Hi there! My name is Kelly!
I am an entrepreneur, a cat mom, and a lover of a good pun. I grew up in Toronto, ON, in a family FULL of creative people.
I learnt how to draw from a young age, filling up sketchbook after sketchbook until the pages were completely covered and waxy from my pencil crayons. Unlike most people I knew whose parents wanted them to be doctors or lawyers, mine wanted me to be a designer, and that’s what happened. It wasn’t because I wanted to make them proud or follow their ‘plan’ for me; it was because I genuinely wanted to be one! And I have not regretted it at all even though the road the get here felt like one crazy ride!
My parents didn’t have a tuition fund for me, and I didn’t qualify for a student loan, so it was drilled into me from the tender age of 15 that if I wanted to go to design school, I’d have to hustle. I took a year off between high school and college to work multiple retail jobs. Eventually, I enrolled in the Bachelors of Industrial Design program at Humber College in Toronto.
My life back then was interesting. I was in a male-dominated program going into a male-dominated industry. Which some of my favourite professors insisted it was a good thing and made me stand out – and it did. I was petite, girly, and had ZERO upper body strength. One time, I was in the woodshop using a belt sander on a part I was making, lost my grip on this powerful machine, and almost hit another student with a flying piece of wood. I felt like I had A LOT to prove to be taken seriously by my male peers and worked hard to become one of the top students.
By day, I worked in that woodshop in my sawdust-covered Lululemon pants (SMH, I treat my lulus with way more respect than I did then!).
I’d then dust those off, head to my retail job at a beauty counter and sell people overpriced makeup and skincare. One of my most significant accomplishments EVER was graduating with NO debt! I was also one of the only five women in my class to graduate.
When I started working, I got a job at a small studio designing home decor, but looking back, I realize now that this job shaped my career in what I am doing right now. I learned how the eCommerce world works, designing and managing a website with over 100 products, and implementing digital marketing campaigns. On the side, I started working with a website covering video game news, where I went to events and conventions in the US and Canada. I got to attend E3 2018 and cover some of the biggest game releases – for FUN. And it was!
Meanwhile, to pay the bills, I moved onto a larger company that designed store displays for high-profile retailers in the makeup and beauty industry. I worked with many incredible brands, and it was surreal getting to see my design work in stores on 5th Avenue in New York, in Hollywood, and on the Las Vegas Strip. It was fun for a while, but I started to get disillusioned, unhappy, and overworked. Five days a week, 8-12 hours a day, I sat in front of a computer 3D modelling in a cubicle. I didn’t envision myself working in a factory way outside of the city, and up until this point, I kind of just went with the flow. It got to a point where I would daydream every day about being my own boss and doing my own thing.
I KNEW deep down Industrial Design wasn’t what I was meant to do, which was why I was doing so much content creation on the side as an outlet. I knew I still wanted to be a designer but also do something in digital marketing. I ended up leaving that job, taking some time off from working and went back to school to pivot into UX design. The timing of this pivot couldn’t have been more inconvenient – the global pandemic hit. By mid-2020, with such an emphasis on everything trying to go digital, I realized that this pivot could not have happened at a better time.
In May 2020 that I signed on to work with Sanja and Omai Creative. Since then, I have helped assist entrepreneurs in getting their brands online and amplifying their social media presence.
After 15 years of working for someone else, whether at a retail job, a small start-up, or in a big corporate company, I can confidently say I got to experience many different company structures, people, and environments. I learnt how to thrive as a creative professional – working for myself! I am still grateful for the journey that brought me to where I am today. At times it was tough but tested me in ways that gave me the tools and experience to do what I love – to help people and their businesses grow.
And that’s why I am here – with Bizsassy!
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