3 female entrepreneurs on getting started and gaining confidence

Meet 3 featured speakers at this year's Gem Conference, a one-day event for women who want to grow their careers or businesses.

Gem Conference takes place May 30, 2019 at the Horticulture Building

A new conference for female entrepreneurs is coming to Ottawa this month. On Thursday, May 30, the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park will be filled with businesswomen, bloggers, makers, crafters and creative leaders who are looking to grow their businesses and their careers. CBC Ottawa is proud to partner with the Gem Conference, which will include panel discussions on storytelling, wellness and more. We asked a few of the featured speakers to tell us a bit about themselves. 

Their answers have been edited for length and clarity. 

Dominique Baker


Dominique Baker is a fashion, beauty and lifestyle blogger. A public servant by day, her blog, Style Domination, serves as a creative outlet highlighting her deep interest in fashion and beauty. In addition to blogging, she now speaks to groups in the Ottawa area about how to boost confidence and self-esteem through style. At the Gem Conference, she'll be talking about how she got started as an influencer,  blogging tips and tricks and how her blog gave her a better sense of self-confidence. 

What inspired you to start your own blog? 

My husband actually inspired me to start my blog because he knew how much I loved fashion and beauty. At the time, I wasn't aware that you could get paid to blog about your life experiences and products you liked. Once I got started, I loved the creative outlet it gave me to express my thoughts, opinions and ideas, along with fashion inspiration for those who visited my site. 

What challenges did you face when first starting out? And how did you overcome those challenges? 

I would say that the only challenge I faced at the beginning, which was actually quite stressful, was being taken seriously. About six months into blogging, I worked up the courage to pitch writing ideas to local newspapers and magazines, along with reaching out to various PR companies. Some saw the value in working with me while others openly mocked bloggers. That was disheartening, but I knew in my bones that my blog was good and I was on to something great. I can be like a dog with a bone, so I kept at it. 

Secondly, I'm not very tech-inclined so I started out with a really basic looking blog with minimal functionality. I was always unhappy with how my blog looked at the start. When I got too busy to tinker with the design, I threw in the towel and outsourced web design and development to an expert. That saved me HOURS of banging my head against the wall and researching how to do things. A valuable lesson: nothing wrong in hiring someone to help you out. It's always a good investment. What advice do you have for young female entrepreneurs looking to launch their creative idea? 

The best and only advice I can give is "Just get started!!" So many young women reach out to me for advice on starting their blogs or YouTube channels and their main worries are that they don't have the right equipment, their clothes aren't nice enough, etc., but none of that matters. If you want to become an influencer, all you need really is a smartphone and a computer. Don't overthink it. Just start!

Lana Dingwall 


Lana Dingwall is a business coach, podcaster, author and speaker. Her main focus is showing female entrepreneurs how to consistently fill their business with high quality clients. This way they can spend their time actually serving their clients, versus stressing out and trying to figure out how to find them.  At the Gem Conference, she'll be discussing the topic of storytelling and how that plays out in building a successful business.  

What inspired you to start your own business? 

There are so many people out there that just live the same day, month, and year, over and over until they die. Most people don't actually like their jobs, and spend most of their time counting down the days until the weekend comes, or they get to retire.

I decided that if I was going to have to spend the majority of my life working, it might as well be doing something that I really enjoyed, that had lots of room for growth, and that I could feel good about.  

What challenges did you face when first starting your business/blog/company/project? And how did you overcome those challenges? 

The biggest challenge for myself was a fear around putting myself out there and being seen on social media. 

I knew that I had to market myself to attract clients, but I was so self conscious and afraid of being judged that I wouldn't post anything, or wouldn't post the right things. I spent all my time worrying about what other people thought of me or would think of me. 

I got to a point where I realized that I was giving away all my power. I was so concerned with how other people thought of me, that I was essentially telling myself that other people's opinions of me mattered more to me than me creating the life and business I dreamed of. When I decided that my dreams were more important, I was able to push through my fears and actually begin to put myself out there. 

What advice do you have for young female entrepreneurs looking to launch their creative idea?  

Know that everyone you admire and aspire to be looks back on where they started and laughs at how little they knew and how naive they where. But they started anyway, and that's part of why they are successful now. 

Embrace that where you start will be FAR from perfect, and far from what your end vision is. Clarity, progress and success comes from taking action, not from waiting around for the stars to align and having everything be perfect. It's okay that where you're starting now if far from your end destination, because that's how and where everyone starts. 

You are worthy, you are capable and you can do it! 

Nora Zabarah Pucci

(Narsete Photography)

Nora Pucci is an entrepreneur with an MBA from the University of Ottawa and mother of two. Her bridal and evening wear line, Zarucci, is a sample of her philosophy that a woman, regardless of her age, should be elegant and poised. Her designs have been worn by Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and other celebrities. At the Gem Conference, Nora will be talking about growth and its challenges in the small business world. 

What inspired you to start your own business?  

Thinking that if I never started my dream now then I will regret it in the future... so I decided to take the leap and follow my ambitions no matter how risky they were.

What challenges did you face when first starting your business? And how did you overcome those challenges? 

Many challenges, making all those hard learned and expensive mistakes is not easy but you have to be resilient and you can't take it personally.

Learning from your mistakes and moving forward and always going back to your business plan so you never lose track of where you wanna be and how you can get there. 

What advice do you have for young female entrepreneurs looking to launch their creative idea? 

Two things: Internship and finding a good mentor.

Do that before you start your business. 

Intern for free at a business that already does what you want to do. Learn from their years in the industry before you start and finding a good mentor is also very important, especially at the beginning stages. Someone that understands the industry.

CBC Ottawa News at 6 co-host Lucy van Oldenbarneveld will be participating in the storytelling panel. To learn more about the Gem Conference and other featured speakers, visit