Not even COVID-19 can hold back the incredible women of the promotional products industry. The Promotional Product Professionals of Canada’s (PPPC) Women’s Empowerment Event (WEE) was held virtually in May 2021, and it was a huge success. PPPC welcomed more than 150 leading ladies representing 78 companies to our event, and 29 of those companies were brand new to WEE. 

Our statistics also showed that 65 percent of attendees were new to the WEE community; this speaks to the universality of virtual events and our ability to reach women who may not have been able to attend an in-person WEE event in the past. Committee member Kate Plummer, MAS, says, “It was really heartening to see so many new faces as part of the WEE event. Holding it virtually allowed a new audience to join in. Our goals for WEE have always been to build a connected and supportive community, and it was wonderful to see it grow.” We were excited to welcome such a large number of newbies; they all now have a place in the WEE family for life.

The WEE community has always been a tight-knit group of women and this year was no different. We could not keep up with how quickly the Zoom chat was moving at times. From the expected “hello” and “I miss you” to the heart-warming, “Thank you for sharing that personal story,” and “We’re always here for you,” our attendees were thrilled to connect with each other again. The WEE ladies are always there to support and lean on each other, and we are so proud of the community they’ve created.

Engagement on social media has been at an all-time high for PPPC events. At WEE, everyone was sharing photos of their swag boxes and WEE gear, their setup for the day and how excited they were about the event on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. We can always count on the WEE ladies to post, share and engage on social media; this level of engagement did not go unnoticed.

The day began with a musical performance from Bernadette Connors. As a returning WEE performer, Bernadette was the perfect act to kick-off the event. She brought back a crowd favourite, ending her show with Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire.”

The first session of the day was motivational speaker, Rina Rovinelli. Rina brought the ladies along on a journey of self-exploration and self-realization. Her passion for self-love resonated with the WEE community.

Casey Thompson, owner of The Cheese Gallery in Thornbury, Ontario, then had us all “drooling like Homer Simpson” over her beautiful cheese board demonstration. The WEE ladies got a bird’s-eye view of a lesson on preparing an appealing cheese board. 

The WEE Panel session is highly anticipated every year, and this year’s discussion did not disappoint. Moderator Michele Bell sat on a panel with Lindsay Alcorn, CAS; Kathy Cheng; Jessica De Mello, MAS, and Jennifer Tarnopolski. These women explored a variety of topics from the challenges of COVID and the future of our industry to sharing some deeply personal stories. Committee member Carol de Ville, MAS, wants to remind everyone, “We are all ‘un-boxable.’ Don’t forget to ask for help and be kind to yourself, be brave, be a friend, do your best and be a superhero!”

“Socasize” with Ayanna Lee-Rivears showed us a whole new kind of workout. She had us moving and shaking like no one was watching—and luckily, no one was watching. The ladies were having a ball “shimmy-shaking” during this session.

The Zoom event was brought to a close by the hilarious Judy Croon. Judy showed us how we use humour and laughter “to navigate through the unknown.” Not only did she have the comment section cracking up, but she also left us with some valuable life lessons.

The lineup of this year’s activities and speakers really hit home for all attendees, and everyone had the best day. To quote de Ville, “It was truly wonderful to see so many familiar faces and welcome so many new ladies. The event was filled with speakers and activities, and our panel blew it out of the water with their passion and openness to share.”

All in all, the WEE 2021 event was a hit and only made the ladies more excited for WEE 2022. “We are excited about sharing our plans for our in-person event in Niagara after postponing at this location for two years. The Niagara area has so much to offer and our plans involve taking full advantage of our surroundings. We do, however, have a hard stop on going over the Falls in a barrel though,” says committee member Ann Baiden, MAS+. 

Mark your calendar now for WEE 2022 on May 13-14, 2022, at the White Oaks Resort & Spa in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It’s going to be amazing!  


Katrina Derksen is the membership manager for PPPC and a WEE committee member.