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Maria Decotiis interior designed in Vancouver posing in her office

Maria DeCotiis: Our Home Environment Plays an Essential Role in our Well-being

By | Blog, Woman-to-Woman | No Comments

Through our WNORTH Members Spotlight, we share unique insights and advice of our brilliant Members with you. 

Meet Maria DeCotiis, the Owner and Principal Designer of Maria DeCotiis Interior Design, a full-service residential design firm based in Vancouver, BC. Through her work, she helps her clients elevate their “every day” through the beauty, clarity, and confidence that comes from a well-designed home.

Maria specializes in merging both modern and traditional styles to create a California-French aesthetic that blends the effortlessness of West Coast living with the sophistication of classic French design. 

Maria first joined WNORTH to expand her network before the Covid-19 pandemic. She soon realized that, aside from networking, there are so many other ways to utilize her membership.

“WNORTH is a platform where I can genuinely connect with other women that inspire me and encourage me to continue to grow as an individual and a business owner. I love most how comfortable I feel at the WNORTH events, both virtually and in person. I have always felt very welcomed and free to be my authentic self,” she shares.

We sat down with Maria to talk about her entrepreneurial journey, the challenges and opportunities presented to her throughout the pandemic, and the difference we can all make for women-led businesses.

Maria Decotiis interior designer based in Vancouver dressed in pink coat and white shirt working at her desk

Hi Maria! You've recently redesigned your brand and business strategy. Tell us why you decided to do that and what steps have you taken?

When Covid hit, I knew I needed to step things up. I needed to make changes so that my brand and business strategy supported my vision. 

I hired a business coach to help me get on the right course. With her help, I’ve grown my business and started to see that I’m on the right path. I want everything in my business to represent my purpose and values and showcase how important client experience is to me.

The first step was to fully define my brand. Through a series of questions and interviews, my business coach helped me define my brand and figure out what makes my company unique. My new website is under construction now. Thanks to the work I’ve done on my brand, I am confident that it will represent my brand voice and the message I want to send out to the world. 

My goal is that my clients have a wonderful experience from the moment they land on my website, during the design process, and all the way through the final reveal of their new home.

What advice would you give someone who wants to elevate their business?

I’d recommend everyone to hire professionals to provide you with guidance. It is challenging to assess your brand and narrow down your “why” without having someone with an outside view assisting.

I’m a true believer in hiring people that have the skills that I lack or I don’t enjoy. Investing in rebranding and reevaluating my purpose has been invaluable.

What were some of the challenges and opportunities that you faced during the pandemic?

At the beginning of the pandemic, I felt pretty scared. I struggled with the thought that interior design was not a necessity amidst the tragic events happening in the world. However, the more time we all spent isolated at home, the more evident it became that our homes are more than just four walls. 

Having a well-designed, inspiring, welcoming, and safe home is now even more critical than ever. Our home environment plays an essential role in our well-being. It should be our retreat and the place we choose to escape to – not escape from. 

I’ve experienced some silver linings during Covid, too. I have been able to reach out and connect with inspiring and empowering people thanks to virtual meetings and WNORTH.

Maria Decotiis interior designer based in Vancouver dressed in white blouse standing in a kitchen holding a mug in front of a table with cakes

What quotes, entrepreneurs, or women leaders have had a significant impact on you?

Oprah has undoubtedly had a great impact on me. I admire how authentic she is and how she is truly living her purpose. Many of her quotes have motivated me on my personal and entrepreneurial journey.

This quote, in particular, inspires me to continue along my path; “Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life because you become what you believe.”

Also, I found this quote years ago, and it has been something I go back to and read many times to stay motivated. 

Do what you love
Any adaptation of it
Find it
Do it well
If you don’t know how to do it, learn
Know that it will rough you up a few times
Bring you to tears

Do it to your best ability
You’ll have no other choice
You will find there is no end 
No real one anyway
It’s a journey
A long one

But you will forever be changed
Once you give it a go.

And finally, how can we best support women-led businesses?

I am very fortunate to have become friends with other interior designers who run very successful design businesses. Not only do they inspire me, they also encourage me when there are challenges along the way. 

We can support women-led businesses by investing in them, referring them to our circle, or utilizing their services and purchasing the products they offer. 

Whenever I am outsourcing, I always try to hire women-led businesses because we all win when we support each other.

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Lotte Davis wearing a light dress speaking in a microphone

Goal Setting with Lotte Davis: The Key to Unshakeable Self-Confidence

By | Blog, Woman-to-Woman

Through our Woman-to-Woman series, we bring you interviews with accomplished women who share their key advice for women in leadership. Our first article of the series welcomes Lotte Davis, Canadian entrepreneur and philanthropist, who speaks about her advice on confidence building.

Born in South Africa, her family relocated to Canada when she was a child. Together with her husband, she co-founded a hair-care business AG Hair in 1989. Years later, her company was profitable, stable and her daughters were grown up. That’s when Lotte decided to follow her calling – fight against gender inequality. 

One day, Lotte attended a dinner party with a few friends. All of a sudden, she heard herself saying: “I want you to know that I am going to start building schools for girls in Africa, and I will work in gender equality.”

In 2008, without any prior charitable experience or contacts on the continent, Lotte founded One Girl Can. A Canadian and Kenyan registered charitable organization, One Girl Can is breaking the cycle of poverty and works to achieve gender equality through education and mentorship.

Lotte shares what role confidence plays in elevating the lives of young women, and her number one confidence-building tip for women in leadership.

Lotte davis wearing a white shirt standing next to a girl in blue shirt and a man in pink shirt pointing on object in the distance talks about self-confidence

Hi Lotte. What difference does building self-confidence make in young girls?

Lotte Davis: It’s all the difference in the world. Confidence is the foundation for success. In underdeveloped countries, girls don’t get asked what they want to be when they grow up. When we ask girls what they want to be, many can’t answer. They never looked into career opportunities, because it’s presumed that they’ll have multiple children and work as labourers. 

Our high-school workshops start with envisioning exercises. We ask girls to close their eyes and imagine their future conditions and environment. We ask them questions like: “What do you like doing? What do your loved ones say about you? What do you think you’ll be studying?”, or “How old will you be when you get married?”

The first round of workshops is called “Empower me,” the second is “I want to be,” and the third is “I will be.” The fourth year of high school is all about career development. We bring in successful business women who act as mentors and help girls navigate their career choices and craft a plan to get there.

Everything we do is based on goal setting. Goal setting is the only common denominator between a privileged white women leader from a peaceful, prosperous country and a girl living in extreme poverty in rural Africa. We can all move our lives forward by setting goals. If you start planning where you want to be in four years and then break it down into individual years, months and weeks, you begin to see progress. And, the progress gives you confidence. 

Goal setting has become highly successful with the girls – just as it does with women leaders. They realize that with vision, a goal, and a carefully constructed set of plans to get them to where they want to go, there is nothing they can’t do.

What's the best confidence building technique for women leaders?

Lotte Davis: Everything we do is based on goal setting. Goal setting is the only common denominator between a privileged white woman from a peaceful, prosperous country and a girl living in extreme poverty in rural Africa. 

We can all move our lives forward by setting goals. If you start planning where you want to be in four years and then break it down into individual years, months and weeks, you begin to see progress. And, the progress gives you confidence. 

Goal setting has become highly successful with the girls. They realize that with vision, a goal, and a carefully constructed set of plans to get them to where they want to go, there is nothing they can’t do.

How difficult does it come for girls to get started with building confidence?

Lotte Davis: Initially, it’s very hard. If a girl tells me that she wants to become a nuclear physicist, I go deeper and ask her, “Okay, how are you going to do it?” 

“I’ll work hard,” she answers. But, that’s not enough. I push her to go deeper by asking “What does it mean you’ll work hard? Can you break it down?”

Eventually, they start to understand that it is not about working hard. It’s about making specific goals to get where you want to go. And now, when girls are graduating, they come to me and say; “It’s the goal setting. That’s what makes the difference.”

Lotte Davis surrounded by Kenyan girls of her program One Girl Can teaching self-confidence to future women leaders

What advice would you give to women in leadership who want to become more confident in their careers and personal lives?

Lotte Davis: You need to put one foot in front of the other. It’s frightening to take the first step to launch a massive initiative or a new goal. But, if you break it into bite-sized pieces, you’ll be able to figure it all out – little by little.

The first step is to ask yourself; “What do you need to do tomorrow to get closer to your goal?” You’ll never get to the end result if that’s the only thing you’re focused on. 

Secondly, don’t take “no” for an answer. People might tell you that something can’t be done, and if you believe it can, then just keep going. Look for those answers, don’t stop when someone tells you it can’t be done. Generally speaking, it can.

And thirdly, act with conviction. I have never met a man who has as many doubts as a woman does. Men go after what they want without weighing up all the consequences and implications of potential failures. 

Go with what your instincts tell you to do – I learned this lesson a long time ago. You’re going to make mistakes along the way, but personally, I’ve never regretted anything I’ve tried. Failure is just a temporary roadblock, and you’ll find a way around it. There are so many roadblocks to becoming successful. Remember that there are so many ways around roadblocks, too. You need to go for it. Don’t overthink it too much.

Can you recall a time in your life when you struggled with self-confidence? How did you overcome it?

Lotte Davis: Like many other women, I suffered a lot with a lack of confidence in my life. But nothing has ever stopped me from moving forward. For me, the fear of failure is not nearly as great as the anxiety I get from not following up on my commitments. 

I am the type of person who has to get things done, and staying at home worrying about something is way worse than trying and failing. So, don’t fear failing – there’s no such thing. You need to keep moving on.

Lotte Davis wearing white dress and blue shirt hugging a smiling Kenyan girl future woman leader

What happens when you don't follow up on your promise?

Lotte Davis: I believe that my personal power is that I get things done. That’s what’s given me my confidence my whole life. And so, not following up on my promise has terrible consequences on my self-confidence.

I didn’t have much when I started, I come from a dysfunctional background. If I didn’t make the commitment to get things done, I’d never have been able to get where I am now. I wouldn’t have been as happy and confident as I am today. So, don’t be afraid to make commitments in front of people! I committed to making a difference for girls in Africa, and one day, I got on a plane to Kenya with a bunch of self-help books and I figured it out. Honestly, it wasn’t as hard as it seemed before I started.

If there's one thing you can do every day to become more confident, what would it be?

Lotte Davis: Goal setting. Every single day. Make lists, set goals, envision what you want to do, and start developing a plan. But, don’t spend too much time on crafting a perfect plan. The plan can be as simple as a to-do list for every day. And then, check your accomplishments off one by one until you get everything done on your list.

I guarantee you that you will get where you want. Once you realize the true power of everything that you can do, you’ll enter a stage of unshakeable confidence.

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5 Virtual Networking Tips for Working Mothers

By | Blog, Media, Women In Busness

As mothers, we have been forced to make some tough decisions over this last year. Many of us had to unexpectedly add full-time teachers to our resumes, and/or had our daycare and caretaker services taken away, and even put our careers on hold. The pandemic completely abolished in-person events, mommy meet-ups, networking drinks, coffee dates, and more that acted as crucial support systems.

Read the full article on WellDefined.

6 Ideas for Engaging Event Attendees Year-Round

By | Blog, Media, Women In Busness

Attendee engagement may be the single most important component of any event—and those efforts shouldn’t end when people walk out the door. And in the expanded world of virtual and hybrid events, the possibilities for year-round engagement are even greater. When attendees aren’t limited by location, the door opens to new options for content sharing, ongoing mini events and podcasts, creative networking opportunities and much more.

Read full article on BizBash.

5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Run a Live Virtual Event

By | Blog, Media, Women In Busness

It’s time to stop hosting FREE events: As I mentioned above, only half of attendees will show up for an event if they didn’t pay for it. At the beginning of the pandemic, so many businesses (including my own) wanted to support people as much as they could with free content. The truth is, that the events industry is one of the HARDEST hit industries and it’s time that we start to value our efforts by charging, even if only nominal or by donation.

Read the full article on Authority Magazine.

Women on the Rise Awards 2020

By | Blog

Inside The Members’ Club, we always want to show off members in our community who are doing exceptional things in their careers and communities.

This year, we’re excited to announce our 3 winners of the Women on the Rise Awards Read More