Women’s Day : 5 inspiring downtown womentrepreneur

3 minutes

Montreal centre-ville


March 8 is Internationally recognized as Women’s Day. A day defined by the United Nations as « a day to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. » There is no doubt the world has made big advances, but there is not one country who has achieved gender equality.

This year, the official theme of the IWD campaign is #ChooseToChallenge. The aim is to challenge people to question and speak out against gender bias, discrimination and inequality. One way to participate in this initiative is to seek out, celebrate and showcase the achievements of women.

This is why today, we have chosen to highlight 5 inspiring female entrepreneurs who are, each in their own way, a symbol of perseverance and success downtown Montreal.

The Mandy’s Sisters – Mandy’s salades gourmandes

Unity is strength? If one alliance in particular could attest to that, it’s definitely Mandy and Rebecca Wolfe’s. Charming & epicurean, it was with their first “create your own salad counter”, hidden at the back of a clothing store in Westmount, that the adventure of the Mandy’s sisters began in 2004.

A few salads sold later and it’s a home run. The sisters have reinvented the salad experience and people are raving about it. 17 years later, Mandy’s has 8 locations in Montreal, a food truck and several ongoing expansion projects.

Mandy is Chef and Director of Culinary Development and takes care of creating the menu, while Rebecca creates the concept of all locations, leads Brand Management and signs the decor and aesthetics of each restaurant.

2067 Crescent Street

1241 Square Philips

Soeurs Mandys
Soeurs Mandys
Soeurs Mandys

Simone Chevalot – Café Parvis & Bar Furco

Former actress turned restaurateur, Simone Chevalot is co-owner of 2 downtown gastronomic gems : Café Parvis and Bar Furco. For the actress-entrepreneur, it all started at the National Theater School when she worked part-time in restaurants to pay her bills. She quickly fell under the spell of the restaurant scene and developed a strong curiosity for wine.

After her studies, Simone began to dream of a European style, cosy and friendly yet unpretentious wine bar. She surrounded herself with the best associates and in June 2008 opened the famous “Buvette Chez Simone“. In October 2012, Simone fell in love with a space located downtown Montreal where she opened Bar Furco and soon after, Café Parvis, with her business partners.

Café Parvis

433 Mayor Street

Bar Furco

425 Mayor Street

Simone Chevalot

As a response to the pandemic, Simone Chevalot created La Fermette à Table as a take-out option while her businesses remain temporarily closed.

Marie Saint Pierre – Maison Marie Saint Pierre

A true activist in the world of Canadian fashion, Marie Saint-Pierre is the founder of the famous clothing brand that bears her name. With her two stores in Montreal, the one in Miami, her numerous sale points and her online store, the designer now dresses women all over the world. Her collections are targeting women of action who need clothing that fits their ever changing lifestyle. « I dress women for whom a garment is also an attitude, a garment that has a function external to its beauty alone. »

Throughout her glorious journey which now lasts more than 30 years, Marie Saint Pierre has received numerous prizes, scholarships and awards for her creations. Even at the top of her game, the Quebec designer recalls that to get to where she is today as a woman, you have to fight every day.

2081 de la Montagne Street

Geneviève Loignon-Houle et Marie-Laurence Guindon – La Finca 

What happens when two girlboss set off on a trip driven by a common passion? They open a business together on their return! Geneviève, an accountant, and Marie-Laurence, a biologist, only knew each other for a few months when they left the city to explore coffee production farms and to pursue their barista training in El Salvador.

When they returned to Montreal in 2016, they opened La Finca, a local café and market in the city center, where you can find fine and local products, fresh fruits and vegetables, microbrewery beers and natural wines. And of course, get one of the best latte in town.

1067 Bleury Street

La Finca
La Finca
La Finca

As a damage insurance broker, it was in 2014 that Vanessa questioned her career and decided to take an evening class in business management. Passionate about everything that’s “Fait ici”, the idea for Signé Local came about when she and her partner couldn’t find the local products they wanted online. He was the one who had the idea to create a directory containing all kinds of Quebec products.

To this day, Signé Local is the largest online store of quality local products and has 3 physical stores (Dix30, Center Eaton and Galeries de la Capitale). Vanessa manages her business from the countryside with her husband and young daughter, inspiring Quebecers to discover and consume products made in their province.