As the name suggests, Galentine's Day — which falls on the 13 of February every year — is a celebration of female friendship.
However, two local gals created Galentine's Collingwood to bring love to the ladies, all year long.
Conceived by Alix Haddy and Lauren Dodge, Galentine's celebrates female and female-identifying business owners and entrepreneurs in the South Georgian Bay area through various fundraisers and events. All of the proceeds raised are donated to My Friend’s House, a nonprofit agency offering support for abused women and their children.
“It’s just something we are passionate about. We feel so embraced by the community so we wanted to turn around and give that back,” said Dodge.
Both Haddy and Dodge are female entrepreneurs themselves — founders of Good Grief Coffee and MTN & WAVE, respectively — and they have learned firsthand how much easier it is when women work together instead of against each other.
“So we said, let’s focus on that, let’s highlight that, and let’s come together and make it better for women in our area,” said Dodge. “We all have that same collaborative mindset.”
The Galentine's founders became friends several years ago. Both women were new to the area at the time, and they clicked instantly.
“A good old fashioned forced friendship, if you will,” laughed Dodge.
Both Haddy and Dodge quickly realized they shared similar values when it came to women and business in the community, so they started brainstorming ways to give back as business owners themselves. They counted off all of the other female-identifying business owners in the South Georgian Bay area and were blown away.
“We were so overwhelmed and impressed by how many women in our age demographic had chosen to create something in this community to make it better,” said Dodge. “We feel like the community has given so much to us in terms of supporting our businesses and our brands, so let’s use that to support another group of women who might need our help in this time.”
So they decided to create a collaborative event — incorporating as many female-owned businesses as possible — in order to draw attention to all of the incredible businesses in the area while raising much-needed funds for My Friend’s House.
The inaugural event kicked off on Feb. 13, 2020 with a Galentine’s Day celebration held at Gibson & Company in Collingwood. The night was filled with food, drinks, dozens of donations to the raffle table, and several dozens of “epic” women and business owners in the community, with a grand total of $2,300 raised for My Friend’s House.
“Luckily we were able to have our first event,” said Dodge. “It was amazing and so much fun. So many businesses came together to support each other and support the cause.”
The plan was to continue hosting events, but less than a month later, COVID-19 hit.
“Once the pandemic hit, we thought, well how do we pivot so that we are still connected as a community, still supporting each other’s businesses, and still having people from the community supporting local,” said Dodge.
So they shifted online, using the Galentine's Instagram to auction off gift cards and prize packs generously donated by businesses in the area. The initiative brought awareness to businesses that were still open and operating during the lockdown, while continuing to raise money for the women in need at My Friend’s House.
“We thought, how can we come together and support one another and be a part of something bigger than ourselves, collectively as business owners and also just women in the community?” said Dodge.
They have since hosted similar online auctions, including one called Back in Session in the fall to raise money for school supplies, and Best Buds this Galentine’s Day, where participants could send a rose and a cocktail kit candy gram style, with all of the proceeds once again being donated to My Friend’s House. In the spring, they helped curate local goodie boxes for the Town of Collingwood’s International Womxn’s Day.
“People are really supportive of what we put our efforts into, it’s really touching,” said Dodge. “And we are so grateful, because if no one participated then none of this would be possible.”
To date, Galentine's has raised $27,596.75 with all of its combined events.
“Women are so strong, and even the strongest of us need help, but we don’t always ask for it because we are always helping others,” said Dodge. “So we know that by helping women, it is only going to empower more people, and it builds this really beautiful, unstoppable thing.”
As COVID-19 restrictions ease, the gals hope to bring back in-person events as soon as possible.
In the meantime, they are working on the launch of their newest initiative: Hot Gal Summer. Haddy and Dodge have partnered with The Cheese Gallery and Gibson & Company to create some charcuterie and cheese-based picnic boxes and libations that will be available for purchase throughout the summer. They have also partnered with a handful of other local businesses for fun add-ons to round out the picnic experience.
Like always, proceeds will be donated to My Friend's House Collingwood.
“We are just so passionate about giving back to the community because they have given so much to us as entrepreneurs,” said Dodge.For more information, check out Galentine's on Instagram.