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Queen of the North Summit, empowering women entrepreneurs

'The idea was to curate a lineup of speakers that would bring some value to our community'

Rooted is all about the people and the places that make us proud to call our community home.              


Bringing together a community of women-owned/operated businesses in the north for a day of professional networking is the goal behind the inaugural Queen of the North Summit 2024.  

It’s taking place at the Black Saddle Barn Wedding and Event Venue in Callander on February 29th and was an idea that was conceived by North Bay realtor Jess Diggles and Sara Lecappelain, a wedding photographer and the owner/operator of the Black Saddle Barn.  

The event organizers were recently featured on an episode of To North Bay With Love, hosted by Lisa Boivin on the Echo Podcast network (

“I’ve been doing client events for years; it has always been part of my real estate business and my retention business. Instead of getting everybody a closing gift, I prefer to put my money back into the community with my clientele and bring everyone together for different events. I did a Mother’s Day event at the local brewery for instance and the goal was always to help business owners collaborate with other businesses,” says Diggles.  

“Every time I do an event, I bring a photographer and I usually end up bringing Sara who’s great for candid photos and backdrop photos. We started talking about collaborating on a project and shortly after meeting for lunch one day, this idea came together and we started booking speakers.” 

The lineup of speakers for this event includes April Brown & Sarah Sklash, Founders of The June Motel & Reality TV Stars of the hit series; Motel Makeover. Realtor and Entrepreneur Holly Carroll, CEO and Nurse of the Cosmetic Clinic, Chelsey Brown and more. 

There will be speaker sessions in the morning with a networking lunch hour with more speaker sessions later in the day. 

The registration guarantees patrons a seat at the speaker sessions, an opportunity to purchase a networking booth table to display and introduce their business at lunch hour as well as including the event as a tax write-off since the day is for professional development.  

Diggles says the idea was to bring women-led businesses together and foster more relationships between those business owners.  

“I love professional development and I’m fortunate to be able to go to a lot of conferences every year. I find them so rewarding but I don’t feel like every woman in business has that opportunity to have that professional development offered to them,” says Diggles.  

“Particularly in the north where we all serve a similar demographic, and the idea was to curate a lineup of speakers that would bring some value to our community.” 

Lecappelain says she has hosted workshops for photographers but, “having the professional development and growth is something I feel like no matter what business you're in, and no matter how many years you've been doing it, it's important to continually learn.” 

She adds, “It’s also the connections that you make when you're there and while you may not learn something specific to your business, you can still make a great new connection with somebody else that was there.” 

Diggles says they are hoping to grow this event over the coming years. “Our target market would expand to include business in the areas surrounding North Bay, as well as business from the north and areas such as Collingwood, Georgian Bay, the Kawarthas, Muskoka, Timmins, New Liskeard, Sudbury to Saint Marie. We all serve similar demographics in these regions. We're not the GTA. We've got different ways of doing business and so we can all learn something from each other.” 

She adds, “One thing that I think all our northern communities have in common is we can be at someone's door in five minutes versus Toronto, which does a lot of their business online. We have a chance to go back to the basics, and these are the things that are going to set you apart by having that face-to-face relationship with your clients.” 

Lecappelain says they have invited women from a wide range of industries and businesses.  

“We really wanted to make sure that, especially for the inaugural year, that it wasn't about us, we were worried it was going to be all realtors and photographers attending and we wanted to make sure to fit in a variety of women. This wasn’t done as an event to boost us individually so we are not keynote speakers, but we will be emceeing the event.”  

She says when they started planning for the Queen of the North Summit they started by writing down all of the businesses in North Bay that are owned by women.  

“It was about eight pages long. I didn’t even know that there were that many. The fact that more people aren't collaborating with each other kind of blew our minds because there are so many businesses that we could see that should be doing something together or helping each other that just makes sense.” 

Lecappelain says by having this event, they’re hoping to create more collaborations.  

“You get all these people in the same room and there's a lot that can happen when women all come together and you put a lot of great minds in one room, it becomes a master class. Once we get people thinking and get them connected, we’re hopefully going to see a lot of little lunch dates happening, and new creations and they find ways to start supporting each other even more.” 

Lecappelain says they are about 50% sold out and can host up to 150 people at the venue. Tickets are available at this link:  

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Matt Sookram

About the Author: Matt Sookram

Matthew Sookram is a Canadore College graduate. He has lived and worked in North Bay since 2009 covering different beats; everything from City Council to North Bay Battalion.
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