Twenty years ago, when I founded my perfume company, I was driven by a passion to build a better future for me and my daughter. It was out of a life-shattering crisis in both of our lives that this company was born: my daughter lost her father who disappeared from the scene a year after we immigrated to Canada, and simultaneously, she was recognized as autistic and began to get help navigating the neurotypical world. For me the crisis was losing my partner and best friend, becoming a single mother, sole breadwinner, and learning that my daughter is going to have an unusually challenging life, and not knowing at all what that means - which brought on what I can only in hindsight recognize as a full year of depression and anxiety stemming from what is naturally an identity crisis, and the many hardships that ensue young women facing such circumstances.
After this year of grieving and sorting out my life, I've made a few decisions that would forever change my life: The first one was to stay in Canada, even though I had no immediate family nearby, as this place offered the best support for my daughter's development and least amount of bias against this "diagnosis". The second one was to invest in myself, even if it may seem selfish and unrealistic at the time. So I went to Animation school for a year, practiced meditation, studied alchemy and eventually also decided to start my perfume company. So I went into an entrepreneur program, where I met some of my best friends, who are still part of my life and support systems to this day.
The company, which was originally named "Quinta Essentia Signature Perfumes", was more than just a life raft for me, and more than an escape (although it was also that), from my otherwise very demanding life as a single parent, immigrant, and as if these weren’t challenging enough, I was a mother to a child with disability. My business was a world I've created for myself with new rules that allowed me to defy all these obstacles that stand in the way of talented women who don't easily ditch their caregiving roles in order to "succeed" (a concept that can be very toxic and misleading, at its core being very masculine but mistakenly interpreted as achieving something great at the expense of many other aspects of our lives - health, family, community, environment, etc.
My perfume business was my dreamtime and creative outlet. It was my dream come true - and a living proof that when I envision something, it happens. It was also my rock and anchor - emotionally, mentally, socially, economically, professionally. I wasn't my own boss - I was (and still are!) a reigning queen in my own kingdom.
Office hours - which more often than not, didn't sync with daycare or school hours - didn't apply to me no more. I could take a day off when my daughter needed me for whatever reason - medical appointments, team meetings with the dedicated therapists I hired to help her, school trip, etc. Whatever didn't need to be performed during regular office hours (studio appointments, business meetings, shipping, etc.), would take place after she fell asleep (anything from creative work to filling out orders, etc.). Slowly but surely, I was also able to support both of us without needing to work for anyone else. I became a master of my own time, money, life. I could do all the things that were important to me without ever needing to compromise either of our health and well-being.
On this day, International Women’s Day, and this full month of celebrating Women’s History and many accomplishments, noticing the many challenges and biases women are still facing world-wide - I wanted to share with you something personal. This is in hopes that it will inspire, educate and encourage other women - wherever you are - to overcome these obstacles, and build for yourself the life that you want and deserve. If there is anything I can do to help other women is leading by example - taking care of my own health. Not agreeing for any prejudices. And empowering other women to follow your heart and passion, and make your dream come true. I'm proud to say that through my courses and teachings, I'm able to touch some lives this way. Most of my students are women, and this is radically changing an industry that was largely dominated by men just until a couple of decades ago. We still have a long way to go, but we're heading in the right direction. Women have a lot to offer, and I feel that especially after the pandemic, society at large will need to be more accommodating for a different kind of success: that which takes into the account the home and family life as well as the environment as important parameters for true success. It will be a win-win for all of us: Women, children, men and our beautiful blue planet.