Celebrating the Wonderful Women of Victoria

International Women’s Day is coming up on March 8th– a day of immense importance to women and young girls around the world. This day offers the chance to reflect on the struggle for greater gender equality worldwide. It also allows us to commemorate the incredible achievements of women at all levels of the career ladder and in every industry in Victoria, Canada, and beyond.  

This year, we challenge you to show support for women everywhere by reaching out, learning from, and reflecting on the powerful ladies in your life.  Here’s to all women who keep the wheels of progress turning! Get empowered by the women that shape Greater Victoria as we know it.

Two women cheersing colourful cocktails at Victoria Distillers

Cheers to the women who inspire us daily! | Victoria Distillers, Photo Credit: KGOODPHOTO

RITUAL Nordic Spa

Kicking off our list, we have woman-owned Ritual Nordic Spa, a brand-new facility in Victoria dedicated to Nordic wellness and rejuvenation.  Owner and founder, Marci Hotsenpiller grew up doing sauna sessions with her Finnish grandmother on the shores of Lake Muskoka in northern Ontario. As an internationally-ranked downhill skier, she rediscovered her love for the thrill of cold plunges in alpine spas, often seeking out thermal baths on the glaciers of Austria and Switzerland after training. It was through this love that RITUAL was born – Greater Victoria’s first hot-cold-relax cycle spa.

This Scandinavian-style spa features traditional cedar and basswood saunas, infrared saunas, a eucalyptus steam room, a cold plunge pool, Nordic bucket showers, salt lounge, and three beautiful patios in a modern downtown setting. Treat your fellow ladies: RITUAL is now taking bookings for their first-ever season!

Two Ladies Enjoying the Sauna at Ritual Nordic Spa in Victoria

Enjoying the Sauna at Ritual Nordic Spa

Synergy Sustainability Institute

Synergy Sustainability Institute is a Victoria-based non-profit with the mission to improve Vancouver Island’s green-economy. CEO and Executive Director of the Synergy Foundation, Jill Doucette made waves across the industry with the founding of Synergy Enterprises in 2008, shortly after completing her studies in biology at the University of Victoria. She is an active writer and speaker with three published books, and is fully passionate about how business, industry, and communities can work harmoniously and efficiently towards a low-carbon future. Above all else, she is an incredible innovator and entrepreneur, with infectious enthusiasm and creativity – and it shines through her business.

The Synergy Sustainability Institute operates programs such as the Vancouver Island Green Business Collective, Food Eco District and Project Zero, and hosts many sustainability-focused events, including the annual Earth Day Power Hour and the Vancouver Island EcoStar Awards.  In 2018, Synergy teamed up with three partners – tartanbond, Starrboard Enterprises Inc., and Destination Greater Victoria (…us!) to launch the IMPACT Sustainability Conference for Travel and Tourism – coming up again May 8th-11th.  A big thank you for all that you do for Victoria’s green economy, Jill and team!

The Founders of the IMPACT Conference

The founders of IMPACT 2023 – Jill Doucette (Synergy Entreprises), Paul Nursey (Destination Greater Victoria), Deirdre Campbell (Tartan Bond), Starr McMichael (Starrboard Entreprises)

That Girl in Victoria

That Girl in Victoria was born out of founder Michele Davis’ love for travel and for finding Victoria’s hidden gems. She curates charming tours based around the treasures our city has to offer, mixing in traditional sight-seeing with local shopping hotspots.  As enthusiastic and knowledgeable as she is about our city, it may come as a surprise to some that she wasn’t born and raised in Victoria. Born in Alberta and having travelled frequently for her modelling career, Michele lived in Edmonton, Vancouver, Toronto, Kelowna, Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, and Hawaii before making her way over to Victoria. It was in Hawaii where she became involved with the Travel and Tourism industry, and Victoria which sharpened her passion for it.

Michele offers both private guided-tours and self-guided audio tours for which she has developed an app that patrons can seamlessly follow along at their own pace while walking through Victoria. Both options are affordable, immersive, and enjoyable ways to discover our city. New to this spring season, That Girl in Victoria will be adding in an Artist Studio Tour featuring local galleries, with stops at Sea Cider and other vineyards. Enjoy exploring Victoria’s attractions and hearing its history, told through the eyes and charming personality of Michele!

Three Ladies Shopping on a That Girl in Victoria Tour in Chinatown

A Shopping Tour in Victoria’s Chinatown with That Girl in Victoria – Michele Davis

Silk Road Tea

Silk Road Tea has been led by their founder and Chief Tea Ambassador Daniela Cubelic, hailed by the Globe & Mail as “Canada’s Queen of Tea”.  Daniela was trained in the arts of traditional tea-brewing by Chinese & Taiwanese herbalists, as well as undergoing aromatherapy studies in France, to become well versed in creating exquisite tea blends, skin, and bodycare products to line Silk Road’s shelves. 

She opened her first Silk Road in 1992 in Victoria’s historic Chinatown – also labeled the first Chinatown in Canada.  Her expertise shines through in her craft – one sample of her award-winning organic teas, and you will see how that Daniela’s love for tea & tea culture is steeped in her veins. 

Sea Cider Farm + Ciderhouse

Kristen Needham is the founder of Sea Cider Farm + Ciderhouse up in Saanichton, having inherited the family orchard as a teenager in 1986. At the time, she admits that she did not want to be involved with the orchard and was busy focusing on her studies in environmental management in Wales. Her career originally bloomed in that direction, and she spent several years working with farmers in rural Ethiopia on improving the nation’s food security. Almost 20 years later, she decided to replant her family orchard and conceived the idea of Sea Cider. She went back to school – this time, cider school! – and decided to build her own Ciderhouse on the family orchard now known as Sea Cider. It took about 5 years of preparation, but soon, her vision flourished – Kristen successfully sold cider to her first customer. 

Visit Sea Cider up in Brentwood to be taken away by Kristen’s vision.  Sip your delectable flight of ciders, carefully paired with organic cheeses and house-made mustard (arguably the best in Victoria), as you gaze upon the panoramic water views across the Haro Straight. 

Sea Cider founder Kristen Needham

Sea Cider founder Kristen Needham | Photo Credit: Field and Forest

Bronco Tours

Bronco Tours was founded by owner and guide, Deanna – a very cool lady, with a very cool hobby.  Her tours are provided in a vintage 1974 Ford Bronco!  Deanna was not only born and raised in Victoria, but has roots in the city dating back over 100 years – her great-grandfather had set the 50 foot timber pilings on which the world-famous Fairmont Empress Hotel sits today!  She is passionate about our city, it’s history, and her Bronco – the three of which converge together to provide an unforgettable tour experience.
Deanna will pick you up and drop you off at a hotel or location of your choice, offer you bottled water and Canadian snacks, and even give you the aux cord to listen to your favourite music throughout. Enjoy this one-of-a-kind exploration through Greater Victoria! 

Bronco Tours in Victoria with owner Deanna sitting on her vintage 1974 Ford Bronco

Bronco Tours owner Deanna with her trusty 1974 Ford Bronco

Are you Victoria’s next female entrepreneur? We hope that our list of wonderful ladies was able to inspire you!  Remember to use these coming weeks to reflect on women in all walks of life, and consider treating the ones who touch your life to a visit to any of these businesses. For other female-run or female-owned businesses in Victoria, check out: 

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Destination Greater Victoria is honoured to be based on the traditional territory of the Lekwungen-speaking peoples of the Songhees Nation and the Esquimalt Nation, whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.