PPPC Women’s Empowerment Event

Botanical PaperWorks CEO, Heidi Reimer-Epp recaps the event:

What happens when you get a group of dynamic, ambitious and intelligent women together for two days of professional development and networking? You get a lot of laughs, a ton of learning and friends to last a lifetime!

On October 13 and 14, a group of 40 women from the Promotional Product Professionals of Canada (PPPC) association met in Toronto for the annual Women’s Empowerment Event, also called WEE. The event was held at Kingsbridge Conference Centre in King City, just 30 minutes from Pearson International Airport.

The WEE events have always been a welcoming place for women in the promotional product industry who want to grow their careers and invest in themselves. And this year was no exception.

We started the day with speaker Cheryl Gregory who shared ways to increase trust with our clients and customers, not in a sleazy cookie cutter approach but by building trust and growing genuine relationships. One takeaway for me is the concept that I can transmit positive energy to my audience when I hold my hands and gesticulate at heart level. I’ve noticed that sometimes when I tape a video segment for YouTube, my energy can seem flat when my arms are at my side and seem energetic when I gesticulate and move my hands freely. Now I know why.


(Image source @PPPCInc Twitter)

Our next speaker was Victoria Tuner who talked about how to authentically self-promote with confidence. Victoria challenged us to identify our values, to think about why we avoid talking about ourselves and then how some self-promotion might align with our values. As an example, I’ve been fairly quiet in talking about the judging gig I have coming up in November at the Western Canada Cleantech Forum’s Green Dragons’ Lair Pitch Competition. But one of my values is “continuous learning, ” and I know that if I share this involvement with my friends, more interesting experiences will come my way. So I’m going to talk about it and see what follows.

Friday night started with a touching tribute to our lost friend Ros Plummer. It was a joy to have Ros’ daughter Kate Plummer at the event, an industry professional in her own right who’s been such a huge supporter of WEE.


(Image source @innovatexsolutions Instagram)

The group moved to dinner, a delicious buffet and oh those desserts! And after some great conversation and lots of laughs, we transitioned to the party time. Thank you committee for the hilarious hats, boas, tiaras and devils’ horns – everyone HAD to put on at least three things. There were some awesome get-ups! The night went on with karaoke and more food and drinks and ended only in the wee hours.

Saturday was an important day because we had a meaningful presentation from Kim Ades and because Botanical PaperWorks was the session sponsor!


(Image source @PPPCInc Twitter)

Kim is a coach, entrepreneur, and owner of Frame of Mind Coaching. And she asked us to consider “what do you really, really want more than anything” and what’s standing in the way of having it. She coached us right there in the room, and some attendees were so brave to volunteer to be coached in front of everyone. Kim’s message was that your happiness is a reflection of your thinking. If you’re not happy, it’s a sign that your thinking is out of whack and you’re going in the opposite direction of what your heart wants.

Kim also taught the group how to coach others. This was a super important piece of our learning because as leaders, we all have people in our lives who formally report to us or informally come to us for help. The “5 Steps for Phenomenal Leadership, Mentorship, and Coaching” are five steps that we will go home and use to coach ourselves and to support the people in our lives.


(Image sources @GemlineSuzanne Twitter and @greeninkonline Twitter)

On Saturday afternoon, we delved into the power of social media. First, speaker Jessica Green of Green Ink Consulting shared the social media strategy that she developed for industry supplier Redwood Classics. She included statistics and tips for all attendees to craft their own social media strategy. And then we broke into two groups and learned/shared social strategies with two masters, Kathy Cheng of Redwood Classics and Kate Plummer of Clearmount.

We ended the day with a discussion of the state of the promotional product industry. We talked about the changing market forces – supplier and distributor amalgamation, online competition, direct sourcing, increased commoditization and reduced specialization. And after much discussion, one thing was clear, that all of us present sincerely desire a strong, effective industry association, we want good collaboration between suppliers and distributors, and we all want more chances to get together like we did at the WEE event.

On behalf of all of the attendees, thank you to the organizing committee, the sponsors, and every single person who attended. And I just want to say how happy we at Botanical PaperWorks are to have been Silver Sponsors of the event! If we all put our support behind great events like these, we will get the industry strength that we’re seeking. Thank you all!


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