We had the good fortune of connecting with Mary Young and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mary, how do you think about risk?
Risk taking is inevitable in life so instead of avoiding it, the key is to calculate your risks and assess what you’re willing to risk. Nothing is a sure shot but taking a calculated risk is more likely than not to pay off. When I launched MARY YOUNG I spent a few weeks intensely researching the lingerie industry and marketplace to determine if there was space for a new brand like mine. After writing a very in-depth business plan I was able to identify the gap in the market that MARY YOUNG would fill and that risk of starting a business felt less like a risk but more of a calculated decision. The personal risks came to my finances, time and energy I was willing to invest into the company. I was very intentional at the young age of 23 to determine how much money I would be willing to invest and borrow to launch and grow the business. Drawing this solid line in the sand of where I would not cross if it wasn’t working gave me confidence that my risk was worth taking and I wouldn’t be setting myself so far back if it didn’t pan out. At the age of 23 my personal life had less risks – I didn’t have a mortgage, car payment, kids or serious relationship that was on the line – so it was easier to risk my comfort of going out for dinners and taking vacations to invest that time and money into my business. After assessing all areas of my life and completing a business plan I was able to determine the risk of starting a business was worth it for me – all calculations had been made and pointed to take the risk! I was young, fearless and passionate about what I was doing that taking the risk to me was a no brainer.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I launched MARY YOUNG in 2014 after completing my bachelors degree in Fashion Communications at Ryerson University in Toronto. What originally started as my thesis in my fourth year quickly became my brand after I received such positive feedback from the industry in Canada and the community online. My thesis featured soft lingerie that I called lifestyle lingerie – neither solely for function or for fashion – but rather blending the two aspects of intimates together in garments that celebrated the natural shape of a woman’s body. This became the foundation for MARY YOUNG and a few short months after graduating I launched with three styles ethically and sustainably produced in Canada. Over the past seven years our foundation of embracing and celebrating a woman’s natural shape hasn’t changed and still holds true to our designs. We proudly produce in Canada with mostly sustainable material in a small production house that follows ethical practices and provides a living wage for its employees. All of our designs are intended to move freely with the wearer, offering a comfortable and lasting wear that has just the right amount of design detail that if they want to share what they’re wearing with others they will have the confidence to do so. Launching a business at twenty three was definitely not easy but it was worth all the sacrifices I’ve made along the way. Some of the biggest obstacles I’ve faced have been producing in Canada and staying true to ethical and sustainable materials throughout our expanding designs. Fashion is moving faster than it ever has before and the approach of being a slower fashion brand still isn’t as widely accepted and celebrated. I’ve always focused on staying true to our values and focusing on our path rather than allowing myself to be distracted by what others are doing.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
So much has changed in our city during the pandemic but some of my favourite, must visit and see spots are still open, thank goodness. For food I always recommend Baddies for breakfast, Almond Butterfly for gluten free treats, Blondies for pizza, Pai for great thai, Honeys for vegan and gluten free ice cream. The perfect late night spot for a drink is Rhum Corner, Soho House and Seoul Shakers. I always advise my friends to spend time at the AGO and ROM for some great exhibits and enjoyable area for walking around – if you enjoy fancy cars, spend some time walking around Yorkville after visiting the ROM and you’ll get a real show. There are always some great shows happening in the city, whether it be open mic nights, local bands or standup, nine times out of ten if you pop into a bar you’ll be in for some entertainment. If it’s summer you definitely need to head to the island for some beach hangs and good vibes – maybe even a stop at the nude beach if you want to even out your tan lines.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The biggest impact on my ability to follow my dreams came from my first boss, Babette. When I was fourteen I started working at a corner store – which on any given day had me pumping gas, cutting meat in the deli, mailing parcels, renting VHS videos, and the list goes on. This job was one of my first jobs and the first time I had a female boss. At the age of fourteen I didn’t realize how rare that was – I also didn’t realize how many obstacles Babette had to face in order to continue running her business and growing it as a female entrepreneur. I worked under Babette my entire high school years and into college and that time working for a woman who set such a strong example of how women can do anything was instilled in me without evening realizing it. Babette not only encompassed who I wanted to be as a business owner and boss but she also spent time listening to my dreams and plans for my future, always encouraging me to leave our small village (of less than 500) to pursue my dreams. Babette has become family to me over the last fifteen years I’ve known her and I know I wouldn’t be where I am without her impact on my life.
Instagram: itsmaryyoung / yungbiscotti
Twitter: itsmaryyoung / yungbiscotti_
Erin Leydon Jacqueline Ashton