Awarding-winning businesswomen, from left, Rosana Di Zio
Magnotta, Soma Ray-Ellis, Stella (Solbyung) Yoon, Freda
Women superstars saluted
Award-winners share their secrets of success
'Perseverance... one of the most important things'
Do your homework. Work hard. Don't be afraid to ask
for help. And be passionate.
Those words of wisdom come from five of Canada's top
businesswomen who were honoured this year by the Women
Entrepreneurs of Canada (WEC).
Rosanna Di Zio Magnotta, president of Magnotta Winery
Corporation, was given the WEC Cosmopolitan Award for
export achievement; Freda Iordanous, head designer and
vice-president of Freda's Originals, received the WEC
Phoenix Award for business recovery; Soma Ray-Ellis,
partner and head of employment and labour group for
Paterson, MacDougall LLP, received the WEC Champion
Award for business leadership; Stella (Solbyung) Yoon,
president of cStar Technologies Inc., won the WEC
Chivalry Award for innovation; and Martha Von Heczey,
president and owner of The Coffee Mill, was honoured
with the WEC Triumph Award for lifetime business
As well as selling across Canada, Magnotta exports to
28 U.S. states, Belgium, the U.K., Asia and has just
begun exporting to the Caribbean.
"You have to have very thorough knowledge of
everything that's relevant to what you're trying to do,"
she says. "If you don't - make sure you find out. Always
be informed before you make any move."
And, Magnotta says, "a little fear is OK - it's a
Human rights activist Soma Ray-Ellis has been
recognized by the Ontario government for her work with
women and visible minorities. Ray-Ellis also is known
for her efforts in promoting justice and expanding
business opportunities in the community.
"Access to justice is increasingly becoming a
difficult for people who can't find lawyers they can
afford," she says. "One of our goals is to provide
access to affordable, excellent legal services: expert,
"The other aspect to access to justice is
information," Ray-Ellis says. "If people don't know
their rights, it doesn't matter if there are a million
lawyers out there, they won't be able to act on their
Ray-Ellis came to Canada from India at age 10 and
encountered racism for the first time.
"I remember thinking as a child, 'I'm not a
second-class citizen.' It really had an impact on the
rest of my life and it certainly was a motivating factor
in my study of law."
"As a woman in law and as a visible minority woman,
you have to have an attitude where you say, 'I'm never
going to give up.' I think perseverance is one of the
most important things in life."
Passion and compassion are the key words to her
success in life, says Stella Yoon, who began her career
working for Daewoo in South Korea.
"A lot of people are brilliant," says Yoon. "But what
really counts is how we behave toward one another."
Yoon's company develops, manufactures and markets
two-way wireless data communication products. One of
cStar's most promising developments is technology that
can collect, disseminate and transfer data to be used in
containment of infectious diseases and patient care,
With a retail and manufacturing facility in Toronto
and major fashion kudos at home and abroad, Freda
Iordanous credits hard work and a positive attitude for
Iordanous's clothing line, Pavla, is sold across
Canada and her factory employs more than 60 people. Her
store also carries imported designs.
"Keep an open mind," she says. "And keep up, or you'll
fall behind. Be progressive."
Martha Von Heczey's pioneer cafe attracts more than
100,000 customers a year and when it opened 41 years
ago, was one of the first European-style coffee houses
A Yorkville institution, many of Von Heczey's original
customers still drop by and her newest employee has been
with her for 17 years.
BY CATHERINE PATCH
TORONTO STAR - H4
Thursday, October 14, 2004