Written by

Montse Pineda


Breaking Barriers: The Inspirational Journey of Windsor’s Female Entrepreneurs

Published On: Sun, Mar 3rd, 2024, 9:53PMLast Updated: Sun, Mar 3rd, 2024, 9:53PM5.1 min read
By Published On: Sun, Mar 3rd, 2024, 9:53PMLast Updated: Sun, Mar 3rd, 2024, 9:53PM5.1 min read

As International Women’s Day approaches, local female entrepreneurs Femi Soluade and Heaven Cooper share their experiences of overcoming systemic barriers in entrepreneurship, hoping to inspire other female founders in the Windsor community.  

Cooper and Soluade are part of the University of Windsor EPICentre Venture Women 2024 program, a 4-month accelerator program for female founders and co-founders looking to grow their businesses to the next level.  

Femi Soluade is a current UWindsor student in International Relations and owner of FEPSS, an e-commerce business specializing in language solutions, with subtitling being their primary service. The inspiration for her business came from Soluade’s love for words and languages and her passion for consuming content from different parts of the world. 

“I found that accurately translated and properly synced English subtitles greatly enhanced my understanding of the dialogue and context of the foreign language content. As for the English language content, the subtitles helped me overcome accent barriers,” said Soluade.  

After diving into the world of subtitling, Soluade learned to use editing software and mastered her video editing skills, thus leading her to create a YouTube channel where she posted edited work of her favourite scenes from dramas, movies, or anime shows, most of them translated from Korean to English.   

“During this time, I decided to learn Korean at a basic level. I taught myself how to read and write Hangeul – the Korean alphabet. Then, I joined a Korean language exchange group where I made many Korean friends eager to learn English. So, they helped me improve my Korean, and I helped them improve their English,” said Soluade.  

As a result, within eight months, Soluade’s channel grew to over 45,000 subscribers. 

“From this, I realized there is significant demand for these services. My three most viewed videos each garnered over a million views – and I was doing this work for free because I was passionate about it! Eventually, I decided to combine my skills and interests and turn this into a full-time business venture,” said Soluade. “I hope that FEPSS will impact local communities in Windsor and beyond by fostering inclusivity, bolstering education, and enabling global communication.” 

Heaven Cooper is the owner of Purple Vixen Beauty Mobile Spa. Cooper was previously a Personal Support Worker (PSW) until she decided to advance her studies and graduated from the Esthetics Program at St. Clair College. After that, Cooper worked at a local salon for a year until she decided to open her mobile spa in Windsor. 

“As a mother of a child with a disability and as a previous PSW, I noticed a lack of accommodating services in this industry, so I ventured to create a mobile spa that specializes in creating accommodating and accessible services for everyone despite physical limitations,” said Cooper.  

Soluade and Cooper’s journey as female founders has been challenging, but they have persevered through numerous obstacles to pursue their dreams despite the misconceptions about women in entrepreneurship.  

“The notion that women are not risk-takers is a misconception,” said Soluade and Cooper.  

“My biggest challenge as a female entrepreneur is work-life balance. As a mother, I am the primary caregiver, so occasionally, my work doesn’t fully get my attention, or I am trying to catch up, and my kids lack the attention they want from me. But my husband and mother help me with home responsibilities as I build my business, and some of my professors at St Clair College have also been a great help,” said Cooper.  

“I have had the pleasure of watching Heaven start her business from the beginning through her studies in the Esthetician program at St. Clair College as one of her instructors. What I have admired most is her ambition to reach her goals and push outside her comfort zone to reach them. I feel those skills are key to becoming a successful entrepreneur,” said St. Clair Esthetics Professor Lana Baker.  

“Access to networks and mentoring was another challenge,” said Cooper. “I have attended many networking events, and it seemed that those I met weren’t interested in what I offered. So, I created networking events to find my people.” 

“There’s a noticeable scarcity of support services for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). While I’m aware of ongoing efforts to rectify this, the issue persists for now,” said Soluade. “One key takeaway from my entrepreneurial journey thus far is the value of maintaining a fresh outlook, demonstrating adaptability, and persisting in the face of adversity.”  

Despite the challenges, Soluade and Cooper appreciate participating in the current UWindsor EPICentre Venture Women program, which they see as one of their most helpful resources. 

“My Venture Women program mentor, Dr. Nazha Gali, has played a pivotal role in guiding me through the complexities and prospects associated with launching and expanding my business,” said Soluade.  

“I am amazed at how much Femi has grown and how much she has accomplished since I have been mentoring her. She has a strong drive, determination, and passion for her venture that drives her towards accomplishing her goals. I cannot wait to see her business grow further and further. I sense that through her long-term vision that she has set for her venture, she will be able to explore and exploit new opportunities that will enable her venture to achieve remarkable success and growth,” said Dr. Nazha Gali.  

Soulade and Cooper’s successful journeys are a testament to their resilience in adversity. However, their shared concern for how the community can better support female entrepreneurs is a call to action to work towards a more inclusive and supportive environment. 

“There should be access to affordable childcare and family support services to help primary parent role females have a better work-life balance,” said Cooper. 

“And there are other measures worth taking, for example, implementing more entrepreneurship initiatives in educational institutions to foster an entrepreneurial spirit from an early age or guaranteeing that assistance programs are inclusive and cater to a broad spectrum of female entrepreneurs from various backgrounds and sectors,” said Soluade. 

To learn more about Femi Soluade’s venture, visit the FEPSS website. To connect with Heaven Cooper’s venture, visit the Purple Vixen Beauty website.  

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About Montse Pineda

Montse Pineda is an international undergraduate student from Mexico pursuing a degree in film production at the University of Windsor. Montse wants to become a filmmaker, film critic, and activist to impulse female directors. In her free time, she enjoys writing, creating, and sharing her art with others.