Like A Boss: Courtney Watkins
We had the absolute delight of sitting down with fashion entrepreneur Courtney Watkins. Courtney is the perfect juxtaposition between grit and grace. She shared with us her incredible coming up story and left us dazzled. Beaconites, we give you… Courtney Watkins.
So, Courtney tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in Maple Ridge [which is a] fairly small town. When I was seventeen, I moved to LA to go to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. I lived in LA for a while and held a lot of different roles in fashion from working in a small boutique in Beverly Hills to working at a trend forecasting company and I was even Paula Abdul’s personal assistant for some time. In 2011 I moved back to Vancouver and ran my family’s sawmill. It was my first venture out of fashion and from it, I really learned how to run a business. Through this experience I realized I needed to be in fashion; selling wood wasn’t fulfilling, the happiness factor was not there. With my previous business partner, I knew there was an opportunity in Vancouver that valued sustainability, relationships, and luxury goods. The dream was to foster a community where women invest in themselves and their closets.
You are the Founder & Partner of Mine & Yours and run a Mill in Maple Ridge, who or what inspired you along the way?
My Dad was an entrepreneur. It [the entrepreneurial spirits] ran in our family and it taught me business skills from early on. I always had the [entrepreneurial] spirit. As early as sixteen I had an enterprising sense and in fact, I started flipping cars. It was a different industry and now I kind of do the same thing with luxury goods which is sort of full circle.
One time, when I was flipping cars, I went to Texas and they wanted a Harley Davidson Hummer. I found the car and drove it from Texas solo back to Maple Ridge. I was 19 at the time. I would pull up to gas stations in rural parts and there would be dead animals around and no one else and I would think to myself this is how I die today.
I’m assuming that running a mill wasn’t what you were thinking of being as a child. So, what was your dream job as a child?
I found my grade seven yearbook and it said that I wanted to own a clothing store when I was older. So, I guess it always was this.
What is one key leadership lesson you have learned over the years?
I have struggled at being good with leadership or knowing what leadership means. The main takeaway was to lead with positivity. You are the boss or owner so if you come in negatively it can have a domino effect and trickle down. So, it’s better to have a domino effect in a positive way. Also, investing in the wellness of your team.
As a woman, what are your thoughts on the current socio-political climate we are now living in?
There is a lot going on. I take a positive outlook on it. There are people talking about it who are more aware of what’s going on. My take on it is that there is so much more for women and opportunity now than there was.
I used to work at a sawmill which is a male-dominated industry. I found the guys were quite helpful there. There can be guys out there that are good.
After all of the success so far in your life, what is the one thing you still find yourself struggling with?
The “never enough syndrome.” I always wanted a clothing store, and I got it. Now I want it to be bigger, better. I always want to do things better. Trying to be happy with what I have while striving for more.
How do you achieve work/life balance in your life?
Fun is my number one core value. I still make sure I am socializing and having fun. That actually gives me energy. Even in crazy times of opening a new store, I went to Tulum for the weekend. I just go and do it. I have a good team back at home that can take care of things. I work a lot but I also have a lot of fun.
Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?
Yes! Throughout life keep in mind that it’s all about the journey, not the destination so make sure you are enjoying it!
Rapid Fire Q’s
What is your spirit animal? Bambi.
What gets you up in the morning? I love to snooze so I book a 7 am workout class so I have to go! I jump out of bed and run to class. Not wasting $20 on a missed class gets me up.
What are you most grateful for in this moment? That I love what I do, and a company that I enjoy building.
What is the best way women can support one another? Being kind and another is mentorship. I am a mentee and I am a mentor.
What 3 things do you always pack when you travel? A belt bag, my beige Alexander Wang shoes because they go with everything, they look fancy and are easy to walk in, and my drone even though I never use it.
How do you practice self-care? One of my favourite things is foot and body massages.
What’s the last new thing you learned? I just came back from a course at MIT last week. It was overwhelming learning so much. There was a guy there named Jeff Smart, he wrote the book “Who”. I learned how to interview people and pick candidates.
What does success mean to you? Happiness.
What is your spirit age? 29.