Porsche Cars Canada has launched a series of profiles on female entrepreneurs who share the same pioneering spirit as Ferry Porsche; unable to find the product they were looking for, much like our company’s founder, they decided to build it themselves.
Following on from its middle eastern counterpart, the second part of ‘Drive Defines Her’ aims to inspire future generations with more tales of hope, ambition and success against the odds. And by way of thanks for sharing their stories, Porsche Canada is making a donation to the charity of choice for each of these inspirational role models.
The first of the four women to have the spotlight shined on them this time around is Vivian Kay, Founder and CEO of KinkyCurlyYaki, a company that specialises in natural hair extensions for Black women. An entrepreneur, business coach and public speaker, Kay refutes the idea that she is a role model, suggesting instead the term ‘possibility model’.
Her mother emigrated from Togo in West Africa with her four daughters in pursuit of a better life in Canada. Kay explains that her spontaneous and lively personality sometimes made life difficult for her in school and her journey was not always easy. After graduating, she worked in various marketing and event roles but says that these never really connected with her.
In 2010, while searching for hair extensions that looked and felt more natural, she had a “eureka” moment. Just like Ferry Porsche, Kay couldn’t find what she was looking for. Most companies offered synthetic straight or curl textures that were neither versatile enough nor easy to maintain. So she decided to "scratch her own itch" and create hair extensions that better matched her own hair. When a colleague later asked Kay about her extensions, she was amazed to learn that she made them herself. And after that encounter, Kay decided to start a company selling high-quality textured hair extensions and celebrating the people who wear them. So began KinkyCurlyYaki.
While the company has grown exponentially since, Kay has kept her feet firmly planted and continues to look for opportunities to give back and support others in the surrounding community. Today, she is working on building up her personal brand and launching her own YouTube channel, still pursuing her dreams and bringing others along for the ride.
Supported charity: Trust 15
Next up is Regina Chan, Founder of AutoNerve Media Inc., the first and only female-owned Automotive Media platform in the Chinese language in Canada. In 2009, she also became one of the founding members of Women’s World Car of the Year and the first Asian on the judge panel. There are now 50 female members from over 40 countries.
“If you can’t be the only one, try to be the first one” is Regina’s motto in life. Her creative process tries to balance facts and feelings, based upon personal experiences and perspective. She takes inspiration from knowing that something that she writes may impact or inspire others. And through leading by example and mentoring, she aims to encourage others to stay true to themselves and stick up for what they believe in.
Like Kay, Chan is also a big believer in giving back to the society. In 2013, she created a fundraising event called Track Day for Charity, with a dedicated group for female drivers. The proceeds of the events go towards breast cancer research in Canada.
For Chan, knowledge is key and information is everything. Her detailed but personal automotive reviews, told from the female perspective, help her readers come to the right decision on their own. “Never follow other people,” Chan advises. “Create and walk your own path.”
WeChat: Regina Chan | AutoNerve
Supported charity: Canadian Cancer Society
The third inspirational woman on Porsche Canada’s radar is Hyla Nayeri. At the age of just 21, together with her best friend, Nayeri co-founded the luxury swimwear company, 437.
After realising that there were no brands of swimwear that boasted flattering fits for a variety of figures, the best friends felt the need to create a brand that would both empower wearers and make them feel confident in their own bodies.
While juggling internships and classes at Queens University, the pair devoted all their extra time to this business venture. They would sit for hours in coffee shops working on their first designs, and have regular FaceTime meetings discussing every last detail of their launch plan.
Characterised by its universally-flattering apparel and swimwear, 437 quickly amassed more than 260,000 followers on social media and has been worn by many notable celebrities and influencers. Since its launch in 2017, the company has seen annual revenue growth of 500 per cent for three consecutive years, already making it a multi-million-dollar company, and one run exclusively by young women.
Supported charity: Women’s Habitat
Last on the list, but by no means least, is Carinne Chambers-Saini, CEO and Founder of Diva International Inc. Chambers-Saini knew from an early age that she wanted to follow in her mother’s footsteps, both as an entrepreneur and advocate for women’s health. Her mother, Francine, was often frustrated by the lack of choices women had for their own period care, and after her daughter graduated from university, the pair set out to find the solution.
This arrived in the reinvention of a relatively unknown concept dating back to the 1930s. When their product, the DivaCup, was first introduced to the market, the industry was still focused on traditional methods for managing menstruation and reluctant to change. Chambers-Saini was often told by industry executives that their product would never sell, but feeling certain that the DivaCup had the potential to be revolutionary, she persisted.
Eleven years after launch, following countless meetings and deals, her product made it into its first high-profile market retailer. And nearly 20 years and 6.5 million cups later, Diva International has taken the concept from niche to mainstream.
Ever since starting the business, Chambers-Saini has set out to make period care more accessible to all, standing true to her mission to provide solutions that allow all women to live life without limits.
Supported charity: Canadian Women’s Foundation