Emily Lebel; Toronto;
Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe, in a nutshell, what you do?
I get to help people feel good all day long. As a hairstylist, a large part of my daily life is hanging with my clients, helping them feel confident, supported and important, even just for an hour. I get to be creative, social and often, a non-certified therapist!
Where did you go to school and what did you study?
After a previous attempt at finding my passion in radio broadcasting years previous (ha!), and many other jobs in between, I went back to school at 25 to the Aveda Institute in Toronto. My hairstylist at the time encouraged me to stop working and start following a blossoming passion, which was one of the best game-changing decisions of my life.
What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)
As a slightly more mature student in hairdressing school, I had to work every night after school to survive. I was lucky enough to be hired on at Civello Salon & Spa on Queen St. as an assistant, washing, blow-drying and hand-massaging my way into my future. I stayed on after I graduated to gain more experience and training before moving onto a full-time styling position.
What was your BIG break? How did you land it?
My big break was meeting Mary Dang, owner of Eye Love Brow & Beauty Bar, who had just opened her shop and was looking for another business to share her new space with. My business partner Jesse Crowe and I were in the midst of creating our own vision for and Mary asking me to join her gave us the opportunity and location to realize that vision and join the powerful world of entrepreneurs. We were in the shared space for two and a half years and have been in our current space on Dundas Street West for two and a half years. June 8, 2017 was our five-year anniversary as a business.
Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out?
At our party a few weeks after we opened our doors in 2012 at the shared space, I could barely move through the crowd to get to another glass of wine. My face hurt from smiling and my heart was so big from the love and support of our friends, families and clients that I had to sit down. That was the moment I knew Lebel & Crowe was going to be a success.
What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?
My biggest shortcoming to date has been putting too much pressure on myself. I am a perfectionist, and I suffer from depression and anxiety which is the perfect storm of emotional warfare, and can often be very overwhelming and debilitating. Learning to be kind to myself and take time for self-care has been imperative to overcoming my emotional obstacles. Exercise, eating well, down time and focusing on the positive energy my clients bring with them has helped me grow and bounce back every time.
Name one piece of career advice you always give.
The ideas in life that make us most scared are exactly the path to go down. It’s never too late. It’s never going to be the right time. Be strong, believe in yourself and take the plunge. Chances are you’ll learn a lot about yourself, and gain the strength and experience to make you an even more powerful woman in the world.
Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?
Working in a field that has traditionally been female-dominated has allowed me to avoid many of the barriers that women face in most other fields. I am a pretty tenacious woman, someone who never backs down and doesn’t let others stop me from doing what I know is right for me. I have also been blessed to be surrounded by many other kickass female entrepreneurs in Toronto who support, encourage and guide one another to success. In my own space, I get to stand beside my business partners, Jesse, Caitlin Gordon, and Melody Bostelsaar every day—such killer feminist vibes! Not to mention within a two-block radius of our shop alone we have Province Apothecary, Easy Tiger, Chosen Vintage, VSOP, Stole My Heart Lingerie and Tucana, which are all female-owned and operated. My Toronto is female-dominated and I love it!
Are you making a fair income for your work? Why or why not? Do you have a side hustle for extra cash? If so, what is it?
With thanks to my three business partners, Lebel & Crowe has grown at a steady pace over the past five years and with that, my income has grown as well. I am very happy with my income, and the potential of possible growth in the coming years. I do not have a paying side hustle, but you can often find me in my fiancé’s wood shop helping him grow his business (but mostly so I can use power tools!).
What’s the worst stereotype you’ve heard about millennials at work?
That millennials have no drive or don’t know what real handwork is. Generations before us didn’t have the same tools we have available to us now, and sometimes these tools work really hard for us, giving us more time to focus on other areas. For example, we use an online booking system, it allows more time to take clients, and save us the hassle of having to call people back to book them in. It’s quick, easy, and painless. We work smart, thanks to the tools at our fingertips.