Chenny is wearing the Cher Dress from Toronto label Mandala Design and the 2 way Tucked Cardigan from Brenda Beddome (another Toronto label)
Ever since I first met you last year, I’ve been so impressed by how ambitious and accomplished you are at such a young age. What do you think drives that for you?
Aww, thanks, Laura!
What drives me more than anything else is the fear of having nothing. My family didn’t grow up with much. I remember in school, when asked what I wanted to be when I grow up, I would respond with: “a job that lets my mom work just one job.”
Do you find it challenging to be in a position of leadership and trust and being young? Is there a prejudice you need to overcome with some clients?
Yes. Although with many organizations spending millions to tackle “their millennial problem”, I find that while young — my fresh pair of eyes today can be just as much of an asset.
Often, I find myself myself playing the role of the “in-between” coach, translating executive needs and desired structures into purpose-driven challenges and customer-centric problems for their teams to solve.
Tell us about what you do at Journey Ventures Inc. and how you co-founded that business.
Journey came to be because a bunch of entrepreneurial-minded designers and systems thinkers grew frustrated with the fragility of good (and even well-validated) ideas.
We thought, “How might we get a large organization (like a bank) to act like a start-up? What would it look like to get their teams to co-create new services with their actual customers? How can we help make tools like Minimum Viable Products, a term that will be used just as common as Business Case?”
In recent weeks, we’ve just joined forces with another innovation consultancy, called The Moment. If you’re curious, check out The Moment’s Innovation Checkup and Culture Scan, two practical and powerful tools that give a sense of our approach.
Chenny is wearing the Top Le Fun in Orange (also available in turquoise) from Montreal based Creations Encore.
How did you get your start in business?
Hah! I love this question because it demonstrates just how awesome Canada is, as a country.
When I was in first-year university studying Human-Centered Design, I got quite sick because I was working two jobs just to pay rent and tuition. I spent some time reflecting, and thought, “What’s a more sustainable way to make enough?”
So I went on Craigslist, found some oddball user experience gigs that local start-ups were posting, and somehow, managed to convince one of them to hire me! I remember borrowing a book from the library on freelance consulting 101, and the first thing that I read was, “If you just get one referral from each client, hypothetically, you will never run out of work.”
The book was right.
Chenny is wearing Alexie cap sleeve top from Quebec label MOOVment Design and the Universal Cardigan from toronto based It Fitz Me! ™
Your Prosper Lab project is very inspiring! Can you tell us how you got started on that and tell us a bit about it?
I started volunteering at Yonge Street Mission’s soup kitchen because I wanted to do something with my hands. A year in, I was asked if I wanted to teach a class on teamwork and collaboration. Like a true consultant, I answered with, “Only if you let me bring in a friend to help, and if you let us interview your stakeholders to understand what’s truly needed.”
After a bit of research, it was clear that the clients of Yonge Street Mission didn’t need another course — what they needed was a safe and inclusive environment that enabled and replicated real-life work. The most common thing we heard was, “As a street adult, I’m not given any opportunities because I don’t have any experience. But how am I supposed to get any experience if no one gives me an opportunity?”
So we thought, why don’t we get them to build a startup?
And so they did — a candle startup. Now, half a year later, we can say that our clients have 20-weeks of tangible, resume-ready experience. Since this project started, two of our clients got part-time jobs, and one client went back to school.
Chenny is wearing the Julia Tunic in Mandala print from Toronto label Desserts and Skirts. Purse from Pixie Mood.
Do you have plans to repeat that project with more groups? Or what are the future plans for that kind of social innovation? (Is there a way people can get involved?)
Frankly, we’re not sure yet. It’s been a project that has truly been defined by the needs of the street adults that we work with, and we’re thrilled about what will come.
If you’re an organization that’s curious about sponsoring future iterations of this project, you can send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, stop by our e-commerce store and pick yourself up a one-of-a-kind candle!
You’re planning a wedding this summer! That’s pretty exciting. What can you share with us about that?
We’re keeping it simple. We’re having a picnic at a local park. My dress isn’t a wedding dress, it’s just a plain ol’ white dress. Turns out, if you put the word “wedding” in front of anything, you can quadruple the price! Who knew?
Simple truly is better. Instead of tearing my hair out with florists and caterers, I get to spend that time enjoying being engaged.
Anything else you’d like to share with us?
Don’t be a stranger! I’m the only Chenny in Toronto, so I’m not hard to find. 🙂