Empowerful Incubator: Meet the 2023 Cohort

In 2020 we initiated a $5000 bursary and mentorship opportunity in an effort to reduce barriers to success for Black, Indigenous and people of colour entrepreneurs. Soon after, we realized there was an opportunity to support even more BIPOC businesses so in 2021, the Empower Incubator was founded. An incubator program for BIPOC entrepreneurs that offers community, quarterly educational virtual events, and opportunities to apply for private funding.  In 2023, with your help, we were able to $14,500 and accept 9 new members into the program!
Update: As 2023 comes to a close and we open up applications for 2024 Empowerful Incubator (you can apply here), we followed up with this year's members to ask about their experience. 

Nadine Woods of Mayana Genevière

Received funding for: Garment development + photography equipment


How has being part of the Empowerful Incubator impacted you and/or your business in 2023?

We had a fantastic time during our participation in the Empowerful Incubator. It was really valuable for us because we got the chance to learn from some amazing women in the industry, which greatly influenced our brand strategy. The group calls and one-on-ones with Jess were a highlight – they were not only practical but also filled with informative insights. The speakers who shared their experiences were very relatable. 

One of our core values is building a strong community and fostering relationships with our customers, and this experience helped us improve how we communicate with our audience. It also provided a safe and supportive environment for us to ask questions and learn from each other.
Thanks to the free label community, we are so grateful to receive funding that has helped us to develop a new bra! So often funding is left out of the equation when it comes to mentorship and that is so important for women-owned brands we have a lot of advice, and no funds unlike our male counterparts that usually start with a tone of funding on just an idea!  This has allowed us to create something unlike anything we’ve done before, it’s structured and supportive, and sexy! Can't wait to share with the community, thank you to Free Label for contributing to making it possible!

Vivian Lam of Naetal Skincare

Received funding for: Marketing



How has being part of the Empowerful Incubator impacted you and/or your business in 2023?

Being chosen as part of the Empowerful Incubator alongside other amazing WOC entrepreneurs was truly an honour. This experience was incredibly enriching, and to be a part of such a supportive and empowering community, especially from Jess, the Free Label founder as well as the guest speakers who so generously shared their knowledge and offered valuable insights into various aspects of business such as marketing, business expansion, and practical tips. The opportunity to virtually connect with like-minded small business owners from various sectors and different stages of their entrepreneur journeys added significant value to the entire experience.

Miranda Sam of Shortlisted

Received funding for: Marketing services



How has being part of the Empowerful Incubator impacted you and/or your business in 2023?

I’m so proud to be part of a BIPOC group of Canadian business owners. The quarterly speakers are so inspiring, having a 1:1 with Jess gave me the kick in the butt I needed to move forward, and I love meeting the other entrepreneurs in the group - IRL or over virtual coffee dates!

Bilqees Grant of Helius Originals

Received funding for: Prototyping concept

How has being part of the Empowerful Incubator impacted you and/or your business in 2023?

The Empowerful Incubator impacted me by being in a positive community. Every event was filled with inspiring women working on pretty phenomenal businesses. It was also great to learn from the speakers impacting the spaces they are in.

Tilda Ruvinga of TKbyTilda

Received funding for: Manufacturing

How has being part of the Empowerful Incubator impacted you and/or your business in 2023?

I love hearing other creators' points of view and learning from people in the industry. I feel like I have community I can share my triumphs and 
struggles and hearing others are going through the same things as me. 

Meet the 2023 Empowerful Incubator cohort... 



Collective Will is a Secondhand & Vintage shop located in Gastown, Vancouver. We want to inspire a new generation of shoppers to re-think the way retail consumption is structured and love what has already been created.

 Follow @shopcollectivewill on Instagram



Tékeni Turtle Creations was founded in 2022 by Ciara Jean Beaton - a mixed Kanyen’kehà:ka woman with a dream of sharing the beauty of wearable Indigenous art with the community around her. Inspired by nature, dreams and sweet powwow memories from childhood, beading has truly been medicine for every part of her…and each pair of earrings contains the same intention of healing just for you.
Follow @tekiniturtlecreations on Instagram



Helius Originals is a Canadian luxury smoke barware company that creates products from Canadian reclaimed lumber. We aim to create circular economy products that target materials that account for 20.7 percent, or 30.3 million tonnes of waste between Canada and the USA, from our landfills annually while using this revenue to employ people facing severe barriers to employment.
Follow @heliusoriginals_ on Instagram


At Shortlisted, we believe short(er) women should never feel overlooked. We create effortless clothes that make life easy + elevate women 5'4 and under.
Follow @shortlistedco on Instagram


DAY BY DAY is an apparel & lifestyle brand centred on building a lifestyle of well-being, by making goods of comfort for everybody on their wellness journey.
Follow @daybydayshop.ca on Instagram


Naetal is a clean skincare line made for mamas, babies and anyone with skin sensitivity. Made from simple and natural ingredients, our soothing colloidal oatmeal and calendula formulation not only helps with daily hydration but also eases skin irritations such as rashes and eczema.

Follow @naetalskincare on Instagram




Mayana Genevière is a BIPOC Women-owned social enterprise that creates innovative patented undergarments using sustainable materials, made ethically in our own factory in Toronto. Designed to support women through the vulnerable stages of life’s many changes, we specialize in fuller cup and wireless support from postpartum to menopause and everything in between. We offer a personalized community experience to support a woman’s physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing through events that centre uncesoring bodies, birth and breastfeeding.

Follow @mayanageneviere on Instagram



Meet Wendy of June Adaptive

JuneAdaptive.com helps people who live with disabilities find easy-dressing contemporary clothing. From people frustrated by inaccessible buttons and zippers to people recovering from medical treatments, people having trouble getting dressed can find fashion solutions at JuneAdaptive.com

Follow @juneadaptive on Instagram


Jena Tang is an ethical, slow clothing label based on wardrobe essentials that celebrate, empower and give back to women with 10% of our profits donated to organizations like the Canadian Women's Foundation to help move women forward.
Follow @shopjenatang on Instagram

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