Fem-tastic day at FemFolk Live

FemFolk Live founder Crystal Rieck attends the first annual empowerment conference in Port Dover on Wednesday. Ashley Taylor / Simcoe Reformer

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A female empowerment conference took over the Lighthouse Festival Theatre on Wednesday.

FemFolk was started by Crystal Rieck with the goal of empowering local women to build their confidence and to celebrate their abilities to take control of their own lives.

The online community Facebook page was created about five months ago and already has over 540 members. More than 65 women were in attendance of the FemFolk Live event, along with about 15 staff and volunteers.

The event featured keynote speaker Erica Ehm, a Canadian icon and entrepreneur who shared how she reinvented herself after three decades in the public eye. Joining Ehm were guest speakers including work psychologist Paul Fairlie, former teacher turned entrepreneur Sarah Pass, local business coach Rieck, among others.

“It’s about bringing women together who empower other women,” said Rieck. “I had a vision of bringing a sisterhood of women together and started this little group called FemFolk.”

Rieck said there wasn’t a specific target age demographic for the event.

“It’s for any woman that feels that deep down yearning that they’re made for more,” said Rieck. “That’s who we want to come and share with us and allow us to help them live the life of their dreams.”

Rieck chose the speakers based on their personal stories and backgrounds. Most of the speakers are women that felt “stuck or confused” and have since become business owners or entrepreneurs of some sort.

“I truly hope that the women leaving here today feel like they’ve found their sisters who will support them in choosing to live the life that they want,” said Rieck.

The event also featured a panel of local women from Brant and Norfolk that spoke to the challenges of leaving a job to start a business.

“They are all self-starters, entrepreneurs, they are moms, wives. They have good stories about how sometimes it’s hard. They were all in a job that they did not love, they took a leap, and now they’ve been in their businesses for multiple years and are now at a place that they can grow in,” said Lara Sawaya-Norman, Rieck’s “hype girl,” and MC for the event.

“To be an entrepreneur isn’t just about hustling all the time, it’s also about looking after ourselves,” said Amelie Chanda, one of the speakers and local wellness coach. “I’ve really been tuning into what I think is helping me as an entrepreneur.”

Pass spoke with the crowd about spending 10 years as a high school teacher before deciding to reinvent herself and become a multi-business entrepreneur.

“One thing I want to resonate with people today is that we have those guiding thoughts and we ignore them or we’re too busy to stop and listen to them, and I’m really lucky that I had a moment in my life where I finally listened to that guiding thought,” said Pass. “If you’re not happy then why not do something different.”

Pass said that the people in attendance should be able to celebrate the first step in their decision to attend the FemFolk Live event.

FemFolk holds monthly meetings, and the large FemFolk Live event is expected to happen annually. You can request to join the online community by searching FemFolk on Facebook.