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Don't let fears or challenges stand in your way: Ginny Exantus's story

March 8, 2024

Ginny Exantus, owner of By Ginny

International Women's Rights Day is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women entrepreneurs and highlight the challenges they face. Entrepreneur Ginny Exantus, owner of By Ginny, took the time to share her story as part of the Empowering Women Entrepreneur's Learning Path.

When asked to share what all the women who took part in the program had in common, Ginny doesn't hesitate: fear.

Fear of failure, of course, but also fear of success, of not living up to their own success. Like many other women, Ginny rose to the challenge despite all the little voices telling her she couldn't do it.

"I launched my business in 2020, at the start of the pandemic," she says. "Halls, restaurants, churches—everything was closed, and my business is in the event space. But when you're an entrepreneur, you must get creative and adapting. For example, we turned a parking lot into a spot to hold a wedding ceremony. It was beautiful. This has pushed me to rethink my business strategy, explore new event formats and develop innovative partnerships with other businesses."

Ginny has already faced a lot of challenges in her career. As the pandemic wound down, difficult economic conditions took centre stage. But that didn't stop her company By Ginny from finding its niche.

"When you first start a business, the challenge is to get your name out there and find your first customers. In a recession, offering a high-end service can present additional challenges. Customers are more conservative in their spending and re-evaluate their priorities. But this challenge has also allowed us to stand out and attract the customers who recognize the value of our service and are ready to invest in an exceptional experience."

For women in business, success means smashing through glass ceilings. But that's not the only challenge they face: tuning out negative thoughts can be just as daunting. Ginny experienced this when she decided to start her business.

"Before you can build a healthy business, you need to be in a good place yourself. Personally, I had a bad case of imposter syndrome. With time, I learned to trust myself, change my behaviours and tune out those negative thoughts and beliefs that moved me away from where I was."

To help develop her leadership skills, Ginny sought out the training and meetings of the Entrepreneur's Learning Path. She was teamed up with 2 other participants who she calls "real sources of inspiration." Her main takeaway after spending 8 weeks with other women in the same situation is the importance of surrounding yourself with good people to succeed.

"When I started out, I wasn’t well enough supported. If I could give some advice to the woman I was 4 years ago, I'd say: surround yourself with supportive people. Get to know yourself. Look inward. Be yourself. Find out what your strengths and weaknesses are, then focus on your strengths and look for resources to make up for them. And above all, trust yourself and go for it. It's worth it!"

On February 3, Ginny's bold moves and resilience earned her the female entrepreneur of the year award at the Gala Souper des Entrepreneurs (in French only). The Gala celebrates Black-owned businesses that have a positive impact on the economy and prosperity of Black communities in Quebec.

The Entrepreneur's Learning Path is a free professional development program created by the Empowering Women network, a nation-wide network supported by Desjardins, that helps women take their leadership to the next level.  This learning path helps participants build self-confidence, overcome their fears and meet other women entrepreneurs to share their experiences and help one another. By supporting this initiative, Desjardins is helping create space for women entrepreneurs to thrive and encouraging more women to start their own businesses.