I was luck enough to be introduced to Elise through my best friend Bianca (stay tuned for her #WCW post, I’m blessed to have amazing and inspiring friends), as she is a family friend of hers and I was invited to a few different pink pearl events. Elise is an amazing woman and as I got to know her better and learn about all of the cool things she has been working on I knew I had to share her story and projects with all of you.
Elise works for a prestigious fashion brand, and is living the #girlboss life in New York city. In addition to this she runs her own charity, The Pink Pearl Foundation, and has recently started her own blog as well, style.ca. I hope her story motivates you as much as it has done so for me. Elise is a wonderful role model and I am constantly in awe of all of her accomplishments. Read more about her story below.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
I had an amazing childhood. I grew up in the small town of Thorold, Ontario with a wonderful family and close group of friends. I went away to school and developed a need for adventure, to see new places and cultures. I was lucky enough to live in the UK, Australia, Italy and NYC. Career wise, I currently work at Burberry and oversee our wholesale footwear business. Personally I started a charity, Pink Pearl, that supports young women with cancer. More recently I launched a lifestyle site style.ca.
2. Why did you start Pink Pearl Foundation? What do you hope the Foundation will achieve?
My own personal experience as a young women going through cancer is what motivated me to start Pink Pearl. At the time, there weren’t a lot of support organizations out there for young people specifically women with all types of cancer. It seemed there was a void between that need and what was being offered. Our organization addresses the non-medical, emotional side of being a young woman who is facing cancer.
My hope for the charity is that it is seen as a place of support and hope for the women who are a part of it. The power of feeling supported whether it’s through family, friends or other women is so powerful. Within our organization, we want to make sure that a woman does not feel alone as she goes navigates through her cancer. Cancer is only one part of her story.
3. What inspires you?
I feel most inspired when I see the accomplishments of others and what they have done to leave the world a better place. I’m a huge fan of people that take action. It is one thing to talk the talk but another thing entirely to live it.
4. What is your personal mantra or mission statement?
Always look for the silver lining. Very cliché but it has definitely helped me in hard times and times of change.
5. What does happiness mean to you?
Happiness to me is getting up in the morning and being excited about what your day holds. I’m not just talking about when you are on vacation, but about those Monday mornings when you don’t want to get out of bed. It doesn’t happen for me every day, but it happens more often than not and for that I feel lucky.
6. What are your hobbies?
Traveling and exploring new places whether it’s in my neighbourhood or around the globe. I’m usually up for an adventure!
7. What are a few things you do every single day to keep yourself on track?
I LOVE to review my calendar; it’s the Type A in me. I do it at the beginning of each week and before bed at night so I can mentally plan what the day has in store for me. Doesn’t always work but it helps to get my head around what has to be accomplished for that day.
8. If you could give advice to someone looking to get into your field what would it be and why?
If we are talking fashion then it would definitely be to network and take advantage of internships. Jobs in fashion don’t come up easily and you have to work for it. I interned for close to a year before I was hired on.
If we are talking the not for profit world, then you really have to have a passion for what you are doing. Resources are usually tight (our organization is made up entirely of volunteers, myself included) so you have to be prepared to wear many hats with the payout being the good feeling you get from helping someone.
9. What has been your most rewarding experience so far? Work or personal
One of the most rewarding experiences so far is how well Pink Pearl Foundation has been received from participants to partners to sponsors. It’s a true testament to what you can accomplish as a team. I am SO thankful for our team and how we work together. The Foundation has successfully raised nearly $250,000 to date and this year marked the 10th anniversary of the Black & White with a Touch of Pink!
10. What is the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your life thus far? What did you learn? Are you thankful for what it taught you?
The biggest challenge would have to have been when I was sick. It naturally had its tough moments but I consider myself lucky for the outcome and the friends and family I had with me on the journey.
What I learned would probably fill a book but ultimately it is not to take anything for granted and live each day fully. I think my need to always be “doing” comes from when I was sick. When you are in treatment and it takes all your effort that day to walk to the bathroom you realize that when you can walk/ run/ live again you aren’t going to stop.
Now that it is behind me I can say I am thankful for what it taught me. In that moment and that time, was I thankful … definitely not. But the experience gave me Pink Pearl and the opportunity to meet and support other women. So for that part I am thankful.
11. Who is your role model/ who has been the most influential person in your life?
I had a great childhood due in large part to my grandparents. I remember waking up Saturday mornings to the sounds of both of my grandpas working in the garden, sleepovers with ice cream and chips and weekly Sunday dinners at my grandma’s. They all immigrated from Italy and are definitely my inspiration when it comes to building a good life filled with family and lots of love.
12. When do you feel most inspired?
I feel most inspired not in a specific physical place but when I am surrounded by inspiring people .. although the beach doesn’t hurt ☺