With 20 years of valuable entrepreneurial experience, I have been fortunate to have worked with some thriving businesses that have made their mark in challenging economic times and unique business modeIs. Growing up in the Kootenay’s, my family owned and operated a successful business that inspired me to be the entrepreneur that I am today. Gabriel’s Restaurant was opened by my father in 1980 (in Castlegar BC) and was very much a part of my everyday life starting from age 1. I began working at the restaurant at age 11 and this seemed absolutely normal to me as I had a real passion for understanding all layers of the business. I learned at a young age that you need to work hard in order to be successful, that your people make your business, and that you can’t just manage from the outside (you need to get your hands dirty and really walk the walk). Having this strong business foundation provided me with an inside perspective of how a business operates. Although I had completed the fashion Design program at Blanche McDonalds Institute for Applied Design in 1999 and worked in the field until the end of 2001; I came back home and managed the family business for 2 years until we sold in 2003. At that time I realized I was not quite ready to dig my roots and commit to living in the Kootenay’s long-term. I knew that I still needed to move back to the city in order to continue growing through new experiences.
The year 2003 marked the start of my incredible 6.5-year journey with lululemon Athletica. It didn’t take long after I started with the company as an educator that I wanted to achieve my goals as part of this fast-growing and exciting company. The beginning of this journey also marked the start of my path in understanding my true strengths; how to develop others in operating a rapidly changing retail environment, and how to foster a strong company culture I soon realized that fashion designing was a passion, but was not what I was best at! I learned that I thrive in an environment where I am held accountable to results and am given the freedom to get these results. I learned to tailor results directly to people’s strengths and most of all found success in managing people. The tools and development lululemon provided me with helped me become the leader that I am today and gave me a platform to understand how a value-based culture creates an effective, profitable, and sustainable environment like no other.
Through my journey with lululemon Athletica, I was able to merry fuse my passion for creating and connecting communities with building strategy for our stores and developing people’s talents everyday. Shortly after starting with the company I moved to Montreal and began the process of opening 4 bilingual stores there. After opening and managing the store in Westmount, I was placed into the role of Eastern Regional Manager (including Ottawa and Kingston), I continued in this region for 3 years, overseeing the operations of 7 stores and opening 6 of these 7 stores locations.
In 2007, I moved to Toronto to over-see the Southeast region. This was truly an exciting move for me, as I knew I was embarking on a challenging journey. By this time, I knew that I could be successful in opening stores and building culture from scratch; I was very excited to see if I could sustain the same results with a region that was already established and where the sales volume was much higher. In this position I oversaw the operations and development of 7 stores. A great achievement for us was opening a location that at the time was the most financially successful opening thus far.
In 2008, I decided to move back to Vancouver so that I could be closer to my family. I took on managing the Park Royal location for the next 1.5 years. Coming back full circle allowed me to really re-connect with the store experience from the ground up. I was challenged and confronted with some really big, amazing lessons in the process. It was a very exciting time being in Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics…what an amazing experience and unbelievable memories. This moment was a challenge like no other I had faced before, it brought me to a point where I needed to re-evaluate my goals and in which direction I wanted to head in based on my strengths once again.
Mid 2010, I moved back to the Kootenay’s to have my son and to be close to my family. Being exceptionally drawn to community, it only made sense for me to be back to my roots so that my son could have the best of all worlds.
So here I am today, still incredibly passionate about delivering tools and coaching so that I can help people learn how to successfully grow their business and more importantly, develop themselves. People are the most important part of a business; how we develop them, utilize their strengths and invest into them ends up being the most valuable way to impact the bottom-line. My goal is to develop business owners so that they gain an understanding of how creating an environment of people-focused culture will generate long-term success for their business. In February 2012, I created thrive, a collaboration of all my tools, strengths, and passions and a mission that says it all:
“Shifting Ordinary to Extraordinary”