Inspiring Women to Be their Best! Stephanie Graham #KIAWorkingMom

Any time I’ve spent five minutes in a room with Stephanie Graham, I’ve walked away with a smile on my face and a renewed sense of energy.

While attending a Leadership Course in 2015, Stephanie was diagnosed during a “Strengths Assessment” activity as having WOO (Winning Others Over) along with Strong Communication Skills (specifically on focused storytelling.) Stephanie’s strengths are likely what draws me to her…we’re similar in many ways and tend to play off one another like no one I’ve ever met before. She “gets” me…or I “get” her…but regardless, the laughter when we’re together is contagious and at some point, we’ll likely find a project to do together.

Possibly a comedy act but more likely something that helps women get a fresh start…a passion we both share.

In Stephanie’s words;

I spent the better part of my adult life trying to push the WOO down and trying to be a “proper communicator. Once I learned that my WOO was what made me special and unique and was the easiest thing for me to embrace, I let go of all of the need to be “proper.” There is a place in the world for someone who blasts into a room (think Kramer from Seinfeld) but can also charm the pants off you. I love stories from women and really feel that sharing our stories unlocks the soul and allows you to connect with people on a deeper level.

Stephanie wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s a rebel. She laughs out loud. She helps people.

A single mom of three girls, Stephanie arrived in Nova Scotia in 2008 with an adventurous spirit that she’s quick to share with her daughters (20, 19 and 7), as well as those around her. Stephanie describes her girls as funny, creative and challenging. With one in college, one working full-time and one in Grade 2, Stephanie has raised her children to be “nice people.” She wants them to be good friends, to hold the door for others or give up their seat on the bus. She listens when they tell her about their day and while she’s busy raising kind humans, it’s her hope that the rest will all just fall into place.

As an entrepreneur, Stephanie has the flexibility of being a full-time mom and running a business, while also living the rockstar life she loves…including late nights and mornings spent in bed.

Routine is not a word that is often used in my home, compromise is one we use often. Having a tribe to help with routine has saved my bacon more than once. I tried for a while to “do it on my own.” It sucked. I felt alone and needed to make a change. I had to learn to ask for help. My mom retired early to move to Nova Scotia  from Ontario to help me out and I found an amazing guy who chips in to keep me organized and the kids informed.

As the owner and founder of “The Perfect Fit Consignment Boutique,” Stephanie began her company in 2014 after a corporate layoff…pushed by a friend who knew she needed something non-traditional. At first, Stephanie was lost. A few months after her layoff and into a deep depression, she started to get out of the house a few days a week to help with a friend’s store. One morning, she came into the shop to discover a space set aside to sell her own product. She started her company with a safety net behind her, giving her the confidence to grow and bloom.

There were very long days and about 5 million hours of networking (I tend to exaggerate). Within the year, I had outgrown my little space and moved across the parking lot to a new location. We are currently in year 3 and are thriving. Our focus has always been on women empowering women to look and feel their best. My little shop is a place where we can help women look good on the outside while spending much less. In the shop our conversations are real. We talk about our kids, our passions, the real crap in life. We are genuine and vulnerable and I know other women appreciate that.

A few months ago, Stephanie was guest speaker at the inaugural Queenpins event I attended and I have to say…she hit it out of the park. Her story about vulnerability and depression had people in awe…laughing one minute and tearing up the next. She spoke about how tough life can be and how we, as women, need to speak up and support one another. So many women are “doing life alone” and can really use a helping hand. Stephanie spoke from the heart, she was honest, she was truly one of the most empowering speakers I’ve had the pleasure of listening to.

Stephanie is living life large…and sharing her talents with others. In her personal life, she counts on a few people she loves and trusts including a number of friends and her mom, who gave up everything so she wasn’t “doing it alone” and she has a great boyfriend who’s not afraid to step into a parent role when she can’t. In her professional life, she relies on business mentors;

I can not stress enough the importance of having mentors who are older and experienced. Having a mentor guide me through the corporate world and help me choose my path has enabled me to take on opportunities where I originally didn’t have the confidence but they saw the strengths I had and encouraged me to step into roles where I’ve succeeded and thrived. I’ve had a number of mentors give a hand up and propel me forward. Since 2004, I’ve worked for companies that have social responsibility as core values. I bring this to my own company now as I seek out ways to connect with charities and give a hand up to other women.

When not working, Stephanie enjoys her family time…heading to the market or beach…happiest surrounded by family and friends.

Along with a group of creative women, one evening a week Stephanie paints…big paintings on big canvas. In fact, the bigger the better! There’s usually music, a great amount of laughter and a few glasses of wine.

Stephanie is finding the balance. She’s learning to say “no” more…doing less of the things she feels “obligated” to do and more of the things that makes her happy. She’s dreaming more. She’s finding success and inspiring others to join her. 

She’s blasting into rooms…listening to stories, offering support…and leaving a trail of smiles behind her. 

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O’Regan’s KIA Dartmouth is pleased to bring your stories of inspirational moms in their #KIAWorkingMom posts. Follow KIA Dartmouth on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram  for all of the latest news and to see what they’re doing in the community. To read more posts about inspiring women, click on the #KIAWorkingMom link.

Disclaimer: As a Brand Ambassador for O’Regan’s KIA Dartmouth, I’m compensated for my #KIAWorkingMom posts. All opinions, as always, are my own. 

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