From investor relations, to energy conservation, then starting her own social enterprise and now joining the MAD team, Santa is constantly moving, and with each step, using her unique skills and expertise to make a meaningful contribution to the world.
Meet Santa Kanaska, MAD’s new Community & Content Manager and co-founder of Latvian based social business WolliMolli.
Who Is Santa?
I am a Latvian, who has consciously chosen to follow the path of MAD (Make A Difference) movement. I have become a part of the MAD community due to the stroke of luck and determination which occurred to me after enrolling in my first exchange program in life – Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs. The exchange application process required to find an experienced mentor, a partner from another EU country with whom the young entrepreneur could collaborate during his or her business development process, and the exchange lasts up to six months. After a couple of attempts to find my perfect mentor, I got in touch with Fiona, with who I managed to develop a magical collaboration that I am grateful and excited about!
The Erasmus exchange requires a Young Entrepreneur to have an existing business to work with, my business WolliMolli, is a sustainable children’s fashion brand, which I am co-developing with my sister, Sandra. Two years ago, inspired by the birth of our eldest sister’s son and clothing material properties she was looking for her baby’s wear, we developed a social enterprise which is focussed on hand made baby clothing created from the finest baby alpaca wool by highly skilled and enthusiastic team of Latvian artesian women. We are a social business, which empowers women who are working in the artisan sector to develop the highest quality babywear by doing and pursuing what they love. We are inspired by the love and responsibility our team members invest during the WolliMolli garment development process, which is our guarantee for the clothing quality.
WolliMolli is a social business, which empowers women who are working in the artisan sector to develop the highest quality babywear by doing and pursuing what they love. We are inspired by the love and responsibility our team members invest during the WolliMolli garment development process, which is our guarantee for the clothing quality.
My life before MAD.
Before MAD, I was living in a “typical” student lifestyle. After graduating high school, I enrolled in the Riga Business School, where I gained my bachelor's degree in Business Administration. During my second study year, I started working in online marketing, focussing on social media advertising, business development, public relations and following that, in my last year at the University, I developed my thesis research supporting a striving fashion atelier to increase an online presence, brand awareness and developed recommendations for the brand’s expansion.
Last two years of my life I worked in the financial sector being an investor relations specialist. At the beginning of 2019, I went to explore Panama and Honduras. My traveling experience made me realize the importance of social business development and projects, especially those which are focussed on solving social challenges in education and healthcare sectors. This realization changed my scope of how I saw things in my life. It changed my life focus and I started striving for making a meaningful and positive impact not only for myself but community as well.
Before the start of exchange I worked as a marketing project manager of Building and Energy Conservation Bureau which mission was to encourage building renovation in Latvia to improve housing security and energy efficiency for Latvian citizens, and it aimed to eradicate energy poverty. It was a great experience that helped me to realize the importance of social business to economy and environment. Today I am here - joining MAD, feeling more inspired than ever and working with projects that will make a difference in communities across the world. At the same time I am developing my social business (WolliMolli) and constantly learning from my inspiring and supportive mentors Fiona and Emelie. This is a very meaningful and life-changing experience for me.
What inspired me to make a change?
Change is scary, but rewarding at the same time. The truth is that some while before making this significant transformation, I postponed taking some time off for reflecting on the things which truly mattered to me. During that period, I found many excuses for procrastinating answering the question such as “How can I make a difference?” and daily responsibilities, projects, family expectations became my primary life focus. Being in the comfort zone gave an illusion of safe space and security, but after some time, I felt the urge of finally stopping and listening to myself, since the unanswered questions piled up to a level I could not ignore anymore. The final decision that made me make a life shift was the realization that time has passed and I needed to carry on pursuing my dreams, to create magic in my every day that would light up others. I felt that many opportunities await and I must not hesitate any longer to use them.
My favorite quote that I keep repeating to myself is Newton’s first law of motion - “Motion creates Motion.” The expression was often used by my mom when I was growing up, meaning that the person will continue to grow as long as he or she will keep moving in the direction which is right for him or her. It is an interesting coincidence, because now after being an engineering professor for decades, my mom is making her life shift, pursuing her dream career in coaching and psychology. She is a volunteer advisor for the youth mentoring project in Latvia and I love to joke that I inspired her to join the MAD movement too.
I believe that one should never stop challenging themselves with matters that are meaningful to them because this is what sustains life’s purpose and our energy. It is our obligation and responsibility to use our talents and gifts to make a positive impact in this world. We must carry with pride the light inside us and pass it to empower others to make the world a happier place.
Moving Forward with MAD
For the next five months you will see a lot of me! I will be the Community and Content Manager for MAD. I will participate in the content development process across social media networks, websites, and podcasts, assisting Fiona and Emelie with the management tasks. You will meet me in MAD organized workshops, presentations and other public events and I will be more than happy to join you for conversation and discuss questions that matter to you, so please do get in touch so we can build this MAD movement together!