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Creating Abundant Success Out of Abundant Chaos



On October 5 I had the awesome experience of speaking at the Happy Healthy Women Abundance Summit. Here is that speech. (photo courtesy of Natalie Colalillo's cell phone - lol)

My name is Laura-Jean Bernhardson, I’m an Entrepreneur and Business Coach and a Trailblazer with Happy Healthy Women.

When Natalie asked me to speak, I thought my topic was going to be marketing. So I said yes.

When Natalie updated me and said my topic was Abundant Success, I laughed out loud.

That news came on a day I felt much more like an expert in Abundant Chaos.

Abundant Plans that Aren’t Currently Working. It was one of those days.

But I sat on the news and thought… Wow, yes, I guess I do have abundant success. And this is what it looks like- the chaos, the plans that change, the unfinished lists of things to do….

In my life as an entrepreneur, I am the Founder and CEO of Fresh Collective.

This is a fashion retail business started in 2003 specializing in womenswear made by local designers. We have 3 locations - Kensington, The Beaches and Roncesvalles Village, and then an online store as well.

I also design a line of clothing that we sell there called Palette by Laura-Jean.

I’ve been a business owner in the fashion industry since 1992, starting as a jewellery designer, a knitwear designer and then getting into retail.

I also have another business, Rowanwood Daycare, which I partnered with the founder in 2008 so I’ve been a co-owner there. I got involved with that business because my son was going there when he was a baby.

Over my career, I’ve also co-hosted a TV show and produced a How-To DVD on knitting among various other projects.

On the coaching side of my work, I love working with clients- mostly women- who are building their businesses.

I find it incredibly fulfilling to be able to take all my experience- all the things I learned the hard way- and just hand it over as a solution for someone else.

In my personal life, I also am involved with two different groups that are sponsoring Syrian refugees to come to Toronto.

We have 2 families here so far, and 3 still in Lebanon who are waiting for paperwork to process. Our group is currently fundraising to support 2 of the families who are there waiting.

And then in my family- I have a son, a step-daughter, my boyfriend and 3 dogs - Stuart, Louie and Walter the Boxer puppy!

People often ask me how I do it all, and while there’s no simple answer, there are some themes that keep popping up that allow me to have a lot going on in my life and manage it while usually keeping a smile on my face.

The first theme is my “why” in all of this. I love living a totally created life. All of my businesses and projects are part of my creative expression, part of who I am and part of my gift to the world.

I have written on a blackboard in my office: What do I get to do today? And then underneath it reads Love, serve, inspire, grow, spread joy, beauty and do good work.


Those are the things I get to do every day in my work, and I wrote that there to remind me of 2 things.

#1) I “get” to do my work.

Whenever I feel the overwhelm, and feel I have to do this, I have to do that… and then I have to check my emails, I switch have to to get to.

This reminds me that I CHOSE this life.

I’m glad I have emails to answer!

I’m glad I have work to do!

I’m glad I have employees to coach and train…. Or whatever the tasks that are on my plate for that day are.

#2) It reminds me is what is at the CORE of all those tasks.

Something I am challenged by is a chance to GROW.

Working with customers is a chance to love, serve, spread joy and beauty.

And sometimes it is enough to just DO GOOD WORK. I love that feeling.

I find meaning in owning a daycare because I know what it’s like as a mother to worry about who is going to take care of your baby when you need to work.

That’s why I fell in love with the place enough to want to help it thrive. It removed that worry for me. I love being able to provide that in my community for other families.

And I find meaning in Fresh Collective because I love creating an environment where people love their jobs.

And customers love to shop. And local designers can sell their products. I love designing clothing that makes women feel beautiful and confident and provides them a wardrobe they can go out into the world and have a great life.

And I had to LOOK for this why. I have to nurture it and keep it alive and sometimes remind my team of it (and sometimes they remind me, which is pretty cool too) because, you know, it is work.

It’s budgets and deadlines and sales goals and heatwaves while our stores are full of fall clothing, like September of this year was!

The daycare is enrollment and inspections and compliance and staffing. It’s all work.

But for me, when I’m in touch with the WHY and that why in everything is alive for me, then it’s wonderful work that I’m blessed to be able to do,