Happy March! Spring finally seems to be on its way and I couldn’t be more excited for the warm weather… no more shovelling, yay!
Over the past few months as BoostHER has grown and evolved, our team is constantly being asked about where we began, why we’re doing what we’re doing, where we’re going, what is our story? So, I thought we should tell you! I took the opportunity this week to *virtually* sit down with BoostHER’s incredible co-founders: Ria Iyer and Christina Nemez, and talk all things BoostHER.
Marley: Why don’t we begin with the two of you introducing yourselves to our readers.
Ria: Hi I’m Ria! I’m a third year student at Western studying business at Ivey and I am one of the co-founders of BoostHER. I am extremely passionate about advocating for female rights and equality and I am so proud of what BoostHER has become so far. Some of my hobbies include playing guitar, travelling, and health and fitness!
Christina: Hey there I’m Christina! This is my third year at Western and I’m studying business at Ivey. Along with Ria, I co-founded BoostHER in 2020. My passion for advocacy and social impact is what has fuelled me throughout this journey, and I can’t wait to see where the world takes us next! In my free time, I love to paint, read, and learn about nearly anything.
Marley: You’re clearly both passionate about and invested in female empowerment… But where did the idea of “BoostHER” really come from? How did the project initially come to be?
Ria: Christina and I have been best friends since high school and have always been interested in business and entrepreneurship. Hence why when we came to Western, we were so excited to hear about a club called Enactus Western, a social impact entrepreneurship group. We saw all these successful students creating their own business that had a meaningful impact and we knew we wanted to contribute and start our own organization.
Christina: Fast forward to summer 2020 when I read a book titled The Collective Wisdom of High-Performing Women inspired by the Judy Project (https://www.thejudyproject.ca/). The book shared stories and learnings of various affluent female leaders, and I was struck by the impact it had on my belief in my own abilities. I wanted to share the inspiration I had felt with others, so I approached Ria with an idea of a female empowerment project that would offer women an opportunity to get inspired and launch their careers: and BoostHER was born.
Marley: Can you tell us about your initial vision for BoostHER? Has it lived up to your expectations?
Ria & Christina: Our initial vision was quite different than what BoostHER has become, but nevertheless it has surpassed our expectations. We planned the launch of BoostHER in a pre-Covid world, where we would be able to host valuable in-person conferences to foster connections between female professionals and students. Obviously, the reality of that has shifted but we were able to adapt and really be creative with the virtual structure of BoostHER. Our mentorship program has seen immense success so far and we can’t wait to continue launching projects that live up to our mission; empowering females to redefine the workplace.
Marley: At this point, what is your primary goal for BoostHER? Where do you see this going, or hope to see it go?
Ria & Christina: Beyond our mission statement, our organization is built on three key pillars: purpose, pursuit, and perseverance. These pillars ultimately represent our goals for BoostHER as we strive to tell meaningful stories, educate impressionable females, and provide them with tools to succeed. Our goal is to help women better understand what motivates them and how they can create meaningful, professional, and/or academic relationships. Through our mentorship program, the FEMTalks series, conferences and more, we will continue to live up to these goals and surpass them.
Marley: So incredibly exciting! If you can pinpoint one thing, what has been the best or most rewarding thing about the BoostHER journey?
Ria & Christina: Seeing our team grow from two passionate and curious best friends to seven executives and ten brand ambassadors has been one of the most rewarding things. Not to mention that we have welcomed 80 mentors and mentees into the BoostHER network! While metrics definitely aren’t the most important thing, it is so fulfilling to know and really see that the growth we’re achieving is contributing to a brighter and better future for females.
Marley: It really has been so exciting to be a part of a team that has grown and accomplished so much in so little time. With that being said, do you have any future projects in mind?
Ria & Christina: Our plans for expansion are currently in the process and we couldn’t be more excited! We will be hosting an event, SheSpeaks, on March 8th (International Women’s Day). We are opening the event up to students from all post-secondary institutions and can’t wait to see the turnout. This outreach will be really valuable as we plan and work towards instilling BoostHER chapters across post-secondary schools across the province and beyond.
We are also looking to adapt our mentorship program to better accommodate women of all stages in their career. Specifically, we saw a great need for mentors for our upper year students who are looking for basic and/or non-specific career advice, but were too mature for our student mentor segment. Next year, we hope to engage with this group by providing post-undergraduate mentors - women who are just entering the workforce or pursuing additional education and can share those experiences and knowledge they’ve gained with those about to step in their shoes.
Marley: Lastly, as so many of our readers are as passionate as BoostHER’s team about female empowerment and may be looking for similar opportunities for themselves, what advice would you give to young females interested in pursuing leadership roles similar to yours?
Christina: I feel extremely under qualified to answer that question, as I am a young female myself, but the greatest thing I can share with others that has helped me is the power of believing in yourself. I know it sounds silly, but knowing not to underestimate yourself can be tricky at times. As young females, we are at such an integral point in our lives, all while living during an integral part of history. There is a global cry for change, and each and every one of us has the ability to see and play a role in that change come to life. In short, don’t ever let yourself believe you cannot do something, and if you really can’t, keep working until you are the only person in your way.