Staples International Women’s Day Spotlight - Margot Woodworth, Evergreen Memories

Margot WoodworthBy Stefanie Neyland, Small Business Content Developer at

Today, in celebration of International Women’s Day, we find out how one green-fingered entrepreneur proved that money really can grow on trees

It’s no secret that the wedding business means big business, but there are few entrepreneurs that leverage the power of this multi-million dollar industry with the creativity that Margot Woodworth has. Capitalizing on every bride-to-be’s desire for thoughtful and unusual wedding favours, Margot’s company, Evergreen Memories, sought to fill a gap in the market that few others had, while introducing another booming trend in the marketplace—sustainability.


Today we speak with Margot, and hear all about her far-flung European roots and how an unexpected brush with a dragon contributed to her business’s ever-growing success.


What inspired you to start your own business?

I grew up with a family nursery in Germany. My father taught me very early on that passion, hard work and dedication are the foundations to growing a successful business. All of my siblings (there are four of us) are also entrepreneurs, so you could say that it runs in the family!


How did you get your business off the ground?

After managing Evergreen Memories for two years, I had the opportunity to buy the business in 2005, and of course I jumped at the chance. We also went to an audition for the TV show Dragon’s Den, and were chosen to appear in the Den for one of the televised episodes. We were lucky enough to make a deal with Jim Treliving (Owner of Boston Pizza International), and we received an investment for the business. The exposure from appearing on national TV and partnering with Jim has definitely helped us grow our business.


How long have you been in business?

I’ve been in business for eight years now.


Who is your ideal customer?

Luckily for us, we have many ideal customers. Our product suits many occasions, from wedding favours to school fundraisers and even corporate events. Our ideal customers are looking for a sustainable gift—a gift that doesn’t end up in a landfill.


What makes your business unique?

Personally, I believe that Evergreen Memories is a truly green business—socially committed and responsible with a purpose. We create earth-friendly favours and gifts for our customers while preserving our planet. We support fundraisers for non-profit organisations, including school fundraisers, sport fundraisers, health care institutions, and environmental, wildlife and human rights organizations. I truly believe that by creating a product which helps preserve our planet, and helps raise money for these institutions, we’re creating a win-win situation. Evergreen Memories wins, and so do our partners and customers. Together we are making a difference, one tree at a time.


What is it like being a female entrepreneur?

I’m constantly developing and always learning new skills. Being a female entrepreneur takes commitment; we commit to growing and nurturing our business just as we commit to raising great children. It’s an important undertaking for us.


What challenges do you think female business owners face?           

Balancing family and work—especially when that work is home-based—is certainly a challenge. Also, as female business owners and employers, we often wear our heart on our sleeves, and therefore making tough decisions can often prove to be more difficult for us. We certainly have a better understanding when a staff member needs to stay home with their sick child, or if they’re experiencing personal issues, but we also need to be careful that our kindness isn’t taken advantage of.


What marketing channels have worked best for getting the word out about your business?

Definitely social media and email marketing. We also developed a professional website that enabled us to accept customers across North America—being a strictly online retail business, we simply couldn’t exist without it.


What’s the best thing about owning your own business?

I love the sense of pride I have for my company. I’ve made choices that have shifted the business towards getting bigger and better. I also value the life lessons I’ve learned from the mistakes made along the way, and relish the fact that there is so much opportunity and potential in growing my business. Considering Evergreen Memories operates from a small community in northwestern Ontario, I also think it’s great that we’re regularly dealing with big customers such as Molson Canadian, Timex, Samsung and Honda. Additionally, I love the freedom to be able to step out of my office on a breezy day to go windsurfing (one of my passions), to be able to work hard and play hard, to create my own hours, and the enormous sense of accomplishment I get from running my own business.


How has your business evolved over time?

We started out behind a dusty wall divider in the nursery, then after purchasing Evergreen Memories, we worked out of a garage. We did all our packaging on the kitchen table and often had to move furniture around to create more workspace. Fast forward eight years, and we now have two workshops and our staff numbers have doubled.

Is running your business harder than you thought it would be?

I wouldn’t say it’s harder than I thought it would be, but I would say that it’s been a huge learning curve and has taught me many valuable life lessons.


What is your best time management tip?

My best advice would be no multi-tasking! Focus on just one thing at a time.

What are your goals for the future?                    

Expansion of our product range so I can create more employment in our community. We’ve recently created some new products such as a ‘Grow Your Own Tree Seedling Kit’ designed to commemorate special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and memorials. We’re looking to sell these in garden centers across Canada.


If you could offer one piece of advice to female entrepreneurs, what would it be?

Never give up! There are many ups and downs as an entrepreneur—especially a female one— but you have to remain committed to your goals and your business. In every difficulty you face there’s always an opportunity. Just be yourself and let your passion and love shine through in your work and your actions.


By Adam

March 08, 2014