I had just gotten back from a holiday in Mexico and was prepping for my upcoming trip to Australia when the confirmation for my meeting at the bank came through.
Guys, I’ll be honest – walking into a financial advisor’s office to chat about my current financial situation really didn’t sound like a great time to me. Fact is, I spent most of my twenties in spending mode rather than the saving zone, and now that I’m 32, I realize I’m halfway to retirement and don’t have a whole lot to show for it (enter internal freak out).
But there I was, on a cold Tuesday a few weeks back, strolling into Scotiabank on King St. and sitting across from Michael Cook, the advisor who was going to get me and my finances sorted so I could plan for the future and still maintain an enjoyable lifestyle in the present (i.e. travel every year!). “Alright, let’s do this,” I groaned, and he laughed which made me relax a bit. And as ten minutes passed, I actually found myself completely comfortable talking money with Michael – he held no judgment about my current situation and simply focused on the best ways to make my finances work for my lifestyle.
Because as I mentioned in Part 1 of this series, my situation is kinda tricky. I’m a freelancer, so ‘regular paycheque’ isn’t really a phrase that’s a part of my life. Money comes in waves – some months there’s a big ol’ breaker, and others there’s barely even a ripple. Putting away a few hundred a month could be a small portion of my income or half of my income for that month.
One of the most common questions I get asked from new bloggers is, “How did you gain an audience?”, which is usually followed quickly by, “How early did you start working with brands?” and then of course, “Do you know of any good programs to buy legit followers?”
In a world where it seems anything can be bought, I always knew that social media was part and parcel of that – but I saw it mostly from the brand side, buying followers on Facebook and the like. That was until I got heavily involved in Instagram as part of my personal brand and saw it from the ‘influencer’ side – the bloggers and Instagrammers who make a living off of promoting brands due to their ‘influence’. At first, I saw it with Instagrammers buying followers. Then it was likes. Then it was joining comment pods, which are just groups of bloggers who don’t necessarily even know each other or even like each other’s content, but are forced to comment on each other’s photos to increase engagement or they’ll get kicked out of the group. I myself have been invited to join a few on Instagram and most recently to a Facebook group for bloggers, with strict rules dictating how often to comment on blog posts and what types of comments to leave.
And I struggled when I saw it happening. I saw people with generic photos and boring captions get 800 likes and 300+ comments on every single post, a ratio that doesn’t add up. I began to ask myself if I should be doing the same thing, if this was just the way the game was played now and if you don’t get on board, you’ll just be left behind. I even tried a ‘liking bot’ that would ‘like’ posts with hashtags I specified, a learning experience we all go through starting out.
Walking into a lingerie store at the mall, surrounded by loud pop music and giant images of curvy (but always skinny) women, and bins of underwear, all of which we’re meant to believe will make us look like the models on the posters. But they never do. And instead, we leave with an overpriced bra that is scratchy and doesn’t even fit, but the 18-year-old salesgirl assured you looks ‘amazing on you’.
For Amy Pearson and Ashley Holden, this experience was all too familiar, and it was the frustration that led them to open their own lingerie boutique, Stole My Heart. Opened in November 2016 and located on Toronto’s Dundas West strip, Stole My Heart is a gorgeous space that is as much about beautiful quality lingerie as it is about body positivity. Emblazoned across the wall is their motto ‘Take Your Own Breath Away”, and on the racks you’ll find everything from lacy Fleur of England bras to cheeky Naja knickers, Mary Young cotton bras to special-occasion luxe lingerie by Petit Trou.
But for two women who dreamed of opening their own boutique but had never worked in lingerie, how did the idea even come to fruition? “For six months, we’d throw ideas around and it kept coming back to lingerie – building a brand around self love and body positivity, but in a way that was fun and that you enjoy, and in a space where you feel safe,” says Amy.
Keep reading to find out how these two renegades left their high-profile jobs to start their own business, and how they’re going against the status quo to empower Toronto women to fall in love with their bodies one great-fitting bra at a time.
Leaving your job can be pretty scary, and if you’re quitting it to start your own business, well friends, it’s basically the most terrifying thing in the world. That being said, it can also be the most liberating.
One of the biggest decisions of my life was to leave my well-paying job in PR to go off on my own and start This Renegade Love. Even though I loved the brand I worked for and the people I worked with, I was miserable. I woke up every morning dreading the day ahead and felt like I wasn’t able to live up to my potential. I can remember going into my boss’ office (who was also a friend of mine) to tell her I was leaving and the next feeling being ‘Oh god WTF HAVE I DONE?”. I was living in the UK without a job prospect or a network of people to throw me a bone.