2014 FWE Gala-23

I’m always happy when February rolls around, as it’s a chance to meet up and learn from some fantastic Forum for Women Entrepreneurs of BC members through their yearly gala.

2014 FWE Gala/skoah

This is the fourth year in a row that I’ve covered the gala, and this year’s theme, Where Magic Happens, was another very special evening of fun, connecting, and fundraising for the organization.

2014 FWE Gala/Ruby Blues Winery fundraiser sale

Alongside a silent auction at the VIP reception, guests were greeted with a glass of Ruby Blues Winery’s Red or White Stiletto wine.

2014 FWE Gala/silent auction 2014 FWE Gala/silent auction Slow-cooked short rib, Pemberton potato, cippolini, Cabernet reduction 2014 FWE Gala/chocolate mousse dome, sparkling rocks, strawberry champagne coulis

Once inside the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel Ballroom, the splendor of beautiful table settings, atmospheric lighting, and fresh orchids in sparkling glass towers took center stage as the dinner got underway.

2014 FWE Gala-16 2014 FWE Gala-11

This year, Premier Christy Clark delivered a brief message remotely, conveying her good wishes to the organization as well as apologies for not being able to attend this year in person.

2014 FWE Gala/Monika Deol

Media personality Monika Deol returned as Mistress of Ceremonies while Heather White and Lori Joyce of Cupcakes by Heather & Lori worked the live auction after dinner.

2014 FWE Gala/Heather White, Lori Joyce of Cupcakes by Heather & Lori
[Heather White, Lori Joyce of Cupcakes by Heather & Lori]

Up for grabs was a a trip to Vegas for two, Trip to Hawaii with roundtrip airfare from WestJet, a Vancouver Canucks dream-come-true experience for a young hockey player and parent, a weekend in Whistler, a pair of all-access Grouse Mountain passes, and more.

2014 FWE Gala/Grouse Mountain live auction

We even received a bit of snow during that last live auction item!

2014 FWE Gala/Murray Hatfield & Teresa

Victoria, BC master illusionists Murray Hatfield & Teresa awed the room with their amazing acts, and keynote speaker Maxine Clark of Build-a-Bear Workshop gave a passionate talk about following her dreams, learning to be an entrepreneur from her early years at school, and leaving the corporate world at 48 to pursue her own business.

Build-a-Bear Workshop Founder/keynote speaker Maxine Clark
[Build-a-Bear Workshop Founder/keynote speaker Maxine Clark]

I spoke with Maxine before the gala, and asked what her ‘wow moment’ with Build-a-Bear to date has been. Being on the Oprah Show as a featured entrepreneur in 2004 was a defining moment in her company’s history. Build-a-Bear was selected along with four other companies (including popular online dating site, Let’s Do Lunch) to showcase their companies. Oprah even turned the entire stage into a Build-a-Bear Workshop, allowing the audience that day to get a real behind-the-scenes look at Maxine’s company, now considered one of the most influential retail businesses in the world. Build-a-Bear has also topped FORTUNE 100’s Best Companies to Work For list five years running. A global company whose founder is known as ChiefExecBear on Twitter and Queen of Teddy Bears to her husband.

16 1/2 years ago, her company began with a vision of both making something magical and leaving the world a better place. She wanted to do something unique and recreate the magic she experienced as a child. Build-a-Bear has since grown to over 400 stores with locations in Canada, USA, Brazil, Mexico, Norway, Sweden, Australia, Dubai, Japan, UK, South America and Africa. The nearest Vancouver location is in Burnaby’s Metrotown.

St. Louis, Missouri-based Build-a-Bear is a retail experience where customers choose, build, stuff, dress, name, and take home their own stuffed animal to love. At the end of the gala, we were each given a stuffed bunny with its own birth certificate to bring home, which put smiles on every single face leaving the ballroom and into the rainy night. This was a magical, inspirational evening to remember. FWE counts so many successful women as members within its organization, many of whom give back to the community by way of donations and mentorship.

2014 FWE Gala-17

Visit the FWE BC website for more information.

For more of my FWE 2014 Gala photos, visit my Flickr photo set.

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