Can Toronto become a fashion capital in the vein of Paris, Milan and New York City? If the Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards (CAFA ) has its way, the True North, better known internationally for maple syrup and poutine, will make its mark on the world’s style stage.

There’s certainly no lack of talent. Canada can boast the likes of DSquared2, Erdem, Coco Rocha, Winnie Harlow, Jason Wu, Tanya Taylor, Heather Marks and more as proud patriots. Then there are the promising upstart designers like Mikhael Kale, Sid Neigum, Christopher Paunil, Matthew Gallagher and Beaufille.

On Friday, CAFA’s third annual awards ceremony celebrated our country’s best designers, stylists, models and more in a glitzy gala at the Fairmont Royal York. While the Cinderella gowns and Swarovski jewels are fun to ogle, it’s easy to forget a lot of the real push to put homegrown fashion on the map happens in backrooms. It’s the business power players, finance gurus and savvy lawyers – often women – who put in the work to take our industry to the next level. Meet five of the #GirlBosses running Canadian fashion and their views on the future of the business.