Episode 86: THE HUSTLE SERIES - Doing Business For A Social Cause. Becoming a Social Entrepreneur with Carlie Rioux


And for our final story….

A social entrepreneur is somebody who does business for a social cause. Their bottom line includes profit as well as the improvement upon the world, especially the lives of people who are connected to the cause.

Local YYC movement maker, Carlie Rioux, is a social entrepreneur who started an international fashion company to change the lives of hundreds of women. Using an innovative beach bag design to fuel the show, Carlie is supporting local artists, loving the environment and saving lives of women who are victims of human trafficking.

The driving force behind Carlie’s cause to keep women safe stems from a childhood experience in Tiajuana where she first witnessed what poverty looked like. It was further magnified through a number of traumatic experiences she experienced as a young adult.

We don’t talk about this social issue because it’s so uncomfortable but according to Carlie, human trafficking doesn’t exist only in developing countries. It also happens to be the fastest growing industry in Canada (yes, Canada! Seriously! My eyeballs could’ve dropped to the ground when I first heard. I had to ask her to confirm several times because I couldn’t believe it). Victims are usually in a physically, socially, or economically vulnerable position. When she read the research, a pivotal thought dawned on her:

“If she - a privileged citizen of a safe first world country, could be attacked by men multiple times in her life, then what about girls who live in more dangerous places? Who is looking out for them?”

She knew that she had to step up and do something. Through further research, Carlie learned that providing work for women who came from human trafficking was the best way to help them stay out of it. In our talk, Carlie share with us how she was able to step up for her cause and keep going despite imposter syndrome and a whole slew of other fears.

Listen in to see how this girl from the prairies created an international company that shines so bright for the world.  

PS. If you’re just joining in, this is an episode of the special mini series,The Hustle Series. September is like a second new year where we get to establish new routines, refresh goals and create new dreams. Taking full advantage of this new energy, fresh start vibe, I’ve collected stories of amazing individuals wh

o took the courage and leaped for their heart calling.  As a result, they're now making riveting impact on positive change around the world.

They tell us about what it really took to make their vision a success - triumphs, trials and everything in between. They share candidly about how they figured out their heart calling was in the first place and what they leaned on to get this far. We especially dive deep and get real about the challenges they’ve faced. Oftentimes, we hear success stories about how there was a challenge and then ta-da! they made it….but what happened in the middle? It’s the sticky part that’s the thick of it and where we can use the most support when going for these endeavors.

The times when things seem hopeless and we’re about to throw in the towel. Maybe you run out of money and you literally can’t pay the bills. How do you know if you should keep trying? How do you manage when you wake up feeling like everything is a complete wash?

I’m so grateful to these individuals who graciously share the sticky parts of their journey with us. We learn so much from hearing about their passion, will and deep sense of resolve to follow their heart calling. Of course, we celebrate their triumphs with them cheer them on as they keep on going!

For you, I hope that these stories can be your anchor and inspiration as you daringly go for your dreams!

If you haven’t caught the first three episodes yet, go and listen to it now!

Episode 83 with Lyndsay Morris who has started a movement to get mindfulness into schools across America.

Episode 84 with Mandy Balak who started a national movement across Canada to help entrepreneurial women Rise Up

Episode 85 with Ingrid Huffman who’s working fearlessly operates a healing ranch to help US veterans reconnect with their happiness

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Key Nuggets:

The Story:

When she was young, Carlie’s parents passed by Tijuana on their way to Disneyland to show her what different socioeconomic status’ looked like. Carlie noticed a little girl who was caring for her baby sister and selling roses on the side of the road. In that moment, a seed was planted that would change Carlie’s life forever. She was floored by the fact that while she and her brother were so lucky to go to Disneyland, there was this other little girl who was just trying to survive on the side of the road. The call to contribute to a social cause had been instilled.

This calling sat with her for a long time until the idea of the beach bag came along. In a nutshell:

  • Came up with beach bag idea

  • Interviewed 55 women and came up with design

  • Failed

  • Tried again

  • More challenges

  • International company

Biggest Challenges Along the Way and How You Got Through It

  1. Wanting to contribute to this cause but not knowing how or where to start. Then one day the idea came naturally. Carlie’s mom helped come up with the idea of a beach bag. Well actually she was complaining about how beach bags really sucked because it’s just one big hole and the idea dawned on Carlie to innovate the design.

    The idea presented itself and Carlie was listening.

  2. Not knowing anything about fashion. Unable to tell her polyester from cotton, Carlie had to somehow design an innovative beach bag. She got through it by doing what she does best - problem solving. She started with hiring a designer and got to work.

  3. a.) Prototype was all wrong - it was nothing like she imagined. Even after spending so much money on creating it, she had to stay aligned to herself and muster up the gumption to change it.

    b.) This led to the night where she sat in her car until 1 am waiting for the new prototype to be finished. It was URGENT because she needed it for a trade show the next day. Instead of letting the fear get to her, she defaulted to the tool that she uses in the most dire times - thinking about what a great story/speech/talk it would make someday (and it worked out because it was a great story for this podcast!)

  4. Being pushed to go bigger. She was advised at a startup workshop that she needed to go bigger. She took on that challenged and once again realigned herself to what she felt was true. Instead of just supporting villages, she also found space to support local artists. Instead of just a pretty beach bag, she found a way to make it eco friendly as well .

Lessons To Share

  • Carlie got through all of her challenges because of her problem solving skills but also because she was deeply anchored to why she was doing all of this in the first place

  • You have to trust your gut. When Carlie strayed from her vision, the energy fizzled from her business. When she realigned (ex. saying not to mass production in China and opting to support small villages instead) the inspiration came back (ex. idea to support local artists)

  • Keep challenging yourself to see if you can do even more

  • Helping people doesn’t have to look a certain way (ex. being a doctor, doing volunteer work…or anything else that you’ve associated with it). Don’t feel guilty if what you truly want to do doesn’t line up with what you have in your head as a commendable cause. Not everybody needs to be passionate about clean drinking water or building shelters in third world countries. Or in Carlie’s case, she didn’t want to keep her cause local and that’s okay! You need to follow what feels good for you and it will most certainly be helping somebody.

  • Celebrate even your smallest wins

  • If you’re scared, DO IT ANYWAY

  • Learn to get comfortable with discomfort. If you’re doing anything worth doing, you’ll grow and in that growth there will be discomfort

Favorite Triumph

The moment her trust came through. She took her business plan to an entrepreneur friend to review, expecting to see red marks and questions returned, but instead he cut her a cheque to help her get the project off the ground. Working with so much faith and it worked!

What made your vision a success?

Problem solving – there was a problem, she didn’t know the answer so she researched, tested, researched and tried again. It’s about trial and error and she gave herself time and space to own that.

What’s your advice for others who are also trying to go for their dreams?

Pick your dream and get honest with yourself about how that life will look like.  Get hellbent on it then let it go.

If you’re not feeling scared, it’s not right.

Whatever that perfect life you have as a vision – chase it and chase it with everything that you have.

Your biggest lesson along the way:

 Get out of your own damn way.  There’s nothing ever an excuse or reason big enough to stop you from what you really want to do.  Stay dedicated.

What is one nugget of wisdom you would share with fellow seekers who are also on this journey of self discovery?

Surround yourself with bangin’ good people!  She’s really leveled up her friend group in her journey.  You need your tribe to lift you up during challenges. 


If you have any questions for Carlie or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website: www.theacaye.com

Email: info@theacaye.com

Social: @theacaye

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