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Monique Chan is a 25 year old creative based in Toronto. Always inspired by the natural world, she loves learning and discovering new innovations that allow humans to live symbiotically with our environment. Her main passion is plant-based cooking with a focus on the issue of food waste. After working in many kitchens as a line cook and then studying food waste during her last year of university, she saw an obvious connection. The problem outlined in her studies unfolded right before her eyes during her everyday shifts. Realizing there had to be a sustainable solution to combat this neglected issue, the idea of Bruized was born.
What led you to the path you’re on now?
Not settling for a career I wasn’t passionate about led me to where I am today. The idea of Bruized was brewing during the time I worked in a restaurant and farmer’s markets after graduating university. That period of being okay with not knowing where I was going or what I wanted to do was so crucial. I took that time to really reflect on what brought me joy while highlighting my strengths, I got to dabble in different things, I built relationships in unexpected places and eventually became connected to the purpose I’ve created in my life with Bruized.
Who do you look to for inspiration or mentorship?
I find inspiration and mentorship in others within our industry who are breaking against the norms of running a business and creating a new reality that we aspire to achieve as well. I also admire successful public figures who own businesses and generously share their advice on how they reached the goals they set out for themselves.
What has been the biggest hurdle in your industry?
The biggest hurdle in the food industry for us is making the leap to scale from a very small scale business to a nationwide company. I bootstrapped the business in the beginning and being a recent graduate working full-time it was hard to propel the business with limited funding and also a risky investment if things didn’t work out. It’s been hard to compete with the pricing and marketing of other competitors that have the capital and infrastructure to really amplify their brand. Nevertheless, we’re young, scrappy, + hungry for change and I feel that is our competitive edge in making us a resilient company.
Name something you wish you’d never done in terms of your career as a warning for others following in your footsteps.
This is a tricky question to answer because everything on my journey got me to where I am now even if I didn’t see it at the time. I don’t want to give others an idea that there are wrong moves. Our experiences are completely unique to ourselves and something that didn’t ‘work out’ for me may be the pivotal moment you need in your life. Fear of the possibility of messing up is what usually holds us back from starting or trying new things. Once you start the journey that’s when you start learning and eventually navigate to where you want to be. When I reflect on how far I’ve come, it’s those ‘mistakes’ or challenges that actually make the process so worthwhile. Something amazing has always come from every hardship I’ve encountered and if everything just went according to plan all the time I don’t believe I’d learn anything or grow very much. I think it’s important to reframe the relationship we have with making mistakes and to let go of the avoidance we have towards an imperfect path. I’m going to tell you right now that you WILL make mistakes but it’s how you respond to them that matters. There’s an opportunity to learn in every situation, it’s just up to you if you choose to see it.
What makes a great leader?
A great leader isn’t afraid to show vulnerability. When problems arise they don’t look for someone to blame but reflect on how they could improve in their role to prevent it from happening again. They take initiative when something needs to be done and are fearless when difficult decisions need to be made. They believe in more than one way to accomplish a goal and empower people around them to contribute their skills while trusting in their abilities. I believe humility is such a valuable trait to have as it opens up your mind to learn more and creates a prosperous + safe space when working with a team.
How do you beat procrastination?
I’m still on the journey to improving my procrastinating tendencies but things I found effective are to create a specific routine and curating a space to do certain tasks. I find myself sharper in the mornings after doing some meditation and movement so I schedule to do work following activities that are already strongly habitual. This helps create a habit of doing work at a certain time easier when piggybacking on other pre-existing ones. Also, it is important to designate a space to do this work that has limited distractions but also enjoyable (ie. playing calming music that gets me in the zone, working by a window for natural lighting). Leaving my phone in another room is also super hard but so effective. Writing daily focus lists either the night before or in the morning have really helped give direction to my day and reduces the amount of decisions I have to make.
What are you doing right now to ensure your future growth and development as a
I am constantly keeping an open mind of how much I still have to learn and work on as a leader. I observe other people in leadership roles and take note on what they do/don’t do well and bring that back to myself to build leadership qualities that I value. Being gentle with myself throughout this process is also important as a reminder that I am constantly evolving and never perfect.
What part of your job causes you the most anxiety?
The aspects that don’t come naturally to me like the finance/business side of things and also keeping up with emails that come in. I’m learning to accept these roles as crucial stepping stones that need to be done in order to grow and that gives me a little more motivation + purpose to execute them.
What’s your best example of fake it ‘til you make it?
The best example would be being the person I aspire to be even if I don’t feel it. I believe by doing this for long enough I eventually step into the role and embody those characteristics. This process also helps me align with who I really want to become and highlights where I can put in more work.
What’s your favourite song by a female artist? Why?
I really love the song Confidently Lost by Sabrina Claudio. There is so much strong feminine energy and I am inspired by her vulnerability + confidence. This song in particular evokes a sense of comfort and love for the process I am on, learning to trust in my abilities and acceptance of the unknown.
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