Drafted by: Marilyn R. Wilson
Laura Furtado is a new acquaintance in my circle of amazing women friends. Where did her name cross my path? I think a Facebook friend posted a picture at one of her events. I had never heard of this event, so followed up. Only in her early 30’s, the business she has built from the ground up is truly impressive and I love its focus on empowering women. I scheduled a face-to-face coffee. Fortunately she was able to quickly make it happen.
In person she is warm, kind, well-spoken and very knowledgeable. Over the course of our conversation we found many shared thoughts on supporting women. Her journey also intrigued me – moving from studying computer programming, to dancer performing internationally, to becoming one of the first sexy fitness instructors in Canada, to the business empire she now runs today.
In the end, I left that meeting impressed. This is one focused entrepreneur who clearly understands her business goals and how to achieve them. And the best part – these goals are intimately tied up with helping women achieve their desires and finding their power. She truly lives up to her branding – Laura Furtado: Fab Female Entrepreneurette Empowering Women.
8Q Spotlight Laura Furtado
What is your current career(s)?
I am the Founder/Owner of two women-based communities, based out of Toronto: DivaGirl and Sexy & Wealthy in Heels. DivaGirl is a lifestyle community that empowers women. DivaGirl consists of six divisions (fitness, entertainment, beauty, entrepreneurship, nutrition and fashion) and has successfully built a membership, licensee and franchised business model- having over 125 DivaGirls and 7 franchised communities. Sexy & Wealthy in Heels’ is a community that educates, inspires and features female entrepreneurs who are smart, sexy and successful. Its programming and events are hosted in over 18 Canadian and USA cities.
I am also an active mentor for female based small start-ups in Canada and working on my first non-profit volunteerism trip experience to empower women in Belize (this November), Divas Aboard.
Can you share an interesting thing (or two) about your journey to reach this moment?
Being an entrepreneur was and is no easy task. There were many times in which I wanted to give up or change the direction of my career. I remember that there were some situations that I wondered: why are you doing this? Why take the risk when you could have a comfy, secure job? But looking back, I realize that I was driven by people. More specifically, the women who were part of my community, who shared positive feedback about the initiatives we were organizing and their excitement for us to offer more. The “DivaGirls” have been my motivation since day 1- and still are today.
A second thing that motivates me to be an entrepreneur is the concept of “freedom.” I have an idea of how I want to live the rest of my life, and it doesn’t consist of being a slave to work. I have determined that I want to give back and help women as much as possible and I understand what I must accomplish from a financial perspective (i.e. creating streams of revenue and building wealth), to enable me to achieve this. My hard work over the past 8 years, and continued drive over next few years, is a journey (and strategy!) that will enable me to achieve this. The motivation of “freedom” of helping other women, without financial restraints, is a big motivation of mine.
What 3 things would you like people to know about you to give them a sense of who you really are?
Though I may seem very social and outgoing, I am actually a quiet individual. I truly enjoy spending time by myself and working alone- a habit that I got used to early on in my entrepreneurial journey.
In addition, I am truly a geek for business knowledge. I am always reading and listen to about 3 podcasts daily- a constant motivation. I do believe that knowledge is power.
And lastly, I am terrible at sports. Though I love fitness and the active lifestyle, I prefer solo exercises such as yoga, dance, spinning and running. I am not a good “team sports” player- in fact, am super un- coordinated at it.
Highest moment so far?
Through my entrepreneurial journey, there are three things that come to mind that I am truly proud of:
· Being named Canada’s Top Young Entrepreneur of 2010
· Franchising my community, DivaGirl, in the 6th year of my entrepreneurial journey.
· Creating and working on my volunteerism trip experience, Divas Abroad. This is my opportunity to “giveback” and empower women who are less fortunate, in a third-world country.
What are you working on right now? In the next 6 months?
My theme for 2015 is leadership. My main goal is to share my knowledge of growing a female-based community with other passionate women and building other female leaders. I am focused on growing the number of DivaGirl Franchisees and City Leaders for Sexy & Wealthy in Heels.
In addition, I am working on our first volunteerism trip experience, Divas Aboard, in which 11 women from our communities will be heading to Belize this November to empower and educate women in need. Finally, I am working 2 eBooks: #SuccessBABE 2 (150 tips for women entrepreneurs on becoming smart, sexy and successful, to be released November 2nd) and an interactive guide for success, targeted to women entrepreneurs.
Who and/or what inspires you?
The women in my community are who inspire me. I am constantly in awe of the amazing initiatives that women are creating and what they can accomplish to help others. Fostering a women’s platform of collaboration is what I am passionate about- and our members’ stories and continued support is what inspires me to do more.
How do you personally define success?
Success is being truly authentic and doing what you love, when you want, without financial restraints. In order to truly become successful, you must first define what “success” means to you- as the definition varies among people. But remember, without happiness, there is no success.
Confidence is the best accessory that a woman can wear. It was a quote that inspired me to become an entrepreneur. Today, this quote still inspires and drives my business growth.
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