News » Whistler

New women’s group aims to grow local talent

PEWC committed to building economy by capitalizing on Pemberton’s pioneering spirit



Pemberton’s Entrepreneurial Women’s Collective successfully launched Nov. 1 with an early morning coffee seminar. According to organizer, Lisa Richardson, more than 30 women "braved a wet morning and trick-or-treating hangovers" to take part in the group’s inaugural meeting which featured organization expert, Sara Leach of Organomics.

Richardson, a writer and communication’s consultant, conceived of the idea with two other self-employed women, Jennie Helmer of Ecovest Ventures and Lisa Helmer of the newly opened Pemberton Environmental Stewardship Office. The group’s aim is to grow local talent specifically though supported local enterprise among women residing in the Pemberton Valley.

"We want to create a culture of women creating opportunities for themselves in the broader Pemberton Valley and supporting each other in the process," said Jennie Helmer, a former partner in Pemberton Therapeutic and current Village of Pemberton council candidate. "Whatever the scale of their business, if we use our collective mass to bring opportunities here, we also contribute to making Pemberton’s economy more dynamic. So we’re all about shopping, buying, eating and working locally."

With a mandate to encourage and foster business development, PEWC is committed to inclusion, offering support, advice and opportunities to those who are engaged in running businesses, are self-employed or exploring possibilities. Organizers are emphatic that the group is grass roots and not an uptight environment for women in business suits to exchange cards.

"It seems that part of the character of this valley is in its pioneer history, a strong do-it-yourself mentality," said Richardson.

Richardson, along with the two Helmer sisters, proved herself an example of that spirit by organizing this August’s Slow Food Sunday Cycle.

"Growing the local economy, I think, needs to be less about importing models of success from elsewhere, and more about building on our community’s strengths and assets. And we believe that one of our greatest strengths is our social capital. PEWC is about nurturing that social capital," said the communications consultant.

Weekly drop-in coffee meetings are being held Tuesdays, from 7:15 a.m. at Char-Isma’s Emporium (next to the liquor store on Aster Street), and are open to any women inclined to stop by. For more information contact: or