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As a group of women working towards common goals for STYLE Canadas brand and business, we understand the value of peer support in the workplace. So, after our last Supper Club at Soho Housewe decided to bring like-minded women in business together and feature them in an ongoing series: #LeadingLadies. Here’s hoping that we’ll see you at our next Supper Club. Keep your eyes peeled on our events page for more details.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B3axhuLhWGL/

Mavis Huntley – Stylesmith, mother, and entrepreneur

Town: Whitby

Industries: Fashion

 

SC: What led you to pursue your career?

MH: At the time I was working for an advertising agency, running a department of more than 25 people but still lacked the self-confidence that stemmed from not knowing how to get dressed or put together an outfit. I hated shopping, didn’t have time to shop, would buy off the mannequin (you know, the size zero mannequin that doesn’t resemble my body shape at all), and never wanted to invest in clothes because I was always on the ‘verge’ of losing those extra pounds. I thought there must be more women out there like me, and Smithery was born. 

SC: What has your career path looked like?

MH: Five years ago when I launched Smithery, I didn’t have any expectations. I was still working in advertising and like so many others, this was my side hustle – a creative outlet for me. I thought it would be fun to do. As my fun little project got busier, I reduced my hours to part-time. Then once I got pregnant and was on maternity leave, I thought: let’s see if I can make a go at this. I would love to say I leapt and haven’t looked back, but alongside Smithery I have been keeping a pretty consistent freelance gig while pushing the business forward.
SC: What’s Smithery all about?
MH: Smithery is an online and by-appointment studio that helps women shop their shape. We curate the most flattering cuts for each body shape, give tips and tricks for dressing each one, and model the clothes on real women representing every unique figure.
SC: How would you describe your role with Smithery?
MH: Like many small business owners, I have my hands in everything from ordering office supplies, managing inventory, creating content, figuring out new business strategies, finances… the list goes on and on. I’m not great at everything. As soon as I could afford to hire people who perform certain tasks better and faster than me, I invested in them and will continue to take that approach.
SC: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?
MH: There’s so, so many! That’s the beauty of being an entrepreneur and carving your own path. You make lots and lots of mistakes, and for the most part you can bounce back from those and make the company better. The biggest one that I wish I would’ve taken more seriously is getting a good accountant and bookkeeper sooner than I did. I was having fun with the company, we were growing, and I didn’t think to plan or properly budget for the future, which has added a lot of strain in the last couple of years as I catch up.
SC: What obstacles have you overcome to get to where you are today? 
MH: What obstacles have I not overcome? I bet so many of us have a similar story. I quit a high-paying job I loved, I split from my life partner and my business partner, sold my house, and have basically poured everything I have into this dream of mine. And even reflecting on all of that now, it’s still so worth it.
SC: What’s your biggest strength?
MH: I wholeheartedly believe in Smithery and the value that it brings to women. On the toughest of days, this is what pushes me to keep going and do whatever it takes to make the company a success.
SC: What’s your biggest weakness?
MH: Often my heart will lead my decision making instead of my head, so sometimes it takes me awhile to come around to making some of the harder business decisions that need to happen.
SC: How would your friends describe you?
MH: Probably as someone that’s open to trying anything, optimistic, works hard, but plays hard too.
SC: How would your colleagues describe you?
MH: Well, the whole thing about making heart-led decisions can frustrate them, I’m sure. I think they’d describe me as caring, driven, open, and wanting the best for them. On the other side of the coin, they’d probably like me to be ‘more on top of things’.
SC: If you have one goal for Smithery and one goal for yourself, what are they?
MH: I have so many goals for both of us. The company has been really life changing in ways I didn’t expect. In the beginning I don’t think I realized the impact we would have on women’s lives. By giving them confidence in the way they dress, it also gives them confidence in everything else they do. I want more women to have that feeling, so we’re focusing on how women across the country can experience Smithery. For me personally, I need more energy. I really need to figure out a routine that doesn’t rely on four cups a coffee a day.
SC: What are some personal career/Smithery milestones you’re proud of?

MH: I realize that having advertising as my background and maintaining a lot of those relationships has really given me an advantage to running a business that I don’t take for granted. Some milestones include when Smithery turned into a six-figure company, finding an amazing photographer who helps grow and showcase our business on the regular (this was a serious pain point in the first few years of businesses), being featured in an impactful segment on Cityline, featuring real women as models (so many that inspire me and I’m lucky to call friends), and being a mom – something I never thought I’d be, but its turned out to be my greatest accomplishment

SC: What advice would you give your 18-year-old self? 
MH: Oh my gosh… I would’ve told her that she has so much time to figure life out and to slow down a bit. Be kind to yourself, be kind to others always, and trust the universe more and the plan that it has for you.

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