Behind every successful woman is more women who inspired her, lifted her up and supported her throughout her career.
Growing up, fashion designer Mary Young always knew she’d be an entrepreneur. After studying Fashion Communications at Ryerson University, she launched her namesake line MARY YOUNG in 2014 to fill a gap in the intimates market that allows women to celebrate their natural shape. Mary says that every woman is the ideal woman and feels that transforming the way women see their bodies starts at the base level: lingerie.
“Self love to me is about acknowledging and celebrating everything about yourself,” she said. “We are raised to see the negative aspects of ourselves, to think about what we would change and where we fall short… Self love to me is the opposite of that; finding your strengths, celebrating your differences and learning to love every aspect of yourself despite what society has told you.”
For those looking to work in the fashion industry, Mary offers this advice: “It’s not going to be easy but it will be worth it. The fashion industry and entrepreneurialism is often quite glamorized and many women want to enter this field for the perks, but trust me, those perks fade fast. The hard work and seeing all of it come to life is what keeps you motivated to keep going.”
While the fashion industry can seem like a glamorous field to be in, it’s also one that requires a lot of hard work and dedication—not to mention some major support from fellow girl bosses.
“Seeing how women are constantly fighting for their voice to be heard, for a seat at the table and to be valued as an equal to men, I truly believe this can only be done if we support, respect and celebrate one another,” she said. “Instead of looking at each other as competition or being jealous of each other, our perspective should shift to being allies working together and creating space for all of us to succeed.”
THE FIVE WOMEN WHO MADE ME: MARY YOUNG
My mom has always been my biggest cheerleader and is one of the main reasons I launched my business. She has supported me in pursuing my dreams since day one and has always encouraged me to take the less taken road in life. She also was the breadwinner in my family and set such an amazing example of what a woman can accomplish and how she can truly do anything she wants.
MY FIRST BOSS, BABETTE
At a young age I worked for a female boss, which I didn’t think was rare until later on in life. Babette showed me so much about what a female entrepreneur looks like and how women are equal to men. She is still a huge role model in my life for all she’s accomplished and all the hurdles she’s overcome in her life.
RYERSON PROFESSOR PY CHAU
PY was a professor I had in my first year at Ryerson and later she stepped in to support me as I worked on my double thesis. PY was extremely supportive of me pursuing my design thesis and often gave time to me that wasn’t necessary. Her faith, support and excitement for what I was working on gave me such encouragement to fulfil my goals.
Selecting just one or two friends cannot summarize their importance in my life and shaping me into the woman I am. Growing up I was very much a tomboy and didn’t have many close female friends until my later teens and never knew how female friendship could impact me. My friends, both old and new, are so important to helping me develop as a well-rounded person. Their continuous love, support and positivity in my life is something I’m forever grateful for.
…And I can’t pick five—I’m sorry!