Challenging Societal Expectations by Alana Howard

  • Published on:
    May 13, 2021
  • Reading time by:
    4 minutes

Think business is a boys club or is it for privileged kids born into money? Think again!

This club is for anyone. Societal norms are being challenged by many entrepreneurs coming from all walks of life. I was ridiculed when I first started by friends and family challenging “what do you even know about starting a business?”.  It was also suggested I won’t be taken seriously because I am female. Stats and people’s unwelcome opinions were not going to define what I did next. 

Let me take you back to the start. I was born into an abusive marriage which quickly turned into a divorce. My mom, while extremely hard working, had to leave the relationship with nothing but the clothes on our backs. We had to rely on the system to get by. I knew my home was different than the average from a very young age. My friends’ parents lived together but mine didn’t and my Dad abandoned us very quickly. 

As a teenager, I became a statistic just like everyone suggested I would. I ran away at 16 and have never moved back because of a mentally abusive stepfather. By the age of 21, I got married and had a child. I was going to show the world I was different than what society expected of me. 

I failed. We were broke just as society suggested we would be. My ex-husband and I were so young we had no idea what we were doing and by the age of 31, I was divorced with a daughter. 

From an unforeseen circumstance in the marriage, I was forced to stand on my own two feet and build myself up to someone I had never been before. It was a blessing in disguise when I look back now I am grateful. If I didn’t find the courage I truly was going to be a “societal norm” that gets wrote off. I got myself into counseling because I knew healing was going to be paramount to growing so I got started. 

I had hit rock bottom so badly not just financially but mentally as well

I had nowhere to go but up. I looked around and no one inspired me. I took a step back from all of my friends and family. I challenged my 9-5 job (the one everyone told me was a real job) and crunched the numbers. I was working for less than minimum wage after paying for childcare and gas. I had nothing to lose so I quit and maxed out my last credit card to take a lash course. 

The thought of making money by helping others feel beautiful inspired me. I looked at my daughter and knew with every fibre of my body this was the real start to my life. This was 6 short years ago. 

I began doing mobile lashes house to house because I couldn’t afford to rent a room

I started making enough that I was able to support my monthly payments, pay some debt and save enough to pay for a brow course and expand. I got a room and I was off – I was now a business owner! I kept setting goals and crushing them – setting new ones and crushing those as well. Year over a year my dream has expanded and I know it will never stop. I am so blessed.

I now own Cosmopolitan Academy an academy in the beauty industry

An academy in the beauty industry that has not only grown across Canada but is entering into the US as we speak. I founded the Graceful brand which is a full line of products to compliment the courses we teach and our most proud component that has been added to the Cosmopolitan brand is the #cosmogivesback initiative. It’s an initiative the company does to send women from Women and Children Shelters through our Eyelash Extension Course free of charge, assisting these women with confidence, independence and financial freedom at such a trying time. The seven-figure company keeps growing and I’m having a blast being a part of the team! I continuously challenge myself to learn new things, grow as an individual and have fun with my family. 

Not only have I found success in business but by challenging my core and breaking societal norms

I have found love with a man who has since blessed me with a baby boy and taken on a father role in our home with my daughter Gracey. David reminds me daily (without him even knowing it) how grateful I am that I didn’t succumb to society’s expectations of who I was supposed to be statistically. If I had of I would be missing out on many great successes with him and my children being the greatest success of all. 

The confusion, the heartache, the dedication and the long hours, in the beginning, I’d take all over again if it led me to where I am today. For those starting don’t allow society to tell you who you will end up being. If you don’t have much money that’s ok, all you have to do is lose the fear and put one foot in front of the other. Only you get to define yourself. You get to decide your destiny. You have to put in the work and the effort but trust me it’s worth it babe! 

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