Meet Bianca Lee Mondino: a Toronto-based DJ who spent over a decade in the banking sector before pursuing her passion
Bianca Lee Mondino is a Toronto-based DJ and experience curator known for her ability to lift people through music and inspire women through joy-driven action. In the past 4 years, Bianca has been booked to DJ internationally in sunny locations like the Bahamas, Dominican Republic and Croatia. In April of 2019, Bianca quit her corporate job of over 12 years in banking to pursue her creative passions full-time With a focus on corporate and special events, Bianca has had the incredible opportunity to work with brands like Bumble, YouTube, Toronto International Film Festival, TD Bank, Elevate Tech Fest and more. Outside of DJing, Bianca is the founder of Sunday Soul Service — a feel-good oasis that celebrates all those who identify as women. With a mission to help women fill their cup first, Sunday Soul Service curates unique phone-free experiences around the city to help women disconnect from the hustle of their every day and reconnect with their favourite versions of themselves.
My first job ever was…*technically* at Tim Hortons as a Customer Service Representative (just before I turned 16), but I started babysitting my neighbour’s kids when I was about 13.
I decided to give up my career in banking and follow my dreams of becoming a DJ because… it brought me a feeling of joy that I’ve never experienced before! I will never forget the feeling of waking up after my first DJ set (it was for a good friend’s 30th birthday); I woke up smiling from ear-to-ear and felt a sense of fulfilment that was entirely new and exciting. There are certain moments in my life where I’ve just felt called to trust my intuition fully, and this was one of them. There was something in me that told me I needed to explore this newfound passion project a bit more, and it turned out to be something I was able to grow into a sustainable career (having a corporate background + network really helped here). It was also a dream of mine to become my own boss one day!
My proudest accomplishment is… finding the courage to seek help so that I could better understand my experience with debilitating anxiety. There was a point when I told myself I couldn’t go on being miserable/sad/depressed every single day, and that there must be something or someone to help me through this. After some very honest conversations with myself (and with Google search), I found and began my first form of therapy (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).
My boldest move to date was… leaving my stable, coveted 9-5 job to pursue my creative passions full-time!
I surprise people when I tell them… I am introverted! People look at my line of work and think ‘wow she’s the life of the party’, but in fact, after a fun DJ set or event, you will NOT find me looking for an afterparty. I crave solitude so that I can recharge.
I would tell people thinking about making a career transition… three things:
- Invest in yourself – before I made the leap, I hired a business + mindset coach who helped me move through my limited beliefs + build my brand, a lawyer to help me structure my business and an accountant to help me get my books in order. While I understand resources can be a challenge, there are a ton of free tools and resources online these days. Investing in yourself to me doesn’t necessarily mean financially, but rather setting aside some time to work on moving you closer to your transition goals.
- Start an emergency fund – I put aside about six months worth of living expenses before I quit because I knew realistically I had certain financial responsibilities and a lifestyle I wanted to (at least somewhat) maintain.
- Start thinking about other streams of income you can tap into based on your skills and experience – for me, because I had over 12 years of experience in business, communications, PR, and branding, I began offering 1-on-1 strategy sessions for women.
My best advice from a mentor was… think about your “why” before making any big decisions. There was a time when I was seriously considering pursuing an MBA and my mentor asked me WHY I wanted to do this. This question totally stumped me and it turned out that I wasn’t actually sure why I wanted to do this. Once I honestly asked myself “why”, it became clear it wasn’t actually something I personally wanted but rather an impression of what I thought was the “right” thing to do. I am grateful for this advice because not only did it save me a lot of time and money, but I also truly believe it was not the right path for my journey.
“There are certain moments in my life where I’ve just felt called to trust my intuition fully, and this was one of them.”
One piece of advice that I often give but find it difficult to follow is… it’s OK to ask for help!!! I feel like we can be our own worst enemies at times and especially as an entrepreneur/solopreneur it can be an incredibly lonely journey. However, I’ve realized that we don’t have to do it alone. I am making a more conscious effort to “receive” because I am notorious for being that person who just wants to give and figure things out on my own. More recently I’ve started to become more open to sharing my challenges on social media, joining communities and just simply asking for help from my network.
My biggest setback was… experiencing debilitating anxiety, which I first experienced six years ago. While I wouldn’t consider it a setback per se (I believe obstacles and pain can make us stronger), it was a really dark and challenging time for me. I felt like the world was against me and I couldn’t make sense of why I was constantly unhappy in my job, relationships and just life in general. It wasn’t until I starting seeking help that I now say anxiety really freed me. It helped me understand myself on a much deeper level (I also learned that I’m an empath during this time and this helped clarify a lot) and I’ve become a lot more intuitive because of it.
I overcame it by… seeking help and being transparent about what I was going through! I realized that I did not have to suffer alone. I started to warm up to the idea that there are professionals and resources available to help me heal and move through this challenging time. I also learned that it’s OK to talk about what I was going through – I understand this is not always easy or may not feel safe, however it helped to share what I was going through with loved ones and friends.
The best thing about being a DJ is… the people and energy. From the people, I’m DJing for, to the ones planning the events and everything in between. Some of my fondest memories are the incredibly energetic dance floors – one particular memory was earlier this year in Bahamas where I was fortunate enough to guest DJ a week-long corporate reward program. I will never forget a moment when the entire dance floor was packed and I was playing “We Found Love” by Rihanna and Calvin Harris. The energy was so electric and the entire dance floor (imagine 300+ people) was jumping in unison for most of the song. It gave me goosebumps to think that this was now my life. All that to say – I feed off of energy. I am also so lucky to work with some incredible clients and event companies. Travelling for work is also a nice perk – travelling gigs are some of my favourites!
The most challenging thing about what I do is… it can get lonely! While being an entrepreneur/solopreneur is often glamorized, it can get really lonely especially when you first make the transition. When I first started facing the challenges of being a solopreneur, it was hard for some of my friends and even family to relate to what I was going through because it was so new. However, I remained patient and open and was fortunate enough to meet more people who were in similar positions through Facebook communities, events, etc. This is one of the reasons I am a huge fan of WOI – I have met so many incredible women at events who genuinely want to help each other and learn about each other’s work. I am grateful for spaces like this!
While social distancing, I’m spending my time… on a few things! First, I’ve been working to bring more light into the community through Sunday Soul Service, a space I founded in September 2019. The mission of Sunday Soul Service is to help women (and those who identify as women) fill their cup first via experiences that help them disconnect with the hustle and reconnect with their favourite versions of themselves. Once the quarantine hit, we adapted our traditional in-real-life experiences to a virtual format, and so I’ve spent much of my time curating and producing virtual wellness experiences. I’ve been fortunate to know many incredible experts and healers who stepped up during this time to help me bring this to life (shout out to Hannah O’Donovan of Lovedey who helped me spearhead the virtual experience idea). Second, I’ve been having so much fun doing weekly, feel-good Instagram Live DJ sets! I do a 30-minute set once a week that is simply meant to help give people a little pick-me-up (they are literally called The Pick-Me-Up). Finally, I’ve been embracing my feminine energy more – to me that means proper sleep, solo dance parties, and just creating space to learn more about myself (journaling has been a huge help here!)
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… that I once hugged a panda! It was one of my life goals to volunteer at a panda research centre, and so I volunteered at a base in Chengdu, China about 5 years ago. It was a dream come true!
The future excites me because… I believe as we come out of this we are going to crave human connection more than ever and seek out more opportunities to play and heal.
My next step is… studying energy medicine and energy psychology and looking into how I can incorporate some of these techniques into my work to help people manage day-to-day stress. Also, I’m expanding my DJ offerings to a virtual format so that I can bring more feel-good music to people!