From Side Hustle to Full Hustle: Mary Young

We're hosting an entrepreneur panel discussion!

Meet Mary, our speaker. 

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From a young age, Mary Young knew she would be an entrepreneur in the creative realm. From knitting clothes for her Barbies to making prom dresses in high school, she always had a passion for all things fashion. After studying Fashion Communications at Ryerson University, she discovered the lingerie industry. Today she is designer of her namesake line MARY YOUNG Lifestyle Lingerie, which features ethically Canadian made lingerie and loungewear that embraces the natural woman’s body.

Tell us about yourself.

I'm a Jill of all trades. I love using my hands to build things in whatever I do. I hope to cause a positive effect on those around me. I've been creative from such a young age, from knitting clothes for my Barbies to making prom dresses in high school, I knew fashion was an industry that I would end up in. I love being active, both socially and physically. If I'm not working then I'm having a Matcha with friends over brunch or at a spin class getting in some cardio. 

How did you begin MARY YOUNG Lifestyle Lingerie? Was this something you'd always planned to do? 

Growing up I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur; what that looked like I never fully knew, other than it would be in the creative realm. When I was at Ryerson studying Fashion Communications I decided to do a double thesis in my fourth year. I produced both a written thesis as well as a five-piece womenswear collection that was shown with the Fashion Design graduating class. I honestly stumbled upon lingerie during my fourth year, I started my collection with hand knit sweaters and as I was building out the full concept I concluded lingerie would be a great pairing with cozy knit sweaters for the contemporary woman. After studying the lingerie industry so in-depth for months I knew that there was a gap in the market for lifestyle lingerie. It also became clear to me that the lingerie industry really only offered one 'look' for models and women, which is far from reality and I wanted to address that with my collection. 

MARY YOUNG Lifestyle Lingerie designs all lingerie and loungewear with a focus on empowering women and appreciating their natural body. Why do you feel this is so important? 

Growing up, I always felt pressure from the media, the fashion industry and really society as a whole, to act and look a certain way as a woman. I never once felt reassured, aside from my family and friends, that who I was at my core and my natural looks were enough. I know I'm not the only one to feel this way and I want to make sure women realize that their natural shape and who they are is more than enough, and they are truly beautiful. I think it's time we change the narrative of how a woman is spoken about, how she is told to look and act, and encourage everyone to embrace their individuality in all forms. 

What do you love most about being your own boss? 

The best thing about being my own boss is seeing all of my hard work, from idea, creation to execution, come to life. Knowing that all my hard work, those late nights and stress worked together to build something that can connect and reach so many other people.

What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur? 

My biggest advice is to learn self-love, and I know that sounds cliché but it's true. You will always be your own worst critic, you'll see the areas you fell short or the flaws in your finished product, but if you can't support, encourage and love yourself through the journey it will always be an uphill battle. Without loving yourself and speaking to yourself positively, you will always feel less than rather than embracing and celebrating your successes along the way.

Written by: Puja Bowen