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Celebrating International Women’s Day 2024: In Conversation with Top Knot Ventures Founder, Manica Blain

March 8, 2024

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2024, Greybrook hosted a virtual fireside conversation on Thursday, March 7th joined by guest speaker, Manica Blain who shared her career and entrepreneurial journey—and how the power of having a clear vision and forging her own path led to success.

As we honour this important day, we embrace the theme of ‘Inspire Inclusion,’ recognizing the vital role of inclusivity in fostering diverse perspectives and empowerment in all aspects of society. In our journey to ‘Inspire Inclusion,’ we had the pleasure of hosting an insightful virtual fireside discussion led by our very own Sarah Mansour, Executive Director of Strategy and Corporate Development, featuring accomplished entrepreneur, Manica Blain, of Top Knot Ventures. With over 15 years of diverse experience in investment banking, private equity, and venture capital, Manica’s career journey has been nothing short of dynamic.

Driven by her passion for nurturing young companies, Blain co-founded Campfire Capital in 2014, a $32MM US venture capital fund. Supported by investors including former Lululemon executives and BDC Capital, Campfire Capital focused on investing in emerging consumer brands and direct-to-consumer ventures, a notable milestone includes leading the $5 million Series A financing for FIGS. Post-Campfire, Blain continued her active involvement in early-stage consumer ventures before embarking on a new phase of her career. In 2022, she established Top Knot Ventures, working with passionate founders of consumer businesses as they build, grow, and scale the iconic consumer brands of the future.

Blain’s inspiring journey is marked by fearlessness, tenacity, and forging her own path; qualities that drove her to ultimately land a position as an analyst for a boutique investment bank in London, England, early in her career. During this time, her adaptability and unwavering drive enabled her to successfully navigate the complexities and nuances of a foreign market.

She goes on to highlight the invaluable experience gained across various regions, demographics, and transactions while working as an associate at Citigroup during the economic downturn in 2008. Despite working with a much smaller team, among other challenges, resilience and determination led her to spearhead some of the largest consumer mergers and acquisitions, including a significant deal involving industry heavyweights, Kraft, and Cadbury.

When asked about the greatest lessons imparted by a female mentor she admires most, she proudly acknowledged her friend and former colleague at Onex, Emma Thompson. Emma’s captivating strength and confidence in any room left a lasting impression on her, and she attributes her success as a courageous Top Knot entrepreneur to the lessons Emma taught her, emphasizing the importance of representation.  She also recognized Christine Day, former CEO of Lululemon, as another influential female leader she looked up to—who later became one of Blain’s partners at Campfire Capital in 2014.

Today, Vancouver-based Blain is passionately leading her own investment fund and vehicle, which she uses for angel investing to support founders in leading their venture capital rounds. Since its inception, she has made 10 investments and continues to pursue her passion for consulting with early-stage “X factor” founders in the consumer sector who exhibit a unique sense of purpose and are innovating with progressive products.

Before opening the floor to questions, she shared a key message for young women early in their careers: “Every interaction and relationship you’re building is valuable and will come full circle one day, and end up being a piece of your story.”

The significance of International Women’s Day extends beyond celebration—it serves as a powerful catalyst for change and a platform to amplify diverse perspectives, contributions, and achievements of women from all walks of life who continue to drive meaningful progress. At Greybrook, we embrace and celebrate the progress and achievements of women around the world, and we proudly recognize the remarkable women of our organization whose dedication continually sparks inspiration, innovation, and transformative change.

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