Aligning community, contribution and commerce

Peter B. Gustavson School of Business

- Gaelle Madevon

Brina Martens is an aspiring entrepreneur, a trailblazer, a dedicated philanthropist, and a storyteller. She is also one of the Gustavson School’s latest commerce grads, and through the years she’s taken the business school’s pillars to heart: her latest project, ethreeone, is every bit of an international, integrative, innovative and socially responsible business. 

At its core, ethreeone is a network that empowers women in the professional world through fashion. Martens came up with the idea of creating a community of fashion-forward, business-minded and authentic women during the third year of the commerce program as she learned about social ventures and their far-reaching impact in society. The ethreeone blog, born out of her passion for female empowerment and fashion, features goal-oriented businesswomen and offers styling tips for females wanting to look, feel and be the part. Launched in August 2014, the blog has quickly become popular, with more than 38,000 visits in its first year alone.

Innovative by nature, Martens envisions bigger plans for the ethreeone community. While completing her entrepreneurship specialization this summer, Martens developed an elaborate business plan for a brick-and-mortar ethreeone boutique. Supported by her Gustavson professors and fellow BCom peers, she pitched her proposal to Victoria community members and local entrepreneurs this past August. 

If operating her own business wasn’t bold enough, Martens is chasing multiple dreams at once. After participating in Gustavson’s international work-study in China last December, and visiting multinational companies such as Google and Unilever in Shanghai, Martens has been yearning to explore other avenues of international business. 

That journey has already taken her to Africa, where she has been giving her time and talents to empower vulnerable women in Uganda. For the past two months, she has been applying the business skills she learned in the classroom to help launch a women-operated startup in the African country. Through Martens’ market research and operational logistics analysis, Living Hope’s new merchandise line will be ready to launch next year.  In Martens’ words, she “could not have found a better opportunity that required [her] to put into practice the past two years of theory and skills [she] acquired from Gustavson.” 

Ever the businesswoman, Martens was able to leverage her humanitarian experience to further market her network. Prior to leaving for Africa, she launched a new ethreeone campaign titled Blazers 4 Uganda, which encouraged her online community to donate gently-used blazers that would be offered to the women in the Living Hope program. Brina’s spirited call-to-action amassed close to a hundred business jackets in two short weeks; more than that, it allowed for symbols of confidence to be shared from one successful businesswoman to another hopeful one.  

Martens cites a Frank Ocean lyric as her credo: “work hard in silence, let success be your noise.” In striving to create a community where women inspire each other, she is, in fact, serving as a positive model for many—creating an impactful business with a social conscience, and building a community of women who align commerce with contribution.


In this story

Keywords: community, commerce, convocation, philanthropy, student life, entrepreneurship

People: Brina Martens

Related stories