E S S & e l l e
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my words.

"my privilege doesn't make me self-made"

This is to shed light on my journey as an entrepreneur and to give insight on how I’m not reeeeeally self-made (is anyone?) and I’ve accepted a lot of help over the years.
Society makes out "#entrepreneurlife" to be so glamorous, so easy to do, and that anyone, anywhere can just "follow their dreams and passions" when in reality, a lot of people can't because of so many factors that I will never be able to relate to, simply because of my privilege.
This doesn’t mean I don’t and haven’t worked hard to get to where I’m at currently, but I did have help along the way.

This doesn't discount ANYONE'S hard work in their businesses and I'm sure most people wouldn't turn down help if offered when needed, but maybe ask yourself how you REALLY got here?

I was and am ABLE to turn my passions into a career because of my privileges, my middle class upbringing and my support system.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

This is to thank everyone along the way for the past 10 years.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 

I was privileged enough to be able to live with both my parents, who have been married for 31 years, all through elementary school, high school, after college and most recently being 27.
Who they are, is who I am.
We are products of our environments and I'm so thankful for who they show up to be.


In the summer after high school, I had chosen to go to college for Fitness & Health Promotion (hollaaa FHP!)
I worked a paid summer position where my mom was working for that summer, so they hired me because of her.
I worked Monday-Friday, matched her hours, rode to and from work with her everyday, she packed my lunch, we ate lunch together everyday…


*Hold up. I just started crying as I was trying to write this because we get so busy to remember the little things and this was some of our best times.
Fuck — I owe so much to my beautiful mother. Ok, deep breath*



(If you’re a teenage girl reading this, PLEASE go hug your mom)


That summer working with my mom, I made decent money that I gave all to my dad
(I literally still do this to this day!)
Which is another privilege I have access to.
My dad will make me a separate account for me, and when I have some money I don’t want to touch, I always send it to him.
I mean, I guess I know myself well and my spending habits haven’t been very structured in the past
(I loooooove to ‘live in the moment’ LOL)
 

I went to college where my parents paid for my tuition, I never had to take out a loan, which sets me ‘out ahead’ as soon as I’m finished school so I’m not already in debt.
This is huge.
Some of my friends have thousands of dollars worth of debt right out of post-secondary.
 

My parents bought me a laptop as my high school graduation present.
They bought all my books and any materials needed to start.
I didn’t have a car in high school so my parents gave me an option for my first year of college:
you can live with your aunt & we’ll buy you a car OR you can live on residence.
I chose to live with my aunt (who I love) and I feel I was supposed to be there.
We found out that year she was diagnosed with colon cancer and I lived with her through that whole year, through her chemo treatments and I saw her at her very worst.
She is such a fighter and she is currently cancer free.
I was supposed to be there <3
Thank you, Aunt Debbie xo


In my first year, I was able to live with my aunt (for free) and she fed me everyday.
I didn’t have a job in college and this is where I have SO MUCH RESPECT for those who did.
Single mothers, people with a family to feed, people of minority, people who were struggling financially—
just WOW.
As a 19 year-old student who was used to being in school for my whole life, I found it difficult just to focus on school.
I couldn’t imagine any other factors or to have other distractions or stressors.
I applaud those who chose to pursue this later in their journey, who had to move money around, get parents to babysit their children, pick up another job to make it work, take out a loan, pay for daycare, go into debt to pursue their passions.
Here’s to you.


In my second year of college,
I moved into an apartment with a friend and we split rent.
Same as the summer before, I had saved a decent amount for my upcoming year, but my parents still paid HALF of MY HALF of rent.
They also helped with my car insurance, my phone bill, anything school related (books, materials)
In college, my circumstances were ‘ideal’ so I am thankful for those moments of my life.
I had amazing teachers who listened and cared, and that’s huge.
Some don’t have this privilege.
 

During my fitness placement in college, I was able to work with a friend (who is still a friend to this day) and at the time, she was running her own bootcamp business.
I loved the idea and I was nearing the end of my course so naturally I was stressing like
*WTF am I doing with my life* (still say this daily)
She inspired me to take what she was doing, and bring it back to my hometown.
She helped with me with any questions I had, how to start up, what I needed, she gave me all her best tips & tricks.
She was so supportive and for this + her — I am so thankful.
Thank you, Ally xo


I moved back home after college and I ran my first business:
“Shannon’s Bootcamp”
where I was grateful that it was supported by so many friends and people I knew from my hometown.
Thank you for showing up to my first business venture as a 19 year old fresh out of college.
I ran this for a summer outside and when the weather started to change, then came the question:
*WTF am I doing now?*


I was struggling being at home after two years of being away,
and I’m sure we can all relate to that first experience back home after having “freedom”
I had gone through a few break-ups and I made the choice to move back to Peterborough for a change of scenery.
I moved back in with my aunt (who was happy to have me) and again, I lived there for free.
I started working at Gold’s Gym as a personal trainer where my boss at the time took a chance on me.
Looking back, I shake my head at how little I knew… but you don’t know until you know.
And sometimes you just need someone to take a chance on you and give you a place to “figure it out”
Thank you, Glenn.


I worked there for about a year,
with many different clients,
made some great friends,
and I am thankful that I learned that it wasn’t for me.
I had a very hard time with whole fitness industry at that time,
the whole “lose 10lbs for a wedding” but not actually change any lifestyle habits and then get angry at the 20 year-old trainer who’s just trying her best to support you in your WORKOUTS.
This is a whole other blog post, but I am grateful that I learned what I didn’t want for myself.
So again, I moved back home.
Where I was always welcome.


When I came back this time, it was different.
I wanted to be there.
I had missed my parents and wanted to stay close to that home feeling while again, I was healing from another break-up
(I had a few of these, but thankful for each one #thankunext)
I am so blessed and privileged that my parents welcomed me back each time, never asking for rent money or food money.
But instead, they always made me feel loved.


At this point, I wasn’t really sure what to do with my diploma, especially in my small town.
I didn’t want to run my bootcamp business again and there were no close gyms nearby.


One of my friend’s mom’s owned a local restaurant where he said “I’ll ask my mom to hire you!”
(Thank you, Dylan!)
I had no serving experience and I knew nothing about the service industry.
But she hired me.
She took a chance on me, shadowed me on my first shift where I was VERY LOST & even though she was probably thinking “oh, fuck” — she gave me a space to grow and learn.
Thank you, Nicole & thank you to The Belvedere xo


I stayed there for 4 years and loved it.
I truly believe every person should work in the service industry AT LEAST once in their life as it really builds character.
I was so nervous and shy when I started, and I grew into a confident woman in that 4 years.
I worked with a group of women who were older than me and they ALWAYS had the best advice
(especially through all my boy experiences in that time)
I always had their support in anything I did and it really felt like a little family.
I am grateful for all of you (who know who you are)


While I was serving, I had the opportunity to make great money
(those who know, know)
And I would come home every shift and give all my cash to my dad.
In these 4 years, I travelled a lot,
I partied a lot,
I lived my best life with my best friends
and I did the things 21 year olds just do.
I learned so much about myself in this period and I’m so thankful my parents let me fuck up, but supported me no matter what.

 

Eventually, I got to a point where I wanted to start moving towards something for my future with
benefits,
Monday-Friday hours,
weekends off etc.

(because at the time, this is what I thought success was)
I was talking with a friend and she said she knew of a marketing company that was hiring.
I applied, with no experience, and I was hired.
I learned quickly that what I *thought* I wanted, wasn’t really what I wanted at all.
My boss took a chance on me anyway, we made a great connection,
I was honest when I said it wasn’t for me,
he was super understanding and I am grateful for that little chapter to once again show me what I didn’t want.
And I started to understand that that was OKAY.
Thank you, Saul.


After my short career in marketing, I went back to serving for a probably another year.
Again, I’m grateful that they let me try something else and to come back knowing it wasn’t what I wanted.


For those who don’t know, Gregg and I had been dating probably about a year at this point, and we broke up for about a month.
In that month, I decided to go to Costa Rica and complete my yoga teacher training.
I remember sitting in my living room with my mom saying
“I really want to do this, I feel it’s so me”
I saved my tips from serving but I couldn’t afford the whole training at that time (it was around $5,000)
so I asked my brother if I could borrow some money to make it happen.
He said yes, which was and still is one of the most pivotal moments in my “career”
Without him in this moment, I would not be where I am. Period.
He gave me that kick-start and that push that I needed which was the catalyst to leave my life as I knew it, and walk on a completely new path.


I get very emotional when I talk about my brother because you know how sibling relationships go: love/hate a lot of the time growing up.
We didn’t always see eye to eye, shit — we still don’t, but I also know my brother is my #1, biggest fan.
Probably more than my parents.


My brother also lent me money 2 years later to do another pivotal training: Girlvana Yoga.
Again, I didn’t have enough money at the time but I just knew I HAD to do this training and he was there to support me in my decision.
For those who don’t know about this kind of work,
Girlvana is teen girl yoga + meditation but more importantly,
it’s dialogue around body image, life as a teen, it’s mentorship
and a safe space for them to be themselves and to ask questions.
My brother has the biggest heart and he was so proud of me — it’s something I’ll never forget.
Thank you with everything I am and have, Michael xo


After I became a certified yoga instructor, I knew I needed to start teaching right away.
I reached out to a local studio and once again, she took a chance on me.
Thank you, Laura xo
I was brand new, so nervous and not super confident in my teaching abilities, but around 25 people showed up to my very first class in Keswick.
And from there, everything just started to grow and snowball.
I started teaching at this studio weekly, when gave me the confidence to reach out to more studios.
I reached out the studios in Newmarket + Aurora, where more women took chances on me and believed in my teaching style.
At all the studios I taught at, I was privileged enough to come to classes at no charge.
This means I had access to this form of ‘free teachings’ and I am so thankful that these spaces gave me the ability to continue to grow and learn.
Thank you, Jen, Jamielee + Melissa xo


Yoga teachers know, there’s only so many times you can teach in a day.
So, I knew I wanted a part-time job that was in alignment of how I was living my life.
I walked into lululemon, asked if they’re hiring and kind of stalked the managers until I could meet someone face to face.
They took a chance on me, and again, this was SUPPOSED to happen.
I had so much fun working for lululemon for 2 years,
I met some of my best friends,
I learned so much about business and marketing,
I learned a lot about myself and what I wanted.
I was privileged enough to work for a company that stands strongly in self-development and self-inquiry.
It was one of the best decisions I could’ve made.
During this time, Gregg + I were living with his parents as we were becoming more “serious”
(lol - so cute, and we actually got engaged during the lululemon years)
We lived there rent-free and they fed us everyday, and thats a lot because Gregg eats SO MUCH!
Thank you for supporting me and us in this chapter.
Thank you, Kim + Keith xo


The next chapter of my life was the one that brought the most GROWTH.
It was like I got a degree in marketing, HR, PR & business all in one year.
Gregg + I and our friends at the time, went into business together.
It was a big financial leap for Gregg + I — so we both were lucky to have our parents support in this
(loan from my parents and Gregg’s parents)
We know neither of our parents had loads of cash just laying around, but they supported us anyway.
That is huge.
In the business, we were all very privileged to have each others expertise in each area to try and make this a “success”
We all came together and built the business from the ground up.
There were some great relationships made during this time, but also A LOT of relationships lost.
Broken hearts.
Hurt feelings.
Petty behaviour.
A lot of stress, tears, pain, lawyers, hurtful words, cyber bullying, hair loss, anxiety.
But so much growth.
Like the kind of growth you can’t put a price on,
that’s good to learn early on,
and life lessons that we will forever remember.


I am grateful for this for so many reasons.
The fact that Gregg and I know who we are,
right down to our core values,
and that we had both the collaborated AND individual confidence to walk away from people and places didn’t align with what we believed in.


This was hard as fuck and was way messier than it had to be, but please let me remind you:
You can walk away from anything that is toxic to your life. PERIOD. FUCKING PERIOD.
You don’t need to explain yourself from walking away from relationships that are mentally and emotionally unhealthy.
I am also grateful for this and I think about this often:
It was so much of what we didn’t want, that we truly got to figure out what we DID want.


So,
Thank you, so much.
For truly showing us of what we didn’t want.
So we could walk away strongly, hand-in-hand, on a new, healthier path of what we truly did want in this life
and this wonderful feeling of rebirth is really just us stepping into a stronger version of ourselves.


Again, this was one of those things that was SUPPOSED to happen.
Take your sour lemons… and make lemonade + add sugar xo


After what I like to call “the divorce”,
We both moved in with my parents.
Once again, they were happy to have us + to help us.
This was also so healing for me as my mom wasn’t working,
so we spent so much time together and she was my rock.
She always is but when I think to this time (*cries again*),
I am so grateful for her just being there.
 

In this time,
I started two passion projects that are my current reality & my current “jobs"


I started The She Retreat, which is an intimate women’s retreat rooted in self-care, minimalism, yoga + connection.
This is something that had been on my mind for a long time, but having all the creative freedom to create my own brand, exactly how I wanted it to be, was so motivating and inspirational to start something.
So I did.
And women loved the idea.
And they showed up.
And they supported it.
And they came to the next one.
And the next one.
I am privileged to be a thin, white women in the fitness + wellness industry,
where I automatically have a voice.
(Do your research if you don’t agree)
That, in itself, helps any new business I wish to start because I already have a platform.
I acknowledge this and I am always trying to learn from Womxn of Colour who constantly teach us for free and I am trying not to appropriate cultures in my business,
even though I make a living off of a culture that isn’t mine (yoga)
I am working to be inclusive to all bodies, a space for all to feel welcome, conscious of my languaging and marketing, and actively learning from WOC who we should be listening to.


My mom became my little assistant who helped with some logistical things (that I don’t enjoy) and if I text her for something, she was on it.
She is truly a gift from the heavens, and she has taught me so much about being a Woman and who I want to continue to be.
And eventually, if I become a mom myself.


My second passion project is my photography,
which Gregg was able to afford to buy me a camera as a Christmas present.
For this I am so thankful.
He was the kickstart to a new career for me.
I am privileged to have so many connections that my business grew SO QUICKLY.
I barely had to do any promotion, it just kept happening, which was the push I needed to learn different techiniques, research and put my heart and soul into each image.
Thank you to every client who believed in me and supported me, especially my first clients xo


When we left our previous business,
I reached out to a few of my favourite yoga studios and they brought me on RIGHT away.
I am privileged to have those connections that gave me a space to support myself financially, and they supported me in so many ways.
Thank you Ash, Erin + Kelly, xo


I truly believe things are supposed to happen,
doors are supposed to close,
things are supposed to fall apart
for other things to fall into place.
The clouds will lift and you will feel the sun upon your face again.


My family, extended family + best friends have always been the perfect reflection of the things I needed at the time.
My best friends (you know who you are), my family near and far, my husbands family and friends of friends that always support with love and words.
I have had the same best friends since elementary school and I know how rare that is.
We have seen each other grow through our most important times, and I’m so blessed to have them.


I owe so much to my mom and dad, Theresa + Paul.
I owe so much to my brother, Michael.
I owe so much to my husband, Gregg.


Without them, I would never have had the chances that I’ve had in this life so far.
And that is privilege.
And I am thankful for everything they sacrificed to get me here, for all of their unconditional love and support, especially when times were rough.
Even though I am not “self-made”, you guys make me feel like I’ve “made it


I love you all so much.


Finally,
I would like to thank myself.
The most important relationship I have.
For always standing strong,
for always trusting my gut,
for loving myself every damn day,
even when it’s so hard,
for believing in myself, for working hard towards a life I truly want for myself.
Thank you for coming home to yourself so often.
Thank you for showing up.
Thank you for being real.

xo

Shannon Hastings