Alicia wears the True North Bracelet on a walk with her daughter.
Tori is the founder + designer of local jewelry store, True Curated Designs. Photo credit Allison Kuhl.
Christie Buono, Senior Manager of Community Partnerships, talked to Tori Dundas, owner of True Curated Designs, and Alicia to learn more about what inspired them to give back, and why the symbol of the compass is so meaningful – even in a year that lacked travel.
Christie: Why is investing in women’s healthcare important to you?
Tori: Women have unique health concerns. Illnesses impact women differently than men and require distinct treatment, so what the BC Women’s Health Foundation is doing to support that is incredible. It’s not about ignoring men, it’s about understanding the differences in our bodies.
Alicia: There is still so much work to be done for women’s health! I’m so passionate about everything that BC Women’s Health Foundation stands for and is doing. It is absolutely making a difference for women, marginalized groups, and future generations.
C: Is there a personal story you’d feel comfortable sharing that drives your passion for women’s health?
T: As a young, healthy individual, I never thought I would be at risk of any health concerns. I now understand how important early detection, and staying ahead of your health, can be. I am so grateful for the BC Women’s Health Foundation and medical professionals for caring for me and so many other women in BC.
A: A few years ago I was told I had cervical precancerous cells and ended up needing what is called a LEEP procedure, something I’d never heard of before this experience. Turns out, I’d been going for routine Pap Tests for many years, but didn’t quite have an understanding as to why or what would happen if something abnormal showed up in the results. This was my first time really advocating for my health and asking questions, but quickly realizing that so much of them couldn’t be answered because there simply wasn’t the research and data. There is a stigma around HPV and cervical cancer, but opening up about the experience and hearing from so many other women who went through exactly the same thing (and with such encouraging results) helped make it such a positive and powerful experience.
C: Tori, can you tell us a little bit about what inspired this collaborative partnership? Alicia, why did you want to get involved?
T: I wanted to help bring the conversation to the forefront. The more we can get comfortable talking about women’s health, the less women will be at risk.
A: I’m a huge fan of Tori and True Curated Designs and being on the BC Women’s Young Women’s Council, so this was truly the perfect chance to collaborate! I’m just happy to have the opportunity to help get the word out about the True North Bracelet.
C: Is there a women’s health statistic that shocks you? How did that change how you perceive women’s health?
T: I’ve heard historically most medical research makes the assumption that women are just like men, and it hasn’t been unusual for medical studies to exclude women. We are physically different and it is important to educate ourselves on these differences!
A: There are unfortunately so many women’s health stats that shock me. How long it took for women to be included in clinical trials and how underrepresented we still are in research. It always strikes me that women are more likely to die prematurely from largely preventable diseases like lung cancer and cervical cancer. We still have so far to go!
C: What are your hopes for the future of women’s health in BC?
T: Education, conversations and support for all women in their own journey to optimal health – both mental and physical.
A: I echo everything Tori said and hope we can be more open about our health concerns with our communities and healthcare providers. The more we learn and educate, the more we can advocate for our own health and that is a wonderful thing!
C: In your opinion, why is it important for people to give back, if they’re able, this holiday season?
T: The holidays have always been about love and care and time together, in my family. As a large part of my business is the holiday gifting season, I wanted True Curated Designs to also be a part of that giving back. I hope this bracelet can be more than just a gift, but it can be something meaningful.
A: There has never been a better time to embrace the giving spirit of the holiday season. Small businesses, independent artists, and organizations like BC Women’s Health Foundation really need support if you are able. My goal this year is thoughtful and purposeful holiday gifting, consciously spending my money where it matters. This is definitely a mindset I hope to continue in the future!
C: We know that this year has challenged all of us in different ways, though it has particularly had an impact on small businesses.
Tori, how has COVID-19 impacted how you and True Curated Designs?
T: I am so grateful that I had set up my business in a way that allows it to operate fully online – but that said it has been a difficult year to be running a brand new business. While the conversations around COVID-19 have been a lot about physical health, I have also seen so many small businesses rise up with mental health, toughness and grit and am proud to be a part of that community.
Alicia, why is it important for you to support small businesses this year?
A: It breaks my heart thinking about the stress on small businesses right now. If we all do what we can to support those local businesses we love, it could make all the difference in many people’s lives and keeping our neighbourhoods and communities intact.
C: How has the pandemic impacted your connections to your community? Are there any changes or learnings that COVID-19 has brought that you hope remain?
T: I have always had strong connections to the community, and now more than ever I feel the support locally for my business. I love seeing people come together during uncertain times to support one another as neighbours and as Canadians.
C: The beautiful bracelet that we have made in collaboration is inspired by a compass. With travel being restricted this year, have you learned anything about exploring a little closer to home?
T: Adventure is a strong value of mine and the compass was a cheeky nod to the lack of travel this year – but a reminder that growth and exploration can happen within, exploring and looking inward; and nearby! I’ve seen and fallen in love with so much more of the province this year.
A: You mean exploring my living room? I’m kidding. 2020 has brought such a unique stillness and it feels like I’m finally zooming out and seeing and appreciating how incredible previous travels were and what a privilege it was to be abroad. I wear my True North Bracelet as a reminder that we will travel again one day, but for now there is so much to discover close to home.
C: How has your inner compass helped you navigate some of the challenges presented in 2020?
T: They say that women’s intuition is the true north star – so I’ve learned to trust my gut and the process. COVID-19 has presented some challenges for the entire world, but it’s in that which brings us together. If we can lean into that uncertainty but be the best possible versions of ourselves then the outcome is bound to make us stronger!
A: I’m sure many would agree, but I’ve never relied on my inner compass more! I became a Mom this year (I know, I know, what timing) and finding and listening to that true north star has been essential in terms of navigating parenthood as well as mentally carrying me through those really tough moments.