Emily Mills is one of those special women that I aspire to be like when I grow up (yep, I know, I’m fully grown, but hey!). She holds it down at her day job, is a loving mom and wife, and generously makes time to empower like minded women through her side project – How She Hustles.
How She Hustles is an online network that connects 5000 women through social media and special events in Toronto. As a network, How She Hustles hosts annual women’s events, profiles diverse women on the move, stimulates conversation and shares information through social media.
Last winter, I attended Emily Mills’ #HowSheHustlesPopUpShop, and I told myself that I couldn’t leave the event without introducing myself to her. As I nervously readied myself to make my introduction, Emily beat me to it and said with a gigantic smile, “Hi, Words With Michelle!” Seriously…….., I felt like pinching myself! I did not think that THE Emily Mills – entrepreneur, and all around fab lady, knew who I was. I giggled awkwardly, and then told her how much I was enjoying my first “How She Hustles” event.
Though that was 8 months ago, I promised myself that I would one day feature her fabness on Words With Michelle.
To find out more about this outstanding lady, keep reading.
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
Astrological Sign: Pisces
Day job: Corporate professional in media and communications
Career Highlight: Being nominated for the YWCA Toronto Women of Distinction Award in 2015
Why did you start How She Hustles?
I started #howshehustles by accident, really. Back in 2010, I was working in the non-profit sector and overseeing three big projects: an annual awards program, a major media sponsorship, and production of a corporate video. I was working overtime to get it all done. While working in the wee hours of the morning, I posted a message on Facebook – a reflection about my endless grind. To my surprise, other women I knew started to respond instantly. My post sparked an online conversation about how we juggle so many demands as women and our first gathering happened organically after that. Women like me wanted a space to meet and share about trying to balance it all.
What is it like juggling motherhood, being a successful entrepreneur and still devoting time to give back?
First, I don’t consider myself a “successful” entrepreneur – but I’m certainly on my way and proud of it! My definition of success continues to evolve as I do. Yes, I have a five-year track record of sold-out events, and a social media-driven brand that continues to resonate with diverse professional women in Toronto, but I want to accomplish much more than that.
Second, I am content being a part-time entrepreneur – a side hustler, as Chivon John would say. I feel privileged to be a full-time communications professional at one of the largest media companies in Canada. I worked hard to earn my experience and position – I’m not ready to give that up at any point soon. What I do on the side with How She Hustles creates different opportunities, gives me valuable perspective and keeps me uniquely connected to the city in ways my day job does not.
Finally, on the topic of juggling it all… l’m certainly not the only woman in the world who has to balance marriage, motherhood, a full-time career, entrepreneurship and giving back to the community. I’m passionate about these areas and more, so I do my best and give it my all! I never do it alone, of course. My family and friends make it ALL possible. They are incredible supports you may not always see but I value them deeply.
What inspires you to help women be the best version of themselves?
I’m trying to be the best version of MYSELF. So in a way, I guess my inspiration comes from within. And I’m still a work in progress! In just five years, my life has changed dramatically – my title now includes wife, mom, corporate professional, social influencer and founder of an incredible women’s network. My focus is being my authentic self with many identities. If my journey can help another women hustle through life and live authentically too, that’s great.
Who has inspired you to be an inspiration and mentor to others?
I wouldn’t be where I am – personally or professionally – without mentors. People from all walks of life who have kindly taken the time to pour their wisdom and faith into me. Some have passed on and moved on; others are trusted advisors I can still call when needed. I have too many mentors to name but believe me, mentorship is one of the greatest gifts in my life. I try to give back through mentoring when I can, and however I can.
What advice would you like to give women who are interested in becoming an entrepreneur?
Don’t wait until everything is perfect to start. Yes, create a plan. Yes, seek sound advice. And yes, look before you leap. But don’t wait forever to pursue your passion. If you have a vision you can’t shake, take steps to make it a reality, trust your purpose and get to it.
What’s next for How She Hustles? In the short term for #howshehustles, I’d like to host at least two more events in 2016. There are so many women’s networks and events to support in the city, and yet, there is still such a need for places and spaces for diverse women to connect in Toronto. #howshehustles isn’t just for black women. Or entrepreneurs. Or moms. If you’re a woman who is trying to figure out how to hustle through life and balance it all, you’re welcome to join us online or at an event. Whether it’s the recent pre-Mother’s Day tea we hosted with 250 guests, our all-female pop-up shop, or a panel of wise women sharing their stories, our goal is always the same: to inspire and connect diverse women.
Doesn’t she do fantastic work? So happy I had the chance to connect with Emily and meet such a beautiful spirit. Thanks for being such a positive light, Emily!
* Want to attend a #howshehustles event? Get tickets now for the #howshehustles summer social on July 26 by clinking the following link- hshsummer.brownpapertickets.com
To find out more about Emily visit the following links: