The Voice of Women


The VOW: Karina Birch

Karina Birch is co-owner and CEO of natural body care purveyor Rocky Mountain Soap Co. She and her husband Cam nurtured the company from its days as a 300 square foot shop in Canmore to the now 13 retail stores and 16,000 square foot workshop in Canmore. Believing ‘what goes on the body, goes in the body,’ Rocky is on a mission to created small-batch products using simple, natural, and fresh ingredients.⁣

Karina’s interest in natural beauty started when she was a young girl who loved smearing avocado on her face and putting eggs in her hair. Now she gets to do the grown-up version of that every day. ⁣

⁣Karina spends her time directing Rocky’s strategy, product development, and brand. Since their earliest days, she and Cam have focused on fostering a strong company culture that empowers people to ‘Give it a Go,’ reminds them to ‘Be Kind,’ and encourages ‘Positivitude.’⁣

⁣In recent years, the company has expanded its ‘Cleaner Bodies, Cleaner World’ commitment to include its built environments.  Rocky’s Canmore workshop and recent store build and renovations have adhered to the highest standards of sustainable, responsible construction. ⁣

Karina balances running a rapidly growing company with raising three rapidly growing children. She maintains her sanity by taking advantage of having some of the best skiing, hiking, and biking in the world on her doorstep to keep her active and balanced.⁣

 ⁣Rocky Mountain Soap has been included in the Profit 100 and Alberta Ventures ‘Fastest Growing Companies.’ Karina has been honoured as a female entrepreneur on the ‘W100’ list; a ‘Fierce Woman of Influence.’ She sits on the board for Rocky Mountain Ventures and is a current member and past board member of Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) Calgary. She is also completed Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management Program (OPM).⁣

The VOW: Kate Fert

Kate is a 23-year-old social media influencer. Kate was born and raised in Red Deer Alberta but moved to Okanagan when she was 18 to pursue her online platform and education in business marketing. Kate’s passion for marketing came from her obsession with photography and fashion growing up. You can always find her with a camera shooting photos of herself and her friends. Over the years of posting lifestyle shots and beauty tips, she gained a strong and loyal following on Instagram that grew rapidly. Her online presence has given her opportunities like creating her own sunglasses, traveling, being the face front of many campaigns, and now being a public figure. Kate is an ambassador for many big names in social media such as Hot Miami Styles, Meshki, Miss Lola Official and has been featured in campaigns with Quay Australia, Flat Tummy Co, and Honey Bum. Over the course of 6 years in doing social media influencing, Kate’s biggest accomplishment is her relationship with her followers. Being authentic and vulnerable are two things that Kate holds close to her heart. Kate then moved to Calgary at 22 years old to attend hair school so she could fulfill her lifelong dream of being a hairstylist. As a hairstylist, Kate loves talking about all things beauty on her page. Kate will always have a different hairstyle with each look she posts in. She looks forward to making her clients feel just as amazing on the outside as they are on the inside.

The VOW: Catherine Brownlee

Catherine Brownlee is the President and CEO of Catherine Brownlee Inc. (CBI), where she brings over 30 years of experience in executive search and development, marketing strategies, and networking from around the globe, across all sectors. Her database of over 85,000 contacts demonstrates her capacity to motivate, build and achieve results. Her forte is connecting people and organizations while nurturing objectives and maintaining focus. She was recognized by her peers for her outstanding leadership with a Women of Influence Award, and a Paul Harris Award through the Rotary Club of Calgary, respectively.

Catherine is a recognized expert and speaker on the subject of industry strategies and advancements. She regularly presents career seminars for those looking to find the job of their dreams and maintain a competitive advantage in today’s market. Catherine also teaches her seminar content at SAIT and Mount Royal University. Catherine is the co-author of three bestsellers. Want to Work in Oil and Gas?, Cat’s Tips to Get the Job of Your Dreams and How to Sell in Any Economy, the latter of which hit number one on Amazon, in three categories, on its first day of release.

In her spare time, Catherine is committed to serving her community and is an active member of the Rotary Club of Calgary. Her passion is seen in the areas of human rights, serving children, and disadvantaged communities.

The VOW: Dr. Natasha Iyer

Dr. Natasha Iyer wanted to be a doctor since she was 11 years old.⁣

⁣She spent her first 8 years of practicing as a rural emergency physician and family doctor. Her life felt ‘complete’: she delivered babies, looked after generations of families, with a mix of emergencies like heart attacks, broken bone, head injuries, with palliative care and long term care thrown into the mix. Everything she dreamed of doing, caring for patients and their families was a reality.⁣

Then she began to feel unwell.⁣

⁣She gained weight out despite her careful diet and exercise, was exhausted, had over 15 migraines a month, and had brain fog. No one could uncover what was wrong, and her tests were all normal. Despite being a popular doctor who was so competent in caring for her patients, her own health declined. She didn’t feel well. She couldn’t imagine aging. If her 30’s felt so awful, what could 40 even begin to look like? Unimaginable.⁣

⁣Dr. Iyer discovered Functional Medicine: a discipline of medicine dedicated to restoring all body systems back to optimal. It looks at healthy aging and longevity, avoiding disease and disability. Her focus is on each person being unique and understanding that what works for one person is certainly different from what works for someone else.⁣


⁣Systems biology. Biotoxins. Mitochondrial function. Leaky gut. SIBO. Microbiome. Steroid pathways. Adrenal fatigue and the stress syndrome/ Burnout. Brain chemistry and neurotransmitters. Childhood stress and trauma. The gut-brain axis. These are just some of the areas a Functional Medicine Doctor looks at with each patient to help them achieve their best health and vitality.⁣

⁣Dr. Iyer has been an invited speaker at many conferences and events, including an International Women’s Health conference attended to by specialists and doctors from the US and Asia. She has been a frequent guest on national media both television and radio, as well as magazines. ⁣

⁣She lives in Calgary, AB with her 2 sons and 2 dogs. They love the outdoors, staying active, and even more, they love good food and fine dining.

The VOW: Malika Rajani

Malika expressed an innate creative aptitude that carried her through her formative years. She refined these talents at the Parsons School of Design in New York, graduating in fashion design in 2008. In New York, her work was presented at Lord & Taylor’s 2008 line debut. While at Parsons Malika had an opportunity to intern for design houses such as Khan Lucas, Ralph Lauren, Red Cat Group, and John Varvatos.

With relevant work experience and success under her belt. She then dove into her professional career as an outerwear designer in Canada. Fusing two loves of every woman, Fine Leather, and elegant designs, Malika now proudly offers ready-to-wear outerwear products to its customers around the globe.

* On February 14, we will be launching the Diversity is Love campaign. To demonstrate the importance of this message, 20 percent of all clothing sales from February 14 to March 14, 2021, will be donated to the chosen charity organization. The campaign also includes video messages from a variety of Calgarians’ who share their thoughts on diversity on Malika Rajani's Instagram page. 

“ I am inspired by the diversity of my clients - whom I am so grateful for. This campaign is for them and for the community to know that our brand is about empowering people by appreciating and respecting their individual differences. This diversity makes our world a more interesting place to live in,” says Malika Rajani.

The VOW: Ellen Parker

Ellen Parker is the proud founder of PARKER PR, a public relations firm in Calgary. PARKER PR is a group of communication professionals with a proven track record of helping businesses thrive through creating and implementing thoughtful communication strategies.⁣

⁣Prior to founding PARKER PR, Ellen worked in New York City for the Institute for Children and Poverty and for boutique PR firms representing a variety of celebrities, hotels, and small businesses. In Canada, Ellen has worked for the Alberta government, WordFest: Banff Calgary International Writers Festival, the Calgary Food Bank, and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. ⁣

⁣Ellen is most proud of her family - including her husband and her two boys, her team at PARKER PR, and her commitment to volunteerism. Ellen Parker is a Board Director for the National Board, Famous 5 Foundation, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra Board of Trustees, the Co-Chair of the Hillhurst Parent Council, and an ongoing volunteer for the Brenda Strafford Centre, a home for women and children fleeing domestic violence. Ellen is one of Avenue Magazine's Top 40 Under 40 Alumni and a recipient of the Mayors' Excellence Award for her work as the Manager of Education and Outreach with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.⁣

The VOW: Tracey Button

Tracey Button has been drawn to creative outlets and the arts her whole career. Her first job post-graduation from design school was in skiwear, she won Designer of the Year from the F.A.D. for her collection and never looked back. This was the springboard to her involvement with the Olympic Games. She spent over 10 years creating custom apparel and merchandise for the Olympic Sponsor Partner Family. She travelled the world designing, producing and building distribution infrastructure while living in the Olympic host cities. Truly her dream job!⁣

For eight years she chose to take a step back from the Olympics to raise her young son and daughter. During that time she enjoyed the opportunity to become involved in the community and her children’s schools on a volunteer basis. Tracey quickly saw a need for arts education in her children’s schools. This led to her work in arts and science education as well as early literacy initiatives for many years through The Science Alberta Foundation/Mindfuel, The Royal Conservatory of Music and Calgary Reads. ⁣

⁣Again she chose to take a step back from her career to care for her husband after he received a terminal cancer diagnosis. Gratefully, she is still caring for him as he defies all odds. Her volunteer work continues in the community, now with a focus on paediatric psychosocial oncology and survivorship. She also is a practising artist who creates commissioned oil paintings for private clients. Her work has been used by the film and commercial industry, including most recently in the Ghostbusters movie franchise. ⁣

The VOW: Jennifer Neil

Jennifer Neil, is the program coordinator and Assistant Personal Training Manager at the Bankers Hall Club, a downtown squash and executive fitness center. She is also a personal trainer, registered yoga teacher, registered holistic nutrition consultant, massage therapist, professional fitness model with the WBFF, Team Canada Masters Track and Field Athlete, and mom of 3 boys (6, 10, and 14). Jennifer has been a competitive athlete most of her life in gymnastics, martial arts, fitness/bodybuilding, as well as track and field. She believes our health is our wealth! She loves helping others reach their fitness and wellness goals. After 20 years of coaching and being in the fitness and wellness industry and still hungry to learn, Jennifer is also currently in a health science degree (masters) program at the University of Calgary and completing massage therapy at Mount Royal University.  Her philosophy has always been the best practitioners will be able to see movement, feel tissue, coach natural/alive/good quality foods, and affect change!  Her favorite quote is "train like an athlete, eat like a sports nutritionist, sleep like a baby and win like a champion!"  

Jennifer married her best friend Paul Anthony who is also an international top strength and conditioning coach, world champion bodybuilder and previous team Canada for track and field (Olympian).  He is one of her biggest inspirations and together they own DreamBody online personal training. DreamBody stands for a community where they believe you can achieve by Dreaming It, Training It, and Living it!   As coaches they focus on the physical body with (cardiovascular, strength training, and flexibility), emotional through (sports psychology and nutritional support), spiritual with (meditation, yoga, and DreamBodies own mind gym) with combined focus and support in all of these areas we believe this will lead you to the BEST version of yourself!  Their future goals are to travel internationally and inspire transformation.

The VOW: April Hicke

April is currently the national operations manager at PwC Products & Ventures and has more than ten years of client-facing and leadership experience. She is known for swift and savvy problem-solving and some say her personality is just like an exclamation mark! When she smiles, it's big and when she laughs it's loud. April is an advocate for women in sobriety and is very passionate about mentorship and women in leadership. She strongly believes that we are given our baggage so that we can show others how to unpack it.

The VOW: Shantelle Murphy

Shantelle Murphy is the Founder and CEO of Bon Aesthete Inc., a company dedicated to enhancing the medical aesthetic experience for patients and providers. The Bon Aesthete portfolio includes Astrk Skincare, an elegant medical-grade skincare line, and Beauty Brand Persona, an online course for business and marketing strategies in medical aesthetics.

Shantelle’s science background, along with her keen eye and appreciation for beauty, led her to pursue a career in Medical Aesthetics. She has over a decade of experience working with hundreds of physicians and clinic owners across Western Canada and helping thousands of patients look and feel their best. Witnessing the transformative effect healthy skin can have on a patient is what motivates her. She believes in skincare with an impact, active ingredients, and results that inspire confidence. She believes in having real customers represent the brand.

Prior to the pandemic, Shantelle was traveling 4 days a week and putting in 70+ hour work weeks. Quarantine allowed time for reflection and goal setting with her partner. Looking to find balance in her personal life and career, Shantelle endeavored down the entrepreneurial path. The next steps then became obvious, creativity flowed, and Bon Aesthete Inc. came to fruition.

Shantelle has always been a driven individual that excels in the face of challenges, leading to many achievements and awards throughout her career. Part of her success can be attributed to saying “yes”, when amazing opportunities arise and trusting that she can figure it out. Another part can be attributed to audacious dreams, appreciating the little wins, and having an amazing support system around her.

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