At the age of 23, I took a leap of faith and launched my namesake lingerie and loungewear clothing line, MARY YOUNG. This was something I had always imagined happening - focusing on the big picture of wanting to be an entrepreneur but never really seeing the small pieces of what that would look like.
Growing up, fashion was always on my mind. From designing Kleenex dresses for my Barbies, to designing and sewing prom dresses for friends. Studying fashion was a given, so I pursued my education in Toronto ON at Ryerson University, studying fashion communications. That’s where I was able to cultivate and expand my experience in fashion. During my fourth year, I decided to write my thesis, as well as produce a 5-piece womenswear collection to be shown during the graduating classes fashion show. I was the first student to do this.
Upon sending my collection down the runway, I felt something I still cannot describe. A mixture of utter joy, relief, and a deep humbling for the support I received along the way to reach my goal. Shortly after my collection was released, I received a lot of positive feedback from the industry and had many people asking me when and where they could buy my pieces. That’s when it all clicked.
I spent the next three months doing market research, seeing if the market would bear and have space for a lifestyle lingerie and loungewear line. I also wrote up a business plan, breaking down the steps (or what I thought the steps were) for launching my business.
A year and a half later, I’m the CEO and Designer for my own clothing line - something I never envisioned I’d be at this age. The hard work hasn’t ceased but I’m starting to see the benefits and growth from the endless nights working.
"As a young female, most people assume I’m playing with family money, that I draw pictures and make fun clothes. When in reality, I run a business."
The ratio of designing to doing business is not what most would expect. I spend about 80% of my time running the company and about 20% designing.
Being a woman working in fashion is not rare, but being a woman CEO and business owner is. I’m blessed to have grown up with my mom being the breadwinner for my family, setting a phenomenal example for me. I’ve also worked under some amazing women business owners growing up - something I never realized was rare until I entered the business world myself.
Everyday I wake up grateful that I’m able to live my dream, that I decided to pursue my dreams and that I have an amazing support system of friends and family by my side. My goal isn’t just to have a successful company, that’s just one aspect of it. A big part of my goal is to help other women realize that their dreams are achievable and that they are designed to succeed in their chosen path. Remember, take calculated risks, look at the big and small picture. Then when you’re 80% confident, close your eyes and take that leap of faith.