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Eight Canadian Women Entrepreneurs to Watch

Our 2020 list of female creatives making their mark

By Jessica Alex

Eight Canadian Women Entrepreneurs to Watch 2020 List

For International Women’s Day 2020, we decided to bring back our list of eight Canadian women entrepreneurs who represent different industries and are at the top of their game. These creatives come from different fields, and whether it’s art, beauty, blogging or design, they are either household names — or well on their way.

Brenda Danso – The Designer

Toronto, ON

Interior Designer and Therapist

Brenda Danso
Brenda Danso

Brenda Danso, the designer behind BD Interior Design, is a California native who relocated to Toronto in 2012, following her strong desire to help people design their space to reflect their personal style. Her interior design company is helping entrepreneurs debunk the myth that you need loads of money to have a well-designed space.

A featured designer with the Property Brothers’ online forum Casaza, Brenda is also a content writer for AfroCentric Magazine’s “Home and DIY” section.

When Brenda is not transforming spaces, she is providing mental health counselling through her private practice, DesignTherhappy.

What is the one thing that drives her?

I enjoy beautiful spaces and believe that each space is capable of being transformed. My superpower is that I can walk into a space and immediately visualize how it should be rearranged.
My passion is fulfilled when I create a well-designed space for that mom who is expecting and frantically seeking a special place to bond with her newborn; that entrepreneur who just launched their business and they’re unsure how they can make their office space functional to increase productivity; and that homeowner who lives in their home and they’re not enjoying it. I’m blessed for the opportunity to help people develop a sense of joy and calmness in their life through design and therapy.

Why she’s one to watch: Not only does Brenda have a keen eye for creating functional, eye-captivating spaces for businesses, but she is also a mental health advocate. Her spaces leave a lasting impression on their visitors, so it’s no wonder Brenda was featured on the Property Brothers’ (of HGTV) interior design platform, Casaza, a site that also features advice from industry-leading designers.

To keep up with Brenda, check out her links below: Website:

Brooke Write – The Influencer

Toronto, Ontario

Coach and Public Speaker

Brooke Write
Brooke Write

Brooke Write is passionate about helping entrepreneurs become overcomers and high achievers by intertwining the two worlds of entrepreneurship and well-being.

She focuses on guiding entrepreneurs on the topics of mindset, emotional well-being, spirituality and wellness planning through events, workshops, online classes, public speaking and monthly themed subscriptions.

Through her services, Brooke works with entrepreneurs by teaching them how to manifest success through the alignment and power of their mind, body and spirit, because not only are they co-creating success on their terms, but they are also ensuring that they achieve that success by tapping into all three power sources of human energy.

Brooke believes entrepreneurs cannot shift to a place that’s successful unless they work on their mind, body and spirit. When they focus only on the external side of entrepreneurship and business, it will make them feel incomplete and overwhelmed.

Brooke is certified as an entrepreneur, wellness planner, mentor and public speaker and is dedicated to encouraging entrepreneurs to improve their personal and professional well-being by getting to the root of their unhealthy thoughts, feelings, beliefs and habits that are blocking them from clarity, confidence and achieving positive results. This is done by helping entrepreneurs build their level of resilience and mindfulness to quickly overcome common entrepreneurial challenges and obstacles.

Brooke’s mission is to work with entrepreneurs beyond the basic elements of entrepreneurship and to support them in the most important areas of their lives.

What is the one thing that drives her?

What drives me is how my work impacts others. Impact drives me because I always ask myself, “How do I want to be remembered when I die?” Leaving a positive and loving impact on the people in my life, whether it’s through my business or personal life, is significant. It’s not about what you say or do in life, but how you make people feel. People won’t remember me for my achievements, but they will remember me for the impact I made on their lives.

Why she’s one to watch: Brooke is an author, mental health advocate, influencer and business coach who is getting booked for speaking engagements across Canada. Most recently, she has partnered up with Staples Canada. It’s really “The sky’s the limit” for what Brooke has coming up next.

To keep up with Brooke, check out her link below:

Christine Lieu – The Branding Expert

Toronto, Ontario

Graphic Designer

Christine Lieu
Christine Lieu

Christine Lieu is the expert behind CL Designs. She’s a graphic designer who’s traded in climbing the corporate ladder for climbing mountains around the world. Christine helps lifestyle businesses realize their vision and connect with the people most important to them through branding, web design and social content creation through a brand-360 approach.

Having earned her stripes in the fast-paced media world, learning first-hand the challenges faced by start-ups through her own journey (sometimes the hard way!), Christine wanted to provide efficient design and branding services that would free up businesses to focus on with what they’re best at. Featured in Make Lemonade, Women Who Freelance, Startup TO, the Freedom Lifestyle podcast and more, Christine’s signature design style is a fave, and her lifestyle brands just rave about her.

Christine has worked on projects with bootstrapping start-ups, household brands and done pretty much everything in between, including being nominated for RBC’s Women of Influence and a Digital Publishing Award for her work on Maclean’s magazine, to helping the House of Anesi raise more than $90,000 through a Kickstarter campaign and covering nationwide events, such as the Juno Awards.

What is the one thing that drives her?

The one thing that drives me is love — doing what I love most, spending my time with whom I love most without the guilt or shame. Our time is a resource we will never get back, so you might as well spend it efficiently, celebrating, loving. Being able to help others do the same and create the bold legacy that they’re so deserving of is what fuels me each day. The transformation I’ve gotten to experience with these entrepreneurs is incredibly fulfilling.

Why she’s one to watch: Besides being a rock star graphic designer, Christine hosts a weekly podcast called Brand Party Podcast, which helps entrepreneurs get their branding on track by offering tips and sharing advice from other experts. She has worked with brands of all sizes and is easily a top designer in her field.

To keep up with Christine, check out her links below:

Cree Barrocks – The Hair Guru

Toronto, Ontario Salon Owner, Hair Stylist and Colourist, and Luxury Wig Specialist

Cree Barrocks
Cree Barrocks

Cree Barrocks is a beauty professional and owner of Beauty Bar, based out of Toronto, Canada. Beauty Bar offers a variety of services, specializing in hair colour (balayage, highlights and ombré), as well as extensions and customized wigs. Cree enjoys creating beauty in all aspects, whether through hair or makeup. She has worked with many on-screen personalities, including Cityline’s Tracy Moore, the hosts of The Social and Keshia Chanté. She also educates for a well-known beauty brand, empowering salon owners with new techniques and helping them to get the best out of the products they carry.

What is the one thing that drives her?

A few things that drive me are my family and my legacy. As a child, I saw my father, Albert Barrocks, a self-employed photographer, as a huge influence who inspired me to become an entrepreneur. Fast forward to 2015, when I was a successful makeup artist, I needed to change my career path to something that offered more stability. With the encouragement of my father, I entered into a hair academy, with the dream of becoming a salon owner.
My father has been one of the driving forces behind me. He has been a continuous support through my journey to now opening a salon. One day I hope to repay him for everything he has given me.
Through education, I want to leave a lasting legacy on this Earth. Beauty is an art form, and for me, that is truly the driving force behind being a beauty professional.
Beauty professionals have the ability to nurture a person’s self-esteem, and the physical appearance of a person is a huge part of their confidence. As a beauty professional, our clients look to us for guidance on how to express themselves and I do not take this responsibility lightly. I take great pride in my work, which allows my clients to feel special and beautiful in their own unique way.

Why she’s one to watch: Cree is a multifaceted hair stylist who not only launched her own salon, but she also has her own extensions line and has worked with some of Canada’s A-listers.

To keep up with Cree, check out her links below:

Gabriela Carnovale — The Entertainer

Toronto, Ontario

Belly dancer

 Gabriela Carnovale
Gabriela Carnovale

Gabriela is a professional belly dancer from Toronto, Canada. She has loved to dance all her life and learned to belly dance at the young age of 14 years. Gabriela received most of her training in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she graduated as a belly dancing instructor. She continues to expand her dance knowledge through workshops.

Along with performing at private events, Gabriela dances regularly at restaurants and has been part of stage productions, music videos and international festivals. She is passionate about creating belly dance choreography and sharing her love of dance through social media platforms and live performances around the world.

Gabriela recently opened her belly dancing school, Gabriela's Belly Dance Academy in Toronto and is happy to guide other dancers into expressing themselves fully. She teaches classes and workshops to dancers of all levels and enjoys helping them achieve their goals.

Empowering others through this beautiful art form is her greatest passion.

What is the one thing that drives her?

Inspiring others to do what they love is what drives me the most. I believe I can inspire by allowing myself to express the passion I feel for dance in a way that makes others feel welcome to do the same in any area they desire.

Why she’s one to watch: Gabriela has achieved her dreams and also inspires others to do the same. She has had the opportunity to travel the world for her passion and is sharing her expertise and knowledge through her dance school.

To keep up with Gabriela, check out her links below:

Natasha Fernandes — The Artist

Toronto, Ontario

Painter and Art Event Planner

Natasha Fernandes
Natasha Fernandes

Natasha Fernandes was raised by a strong woman who went through the mud and grew through it like a lotus flower. Watching her mom become successful on her own inspired Natasha to do the same.

As a young child, Natasha’s talent for art was recognized by her teachers, and that’s when she realized she had something not many did. As she grew, Natasha worked on her craft and painted for fun, as well as for commissions. As a struggling artist, she decided to work in the restaurant industry, where she also developed her passion for food.

In 2016, Natasha decided to hold an art and food show, Artbox. This show featured her own artwork and that of other local artists. It also featured fresh canapé-style food prepared by local chefs. The first event was a complete success, so Natasha decided to keep it going. She held her fifth event on February 15, 2020. The goal is to hold more Artbox shows and grow it to an approachable and artistic space for everyone to enjoy regularly.

What is the one thing that drives her?

One thing that drives me is my passion for art and exposing local art to those who don’t know where to find it.

Why she’s one to watch: A talented artist in her own right, Natasha’s events are a fusion of art, music and delectable food. Her events help to expose local artists to event goers, and Artbox is well on its way to becoming a household name.

To keep up with Natasha, check out her links below:

Suzie Durigon — The Culinary Artist

Toronto, Ontario

Chef and Blogger

Suzie Durigon
Suzie Durigon

Suzie Durigon is a self-proclaimed certified “culinarian” and the creator of the scrumptious and ridiculously funny blog Just Crumbs.

To her, it’s always been about food.

Eating it, cooking it, growing it, learning about it and sharing it — those are what, she believes, bring everyone together at the table and what nurture our bodies (and souls).

Suzie is a trained chef, a food blogger, a part-time culinary instructor, a food brand ambassador, a wannabe farmer, a mom and a wife — and not in any particular order.

A while back, she began a “movement” called Bake It Forward, where she delivers homemade baked goods to people she values, spreading the message that small gestures like this can bring so much happiness.

When she’s not cooking or baking — or in the garden — Suzie enjoys spending time with her hubby, two cats, one rescue pup and any of her three kids, if they pop in for supper!

What is the one thing that drives her?

The thing that drives me is, getting people back in the kitchen and cooking again! I know, that sounds as cliché as, “I just want to help people.”
The thing is, we need, more than ever, to master daily activities that used to be routine (like cooking, cleaning, gardening). Most of these activities have now been passed on to people who are paid to do them for us. We need to take back these skills, so we can become efficient in things that used to be necessary for survival. Let’s do this — for a happier and more self-sufficient world.

Why she’s one to watch: With a flair for humour, Suzie knows how to throw down in the kitchen. Her blog has thousands of monthly visitors, and her cookbook, Just Crumbs: Baked, is set to release this year. Suzie has also spread kindness with baked goods through her Bake It Forward movement and has been featured on (the official website of The Marilyn Denis Show) as a food influencer.

To keep up with Suzie, check out her links below:

Treasa Leigh Brown — The Planner

Toronto, Ontario

Event Planner

Treasa Leigh Brown
Treasa Leigh Brown

Principal planner and owner of Leigh Events, Treasa Leigh Brown first opened the doors to Leigh Events in 2006. After earning her bachelor of commerce and a Certified General Accountant (CGA) designation, the Toronto native now spends her time running a full-service Toronto-based event planning and design company, servicing clients worldwide.

She’s also a wife, a mother and a #GirlBoss.

Through the amalgamation of her skills, Treasa dances the fine line between timeless events, business management and creative instinct, fusing her worlds inspired by editorial fashion, artful brand elevation and curated a aesthetic through the sophisticated expression of culture, music, art and travel.

A celebrator of diversity, she has an unparalleled ability to find beauty in the most ordinary of situations and create design compositions, strategies and layouts that exude sophistication, beauty and grace. Treasa’s work has been featured in a number of international publications.

What is the one thing that drives her?

If I had to choose just one thing that drives me, it would undeniably be my family. Being a mother and a wife has fuelled my passion for success not only in the event industry, but also in the local community. Looking back, I would always wonder why there weren’t more women in positions of power or existing platforms that give women the opportunity to advance. So instead of asking for opportunities, I decided to take matters into my own hands and begin creating opportunities for myself and for other women to rise.
I’ve always emphasized how important it is to surround myself with the right people, and to say that I’ve been blessed with an amazing family would almost be an understatement. Having a family that supports you every day will really give you that boost you’ll need when you’re facing strenuous and challenging situations. Pursuing your passions and staying committed is never an easy task, but with a clear vision in mind and a family full of support, staying driven is inevitable.

Why she’s one to watch: Treasa is a top event planner, in high demand, and has travelled the world with her expertise. She also hosts an annual brunch event called We Rise Experience for female entrepreneurs to connect and be inspired by one another.

To keep up with Treasa, check out her links below:

Leigh Event Group

We Rise Experience

Leigh Events

Written By Leigh


These fabulous women inspire and lead, and we are so thankful to them for their contributions to their fields and to others. Whatever they have in store next, it’s bound to be a success!


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