Two Victoria businesswomen have been named to a list of the top 100 female entrepreneurs in Canada.
Sarah Blackmore, a founder of Bin 4 Burger Lounge and Lot 1 Pasta Bar, and Mandy Farmer, chief executive of Accent Inns and Hotel Zed, were named to the PROFIT/Chatelaine W100 this year.
Blackmore placed 17th on the list in her first year applying, while Farmer, who has made the list six straight years, placed 25th.
“I was blown away,” said Blackmore, who helped start Bin 4 in 2011 and is about to launch Lot 1 Pasta Bar at the Island Home Centre in July. “I am so honoured to even be on that list, but to be that ranking? Wow, I really just wanted to be in the 100.”
Farmer, who has been ranked as high as 12th and as low as 50th in the past six years, said the honour “is very cool, but honestly I can’t wait to hit No. 1, I’ve got a lot of work to do in the meantime.”
Farmer noted the recognition is really more about the company than herself.
The top-100 rankings are now in their 18th year and place female entrepreneurs by a composite score that takes into account the size, growth rate and profitability of the companies they own and manage.
Blackmore, who is expecting her first child in August, said she was inspired to get involved by Farmer, who she has worked closely with to establish Bin 4’s third location beside Accent Inns’ Blanshard Street hotel.
“I think it’s really cool that they honour females in business across Canada and even the application process and going through the questionnaire was pretty empowering,” Blackmore said. “I love being on that list to show my staff what I have worked toward.”
Farmer is quick to give credit for her position and success to her family. Accent Inns has been family owned since it started in 1986 by her father, Terry. She said there is still far to go before the number of women in power starts to make a dent in the boy’s club.
“I belong to a group of CEOs out of Vancouver and the room is filled mainly with men,” Farmer said. “Perhaps one of the hardest things for women is the family/career struggle. Thankfully, nowadays men are playing an equal role in the upbringing of their children and I think this will dramatically alter the number of women entrepreneurs.
“If it weren’t for my husband, Geoff, there is no way I could be doing what I’m doing.”
Farmer said being on lists like this do set women up as role models, a position she relishes.
“I’m very comfortable with that. I love speaking engagements where I get to razzle up people’s inner entrepreneur, hopefully sparking them to take the next step,” she said.
Another Victoria entrepreneur appears to be close to taking that next step, according to PROFIT/Chatelaine. The competition singled out five women who didn’t quite crack to the top-100, but who should be watched over the next few years, including Nicole Smith, founder of Flytographer.
Flytographer, an online marketplace connecting travellers to photographers in 160 cities around the world in order to capture important memories, has grown more than 200 per cent over the past two years.