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Women-Led Businesses Focused on a Brave, Inspiring Future for Downtown Stratford

by Kerry Ramsay of Fresh Idea Collective

MEMBER MUSINGS: women-led businesses

Happy International Women’s Day! As we celebrate gender equality and a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination, we’re taking a moment to share the voices of four women-identifying business owners and their women-led businesses as they reflect on their vision for downtown Stratford.

From creating a home-away-from-home for visitors to creative cross-promotion, the women we spoke to offered fresh ideas for reimagining downtown Stratford as a hub of community, creativity and resilience.

Long-time downtown business owner and floral designer Cate Hishon of Designs By Cate shares that she’s passionate about doing business in a town with so many entrepreneurial women like herself. 

“The variety of businesses, the imagination and ‘out of the box’ thinking is inspiring!” she notes, adding, “The ingenuity and flexibility our downtown businesses showed in surviving — and in some cases thriving — during the pandemic, was just amazing.”

Cate reflects that her vision for the downtown core is “a continuation and expansion of that brave and inspired thinking. What I want to see for our downtown businesses and owners is the same thing I want to see for our city as a whole: a community that is vibrant, welcoming, alive and growing.”

For York Street eyewear specialists Nikki Wagler and Nicole Streicher of Coles and Keys Optical, creating an inclusive and supportive business network is key to a thriving downtown. 

“We’re honoured to be a part of the woman-run businesses in Stratford and thrilled to see this community continually grow,” they note. “We want to work towards a downtown that thrives on community over competition, raising each other up and offering support to ensure we can all withstand the test of time.” 

women-led businesses include Coles & Keys

Business owner Nia Murray of Good Vibrations Rock Shop in Market Square echoes “The consistent support from locals and the other businesses in this town is inspiring.” 

She remarks, “My vision for downtown Stratford is that it continues growing into an incredible network of talented and collaborative businesses who are truly committed to building and serving our community. I’d love to see us continue uplifting one another, banding together to better the community for those who live here, and creating a blissful home-away-from-home for those who don’t.”

For her part, Dr. Karen Garner of Connection Chiropractic on Albert Street believes the future of downtown Stratford depends on the strength and resilience of its businesses. 

women-led businesses include Connection Chiropractic

“As someone who deeply values the sense of community and connection, being part of a women-led business in downtown Stratford has been an enriching and fulfilling experience,” she observes. “It’s been incredible to witness the passion, creativity, and dedication of other women-led businesses downtown, and I feel honoured to contribute to our shared vision.” 

She adds, “On International Women’s Day, I’m reminded of the strength and resilience of every woman here, and I’m excited to continue learning, growing, and collaborating together as we shape the future of our downtown. Together we are better!”

Cheers to our women-led businesses in Downtown Stratford!


Kerry Ramsay - owner and creator of Fresh Idea Collective - one of Stratford's women-led businesses

Kerry Ramsay is a Stratford-based business coach and champion of women-identifying entrepreneurs, who organizes monthly networking gatherings across Perth County through the Fresh Idea Collective. She is also the owner of Infopreneur Launchpad where she helps women get paid for what they know, not just what they do. 

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