About the Startup Women Advocacy Network (SWAN)
There is a lack of awareness and storytelling of early-stage, woman-identifying entrepreneurs in Canada. As a national convener and staying true to our core values, we want to connect entrepreneurs with the support they need to help tackle this gap.
Thus, we created the Startup Women Advocacy Network (SWAN), a network of 13 early-stage, woman-identifying entrepreneurs from each province and territory to champion the needs of women entrepreneurship throughout the whole year. SWAN members can amplify their business through our platforms and are given exclusive opportunities to have a seat at important government roundtables and other events that are crucial to creating change.
This is just the beginning. The hope behind SWAN is to create an ever-growing network of champions in each Canadian province and territory to ultimately increase the visibility and voice of early-stage, woman-identifying entrepreneurs.
Meet Cindy Purtill, SWAN representative from Newfoundland and Labrador
In the spirit of amplifying women entrepreneurs, we will be sitting down with each of our SWAN members to learn more about their founding journeys. Introducing our fifth member Cindy Purtill, owner and operator of Georgestown Inn from Newfoundland and Labrador.
Moving home at the age of 52 to initiate the life-long dream of owning and running a bed & breakfast Inn, she is a half-decent baker – and can make a mean breakfast! She blissfully devotes her time to her guests to provide them with a welcome stay, in a comfortable setting, with good food, company and downhome traditions! What keeps her heart happy are her kids, her husband, her family, being blessed to be friends with some dynamic people, a good cuppa tea and a natter, singing all the time, exploring the world, watching a good film or series, and striving to be a giving & kind person.
We’d love to learn a little bit about you and your business and your entrepreneurial journey towards founding Georgestown Inn.
I have always wanted to own a bed & breakfast, and move home to Newfoundland. I love being with people, and hearing their stories! Being a self-employed event planner by trade; working in the insurance industry & municipal street decorating industry, the transition to the tourism industry seemed the right fit! At the age of 52, my dream became a reality! With the support and encouragement of my husband, John, we threw all of our energy and life savings into starting a business in a new Province and industry… in tourism… in 2019…yes, the pandemic created quite the challenge for the tourism industry. But, we have survived to embrace our first full on-season, this year!
What has been the most challenging obstacle for you in starting your business? And how did you overcome it or is it something you are still tackling?
One of the biggest challenges we faced was the onslaught of the pandemic within the first year of operating. We used our resources wisely; pivoted, and incorporated an Afternoon Tea Room to facilitate local footfalls across the Inn’s threshold. 2022 is our first full on-season of tourism and it is shaping up to be better than what we anticipated! We are hopeful and encouraged!
What brings you the most joy or excitement in working in your business?
It brings me joy to hear the awe from our guests when they arrive through our front door, and hear the words of praise when they leave. I then know I have done my job, and done it well.
You opened Georgestown Inn at 52 – what advice would you give to someone considering starting their own business later in life?
Don’t be afraid to own your passion! If you see it: find a way to make it happen! Believe in you! The right things will happen if you know in your heart it’s the right thing for you!
What does being a part of the Startup Women Advocacy Network mean to you?
An opportunity to share, learn, and grow myself & my business alongside some dynamic people. Knowledge shared is knowledge being given life!
In the spirit of advocacy, is there a woman-identifying, early-stage entrepreneur in Newfoundland and Labrador that you admire or are following along their entrepreneurial journey?
Yes! An entire group of women I get to learn from, as a part of a monthly mastermind session run by our provincial networking organization, Newfoundland & Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs. From a mobile dental hygienist to a bespoke jewelry crafter, to a commercial photographer & lawyer turned insurance agent + a few others, we are all in young businesses.
A lot of the time when founders talk about their journey and their business, they talk about their “why” – why they do what they do. So, we’re interested to know – what is your “why”?
Because I can. It’s in my blood to care for others; to take care of their souls with a good sleep; good food and once-in-a lifetime bucket list experience. I am living my truth.
Is there anything else we haven’t touched on that you would like to share with our community?
There are many more women struggling to get their businesses up and running. We need to be better at supporting each other. Someone once said “a woman needs to only prove herself to a man once; but to another woman, she needs to do it three times.” Let’s be better at holding each other up.
If someone wants to get in touch with you or connect with you, where is the best place for them to go?
You can reach me at email@example.com and I welcome the opportunity! Thank you!
You can learn more about our 2022 Startup Women Advocacy Network at https://www.startupcan.ca/startup-women-advocacy-network-2022/