If there were two words to define my “career”, ass backwards would definitely be them. I started my path into digital media and blogging as a means to an end. A decade ago I started a cottage industry business called Best Tools for Schools with a friend. With little to no room for marketing budget, someone at a trade show suggested we promote ourselves on Twitter. With my face scrunched up, and totally confused as to what I was even doing, I opened up a Twitter account and sent out my first tweet, “One truly is the loneliest number.”
Much to my surprise someone found that amusing and followed me, and then someone else and before I knew it I was engaging with the most amazing and funniest women I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. It was an addictive space to be in back then, and I laughed so hard daily that Twitter became like a drug.
Sharon, according to her bio on Twitter, could uncork a bottle of wine in 60 seconds but kept screw tops on hand for emergencies. I instantly loved her. Through Sharon, I started following and tweeting with Erica Ehm. I knew Erica as a former VJ on MuchMusic and she was just starting to build one of Canada’s most formidable community mom blogs, the Yummy Mummy Club. Cheeky name, totally serious business.
There was this crazy time at the beginning of Twitter when people wanted to take online, offline and meet in real life, so “tweet-ups” were born. I met Erica in person at a “tweet-up” in Ottawa, and over the course of the discussion found that she had writers on her website with niches. Sharon, of aforementioned “emergency wine Sharon”, ran The Inside Scoop, Annabelle was Meditation Mummy, and Lisa was Party Mummy.
I asked Erica if she had anyone writing on her site who had been out of the workforce as a stay at home mom and was just returning to work. Without missing a beat, she said “No, why don’t you write something for me?” Of course, by asking the question I was chasing that given result, I just didn’t expect Erica to answer in the positive so quickly. I expected some mulling to happen, a little thinking over. It was, and remains, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in this business. Just say yes, and figure out how to do it later.
Erica said write something, I said yes, the figure-it-out-later part hit me on the way back to the car. What had I just done? I’d never written anything outside of a school paper for someone else to read. I wasn’t a writer, I was a small business owner looking for a way to shill my business on the sly. No one would want to read what I had to say. I spent hours agonizing over my first article, and sent it for approval with my stomach in knots and then nothing. Total crickets. After a week of silence rolled by I was fully in the grips of imposter syndrome when I sent an email basically apologizing for the terrible article I had submitted and the space I took up on planet earth. The reply was almost instantaneous, “What?! Are you nuts? We loved it! We’re giving you your own column called See Mummy Juggle.” Next valuable lesson, never assume what someone is thinking about you. Ask them.
A couple of years into writing for YMC, I met Heather Greenwood Davis, who to this day remains my shero. Heather chased a dream of traveling the world with her family, and I respected her tenacity and strength of character to do something so bold. She was literally living the dream, so I asked her how I could get into travel writing. Her reply was equally parts concise and ‘d’uh Candace’. “Just start writing about travel.” So I did. I started my own blog, Life in Pleasantville, and wrote about our road trips, and our trips to museums, and river walks, and hikes, and Disney. I wrote about it all, big and small, and then I started to get invitations.
Next for me was being published in a magazine, but my imposter syndrome would scream, “you can’t do this, you’re just a blogger”, to which Heather kept correcting me with, “you’re a writer.” “But I don’t have a journalism degree”, I’d whine. “Do you write?”, Heather would say, “then you’re a writer.” I’ve since been published in seven magazines. Eventually, I had earned enough street cred, to be accepted into the Travel Media Association of Canada and the Society of American Travel Writers. Lesson here? Never undermine yourself with a just before any of your accomplishments.
Around the same time came television. Never did it, but saying yes and figuring it out later was paying dividends so I dove in. I faked the confidence, until I no longer had to fake it. I started talking about Best Tools for Schools, then I was booked as a brand spokesperson, and finally a travel expert. Somewhere along the way, I started filming YouTube videos for Sunwing Vacations, adding “bad actress” to my resume.
Always eager to know more, I also started to work behind the scenes. I built the YMC Influencer Network and participated in brainstorming sessions for marketing campaigns at YMC. I gained valuable behind the scenes knowledge of what brands were looking for and played a role in getting campaigns to market. I was also helping to establish guidelines for working with influencers. I then was invited to help duplicate that model for Sunwing Vacations, marrying my love of travel with the thrill of behind the scenes strategy. Pinch me. Finally, Julie Nowell hired me to work at 3C Consulting, essentially the only place any blogger should go to if they want to develop their brand authentically and with passion.
One day in the midst of all this, I received a call from Lena, one of the loveliest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting on this nutty journey. “The travel expert at What She Said Radio is vacating the spot,” she said. Without missing a beat, I said “I want it.” Ten minutes later I was on the phone with Kate Wheeler telling her why she should give it to me. Ten minutes after that, I was questioning my say yes, figure it out later approach. I suddenly had a radio show I had to be in Toronto for twice a month, and I lived in Ottawa. Two years since that leap, I have no regrets.
Recently, Kate approached me to take over What She Said. This is her and Christine Bentley’s baby, a labour of love for the both of them for six years now. From its roots at Sirius XM to its current home at 105.9 The Region, Kate and Christine have built What She Said into what it is today. For Kate to even consider handing the reins over to me was an honour. This time though, as much as it pained me, I had to say no. Not because I wanted to, but because life has thrown on its Doc Martins and has been giving me a few good kicks lately. I walked away from the offer thinking it was over.
And this is where another lesson I’ve learned has been reinforced; your vibe really does attract your tribe.
Kate could have offered this to someone else, but she knows that my passion for connecting with women is as strong as hers. Instead of looking for another person to take it over, she found a way to make it work for both of us. Instead of chasing just dollars, she looked for balance in all things and a deal was made. I’m not sure that I’m entirely worthy yet, but I do know I’m completely grateful.
I haven’t had a job in over a decade now. I’ve had a passion, and it’s because every step of the way, there has been an amazing woman to extend a hand and share their wisdom with me. I am humbled and proud to have Sharon, Erica, Heather, Lena, Julie, Christine and Kate in my life.
So hi, my name is Candace, Entrepreneur, Blogger, Writer, TV Spokesperson, Marketer, Digital Media Owner, and Radio Host & Owner. I have no idea where this path goes next, but I’m ready to extend a hand and help as many women along the way as possible.
To think, this all started with a tweet.