This week we have the pleasure of introducing you to an incredibly special soul! Today’s #FEMMEFEATUREFRIDAY is innovator and girl boss, Natalie Festa. This adventurous gal has a passion for travel, artisanal goods and local coffee shops. When Natalie isn’t hopping onto her next flight, she is helping women find the perfect outfit or mentoring students on how to bring their business ideas to life. Natalie is the kind of girl that will be there for you at any hour on any day. She is thoughtful and always makes an effort to support those around her. What we admire most about this free-spirited woman is her indescribable drive and her inspiring zest for life.

Before venturing off into the world of entrepreneurship, this go-getter studied at the Schulich School of Business at York University and earned her CPA & CA designation at KPMG. She believes this experience is what ultimately provided her with the foundation of her business leadership skills and her “figure-it-out” mentality. Natalie is the founder of a non-profit organization called Fair & Square, whose mission is to engage men in female empowerment initiatives in developing countries. She’s also worked alongside Fashion Takes Action, which is an organization whose mission is to bring awareness about the textile waste issues in the fashion industry. The understanding that we can DO MORE, WITH LESS and the eye-opening reality of the supply chain of our clothes is what led her to co-found her current full-time hustle… BORO is a peer-to-peer marketplace for renting clothes in Toronto. It’s like having a bigger and better version of your best friend’s closet! Click on this link to find out more and to start shopping!

We just love how Natalie GOES FOR IT! This girl never lets anything bring her down and any challenges she faces along the way simply add fuel to her fire. She has an unbeatable positive attitude and when things get tough, she remembers her “WHY” and the difference she is striving to create in the world. This amazing girl is continually seeking new ways of unveiling her truest self. Whether she’s attending meditation retreats or yoga class, she makes sure she spends time getting to know who she is. She reminds us that all emotions are temporary, and it’s important to shed those layers in order to grow into the person we want to become. Thank you Natalie for being a change-maker and for reminding us to be the force behind the change we wish to see!

Written by Alessia Rotino

Artwork by Chloe Bruderer (@chloeheartsart)

Artwork by Chloe Bruderer (@chloeheartsart)

Who is your biggest female inspiration and why?

Ah, the first two that come to mind, equally, are:

Emma Watson – Her women’s rights efforts are enormous in the United Nations front and specifically in sustainable fashion, which speaks to me, as that’s the field of business I am in myself. I find it so awesome that someone with such a large disposable income can purchase anything she wants yet chooses to be mindful of the brand’s supply chain and only engages with fashion that has a positive impact.

Jessica Alba – She founded a children’s product line called Honest which kills it! She works tirelessly as a business leader, which I find so cool because she really doesn’t have to work but chooses to build and run this massive business because it fulfils a mission for her – that’s the coolest!

Coincidentally, they are both actors, however, I love them for reasons other than their acting careers. Despite their success in show biz, they’ve gone far beyond their fame and fortune to create something bigger than themselves.

Tell us about your desire to help the women of Kauli in Tanzania? How did this experience help you change in other areas of your life?

I took a 6-month sabbatical from my corporate job at the time and went to volunteer in Tanzania as the Managing Director of Kauli, which is an artisanal purse brand. While there, I realized a cold hard fact: there are human beings who make the fashion we consume. I used to be a consumer for aesthetic and price until Tanzania, when I learned about the supply chain behind fashion and caring about the artisans who make our items. I fell in love with sustainability in fashion and supporting artisans in hard-to-reach markets. This opened my mind to a world of possibilities and my long-term dream kicked in. I wanted to be involved with sustainable fashion and help reduce textile waste globally. This eventually led me to co-found Boro, which is my current full-time gig.

Not very long ago, you quit your job in the corporate world and pursued your passions in the sustainable fashion industry. Tell us about that process. How did it feel creating BORO from the ground-up? Was there fear involved with stepping into a brand-new world?

Yes, I started on a more traditional business student career path working at KPMG for 4 years while earning my CA designation. While it has proven to be a great launching pad, I knew that type of corporate work wasn’t for me forever. After my time in Tanzania, I decided to leave my stable career path at the firm for entrepreneurship, which was definitely scary. There are highs and lows and you feel them all. It’s the wildest, curviest roller coaster I’ve ever been on. That being said, working on problems that I care about and developing solutions while building relationships with aligned businesses and people is what drives me.

How do you stay motivated? What words do you live by whether it’s a phrase, motto or mantra that helps you get through a tough day?

Done is better than perfect” has become a phrase that gets me through the long days. While I definitely still believe in high-quality output, I used to care a lot more about ensuring that things were done as close to perfect as they could be. However, now I’ve learned to get things done more efficiently and onto the next!

Tough days are inevitable and I think it’s important to remember why you started and recounting the luxuries you have been awarded, even something as simple as being grateful for being in control of your calendar (sometimes I forget how grand of a luxury that really is). Despite how “available” I tend to make myself for my business, I also know what my “non-negotiables” are and set boundaries when warranted. Some weeks that means heading to the lake on a Sunday morning, and other times that means deleting distracting apps on my phone. Last year, I completed the Vipassana Meditation Retreat which is 10 days in silence and that was my non-negotiable at that time. I really do enjoy my solitude, and checking in with myself every now and then keeps me motivated on my path and allows me to adjust accordingly.

What’s your definition of a YGTGirl?

A girl who’s energy is electric, with fire in her eyes, in relentless pursuit of her dreams, while encouraging other girls to be unapologetic in their endeavours, by leading through her own example.