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    Artists and Entrepreneurs striking the choose to challenge pose

    Southcentre is dedicated to empowering women and championing gender equality year-round. One of our key goals when it comes to community engagement is to support women and female entrepreneurs. Among other efforts, Southcentre also focuses on providing support for emerging female artists in the community and creating opportunities for local women-led businesses to flourish.

    Businesses run by Calgary ‘fem-trepreneurs’ can frequently be found putting up shop at Southcentre. JoydropAo-ta Beauty Salon, and Rocky Mountain Soap Co. are just a few examples of local female-led businesses that you can find at Southcentre.

    In honour of Women’s Day this year,  we’ve also invited three emerging female artists to create mural artwork for shoppers to enjoy. Their artwork will also be showcased online to provide virtual access to the installations for guests who prefer not to visit the centre physically. Three new installations will showcase work from Jessica Armas NodaViviana Pacheco, and Shelley Rose May. On the flip side of each mural, will be another interactive graphic design celebrating one of the three female entrepreneurs mentioned above, for a total of six empowering ‘Instagrammable’ backdrops.

    Mountainscape, Deer girl with an owl on her head, butterfly

    Scroll down the full blog post below to read the full interviews and learn the stories of these amazing women.

    Meet the Entrepreneurs

    Shashi owner of Joydrop

    Describe the Business and kinds of services & products that you offer?

    We’re proud to support Canadian artists who are crafting Canadian jewelry and Canadian stories and have become a market for thoughtful exchange, connection, and creativity. From statement-making sunglasses and nostalgic necklaces to eclectic earrings and awe-inspiring accessories, we empower and spoil women through fashionable and accessible gifts for ourselves, and the women who inspire us.

    What makes your business unique?

    We sell through story telling and constant searching and curating of these stories. We are also 100% women run! Our entire team is comprised of women and every designer that we showcase is female. There is so much joy & Inspiration in the world around us. We want to find it, soak it up, and celebrate it and share it in the only way we know-how. Through the stories of these beautiful designers in our stores.

    How and why you came to start your business?

    Joydrop itself was born from my last retail venture. We were selling a bit of jewelry in our gift stores and realized that a high percentage of sales were coming from our jewelry department. I started researching that a bit more and also started looking for the type of items that I was coveting and could not find in Calgary. Joydrop came from those musings. As we got more and more down the rabbit hole, what really became apparent were the stories that every woman had as she was starting her journey and the aha was we didn’t want to sell a Necklace . . . we wanted to help other people realize their dreams. So Joydrop is really a platform for these beautiful women to tell their stories and sell their designs. We are just the conduit for that.

    Being an Immigrant and growing up in Canada I have always known that this is a gift and a privilege to live in a place with clean water & air to have full access to education and health. Watching my parents work 24/7 gave me the work ethic and their love and desire provided us support & education to do what we wanted in life. The rest was mine to waste.

    Why did you decide to open your store in a mall setting at Southcentre?

    Southcentre has been part of my entrepreneurship journey for years. I had opened my original banner in this mall and it was successful so it wasn’t even a question when we were looking for additional space in Calgary. Southcentre was the place we wanted to be in. We are committed to Southcentre now because we really see how it serves and cares about the community that shops here and the community that works here. They are a huge supporter of the art world (love the Chroma install!) and they don’t just talk about supporting local, they actually have put in plans to ensure that local entrepreneurs find success within their markets. Not a lot of Malls can say that they are doing that and working with their vendors in the same way that Southcentre does.

    Cindy owner of Ao-Ta

    Describe the Business and kinds of services & products that you offer?

    We are a full-service hair salon specializing in color and highlighting techniques such as balayage and provide an array of professional retail products.

    What makes your business unique?

    Our experienced and skilled Stylists will customize each service to make sure you walk out feeling fantastic.

    How and why you came to start your business?

    As a refugee coming to a new country, we were welcomed with open arms and endless opportunities. The beauty industry provides the confidence and support that many women need to go above and beyond.

    Why did you decide to open your store in a mall setting at Southcentre?

    As South Calgary grows, Southcentre remains the most valued and convenient shopping centre. Southcentre has given us the opportunity to collaborate with other businesses and create a safe and convenient place for our clients.

    Why do you think it’s important to support female entrepreneurs?

    Female entrepreneurs especially in our field provide a lot of opportunities for other women to create a fulfilling career that strengthens our community.

    Karina owner of Rocky Mountain Soap Company

    Describe the Business and kinds of services & products that you offer?

    Rocky Mountain Soap has been creating high-quality, natural products in Canmore, Alberta for over 21 years. We are experts in natural soap and skincare and develop products from the ground up. We create all of our products from scratch in fresh batches.

    What makes your business unique?

    It is not common to find skincare companies that make their own products from the ground up. We touch each ingredient and curate the best in natural plant actives for each formula. We hold deep expertise in natural formulation, this is what makes us unique. I would argue we have the best natural products in the world.

    What do you like about running/owning your own business?

    I am a creator. I am in love with having free reign to make world-class products and build a company centered around quality experiences. I can put a personal slant on everything I do.

    Why did you decide to open your store in a mall setting at Southcentre?

    Shopping centres are a big part of our brand. They offer a physical experience for customers to interact with the product and our team. Calgary Southcentre is host to other great retail brands so it’s a great fit for us. Southcentre is a great location for our brand and we align with the customer who shops there.

    How has COVID affected your business?

    COVID has presented enormous challenges that have tested the resiliency of our company and team. I am grateful that we are able to survive this uncertain environment and am encouraged about the future of our company. We have had to step up our digital strategy and pivot to an online-only retailer for a short period of time. This test enabled us to learn so much about what we need to focus on in the future. We are a much more resilient company and clear on who we are and what our mission is. COVID has given us the opportunity to reinforce this.

    Why do you think it’s important to support female entrepreneurs?

    Female entrepreneurs see the world from a woman’s perspective, as a grandmother, mother, daughter, and sister. This female lens gives them unique insights into the products and services that are missing today. They have the ability to solve the problems of today through their unique point of view. The more we can look at the world through the feminine lens the more diverse and richer we are as a society.

    Meet the Artists

    Local Artist Shelley Rose

    A self-taught mixed media artist of Cree and Scottish descent, Shelley Rose May was born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. She now calls Calgary her home where she has lived for over 25 years.

    Formerly a Support Worker at Hull Services, she resigned from her job to be a stay-at-home mother to her children. To keep her boys entertained, she began experimenting with arts and crafts and fell in love with mixed media. 2016 was a difficult year for Shelley and her family. First, her mother passed away, and shortly afterward Shelley was diagnosed with cancer. These two events shifted her art and her life to another level. She now considers her health issue a blessing and strives to heal herself and others through her art.

    Describe the piece of art you are creating for Women’s Day at Southcentre.

    In indigenous teachings we are taught that animals are helpers that carry messages if you pay attention and listen. Deer medicine is of family, gentleness, protection and trust. The girl in this piece is harnessing in the power of the deer. She is understanding that by putting down her defenses and trusting in Creator’s plan, she can have a more authentic life. Tuning into Spirit to help her find direction on her journey allows her to open up to a world of possibilities. She is mirroring how anyone can have this connection, but we have to first let go of our limiting beliefs and TRUST. She is also reflecting how inviting The Great Spirit into our life aligns with more joy, peace and love which is our natural self.

    What do you hope people will take away from the Women’s Day art you are creating?

    What I would like people to take away from my mural is more hope and trust in the higher plan of their life. Creator gave us each gifts and sharing them with others is healing. When we put Spirit first in any area of our life, anything we do will flourish. I have always practiced this teaching and it has always kept me in alignment with my truth.

    Local artist Viviana

    I paint as a way to escape the mundane into a world where I get to manipulate the colours I want to see, in a way that makes me feel content. It is my self-care. I have always expressed my love for colour in my clothing, my hair, my style of decorating, this is an extension of myself that I get to share outside of my own circle. Although my art has a limited audience, I feel that it reaches the people who are looking for a pop of colour and expression, especially when we share a mutual love of animals, nature, and a vivid imagination.

    Most of my art is acrylic paint on canvas or cradled boards, occasionally, I will coat it with resin to bring the piece to life. I tend to use vibrant colours, bold strokes, with fine realistic details. I consider what I do a combination of linear and painterly styles, which together bring my work a distinctive feel.

    I often begin with a red or black, sometimes purple underpainting, then I sketch my subject, put in the background around the sketch, and then start building colours. as I layer the paint, the subject comes to life and loses some of the two-dimensional feel. It is not impasto, there’s no heavy building of texture, however, the colours are complementary enough to give my work dimension. With the colours intense and vibrant, I feel that I convey to the viewer what I see in my mind’s eye, lights and darks are no longer just highlights and shadows. I want my art to be viewed as a delicious meeting of expressionism and impressionism.

    Describe the piece of art you are creating for Women’s Day at Southcentre.

    The painting is of Moraine Lake in Banff National Park. It is an iconic Canadian, and an incredibly beautiful glacial-fed lake. I actually created this painting a couple of years ago, and I felt that it represents my work with the colours and beauty of the view, I am inspired by the incredible landscapes in Alberta, no other province can boast the beautiful scenery we have here.

    What do you hope people will take away from the Women’s Day art you are creating?

    The knowledge that women artists deserve as much respect as male artists, we have for the larger part of history been ignored by the art world, and many women have been incredible artists. We need to celebrate women in art.

    Artist Jessica Armas striking the choose to challenge pose

    Jessica Armas is the person behind JessAN Creations. She is a passionate artist and teacher, originally from Cuba, now living in Calgary, Canada. She has been interested in art her entire life, expressing her creativity and feelings through the canvas. Inspired by nature, beauty, and tropical life experiences, she creates colorful contemporary intuitive art. A private collector, closed to her mentioned: “The colors on your paintings, reflect the colors of your soul”.

    Whether you are an art lover or an art creator, Jessica wants to inspire you. Supporting other artists and giving back part of her sales to support Calgary Food Bank is one of her ways to show her altruism and gratefulness.

    Describe the piece of art you are creating for Women’s Day at Southcentre.

    The work I prepared for International Women’s Day is a pair of butterfly wings: Full of color, love, flowers, and joy. You can find translucent images of walls, world maps, handwritten letters, newspapers, and news in the background. This represents the barriers that we might find in our life with so many things going on every day. The wings represent our way through life, our desires, our willing to do things, to live and to fly. I have been inspired by my own life experience in these hard times of the pandemic, and by how I decided to face my life, with color, joy, energy, and impetus, for being a better person for the world and for myself.

    What do you hope people will take away from the Women’s Day art you are creating?

    Women are the driving force behind our Society, wearing always so many hats. I want to inspire women to face their lives with love, beauty, passion, energy, and positivity. I want to inspire them to open their wings and fly as far away as they can.

    For the entire month of March, we invite you to explore the Women’s Day-inspired artwork and participate in the IWD 2021 theme, #ChooseToChallenge by sharing a #ChooseToChallenge image on social media (either taken in front of one of the mall’s six backdrops or from the comfort of home) to show support and solidarity in celebrating women’s achievements and challenging inequality. Make sure to tag us at @SouthcentreMall as we’d love to re-post your photo!

    Choose to Challenge Social Media pages

    Image collage of the International Women's Day display

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