What may seem like an unpredictable jump between two very contrasting careers was actually a decision based in fate and family. Like many other young people growing up, I didn’t want to do what my parents did. My family is the epitome of entrepreneurs - my father has owned multiple hair salons, my mother owned a beauty boutique, and my brother and father teamed up to create Colour Lab - the first and only colour-only hair salon in Toronto. I saw the struggle and unpredictability of owning your own business as a major deterrence. Although I was completely obsessed with all things fashion and beauty, I never felt like I would fit into the industry or find the stability I craved, so I set out to get a ‘regular’ job, work hard, and have a ‘normal life’. It wasn’t until what I worked so hard to accomplish became a reality that I realized it was absolutely not for me.
As I came closer to graduating in English Literature, and hearing back from law schools, I began developing a feeling in my stomach that something wasn’t right. I would binge fashion documentaries to see if that would fill the hole that was growing bigger each day, and to my surprise it brought back the wonderment I aways felt while studying Teen Vogue as a kid. But I managed to stuff that feeling back inside since I’d already come so far towards becoming a lawyer, I couldn’t just ‘give up’. I told myself that feeling was just insecurity and nerves, but I think I knew deep down it was more. I was terrified to tell anyone out of fear they would think I was flakey or that I just couldn’t get into law school.
When I was accepted to a great Canadian law school my first feeling was dread. Not excitement over finally accomplishing my goal, but instead total anxiety and a gut feeling that it wasn’t right. I made the difficult decision to decline the offer and instead take a year off to explore other options. These mostly floated around marketing, banking, consulting - other ‘professional’ careers, but none that suited me. I concluded I must not love anything else and would thus re-apply to law and actually go. Then I got in again. This time I accepted it, despite all the feelings I had, and went to go visit the school with my mom. It was on this trip that everything changed. The moment we entered the campus I cried and couldn’t stop. Yes, full on bawling, tears streaming down my face, beet red. That night, when I still couldn’t stop crying, my mom asked me a question that would change everything:
“If you could do anything in the world, what would you do?”
“I would start a skincare line with you”, I replied.
And that was it. The next morning we woke up I started reaching out to everyone that I knew in the fashion and beauty industry for help and advice. If it weren’t for my family’s unconditional support I don’t think I would have made this decision, and I never would have gotten my answer if I didn’t express how I was feeling. Note to self: express yourself.
There was an overwhelming reaction of support for my decision - mainly from other people in the industry, and especially young women. As I began meeting with successful female entrepreneurs in the beauty industry, I realized how supportive they were, and that I’m not alone. Sometimes when you’re going through a major challenge knowing that you’re not the only one and that others have made it through a very similar situation helps more than anything. It also taught me to ask for help - something I never did growing up. I knew that if I really wanted to succeed, I needed to ask for help from peers, idols, and people smarter than me in their fields. And yes, I admit I’m not always the smartest person in the room. I knew my strengths and weaknesses very well by this point so I was able to quickly decide what I could do and who I would need to hire for help. One of the women I met referred me to some of their past team, who has helped me build my brand from that day on. Obviously having a small business budget isn’t easy, but when people see the passion in your eyes it inspires them to love your brand like their own.
Of course, there were the doubters. People would ask if I could make the same money I would as a lawyer and they would ask what I could know about starting a business. Turns out, I knew a lot more than I thought I did. Since I grew up in this world, and truly loved it, most of the steps came naturally. I knew my vision and how to achieve it - with some help, of course! You also don’t realize how much you know until you start doing it. Since I was launching with a single product many people tried to convince me that I needed to launch a full line, they even got my mom thinking it wasn’t such a bad idea. But I knew what I wanted, and while I heard everyone's advice, I stuck to my gut and kept going. Never stop and don’t look around or behind you. Just go.