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Haute Nature

GEM would like to send out a big thank you to Stephanie De Gasperis, founder of HUSK, for providing our GEMgirls with a wonderful Valentine’s Day giveaway featuring natural beauty products and healthy treats for their special day. Continue reading to learn find about Stephanie’s take on entrepreneurship, natural beauty, and healthy living.

Based on the lessons you have learned and the challenges you faced, what do you think it takes to become a thriving entrepreneur?

It takes vision, positivity and faith as well as hard work in the form of attention, focus and being present.  I think as women we need to continue to pay attention to self care and balancing work with our home life as this will help keep the passion of your work alive and keep you energized.

Did you encounter any difficulties setting HUSK apart from other natural cosmetic boutiques? If so, what were they? 

I think it’s a fairly new and small industry. Since all-natural is a newer concept and people are more familiar with bigger brands available at pharmacies, I knew it would take some time to convince people that these products are not only a better alternative for our skin and overall health, but effective and truly beautifying.

What impact did your background in nutrition and fitness have on the creation of HUSK?

It showed me the importance of taking care of ourselves, each other and the planet. Learning about many of the man-made toxins that have made their way into our skin care products and our environment was quite eye opening.  When you realize your skin is your body’s largest organ and that everything you put on it has a good chance of making its way into your blood stream, it really makes you stop and think.  Many of these chemicals are new and scientists are just discovering their harmful effects, such as being carcinogenic (cancer-causing) or endocrine-disruptive (changing the way our hormones naturally work). However, when I saw the fabulous things that all-natural brands were capable of, I realized there was hope.

What methods and exercises do you practice regularly which help you create harmony between mind, body and spirit?

I think a more holistic and balanced approach to fitness is the most effective and sustainable tactic for long term well-being.  With work requiring much of my energy, I have found that constantly moving, making the right food choices and checking in with myself every day through meditation, are the most important things in keeping my mind and body in good shape.

Could you tell us more about your favourite green food with beautifying benefits and how you incorporate it into your daily eating habits?

I think almonds are truly beautifying for many reasons.  They are high in the top most beautifying nutrients – such as heart-healthy Omega-9 fatty acids (same that is found in high quantity in Olive Oil) and skin healing Vitamin E.  Because they are rich in healthy fats, they help keep us satisfied longer and provide a sustained source of energy.

In a world where our eyes remain glued to a technological device for the most part of a day, what is the importance of devoting quiet time solely to eating a meal without any distractions?

With so much constant stimulation around us via technology we quickly forget to be mindful and present.  When eating, it is especially important to remember to chew your food.  Remember that your stomach doesn’t have teeth and the more you can break food down in your mouth, the easier you can digest.  This has effects on your whole body.

What was one obstacle in your life which seemed most impossible to overcome and how did you tackle it?

One of the obstacles that I faced was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. I was the only female in the group and I had to make it up the difficult climb. On the second last day, when it seemed near impossible – getting through the hardest part where you want to give up or turn back – I saw the light at the top of the Summit.  The feeling was one of sheer joy, a sense of confidence and accomplishment.

 

Stephanie De Gasperis founded HUSK in the fall of 2013. As a fitness specialist and holistic nutritionist, she has always been inspired by her own quest for health and balance – and has now created the perfect way to share this knowledge with others. Stephanie is passionate about simplicity, tradition and the beauty in the Earth’s elements, and has brought her aesthetic vision to the HUSK shopping experience. Stephanie has travelled the world to source the cleanest, purest and most effective products for the skin and body. All the ingredients she uses support optimal wellness and positive transformation. Her support fro local producers is also very important, as you will find Toronto-based and Canadian brands throughout the HUSK store. Stephanie and her team have a mission to introduce the very best non-toxic and healthy self-care alternatives for women, men and children so they can lead cleaner, more vibrant lives.

Q&A with Azi Boloorchi

Azi Boloorchi, manager at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Techna Institute, is a fierce leader and an inspiration. My exclusive interview with her explores challenges, mentorship, and what it takes to be successful.

How old were you when you came to Canada?

I was 17. I moved here during a February snowstorm with my parents and younger sister. We did not have any family or friends here. I remember taking the subway, getting off at a random station, seeing the sign “apartments available for rent” and starting our life in Toronto.

What was it like to adapt to a new country and system?

Quite honestly it feels like a blur. I barely spoke English and certainly did not fit in at our high school. I became shy and introverted and lost my confidence. But I did not lose hope – I knew there was a bright future waiting for me.

What past challenges have shaped you the most?

The challenges that have shaped me the most have certainly been during periods of change. Change is difficult, but with it, usually comes an improvement, a reward, and happiness. For example, pursing an MBA with a background in life sciences and no real work experience was a period of change that was intellectually challenging, physically demanding, and at times emotionally taxing. The workload seemed impossible, but it helped to give me the discipline I need now to deliver on big projects.

Has mentorship impacted your life?

Absolutely! While I have never had a “formal” mentor, I have benefited immensely from one-off or regular informal conversations about my professional development and career goals with people who possess key characteristics that I admire. One person, one coffee chat, or sometimes even one sentence can make a huge impact.

What do you think are the main qualities of a successful person?

Curiosity: Not only can curiosity help us innovate and solve problems, but it also makes us interesting.

Creativity: Creativity is about connecting ideas, seeing the big picture, unconstrained with preconceived notions or existing paradigms or mental models.

Empathy: When you treat your colleague or stakeholder first and foremost as a human being with feelings that is when magic happens and opportunities arise that you never knew existed.

Commitment: Successful people are committed to their goals and do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Resilience: Successful people do not give up. They keep dreaming and just go for it.

What are some tips you could give to girls to raise their confidence?

First, know that nobody on this earth is 100% confident; even the most successful, the richest and the most beautiful people have insecurities, so you are not alone. Secondly, with confidence, I truly believe in the practice of “fake it till you make it” (thanks mom!). Third, try to get to know yourself. It’s really that simple… Or is it? To be perfectly honest I am still trying to figure it out.

What inspired you to become a mentor?

Rochelle, the Founder and Executive Director of GEM, was a silent mentor of mine. I admired her passion to go after what she loves and her ability to handle it all with grace. When she told me about GEM and asked me to be a mentor, I was honoured and excited. This is the type of program that I wish I could have accessed as a 17 year old girl coming to Canada.

 

Azi Boloorchi is a healthcare strategy and management professional with over eight years of experience leading strategic initiatives from design to delivery and advising innovators, policy makers and executives on their most challenging problems. She currently works as the Manager of Personalized Cancer Medicine Strategy at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Techna Institute. She was a teacher at Centennial College for 4 years and volunteered with the United Nations in a disaster relief mission. Azi has graduate degrees in science (MSc) and business (MBA) both from the University of Toronto.