In 2017, Carolyn Ansley founded Brand for Benefit, a consultancy dedicated to helping companies transform their business through socially responsible and sustainable business practices. She is an accomplished, award-winning executive leader known for exceptional strategic vision and execution, proven from leadership roles at Nestle Canada to co-founding and leading KABRITA USA, a North American baby food start-up. Carolyn’s volunteer work includes Chair and co-founder of the POGO Gala, and PLC, and judging roles with the Canadian Marketing Association and the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneurship Awards. Most recently Carolyn was appointed to the Board of Directors of Cosmetica, a Canadian trend-setter in custom cosmetic development and manufacturing.
My first job ever was… Putting on a variety show with my cousins to make money for candy.
I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I see opportunities everywhere and I eventually had to do something about it.
My proudest accomplishment is… The open, honest and amazing relationships I have with my two daughters.
My boldest move to date was… Starting yet my fourth entrepreneurial venture! It was difficult, daunting, sometimes completely overwhelming and, of course, inevitable. Apparently most entrepreneurs have to make it through something called the ‘pit of despair.’ I only crossed that bridge about two months ago.
I surprise people when I tell them… For the most part I’m an open book. When people are surprised it tends to be related to something they have assumed, instead of something they took time to discover about me. I think that most of us fight stereotypes, and for me being a ‘fashion forward, woman in business’ created a whole set of assumptions that I battled many times.
My best advice to people starting out in business is… Just get started. You will learn and grow along the way. Find your cheerleaders and get a mentor. Also have a plan. You can change plans but you need a baseline to measure and evolve from.
“Most of us fight stereotypes, and for me being a ‘fashion forward, woman in business’ created a whole set of assumptions that I battled many times.”
My best advice from a mentor was… To follow my own path and worry less about what others thought about it.
My biggest setback was… Having to start over, after exiting business number three. As painful as it has been to move on from something I loved, it was the right decision. Sometimes the work is great but the chemistry, circumstances or timing are not.
I overcame it by… Starting again! As soon as I was able to gain some much need perspective I decided to take what I loved about my work (purpose, equality, innovation, adaptability) and apply it to helping others build their business in a similar way.
Work/life balance is… Work life balance is in constant flux and unique to each situation, life stage and individual. Putting my children and family first frees me to to bring my best self to work.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… I love the arts and studied Western Lit at the University of Western Ontario and Fashion Design at Ryerson. Today I consider myself a ‘junior’ art collector. Surrounding myself with art gives me a great deal of peace and joy.
I stay inspired by… I have been practicing yoga for almost 15 years and have been a runner my whole life. Exercise helps me clear my head and ground myself. If I can do this in Muskoka the benefits are infinite!
The future excites me because… Business, driven by a ‘greater purpose’ is our future. Helping corporations shift from profit alone to a triple bottom line model (people, planet, profit) will affect everyone, including our children. Being part of positive change, and an enlightened group of business leaders driving this shift is rewarding, and so necessary.
My next step is… Continuing to grow my own purpose driven concept through the incorporation of artificial intelligence. This next frontier will have massive implications for our planet and it is an area where women and empathy need to play a key role. There are huge opportunities in this emerging space and the potential for enlightened business to take leadership is crucial.