La Petite Écolière
THE BIG QUESTIONS
WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSIONAL TITLE?
Founder and CEO of La Petite Écolière
WHAT DO YOU DO ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS?
During the day, I work full time at the Ontario Science Centre, a museum dedicated to teaching children and the community about Science and Technology. And at night, I build my business, La Petite Écolière. La Petite Écolière is an apparel line that inspires a dedication. For every ten products sold, we donate school essentials and meal programs for one girl in a developing country. I manage all aspects, including the website, social media, creative concept design, sourcing and operations, and financial.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO DO WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD AND WHAT CHANGED?
When I was growing up, I wanted to be a lawyer. What has changed? Now I’m dating a lawyer, and am happy that I don’t work the same strenuous hours as he does. I’m happy I changed my mind because I love being able to express my creativity and entrepreneurial drive by running my own apparel line.
WHAT ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS DO YOU HAVE?
I have an Honours Bachelor degree in French Language and Linguistics, a Minor in Spanish Language and Linguistics, a University Certificate in Business French, I have passed the DALF-C2 exam (highest diploma of French as a foreign language).
WHAT’S THE BEST CAREER ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
The best career advice I’ve been given is to launch before you’re ready and make tweaks along the way. Nothing is ever going to be perfect, and it is better to just get out there and accept and adjust based on the feedback you receive along the way. With my business, I launched with a very small collection (only producing 25 shirts of each design), and with the initial feedback and traction of sales, I’m able to see what my customers like and focus on those types of products and designs. I’ve also been fortunate enough to win a few workshops on branding and messaging, and am currently using what I learnt there to improve my website and communication strategy. I believe in learning and growing all the time, so I truly believe in launching before you’re ready, and figuring everything out as you go along!
WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL AND WHY?
I have many role models for my different goals. Some of those role models include Michelle Obama because she is a wonderful advocate for the importance of education, Sophia Amoruso for keeping me inspired about what women can achieve, and Malala for truly going against the odds of an oppressive situation to not only gain her own education, but the education of thousands of girls through her Foundation.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR CURRENT WORKING ENVIRONMENT?
The best thing about my current working environment with my business is that I can truly work anywhere - cafes, at home, abroad, at co-working spaces. As long as I have my laptop and cellphone, I am truly free to work where and when I want.
WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE ABOUT YOUR DAILY WORK ROUTINE IF YOU COULD?
Right now, my full time job is helping to fund my business and basic living expenses until I can get to the point where my business sustains me more fully. If I could change one thing, I’d like to have more flexible work hours for my job. Working 9-5 means that it is more difficult for me to meet with retailers and suppliers, as those are their normal business hours.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF PROFESSIONALLY IN FIVE YEARS’ TIME?
In five years, I hope to be in major retailers across Canada and the United States, and running my business full-time. I’d love to be more involved in speaking and advocating for women’s rights to their education, and inspiring more young girls to follow their dreams.
DO YOU FEEL YOU CAN BE THE SAME PERSON AT WORK AND IN PRIVATE?
Absolutely! My friends and family know me as dependable, silly, empathetic and curious. These qualities have all served me well professionally as well.
WHERE AND IN WHAT ROLES ARE WOMEN IN THE LEADERSHIP STRUCTURE AT YOUR COMPANY?
Right now, I am the Founder and CEO. I work with a female graphic designer to help bring the vision of my designs to life.
DOES DIVERSITY MATTER TO YOU?
Yes. I am extremely passionate about the need for women (of all colour) to be better represented. I am very careful about trying to represent all women on my social media channels and on my Role Models blog, which features incredible women who are using their education and lifelong learning to elevate their careers and lives. There is a quote, “if you can see it, you can be it”, and to me, that means if young girls can see CEOs, Entrepreneurs, Scientists, Engineers of their gender and skin colour, they will know that it is possible for them to achieve as well.
HOW GOOD IS YOUR WORK LIFE BALANCE?
My work-life balance is good, but can always be improved. Right now, I wake up most mornings at 6am to squeeze in a workout before the workday starts. I love doing this because I feel accomplished right off the bat, and I am energised for the day.
WHAT QUALITIES DOES BEING IN YOUR ROLE NECESSITATE?
Fearlessness, being humble, and creativity. Running a business, reaching out to collaborate with people, pitching retail, is all terrifying to me! I have had to step outside my comfort zone to achieve my goals. I have also had to be quite humble, and accept help from others, and learn from mentors. I have never run an online retail business before, and while many of my skills from my career in fundraising have been transferable, I have had to really come into this open to learn from the experts. Finally, it requires being creative. I draw inspiration every day for new design ideas. That is my absolute favourite part of the business.
ANY FINAL COMMENTS?
When I was younger, I didn’t understand the value of community and relationships. I didn’t even know this community of incredibly supportive women existed! I encourage all girls and women to find a tribe of women who uplift them and help them to achieve their dreams. I promise there are so many wonderful people out there who are willing to help!