittedly hard at first, juggling the varied duties of her position has become easier over time. As the grocery manager in charge of non-perishables, a day of work can consist of ordering, managing the grocery staff, speaking to food representatives and unloading freight with a big power jack as well as a multitude of other tasks. “Every day is different. I work a lot of freight, and there is lots of physical activity in the job. It is not for everyone,” Alexandra shares. The fluctuating numbers in the customer base also provides a unique set of challenges in the Fernie store. With a large population in the winter, and not a lot of room to store the stock, the balance of ordering between stock and space can be complex. In the transition from Overwaitea to Save-On-Foods Alexandra feels the store now caters more to their customer base, noting the improvements made to the deli, and the huge natural section. She loves the updated look, and the feeling of rejuvenation. Alex is a proud member of the Save-On-Foods team and is committed to Going the Extra Mile for customers in our community.

My role is constantly evolving and I enjoy the growth opportunities it presents. What are the demands of your job? With all of the various initiatives I participate in and help support it’s important to be organized to ensure they receive the support they deserve. Are there any specific challenges of doing your job in a small town? I can’t think of any challenges, only benefits. My job allows me to meet and work with many new and some familiar people who continue to inspire me with their dedication and passion. How do you balance your work and your personal life? There are many times that our team’s work responsibilities take us away from our families and personal time. We appreciate that Teck is committed to ensuring that our team is provided the flexibility they need to balance work and family priorities. What are the highlights of your job? I feel privileged to be able to work with and help support our communities through the work that I do. Getting out of the office and working with the communities keeps my job interesting. What are some of the challenges you face being a woman in this role, if any? Teck is working hard to increase diversity and provide a respectful and inclusive work environment. I appreciate the efforts made by Teck. I have not experienced any issues working as a woman in my role.

Recognizing the importance of the Women in Our Business on International Women’s Day In 2014, Overwaitea Food Group launched the Inspire Network to help profile women in leadership roles at the organization -- the network is currently working on strategies to advance women in the workplace and to build connections and mentors within the organization

“80% of our local Team Members are women, and we’d like to thank them for their hard work and commitment to excellent customer service”

792 2nd Avenue • 250-423-4607

113 Red Cedar Dr Sparwood, BC - (250) 425-6489

THE FREE PRESS Thursday, March 2, 2017 B3


Stephanie Fleming Owner, Infinitea

How many years have you been in the doing your job in a small community? community? The hospitality industry in a small town, is I got here in October of 2008; eight and a like the craziest game of guess work. Anything half years. can affect your business in a small town; from What is your job title, and role? weather, to traffic, to power outages. Things you Everything (laughs), dishwasher, cook, can’t see coming; other events. And then there’s marketing expert. Just kidding, Owner, the seasons. Winter and summer are busy but Operator. in the middle, Fernie can be like a ghost town. What inspired you to get into your field It’s really hard to sustain your business through of work? How has those shoulder your role progressed seasons. from when you first How do you started, to now? balance work and I had been an your personal life? “Balancing, it’s hard. advertising executive I don’t (laughs). It’s hard to walk out in Melbourne. I came No, I’m lucky that to Canada because that front door and leave the my job is kind of like I wasn’t happy with a social life. So many work here.” that lifestyle; very people come in here corporate, going to to have a good time, work on the train, and I just happen to filling ads every day... be serving them the I was fed up with it drinks or cooking so I came to Canada, and kind of completely them the food. But yeah, balancing, it’s hard. regressed and became a ski bum. I did that It’s hard to walk out that front door and leave for four years, and then I was like, hmm, I the work here. But, I get one day off a week. should probably do something with my life... We’re closed Tuesdays. I just always had the idea of Infinitea kicking What are the highlights of your job? around in my head. I wanted to have a licensed There’s lots of really great things. One thing tea shop with music, workshops and a cool, is, in the summer, if it’s a really nice day, and creative place... I just wanted to create a life for I want to go to the lake, I’ll put a sign on the myself in Fernie that was sustainable. There’s door that says, “Gone Fishing”. You’re not only so long you can live the ski-bum life. always flexible like that, but that is a nice thing It’s funny because, if I look back, people tell sometimes. me sometimes, look at everything you’ve done I think what’s really great about it, there’s in the four years! To me, it doesn’t seem that always new things. There’s always new events, big... you just take one step forward at one challenges, and fun and interesting things time. to do. It’s never boring. It’s never the same I have so many ideas for growing Infinitea. I thing over and over again, which I think really want to expand the patio in the summer; unfortunately a lot of jobs can be. we’ve got approval to double the size of the What are some of the challenges you face patio. I want to start up a home-meal, frozen being a woman in this role, if any? meals you can buy. I want to expand the food I don’t think being a woman necessarily is a side of things, and obviously keep expanding disadvantage at all. If anything, I think it can the creative and music things we do. be an advantage, because, just from a social What are the demands of your job? Are aspect. I know a lot of different people, so it there any unseen demands that people may can be an advantage in that way. not know? If anything, maintainance is the downside. The biggest thing I noticed about owning a Because, like, I don’t know how to fix a toilet. business in Fernie, is that you never don’t own But don’t get me wrong, I’ve You tubed a a business (laughs). You are always Infinitea, heck of a lot of it, and taught myself, but it’s no matter what you do... There’s no off switch. just those things, you have to do everything Do you find any specific challenges of yourself. And some things are outside of your

skill set. I don’t think there’s really a disadvantage, it’s just that, owning a business on your own, you have to know how to do everything. That’s it. Whether you’re a woman in business, whether you’re a man in business, that’s it. I joked before about being the dishwasher and being the cook, but I am. I’m all of them, all the time. Is there anything else you would like to share? In a town like this, I feel like there’s a lot of professional work for men to do. Men can move to this town and apply their skillset very easily to a job, whereas I think it’s a little bit harder for women in Fernie to do that. Women have to create a job and a career for themselves in Fernie; it’s amazing to me how many women have been successful in that. Just off

the main street, The Royal is run by a woman, Infinitea, the Fernie Printing Company, Big Bang Bagel, The Green Petal, Grow Children’s Boutique and the Blue Toque Diner (are all) run by a woman. And I think it says so much for the type of woman who comes to Fernie, and the type of woman who stays in Fernie.

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THE FREE PRESS Thursday, March 2, 2017


Joanne Wilton

Regional Manager, Causeway Bay Hotels we’ve grown, we’ve worked hard. The past two years have been really tough, and I think that’s when you really hone your management skills... I’m shocked that we’ve made it though, and proud that we’ve made it through. I think I owe that a lot to because after “I like to volunteer in the staff, I explained the situation, everyone community. I just became a kind of pulled director on the board with together, did job covered each the Heritage Society. I like sharing, others jobs. And here we are, it’s busy again. new challenges.”

How many years have you been in the community? Almost 36 years. I came directly to Sparwood; the mine in Newfoundland closed, and my father got work here at Greenhills when it was open. What is your job title, and role? My job title is the regional manager for Causeway Bay Hotels, but most of the hotels this way have been sold, so I pretty much run the Causeway Bay in Sparwood

What inspired you to get into that field of work? How has your role progressed from when you first started, to now? They approached me, and asked me if I would be interested in taking over. I thought they were a little crazy, I hadn’t done the hospitality industry before, but I’ve always kind of managed and been in leadership roles. It was really strange because after negotiating, I started, and within a week I felt like I was home. How has it changed? It has grown because

Cause for the downturn? (It was) the economy, we’re not alone I can assure you. Some people had to close their doors, we didn’t. I consider that a success, even though it was tough.

What are the demands of your job? Are there any unseen demands that people may not know? I’m 24/7, 365 days a year. I’m on call. I consider my role, my job, to make sure my staff have the tools they need to do their job. That can be fairly demanding. I

We proudly recognize the contribution women make to our business and our community!

have a really good management team, but it’s still a big operation and there’s a lot to oversee. I get a lot of calls in the middle of the night, and I spend a lot of time trying to work out ways around difficulties. Do you find any specific challenges of doing your job in a small community? In this community, I find that the 4-on-4off shift greatly affects us. If we have people who want secondary incomes, they want us to operate on 4-on-4-off, which we don’t. We operate 24/7. So I can’t always offer that. In the summertime, for a lot of people, the lake, I mean people go. That’s where they live in the summertime. I find a lot of people want to work short term, and specific hours and days. So sometimes finding staff is really challenging. I will say that this year, we have a lot more skiers and snowboarders, snowmobilers, and people partying. It’s been a good year for snow! Yes, yes it has. And THAT’S been challenging. (laughs) How do you balance work and your personal life? I like to volunteer in the community. I just became a director on the board with the Heritage Society. I like new challenges. When I’m with my family, I’m with my family. If my husband and I have time booked together to do something, yes I do take calls, but sometimes I will say to my

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managers I’m not available. I have two daughters and two grandkids. I just make sure that I take the time.

What are the highlights of your job? The staff. I think that it’s very rewarding to watch people succeed, and I think that most of my staff take lots of pride in what they do.

What are some of the challenges you face being a woman in this role, if any? I don’t really deal with a lot of that. Maybe because I totally don’t accept it. In other words, if anyone gives me that attitude, I shut it down immediately. Sometimes more in the maintenance area; sometimes people will think that maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about, sometimes I feel like it’s because I’m a woman. But I just make it... clear. Honestly I just don’t accept it. If you don’t want to deal with me because I’m a woman in this business, don’t deal with me. The door is right there. Is there anything else you would like to share? I would like to say the community supports us, that is huge for us. Especially the restaurant and banquet side of things. Sparwood supports us, so we try to support them, we try to help in any way we can. I think it’s a real cohesive relationship.


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THE FREE PRESS Thursday, March 2, 2017 B5


Heather Kerr

Owner/Operator, Ahead of the Curve Physiotherapy

“One of my main reasons for opening my business in its current incarnation, where I see people one-on-one in a very quiet and private environment, is to make sure people feel comfortable.”

How many years have you been in the community? I arrived in October 2002. Before I was working as a physiotherapist in Whitehorse, in the Yukon. I was in private practice. That was my first job out of university. I was there for a year and a half and then moved here. What is your job title, and role? I am the owner/operator of Ahead of the Curve Physiotherapy. What inspired you to get into your field of work? I have always been interested in human movement. My grandmother remembers taking me to shopping malls and me being fascinated with watching people walk. I did a volunteer stint at a physiotherapy clinic in my hometown when I was in high school. I had originally started studies in computer science. My intention with computer science had been to study biomechanical modelling but I just got more and more interested in the therapeutic and human aspect. I took an elective in university, the biomechanics

of locomotion, which looked at animals and people walking. It totally turned my crank and I ended up switching into physiotherapy. How has your role progressed from when you started to now? Like a lot of people drawn to physiotherapy, I think I was drawn to working with athletes and working with sports teams when I first started out. I did do a lot of that. After a while the broader concerns of humanity became more interesting to me. I had always been interested in human gait. I started out fairly early in my career wanting to look at walking and running, custom foot orthotics and gait analysis. But after a while I got to looking upstream of feet towards knees and pelvises and my practice evolved significantly. About four years ago our family did a sabbatical in France and I went and got my postgraduate diploma in pelvic floor physiotherapy. I don’t just specialize in pelvises and pelvic floors but it’s a huge part of my practice now, even when I’m looking at someone with a sore shoulder or a sore knee. What are the demands of your job? I keep the books, do the scheduling, the

laundry, the publicity; I work with a graphic designer on my website but I write all the content. And let’s not forget the physiotherapy part as well. One of the main on the job demands is establishing relationships with my clients. So everything from seeing a client in the morning to doing their follow up email in the evening and all the behind the scenes work. I’m a one-woman operation. Are there any specific challenges doing your job in a small community? Inevitably, in a town like this, I will be seeing people I know socially as clients. So one of the biggest challenges with being a physiotherapist with my speciality is confidentiality. One of my main reasons for opening my business in its current incarnation, where I see people one-onone in a very quiet and private environment, is to make sure people feel comfortable. How do you balance work and your personal life? With a lot of laughter (laughs). I am really fortunate that my husband is in healthcare as well; he’s a physician in the valley. I think he understands a lot of what drives me to do what I do and he also understands the practicalities of scheduling. I would categorically be unable to do what I do if it were not for really stellar childcare. Because I work outside of traditional office hours, our family can’t get traditional day care. I’ve always had to hire childcare workers for my daughter and we’ve always found great people to do that. What are the highlights of your job? How long do you have? Helping people understand their bodies and what might underlie the symptoms they’re seeing me for. I also like it when people have ‘ah-ha’ moments

with their exercises and they come back and tell me they feel better. I also really like – and this is going to sound funny – but I like it when someone comes back and says ‘that exercise you gave me, that really sucked,’ because even then, it helps redirect me. I also find it really gratifying – and this is the small town thing – when I get to see my clients outside the clinic and I can see them enjoying life because of something that might have happened at physio. I see them come in bent over or injured and then we do some therapy and then I see them out a few days later biking with their kids. That’s a really satisfying part of my job. What are some of the challenges you face being a woman in this role, if any? Physiotherapy, as a profession, has languished somewhat because the majority of practitioners are childbearing women. I’ve found that our lobby may have suffered because the majority of practitioners are pulled in several different directions. That is definitely changing but historically that has been a concern. Practitioners can see it in relations with insurance companies and the government in terms of billing thresholds and what is considered viable pay for viable work. In my life, it fell largely to me to delegate the primary caregiver role if I wanted to pursue work outside the home. I have a super supportive husband but the constraints of his job, being a physician who does a lot of on-call work, means finding childcare has fallen to me. That is a challenge that is faced by so many women in this valley but I don’t find, on a day-to-day basis with my clients, that I’m challenged by my gender.

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THE FREE PRESS Thursday, March 2, 2017


Natascha Radchenko

Co-owner/Director, VM Travel Adventures How many years have you been in the community? I finished high school in Saskatchewan and moved here the very next day. What is your job title, and role? I am the co-owner/director of VM Travel Adventures or Voyages Millefleurs, which is our legal name. I’m also a tour operator. We take Canadian clients to Europe, South America and South Africa to conduct wine tours, so we’re educating Canadians about wine. We travel through the wine regions and try and have fun with it, take the snobbery out of wine. And we do student tours. What inspired you to get into this field of work? My mother is the one who started the company. I’ve always been tour guiding for her through university and all the other times she needed my assistance. She was a French educator and I was in French immersion all my life, so I grew up speaking French. And originally our aim was to take French students to France. So my mother was the inspiration behind it. I actually spent three years in Santiago, Chile, because I moved down there for a little while to start my own little business. I moved back in 2011 and bought into the business. My mother, Corinne

Thomson, inspired me to do it. How has your role progressed from when you started to now? At first I was a tour guide. I would only work ten days out of the year at Easter time and now I’m designing and guiding tours for clients. We take the client’s wish list and create a tour that flows for them. Everything is custom designed. For example, I’m taking 14 Vancouver architects to South America next March and I’m working on that right now. I’m designing a wine tour with some architecture and some different museums in it. What are the demands of your job? Catering to every need of the client whilst on tour. Most of the time it’s really easy. Sometimes it’s a little more difficult but it depends on how needy your client is. Also sometimes driving, I just did two contracts back-to-back in France so I pretty much drove all over France in September and October. But my biggest job I would say is the translation. Because I’m operating in foreign countries, I’m trying to get clients directly contacted with locals and then make sure everything flows, so that’s why I speak a couple different languages to facilitate that. I speak four languages, technically. I’m working on Portuguese right now. The thing about the Latin languages

and growing up speaking French, it gave me that base already. Starting my business in Santiago was challenging. Spanish in Chile is harder than regular Spanish so I took a few courses and I found it relatively easy to grasp. Italian is somewhere right in the middle there. Do you find any specific challenges of doing your job in a small community? Just not having enough people to round up and travel with. For example, I was trying to work with the French immersion program at the Fernie high school. I was going to take students to Europe; I think I proposed it a few years ago. I needed ten students to pull it off but I only got five. But banking in a small town is great. The girls at the credit union know us and assist us with foreign currency transfers. You can imagine that we deal with many currencies. How do you balance work and personal life? Well that’s easy when you work for yourself. I work a lot but I take time off to ski or go to the gym. Because we live in such a ski community, that’s something I focus on in the winter. The nice thing about it is most of our tours are conducted in the spring or fall, so I can stay in Fernie for the winter and summer and enjoy.

What are the highlights of your job? It’s fun to introduce people to different languages. And the wine, the wine doesn’t hurt either. It’s just being with people. Fernie is a small place, we’re a little bit sheltered here and I like being out in the world with a fun group of people. What are some of the challenges you face being a woman in this role, if any? I don’t face too much of a challenge. I work with a lot of hoteliers and bus drivers as well. Sometimes the bus situation is a bit of a man’s world but I never really face any challenges as far as that’s concerned. I feel like I’m treated like an equal and a business person.

Nina Sran

Fernie Pizza & Pasta Nina has been the owner/operator of Fernie Pizza & Pasta since October 2013, balancing her time between her family and her business. By listening to what the customer’s are asking for, Fernie Pizza & Pasta has a loyal customer base.

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Special Features - Women in Business 2017  


Special Features - Women in Business 2017