madsandsuzanneMy relationship with SVI started well over a decade ago, when I was invited to make the trek to a magical-sounding place by the name of Hollyhock. I still remember standing with SVI’s patron saint (aka Joel Solomon) on the beach when I first arrived, where he pointed out various participants who were arriving and greeting one another with immense affection. I was awestruck.

Joel made a particular point of telling me about two women, Tami Simon and Lisa Lorimer, who were the founders of eye-poppingly large businesses. Until then I had had few female role models as an entrepreneur and was relieved to simply see that they looked like me. In my mind I wondered whether I, inexperienced minnow that I was, was cool enough to actually meet them. I pitched my tent that night, still feeling uncertain.

I felt excited yet intimidated at the thought of becoming part of the SVI community. Once I heard Tami and Lisa’s respective “True Confessions” (SVI-speak for an ultra-honest keynote), I was sold. These were absolutely my people: the ones who got the why behind my business, believed in it, and were totally committed to supporting me, even when their feedback wasn’t always easy to hear.

Lunapads was also a Case Study (the first of 3 – we are record holders!), and while at times I was overwhelmed and didn’t have all the answers to the barrage of smart questions that came my way, I left with a vastly increased sense of possibility as well as responsibility.

In the intervening years, Suzanne and I have attended SVI in both Vancouver as well as Hollyhock more times than I can be bothered to count, and have invariably come away feeling more connected, supported, challenged and inspired. Being an SVI participant makes you part of a web, a community of likeminded-yet-diverse changemakers who do whatevever they can to hold one another’s dreams.

When I was invited to be a Co-Producer of SVI Women in Vancouver (alongside some of my most treasured colleague/peers Dana Solomon, Emira Mears and Denise Taschereau), given all that SVI has given me, not to mention how much fun it would be, of course I said Yes (see this video for more example of my and Suzanne’s practice of saying Yes ;-).

For those of you who have not yet experienced SVI, what can you expect at SVI Women in Vancouver? A unique approach that holds as pretty much sacred the concept of entrepreneurship as a reflection of personal values. Tools and connections to enable you to nurture and fully express your brand of social change. Smart, engaged people who want to hear your story. Inclusiveness. Fun. I hope that you will join us for a taste of something that has changed my life and underpins the success of my business.

– Madeleine Shaw, Lunapads