Investing in Toronto's Social Innovation

...and you should too! 

I'm very proud to have invested in the Centre for Social Innovation's latest milestone - the purchase and development of a new home for a motley crew of non-profits, for-profits, entrepreneurs, artists, and activists working to bring ideas of impact to fruition. The Murray Building at 192 Spadina Ave. will help to accelerate CSI's mission of catalyzing social innovation within the city and globally. 


For those of you who aren't familiar, CSI is a social enterprise that serves as a coworking space and resource/idea exchange hub for the people who are actively shaping our world for the better. As someone who has connected and worked with the many amazing entrepreneurs and activists work in their multiple spaces, I'm incredibly excited to be putting my money where I know it will have the greatest social impact. The new building will be their biggest location yet and I'm excited to be part of a movement that leans into the power of people and community. 

If you're looking to invest, I highly encourage you to consider CSI's Community Bond. You can find all the information you need at Happy investing! 



A Storefront Makeover: Operation Groundswell's Website Redesign

What could be more important these days for a business than their website? For many, if not most, the website has become not just a virtual storefront, but really their only storefront. I know that for my organization, Operation Groundswell, our home on the internet is the primary place that anyone gets their information about us. It's their one stop shop to discover what we do, explore our programming, learn about financial options, and ultimately apply to join us overseas. That's why we made sure to invest both our time and money in creating something that truly speaks to who we are as an organization and the importance of the work that we do at home and abroad. 

Earlier this month, we launched our beautiful new website at A stunning new look that captures the ethos of our organization, clearly elaborates on what it means to travel ethically and volunteer responsibly, showcases the experiences of our alumni through visuals, and really just makes you wanna strap on your backpack and hop on a plane to anywhere.

It was a HUGE proejct and one that I am incredibly proud to have spearheaded. I thought I'd share some of my biggest takeaways...

1. Your team is everything. I've worked on a website redesign only once before, but only on the periphery and that was back when I was just a summer student in university. This time around I was at the forefront leading it and bringing together a diverse team of designers, developers, and SEO experts. I had no real experience in this sort of project nor any real sense of what goes into the process, but having a solid team of self-starters is what made all the difference. Our designers and developers at Loop: Design for Social Good are actually magicians and our SEO consultant Michael Gordon is a no-nonsense perfectionist that always gave us the straight goods. Our head office team at OG is also a wicked mix of meticulous role jugglers that helped with a wide range of tasks from troubleshooting technical issues with our server host right down to painstakingly editing the copy on the website (all while doing their "normal" jobs in finances, program development, and/or fundraising). 

2. A three-month timeline to completely redesign an organizational website complete with SEO and mobile optimization is incredibly ambitious. We all knew that going in, but we went for it anyway. To go from brand analysis to design conceptualization, from development to testing in three months is a huge stretch (some may even say unrealistic). Throw into that mix SEO training and implementation and you're pretty much right on the edge, if not completely over it. Don't do this unless you absolutely have to. You will lose lots of sleep and it will be very, very stressful. 

3. But if you hustle hard and have a dynamic team, you'll pull it off. It really all comes down to your team and your collective determination to see this project through. Admittedly, we missed our target date by fifteen days but given the size and scope of this project, I will still give ourselves a pat on the back because that's still pretty damn close. Bottom line, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. 

4. Communicate effectively and frequently...even if you feel like a nuisance! Working with external contractors requires an extra effort to effectively communicate their responsibilities, as well as your expecations and timelines. It's one thing for me to work with our crew at head office who I see every day and whose working styles I've grown accustom to, it was an entirely other thing to communicate and coordinate with external designers and consultants. Even with a really phenomenal team, it was a challenge to stay conscious about openly collaborating and keeping all lines of communication as free flowing as possible. (But maybe don't text your developer past 2 a.m. Sorry, Ryan!) 

5. Plan for unexpected obstacles. We switched servers to allow for greater space and bandwidth on our site. All was going well and we were all set to launch a week after our initial target date. Not bad considering the tight timeline we had to begin with. But of course, just as we're about to launch, we encounter major issues making our dev site completely inaccessible. I'll spare you the technical details but it cost us at least an additional week in delays. Make room in your timeline for unforeseen issues. Anticipate the delays so they don't even become delays! 

6. Going live doesn't mean it's over. It's actually just the beginning. The website is up. It's unbelievably beautiful. We love it. But that doesn't mean it's perfect. We're still in the process of testing different elements and improving the user experience. We're carefully tracking Google Analytics to see how our new website stacks up to our old one, what paths visitors are taking through the website, and if they're getting to the information they're looking for. We've set up a heat and scroll map to observe where visitors are clicking or where they are (or not) scrolling to. We're conducting live tests with volunteers to gain an understanding of their impressions not just of the website, but also who we are. So even though we've launched, this is still very much a work-in-progress and we're ready to take all the data and insight we glean from these tests and make the necessary changes to make the site even better.

7. Wearing many hats is my secret weapon. I won't say anymore on that. 

There are a ton more tiny little lessons that I've learned, but these are the biggies. I hope you'll take some time to browse around, make yourselves feel at home, and share any feedback you might have (good and bad!).


MakerKids: Building the Next Generation of Inventors

Kids want to be inventors when they grow up, but why wait til then? MakerKids is making that happen for kids in and around Toronto as they spark creativity and teach the technical skills to manifest their ideas. A non-profit workshop space in Roncesvalles, Makerkids is one of the only makerspaces in the world where kids can learn about and get their hands dirty with woodworking, robotics, 3D printing, and electronics. 

I happily stumbled upon MakerKids when searching for summer camps for my nephew, Legend. He's the coolest kid I know, bursting with energy and creativity and technological know-how that never fails to impress me. I find myself scratching my head as he shows me the latest features on YouTube, his photoediting skills, or his recordings of his Minecraft sessions. He lives in a world that makes me - a twenty something Millenial that lives and breathes the online social space - feel old and outdated.

Being the nerd/tiger-aunt person that I am, I wanted to find a camp that would appeal to his strengths and interests, challenge him in a productive way, and make it fun all at the same time. Luckily, I found MakerKids' Inventors camp where they would spend the week thinking up an idea for an invention and building it all from scratch. Everyday I would pick him up from camp and he would teach me something new about Arduino, woodworking, and robotics. By the end of the week, he had built his very own life-size wolf complete with audio howling! And we're continuing the project at home before the summer ends, painting the wolf and adding little details to it to make it even more realistic.

MakerKids is such an awesome initiative that gives kids the opportunity to make what they find in their imagination a physical reality. It fills a serious void currently found in our education system; that is, a hands-on and creative experience that mixes learning and play. The kids go beyond what they would learn exclusively in textbooks, and actually explore science, technology, and engineering in a way that engages their imagination, hands, and brains. They think, design, experiment, and create...all while having fun! Who knew! 

So for all the mommies and daddies in the GTA, check out MakerKids at


In the past few months, I've had the pleasure of working with the creatives behind LOOP: Design for Social Good on the web redesign of Flaunt, a sleek and eclectic salon located in Toronto's up and coming Leslieville. It was our first collaboration ever, as well as my first freelance copy writing gig. Needless to say, I'm pretty stoked about this project!

LOOP's design + my words = one sexy web launch. Check it out at