After 2018, I really do understand the meaning of “when one door closes, another door opens”. At the beginning of 2018, I had an amazing, successful furniture rental business, which was hitting its second year and was bringing in 6-7 figures annually. This award-winning furniture rental business that I had spent a lot of blood, sweat and tears building had made a huge name in the staging and real estate industry as one of the top rental houses in Ontario. I was very proud of how far and how fast this company had grown.
However, all that came tumbling down the summer of 2018. With the end of my marriage, my shares were unhappily sold to my soon to be ex-husband. It isn’t because I wanted to sell a successful company I had worked so hard to build. It was because I knew as a soon-to-be single parent to two little girls, I had to let that business go if I was going to be the type of single mom I wanted to be for them.
I left my marriage because I was unhappy for many years. I played the part of a happy wife with a happy life for years and it was actually really easy to put that face on in public because that’s just what I thought I had to do. At home, however, my feelings were far from the façade I would put on in front of people. Nobody ever really knows how somebody is really feeling on the inside even if they look happy on the outside. Leaving my marriage and leaving my business was extremely hard. I broke up my family, and I felt like a failure on a personal and professional level.
Things were hard back then, but in 2018 I regained my bearings. I realized that I deserved to be happy again. I realized I needed to teach my girls what a happy mama is and lead by example for them. I realized I wasn’t a failure and didn’t “break up my family", I just created a family with a different dynamic. How I figured all this out (and one of the BEST things I have ever done) was to take time for ME.
I did a little bit of traveling on my own and figured out what I wanted in life for me and my girls and what I needed to do to get there. For any ladies contemplating solo travel, I highly recommend doing it and I also highly recommend Aruba! When I returned from my trip, I felt so refreshed, so independent, so strong and so ready to start a new life! All I was ready to do was move forward and not look back at what was. I wanted a happier life for me and my babies.
I knew I could never go back to working for somebody else at a 9-5 type of job. I knew I had to start a new business that would allow me to have time for my children, allow me to get out there and socialize with other people (I had been feeling quite lonely when my marriage was ending). I knew I wanted to create a successful business that my newly retired parents could assist with.
Prior to opening the furniture rental house, I played with the idea of opening a store that sold used children’s clothes, toys, and books. My mind automatically bounced back to this idea, as I love being around children, and I wanted to give back and be a part of the east end community. I also wanted to go back to my career roots which was fashion. I did a ton of research and learned how wasteful the garment industry is and I was shocked to also learn that there were very few used children’s wear options in Toronto.
I jumped on this idea immediately and decided to open up shop in the area where I grew up. I have been an East York girl since the age of 3 and I love the area. So, I visited every single commercial property available in the hood, but nothing pulled at my heartstrings. Finally, the space at 1854 Danforth became available and I fell in love with the high ceilings, front windows, bright lights and landlords.
It took me 4 weeks to set up properly with the help of a few awesome friends (some amazing mamas in this group) and my parents to get the doors to Little Ones Closet open. During the time we were setting up, I felt so motivated and felt the rush of excitement every day to be starting this new business that would help families be able to afford to dress their little ones in great pieces.
However, in the same breath, I was terrified of doing this all on my own. I hadn’t been on my own in over 10 years. Now I was a single mom renting an apartment and starting a whole new business. Everything moved very quickly and a lot of it was a blur. The nights were long setting up the shop and the mornings were hectic, getting the kids ready for school early. It was a whirlwind.
We finally opened our doors to Little Ones Closet on December 4th, 2018 and it has been amazing! The support from the community has been overwhelming, more than I dreamed possible. The kind, encouraging words shared with me from parents who visit the shop, make me feel so warm and so welcomed. My girls are so excited to come to the shop and help out. My parents also seem to enjoy working again! It’s a true family endeavor.
New beginnings can be terrifying and intimidating. But you never grow on a personal or professional level unless you overcome that fear. Take that leap and know that you can do anything you set your mind to. Many people that know me, know that I live by the motto “go big or go home”. I feel we must never settle. We all deserve to be happy and deserve the best that life can give us.
When you close one door, another door really does open! You just need to be open to seeing that door and strutting through it.
Julie O is a founding member of Mamas & Co. She is a mom of two amazing girls and is the owner of Little Ones Closet. She aims to help change the East York community by offering adorable, accessible used children’s clothing, toys, and books.