Alana Howard is the Founder of Cosmopolitan Academy. She has made it my ethical mission in business to help others.
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.
I grew up in a single parent home with a very hard working mom. She taught my brother and I the ethics of working hard for a living and the importance of family. I went to college for business and marketing and ended up working as an Executive Assistant because I couldn’t find a job in the field I went to school for. I envied my boss and was very aware early on I didn’t want to be the Assistant … I wanted to be an Executive!
I was on the verge of bankruptcy and my daughter was in daycare 12 hours per day because of my hours and commuting time. I felt I had nothing to lose but everything to gain if I took the leap of faith to start my own business. My time was now. I grew up in the beauty industry as that was my moms field. It was my calling to do something in that industry because I remember the passion and excitement I used to feel when I worked for her. I quit my job and took an eyelash extension course and offered mobile services (because I could not afford the space or furniture to start a “real” salon). Every year since that year not only have I grown personally and professionally but I am mostly proud of what I can now do for others.
Was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it? Please tell us the backstory behind it.
I loved that I could help women feel beautiful with my services but I knew I could do more as my business grew to an Academy. I could now help those needing to supplement their income and lifestyle just like I needed to as well not long ago. I am super proud to have gotten to the point that I can now give proceeds from every enrollment to send Women from Women and Children Shelters around Canada and the US through our school.
Everyone has their own set of challenges when starting an entrepreneurial journey. Still, the most essential part for others to learn is how you deal with those. Would you like to share with us your challenges and your coping mechanisms?
Entrepreneurs are very lucky to be following their passion but there are always challenges and setbacks along the way. It’s not all fun. When challenges appear I remind myself to continue being grateful for what I do have. No matter the setback or failure I endure (yes we all fail along the journey) I always practice gratitude for what I do have and will continue to have regardless of the challenge. This keeps me focused and moving forward.
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?
I am so impressed and inspired by women everywhere pushing through male dominated industries and breaking glass ceilings; however, for me it’s never me against a gender it is me against me. If I am doing better than I was yesterday, last month or last year I know I am exactly where I am meant to be. There is a lot of emphasis around “Women Entrepreneurs” but I hope when a woman who owns a business succeeds she is not succeeding as a “women entrepreneur” she is succeeding as an “entrepreneur” and that is beautiful! This is no longer a man’s playground.
With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
My hope for the next generation of beautiful and ambitious entrepreneurs is to remember life is incredible so never get too busy that you forget to enjoy. Be proud, don’t stop learning and “Never Look Down … Unless It Is To Admire Your Shoes” (Alana Howard).