A Thorold women’s fashion wholesaler and retailer has kicked off a new awards program with two $12,500 grants — one to a St. Catharines entrepreneur.
Shannon Passero’s “Women’s Business Grant” also marks the 15th year in business for Passero’s design studio, a new retail store, and her 40th birthday.
Its purpose is to seek applicants from women-owned, Ontario-based businesses that use the principles of social consciousness, sustainability and innovation.
St. Catharines resident Lori Elstone won for her Provisions Food Company. Provision’s core business is to connect with Niagara wineries to supply speciality, non-wine food products to complement wines and add to the retail shopping experience.
Among her products are packaged shortbreads, handmade caramels, jams and jellies.
“The award is amazing … I love the fact she is empowering women in Niagara,” said Elstone. “I’m so grateful, this is so cool.”
Passero said she created the awards program in conjunction with “a milestone year for me as an entrepreneur.”
“We’ve always given back in different ways, but here we decided to … focus on a women-in-business grant program,” she said, adding Niagara ventures are given special consideration.
“The idea was to have the two grants for women (who’ve been) in business for three years or more. It’s to kick-start businesses or help innovate existing ones that need extra help,” she said.
“It’s also to instil confidence in women entrepreneurs.”
Alyssa Kerbel from “mini mioche,” a Toronto infant and toddler clothing company, was the other grant winner.
Each will be handed $12,500 at an inaugural Dec. 16 awards night at White Oaks in Niagara-on-the-lake.
Finalist Leah Feor of Simply Sustainable from Niagara also gets a plane ticket to continue her support of artisans and fair trade practices in Guatemala and Argentina.
Online only applications are available for 2014 grants starting Jan. 1 on www.shannonpassero.com