Copyright Laura-Jean Bernhardson. All right reserved.

My Story

Originally from Saskatoon, I still consider myself a prairie girl at heart! In my early 20s, my creative passion first led me to Edmonton and then to Montreal, where I studied photography and the fine arts, consecutively.

 

Realizing that Montreal wouldn't offer me the kind of creative career opportunities I wanted, Toronto was the next stop. At the time, however, I had no clue what that career would be when I arrived!

 

Like so many of the amazing women I've coached and worked with, I went through trying periods of soul-searching and self-doubt with regards to my professional goals. But looking back at those times, I realize that the drive towards a business venture had always been there!

 

As a child, I mobilized friends to help me build a mini “amusement park” with ring toss sets and other games for the local kids. We even had a comic book library running in one of our backyards at some point, though that business model failed when kids just didn't return the comics!

 

By the 9th grade, I was making my own clothing and jewellery, and selling some of my creations to friends and small businesses in town. I loved the idea of having control of my life through creative money-making ventures. Growing up, it was something that represented freedom and independence for me. As I looked ahead, I knew that I wanted to always be able to have dogs in my life, and eventually kids. Those were probably my biggest motivators to pursue a career that allowed me so much choice.

 

Upon my arrival to Toronto, a hard dose of reality hit: I was broke and completely unprepared for the working world. At 22 years old, I was equipped only with my naivety and an incredible drive to be creative. I didn't feel I had any real marketable skills to offer and I certainly didn't know how to use my education to move forward professionally.

 

For the next two years, I continued making jewellery and selling it in local boutiques. Picking up commissions for local fashion studio Peach Berserk gave me direct insight into how those businesses are run, and in 1994, I set aside my fears and launched my very first sweater-making business, Fresh Baked Goods!

 

Dubbed Toronto’s Knitting Queen, I decided I was a fashion entrepreneur and started learning about business through trial and error! With that, the Fresh Collective fashion boutique was born in 2003.

 

Fresh Collective started out as a shared space concept with local designers. This provided me with a selling space and a vibrant work environment full of creative energy.

 

Over the years, the business model has evolved and we've become more focused in the selection of our products, more in-tune with customer needs, have gained the love and loyalty of tons of great ladies, and now design clothes under our own in-house label, Palette by Laura-Jean!

In addition to Fresh Collective, I am now the co-owner of Rowanwood Daycare and The Space for Wellness. Running multiple businesses in various industries has taught me that business is business. It's all about creating something unique and exciting, and providing value to your clients. 

 

When I saw how incredibly creative one can be in approaching business, I realized I had an endless supply of creative fun to tap into! And this is why I love coaching. Working alongside my clients and helping them arrive at creative breakthroughs and practical solutions is my biggest passion. I know their struggles and I love helping them uncover their confidence and see possibilities where they didn't see them before. 

 

Through my own journey, I found inner strength I didn't know I had. I grew to see myself as tough, smart, capable, and strategic. I learned that so much of that strength comes from the hardest times and biggest failures! I live an extraordinary life that allows me to have fun and improve myself every day. Best of all, with the mastery I've gained—not only in the mechanics of a small business, but the mindset it takes to succeed—I can now work to help others find ways to realize and capitalize on their strengths.