Exceptional Women Making An Impact

Written By Liz Hunt with Madelen Ortega, Jennifer Bickley, & Yamila Franco

Published April 9, 2021

a collage of three photos: closeup of two smiling women, a woman sitting on steps holding up a sign, and two women waving from a stage

Recently, we had the opportunity to get to know a number of exceptional women and learn about the impact they’re making on the world through their companies. We can’t share everything about why they inspired us and what we learned from them (like the “Vegas Rule”, whatever is shared during Decade’s Getting to 80 Program is kept confidential). We can, however, tell you a bit about the experience and our cohort-mates. We hope you’ll find their stories and companies as inspirational as we did!

Getting to 80 helps companies like ours prepare for B Corp certification. Kristy and Brianna of Decade not only explained B Lab’s terminology and walked us through all the steps of the application process, they also encouraged us to crystallize how we measure and communicate the impact our companies have on our teams and communities. Our cohort had a lot of meaningful conversations during our 3-month program about our businesses and our goals related to governance, workers, community, environment, and customers. We highly recommend Getting to 80, and are grateful for the connections we now have with our cohort-mates.

Without further ado, it’s our pleasure to introduce you to...

Lisa Hemingway & Madelen Ortega from iilo Creative Alliance

How does iilo create impact?

This is what we live for! We help changemakers clarify and communicate their ideas through communications design (e.g. branding, infographics, document design, websites, etc.), so they can deliver on their social and environmental missions ambitiously and professionally.

Many of our clients are small/mid-size organizations, so we help them level up their brands, websites and materials to operate successfully in the same space as larger organizations. To make this work, we create a custom plan for each client that maximizes budgets and allows us to deliver as much value as we can.

What inspired Lisa and Madelen to found an impact business?

We were both lucky to be raised in families that value caring for others and the planet. Naturally, our need to make a difference influenced our careers. We both worked for other progressive organizations for many years and directly experienced the feel-good rewards of values-based work, as well as the downsides, like burnout. We decided to strike out on our own with a different business model that allows us to put our lives before work while helping clients further their missions. We've really created our own dream jobs!


Kristy Calvert & Jennifer Bickley from Jillian Harris Design

How does Jillian Harris Design create impact?

Jillian Harris Design’s mission is to be a daily escape and place where people can come to laugh, learn, and be the best version of themselves while building an inspired and supported community that celebrates the art of creative living.

Jillian is always striving to share her journey with her community to feel inspired to do better, learn, support others, and find joy. The community we have is the driving force behind the impact of the brand! With the community's help, here are a few ways we have focused on impact this year!

  • Give back through fundraisers, donations, and raising awareness.
  • Supporting and bringing awareness to issues that her community is passionate about
  • Focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Empowering employees to grow, learn and enjoy life
  • Continually working on environmental practices, especially when it comes to The Jilly box.

What inspired Kristy and Jennifer to join an impact business?

If you go over to Jillian Harris' social media accounts, it doesn't take long to figure out that she has a huge heart and passion for helping her community! When the opportunity came up to join the team, it was an easy decision to make for both of us. It is an amazing feeling working for a company that is striving to make an impact.


Yamila Franco & Monica Khaper from Nyoka Design Labs

How does Nyoka Design Labs create impact?

Starting with our first invention, the Nyoka Light Wand is the world’s first non-toxic, biodegradable, portable, bioluminescent light source designed to disrupt single-use, waste-generating light source industries. We are developing the technology to eliminate the billion plastic glow sticks created every year. We have also expanded to create durable, solar-powered, plastic-free bracelets, necklaces and architectural materials – this is through our LÜMI gives movement, where we are giving moments of light in a way that is less harmful for our shared environment. The principles that guide our work are those of permaculture design and circular economy.

Globally, as little as 2% of plastics may actually end up being recycled for manufacturing in a closed-loop to displace virgin materials. At a value of between $100 and $150 billion annually, 95% of the material value of plastic packaging is lost to the global economy after only a single use. In Canada, only about 11-12% of the approximately 3.84 million tonnes of plastics generated annually is collected for recycling, and less is actually recycled. Moving towards a circular economy – where we not only use less packaging but design the packaging we use so it can be reused, recycled or composted – will mean less plastic and toxic, decaying waste in our shared environment.

What inspired Yamila and Monica to found and join an impact business?

We believe that sustainability not only comes from our actions, but when we empower those around us by opening doors, bringing down barriers and innovating to solve our Earth's pressing challenges. Creating this impact business is a viable path for us to do so and in turn, we are creating a ripple effect in our communities through collaboration, reconciliation and self-determination.



Now do you understand why this is such an incredible group of women? It’s been months since our program ended and we’re still swapping emails offering to help one another finish the policies our companies need to support our applications. We’re looking forward to staying in touch and following what they and their companies do next! #FemaleFounders #SocialImpact <3