New Space, New Brands, New Raw: Our Journey Getting Here.
As a mother of two, having your first at such a young age of 18, what was your journey like from being a stay-at-home mom to founding Raw Canvas?
As a young mom my first priority was my daughter. However, I always had a passion for skin. I was that friend when you were growing up who did everyone’s hair and make-up, and would play around with making my own masks and body scrubs. It all started with a love of beautiful things, which came natural to me as a libra. This lead me to a love for beauty, inside and out.
When my daughter was 1, I decided to go back to school to study aesthetics, to pursue my love for skin and make-up. After I finished the program I worked in various spas. I realized that the industry was not very customizable to an individual's needs, and was very robotic to an aesthetician performing the treatments. It would be a go-to of the same protocols no matter the age or the concern. It placed clients in stereotypes that would be the path of your treatment and home care. I believed there was more to it, so I started my first at home studio called “Taylor to You- Customized Spa Treatments” (named after my daughter Taylor). I performed customized treatments to each individual need, and use a pharmaceutical grade skin care line to create changes in the skin.
I eventually transitioned to medical aesthetics in a dermatologist office part time (while still having Taylor to You) to grow my education further. That is where my passion grew even stronger seeing the changes that medical skin care and devices could have on the canvas. As time went on I ended up becoming an educator for a company based out of Colorado, and decided I would focus on educating clients on the importance of mineral makeup and medical skin care. I stopped working at the dermatologist clinic and decided to close Taylor to you. I worked part-time doing what I love to do: being a mom and educating women and men on skin health.
In 2014 I went through a divorce, and having two children (12 years old and 15 months old) was forced to go full-time into a career that lasted 5 years in medical sales. I had the advantage of working alongside top plastic surgeons, dermatologists, and medical level spas and salons. About 2 years into my medical sales career I discovered that there was such a hole in the industry. There was so much confusion for clients on all the options available to them for treatments and skin care.
In July of 2016 I was sitting on my couch, burnt out from working 60-80 hours a week, trying to be the best mom possible. Believe me, being a single mom while having a demanding career, running kids to sports, and keeping in shape is like Martha Stewart or Michelle Obama on speed. I was forced to stay home due to shingles caused from extreme stress. But, from all bad things comes good things. Laying there that afternoon I started to think… there has to be more to this life! I always knew one day I would start something again and knew I needed to to maintain a life for my children and I. I had zero work life balance, I was stressed, on anxiety medication. and on the verge of a breakdown. I started to think... What is Beauty? What makes someone feel beautiful? What does every woman or man strive for when it comes to skin or feeling beautiful? Raw... what is Raw? "Raw is a natural state”, ok so everyone strives to be natural, have no makeup, look their best in the raw. I looked over beside me at canvas photos of my babies and thought, HOLY SHIT!- That’s it! Raw Canvas, a place of natural beauty. A place where first comes education, having an understanding of why. Having empathy and compassion for understanding the individuals needs, and finding the right solution with NO Bullshit. That is what I wanted Raw to be.
With all guts and glory I quit my full time job (and actually told my CEO to go F himself), and went full force in to starting this business. Three months later I was broke. I realized I needed more time to grow Raw. With my tail between my legs I went back to the company (thank god they took me back, as I was damn good at my job) and ran Raw in my spare time. In April of 2018, just two years after starting Raw I came to a crossroads, where I again was burning out. I was spending hours after work and weekends working in the studio, while travelling the province in my executive sales roll. I needed to make a decision. My clientele had grown exponentially and I was turning new clients away, and if you remember what happened last time I left my full time job.... I was scared shitless. What if I didn't make it? What if I failed? I had a family vacation planned to go to Cabo for two weeks. I told myself I would find my clarity there, and when I returned home I would have my answer. It was the most stressful vacation I had ever been on. Sleepless nights, praying to god to help me find my answer, checking my horoscope daily, trying to understand numerology...anything to give me what I was looking for. Holy shit was I terrified (but I must say it was a great way to stay slim on vacation).
It's needless to say, as I sit here 3 years later writing this blog and reflecting back on starting a business that had its challenges and bumps in the road. I did quit my full time job when I returned home, and gave Raw Canvas my heart and soul. I have never looked back, and I am so grateful for this journey and every single one of you that has been part of it along the way.
After more than ten years of being a stay-at-home mom it must have been a pretty dramatic transition to founding such a large business. What was the most difficult part of that transition, or the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
That’s a tough one. As I look back and reflect to when I was married to my first husband, I remember thinking how badly I wanted something of my own, to call my own. Something to brand me, as my own identity instead of just a stay-at -home mom. What I would give some days to be lazy with my babies (although they are not babies anymore at 18 and 7), and just have the luxury with waking up and in the moment, deciding what we do that day, or simply to be able to do nothing at all. I totally took that for granted in the past. I look back now and I’m not sure how I balance it all. I would say the biggest challenge is trying to find that balance. Trying to find those days to do something yet nothing, trying to be the best mom, wife, friend, sister, aunt, boss ... the list goes on. But there is one thing I know that keeps me grounded and that is I am humble. It’s funny, as far as we’ve come I still don’t see Raw Canvas as a large business!
In only a few short years you go from a home based business, to purchasing and building such an impressive studio space. Tell us a little about your growth during those home-business years, and why you decided to move the studio.
Working from home has truly been a blessing. It made me a little bit of a hermit, as I really never leave home (lol), but over all it has been a blessing. Growing the business didn't mean having to grow in to a new space that was a choice I made. I made the decision to move the studio in to Fort Langley to give back. Give back you may think? How? I wanted to create a beautiful space for clients to enjoy, just as much as I enjoy creating a beautiful canvas. The space in Fort Langley may be bigger, but the one-on-one care stays the same. This new space is very organic, natural and raw in design. This space tells a story, just as every canvas tells a life story. The story of one women who has a dream and this dream became a reality. And no matter what never gave up.
What happens next?
Next? Wow, it really is hard to believe in just five short weeks the doors will be open in the new space. As for next, I'm going to take some time to just enjoy this new chapter before I share what's next... and that's a whole other blog post! :)
Purchasing, designing, and developing the new studio must have been a pretty large undertaking on top of maintaining your current business and client list, what has been the greatest joy and the greatest hurdle in this project?
Each step has had it hurdles from the financing, to the design, to the build out. I really couldn't have done it without the help of my banker at RBC, Karin from House Of Bohn for the design, and my contractors Steve Hanzlick and Chad Swash. It has taken a small village to make this happen and I am ever so grateful for their help. I have to say the greatest hurdle and joy through this has been my husband Mike. He has watched me day in and day out go through every emotion with this journey, and has been my cornerstone. On days where I wanted to give up and was ready to have a break down he would hold me, and on days where I was beyond excited he was right there celebrating with me. On the days I was unsure if I could do this, he was there. He has been my biggest fan and biggest support. It has challenged our marriage, and there were times where I thought we wouldn't make it through but he has never given up on me or allowed me to give up on myself or this project.
Is there anything else about this journey, from teen mom to owning such a successful business and brand that you share with your Raw family?
Trust in God.