Women Entrepreneurship Strategy success story: Aisle Canada

"The challenges that small businesswomen in particular face is that when they're trying to access capital, there can be systemic biases against women. Aisle was very fortunate to receive funding through the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy. We used it to buy new inventory, access new manufacturing equipment, and hire more staff. It also allowed us to hire contractors to help us raise equity for another round of financing."

Suzanne Siemens, Co-founder, Aisle Canada

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[Text on screen: Women Entrepreneurship Strategy Success Story – Aisle]

[Interview with Madeleine Shaw and Suzanne Siemens, interspersed with clips of them and an employee working in their warehouse and using computers, and various shots of their reusable menstrual products and of photographs of women wearing their products]

[Text on screen: Madeleine Shaw / Co-founder Aisle]

My name is Madeleine Shaw and I'm the co-founder and Director of Partnership and Impact with Aisle. Aisle is a Vancouver-based for-profit B Corp that specializes in world-class sustainable products for menstruation, and we've been in business since 1993. I started developing cloth washable menstrual pads and period underwear in response to persistent allergic reactions I was having to traditional pads and tampons.

Another part of the reason that I started developing the company is because as a feminist, I felt very, very strongly called by the belief that women could make a huge difference by bringing their voices, their unique ideas and their innovations into the entrepreneurial space. The market for reusable products is one that we essentially created through decades of hard work.

[Text on screen: Suzanne Siemens / Co-Founder Aisle]

The challenges that small business and women in particular face is that when they're trying to access capital, there can be systemic biases against women when they're dealing in a category that might seem a bit niche or something they don't understand. Aisle was very fortunate to receive funding from the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy as well as the Investment Readiness program.

We use these funds to help us buy inventory, access new manufacturing equipment, hire new staff, as well as contractors to help us raise equity for a round of financing.

At Aisle, we've always been deeply passionate about impact and sustainability. Our values and social and environmental impact have always been our North Star in business. So our aspiration is to make the most comfortable, sustainable, effective, reusable menstrual products in the world.

I'm a big believer in vision and mission and really always having that as a touchstone for your inspiration, remembering why you started doing what you're doing.

And for my part, what advice I would give is really seek out other opportunities for funding and mentorship and support. Tap into your peers and more importantly, find advisors and mentors who have travelled that road before and are more than willing to help.

[Text on screen: Find out how the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy can help you.

[Visit canada.ca/women-entrepreneurship]

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