Ottawa’s Women in Business Conference celebrates female entrepreneurs

From left, Melissa Guenette with designer Stacey Bafi-Yeboa, owner of, in matching PJs at the Women in Business Conference Pre-Event Pajama Party held at allsaints on Sunday, March 5, 2017. (Photo by Caroline Phillips)

Let’s be honest: If given the choice, most of us would spend the entire day in our pajamas.

That’s why it was such a well-embraced dress code for the dozens of entrepreneurial women who attended a pajama party hosted Sunday by the Women in Business Conference.

It was held in Sandy Hill at allsaints, the former All Saints Anglican Church-turned community venue.

The gathering was a pre-event for the Women in Business Conference (WIBC) that’s bringing more than 400 women together on Wednesday, March 8, on International Women’s Day.

The afternoon event featured a screening of the documentary film Dream, Girl, followed by a panel discussion with the likes of award-winning serial entrepreneur Janice McDonald, president of The Beacon Agency, (she came straight from hosting a brunch, so can be forgiven from not having enough time to change into her jammies), Victoria Lennox, co-founder and CEO of Startup Canada, and Sandra Tisiot, founder and president of the WIBC.

Attendees included Ottawa accessories designer Krista Norris, who, one year ago, saw the Trudeau family gift two of her scarves to then-U.S. President Barack Obama's daughters during an official visit to Washington, D.C. Also seen was Angella Goran, a former Olympic rower-turned-entrepreneur who’s speaking at Wednesday’s event. She founded the social enterprise SokJok.

As women arrived in their PJs with blankets and pillows in arm, the gathering resembled the slumber party scene from the 1978 flick Grease. That’s just the kind of nostalgia organizers were going for.

“We just wanted to have a really fun pre-event to celebrate women in business,” said Samantha Moonsammy, one of the organizers.

Dream, Girl, which showcases the stories of ambitious female entrepreneurs, was produced by Carleton University journalism alumna Komal Minhas.

“I think there are a lot of women who have either got a business or a side hustle and they’re going to be really inspired by this movie, or, if they’re not business owners already, may walk away from this movie with the idea of entrepreneurship,” said Moonsammy.

All sales of snacks, including popcorn, from the event were donated to a small local charity, Naylah’s Legacy, which raises funds and awareness for maternal, newborn and child health.