"I love animals and I volunteer with an amazing dog rescue organization in Toronto, Save Our Scruff. I’ve been on their board of directors for just over 2 years and am soooo proud of the amazing work SOS does."
"I love to travel! Tentatively planned next trips include a week in Mexico City and Puebla, and a longer trip to visit Iran."
"I realllllly like wine – not just drinking it, but learning about it. (It’s ok if you want to call me nerdy – I’ll take it!) My husband and I took the Wines 1 Sommelier course at George Brown last year and are eager to continue with more courses!"
You went from being a lawyer to co-founding a new brand of cookware designed for small spaces. How did this come about and how did you decide to take the leap towards this new career path?
It was a really hard decision and not something I just jumped into. I was at a point in my legal career where I was looking for a change, but I was not really sure what kind of law I wanted to practice long-term. I was definitely considering doing something different, but not set on completely leaving law.
At the same time, my husband and I were moving into yet another condo (the condos we rent are perpetually sold!) and I was yet again trying to find a way to get my pots and pans to fit in our kitchen. I was initially just frustrated at my situation (why are my pots so big and awkward! And why is this kitchen so small!) but then I became frustrated at the fact that I could not find anything else on the market that would fit and fix my problem. The more I thought about it the more frustrated I became, and I could not shake this idea that someone SHOULD be making better cookware! I mean, I am not the only person to live in a small condo! The problem I was experiencing (struggling to fit my pots and pans in my small kitchen) seemed almost universal amongst my friends in Toronto and New York, and I assumed other cities, too.
I spent a lot of time looking at other legal jobs – I even applied to a few and went on interviews – but I found that I was never that interested, and instead kept thinking about cookware. I was sketching pots in my notebook at work and thinking up ideas for lids, or ways to make things fit together, when I was supposed to be drafting policy papers – clearly I was focused on pots!
I knew that if I didn’t pursue my cookware idea, someone else would, and so set out to put a plan in place to make it happen. I spent the next few months researching like crazy and putting together the start of a business plan. I gave myself a timeline to get a few of the preliminary things ready and a goal for saving a bit of extra cash... and then I quit! And I have not looked back since. :)
"As cliché as it sounds, life is too short to be doing something that does not make you happy."
Do you have any tips or words of wisdom for anyone looking to make a drastic career or life change?
As cliché as it sounds, life is too short to be doing something that does not make you happy. I’ve worked harder, worked more hours, and had to deal with more stress in the past year since I started Ensembl, but I’ve never been happier and never felt more fulfilled. That being said, I did not just wake up one day and decide to switch careers! It was something I thought long and hard about, and something I planned out before I jumped in. All that being said, my advice to anyone thinking of making a big change is to really think about what makes you happy (and be honest with yourself – what makes me happy may not be what makes you happy), make a plan so you can understand what you need to do in order to get there, and then go for it.
What's a regular day like in your life?
Being an entrepreneur means it is hard to nail down what a “typical” day is, but I’ll try my best! Ensembl is still a young company, and one of our cost-saving measures is to work from home, so most of my days are spent there!
My day usually starts with reading the news in bed in the morning – I really like to start the day knowing what is happening! Then I make a big pot of coffee around 7am, and get set up on the couch and start working. I try to cover any social media related work first thing, answer any emails (part of my team is in San Francisco, and we work with a prototyping facility in South Korea and our manufacturing partner is based in China, so there is often a lot of overnight email traffic), and check in on my to-do list for what needs to get accomplished for the rest of the day.
If I have any blog writing to do, I’ll try to get that done in the morning. Alternatively, if I have any blog photos to take (we do lots of food photos!) I will try to take those in the morning, which is when I have the best light in my apartment.
I switch to working at my desk by 10:30am, and try to work on anything that needs to get done on a full-sized computer. Right now, Ensembl is raising money, so a lot of my time is spent perfecting our pitch deck and adding details to our business plan, and I prefer to do this on a larger screen.
After lunch I’ll either get back to work at my desk, or head out to work from my favourite coffee shop (Tandem Coffee – it does not have wifi and so I can be really productive with writing-related tasks!). I also try to schedule meetings in the afternoons, so I will meet with potential design/food related partners or meet with people to discuss funding. I will also have calls with my team in the afternoon, so we can check in with each other and make sure we’re on track to meet the goals set out for the week.
Depending on how my day goes, I like to take a break round 6pm and head to kickboxing. If I’ve been really productive during the day I’ll stay for the entire class; if I still have lots to do I’ll just go for the 30 minute warm-up and then head home to keep working.
When I get back from kickboxing (and during the week generally) I try to have something quick and easy to prepare for dinner (and I love to make sure there are leftovers!). I’ll make dinner, eat, then typically keep working until 10 pm (sometimes later, depending on where I’m at with a task!). When I’m ready to wrap things up, I make sure to update my to-do list so it’s ready to go for the next morning.
I like to end the day with a glass of wine or whiskey while I watch something on Netflix (I’m currently re-watching The West Wing – seriously one of the best shows) and then I’ll switch to peppermint tea about 30 minutes before bed. Depending on the day, I’ll try to add a facemask into the wine/Netflix session, or I’ll do my nails. I usually crawl into bed around midnight and do a 15 minute meditation with the help of the Meditation Studio app. And then I sleep!
When you have time to pamper yourself, what’s your go-to?
At home - face masks! I love using face masks – especially the clay kind that dry on your face. They always make me feel like I’ve really removed the impurities from my skin.
What are your favourite beauty and/or wellness products?
Anastasia Beverly Hills – Brow Wiz (if I can make my eyebrows look good I feel like I don’t need anything else, especially for anything during the day!)
Bite Beauty - Agave Lip Mask (this works wonders for dry lips! I find mine get especially dry when I fly, which I do a lot for work. This saves me!)
Benefit Cosmetics - Stay Don’t Stray 360 Degree Stay Put Eyeshadow Primer (If I need to be out of the house from morning-night and want to wear eyeliner or shadow, this ensures everything will stay on and stay in place all day)
Kiehls - Eye Alert – actually marketed as a product for men, but this little cream does wonders to wake up my tired eyes!
Do you have any daily rituals you do to keep calm or focused?
Keeping my to-do list and making time to exercise!
My to-do list is key. Any time I feel overwhelmed, I make a list, or consult my list, and I immediately feel better. Something about seeing all the things that need to get done and then figuring out how to make time to accomplish them is calming and reassuring.
Kickboxing really helps keep calm and focused. Not only is it an intense workout, but it forces you to focus all your attention and energy on boxing – let your mind wander for a second and you are likely going to get kicked or punched! After an hour of kickboxing my mind feels clear and I'm much better able to focus on my work and process information.
What's the best beauty or overall wellness advice you've ever received?
Routine is key! Doing something one time won’t help, but getting into a routine and doing things daily is the way to get results.