The Canalien & Co. founder dishes on celebrating Canadians abroad, being the first Canadian female Sigma Chi leader and where she sees herself in 20 years.
Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
As Founder of Canalien & Co., I create and deliver content and our apparel goods to a growing community of people with Canadian ties leading ‘alien’ lifestyles.
What was the inspiration for your career route?
In university I was elected the sole female Canadian leader for Sigma Chi, an international male fraternity. It was daunting at first, but this community took me in as their own and gave me tools to succeed. They provided me a platform to speak on issues I felt important, and I travelled solo across Canada and America to do so. Here, I met people from all walks of life. Undoubtedly this changed my life, and my perception of my capabilities and of myself. I felt safe and welcome, at home in such foreign places. That’s a feeling I work to replicate for others.
My goal is to alter the stigma of the word ‘alien’—to instead celebrate it, as I’ve experienced. Being different, going outside your comfort zone, leading an alien lifestyle takes guts. At Canalien, we encourage people to venture beyond their bubbles to become the best version of themselves.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
Finding my business partner, Devlin Kenny. During a routine catch-up lunch years back, I mentioned this dream to unite nomadic Canadians. She helped get things moving and has been an incredible support ever since.
Where do you see yourself in five years, 10 years, 20 years?
Within five years, my dream is for Canalien to be the go-to resource for any Canadian going abroad.
Within ten years, I hope to to have established a charitable organization to assist young Canadians aspiring to live or travel abroad.
People laugh but when I retire, I plan to do so on Canadian tropical territory. I know what you’re thinking—this doesn’t exist. I don’t see why it shouldn’t. So, in twenty years I plan to have made concrete steps toward attaining tropical territory for Canada (and no, not Turks and Caicos).
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Just start! Things won’t be perfect, but you’ll be in a way better position if you spend the next year trying rather than sitting and daydreaming from that trendy coffee shop you frequent. Ya, I see you. Failure’s easier to look back on than ‘what if.’ And who says you’re going to fail anyway?
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
It’s our mandate to support Canadian charities with both local and international efforts. We donate our time and profits to Not Just Tourists Toronto and Canadian Red Cross. This year, we’re also partnering with the Herbie Foundation. They provide lifesaving treatment to children living in countries where such procedures aren’t available. They welcome the kids into SickKids, and treat them as one of our own. That’s the Canalien way.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Canalien & Co. was initially a project I started after issues with my work visa arose while living abroad. I’d built myself a happy, successful life in another country when I suddenly had to pack up and leave it behind. I’m very fortunate in life, but this broke my heart. Once I pulled myself together, I realised how lucky I really was through the process… I spoke the language there, could advocate for myself, had opportunity and family awaiting me when I returned home. And of all places to get sent back to, I’d choose Canada. Many people don’t have those luxuries.
This inspired me to create a Canadian-based community for people who understand that vulnerability of venturing abroad, and choose to celebrate it.
What does the word notable mean to you?
Something worth giving another glance—something worth returning to to build off of, revise or reflect on.
Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
Oh gawd, Toronto rules. Is Burger Shack licensed yet? OK, I’m going to have to go with a recent experience I had at Rose & Sons: It was the perfect escape from the cold. Sit at the bar, get a bottle of red, pair it with a patty melt and watch the snow build up outside the big windows.
What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
Most definitely 100% Shopify. That’s a tab that is always open. And somehow my most played song is Go Getta… so there’s that.
Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
Come on, I can’t not plug @CanalienCo here.
However, I do also feel the need to mention that @shendelljenner is the most under-appreciated man tweeting.
What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
I’m going to cheat a little and say former Yugoslavia. We visited a bunch of the West Balkan countries this summer and they were unreal. Not too touristy (yet), full of very real and recent history, affordable and beautiful. I’m constantly working to find secret travel spots to share with our followers. You can read about them on our Travel page at www.canalien.ca 😉
The next big trip will be to London as we further establish ourselves with the crazy Canalien community there, and launch our UKlien line in the spring.
What gives you the greatest FOMO?
With the Canalien life comes great FOMO. The more ground you cover, the more elusive that desired omnipresence becomes. You can’t possibly make it to everything, everywhere. For me, I guess it’s miss my brother, who’s in Chicago for hockey. I wish I could be embarrassing him at all his games.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Impulse trips, for sure. Whether a last minute flight, or hopping in a car headed south.
What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
I love UBER but I do need to chill with them, I do.
I wish I spent more on French lessons! I used to be pretty good, and I think it’s still salvageable. I’m a Duolingo Grad but could really use some help with my accent from a human.
And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Having the time and resources to do things that make you happy, and hopefully that includes your work. Positively impacting someone’s life, or even their day is successful. And having a dental plan.