Finding your perfect mentor match is a little bit like dating.
After all, just like a romantic partner, your ideal mentor is usually someone who shares your values, but also offers a unique perspective that helps you see your goals in a new light. And like a first date, it’s always a good sign when your first meeting goes overtime.
This was definitely the case for entrepreneur Valerie Crisp and mentor Daniela Kelloway. Valerie has a background in fashion design and worked as costumer before founding her backpack company, Watson, a year ago. Daniela is a serial entrepreneur and the founder of ClutchPR, a client-focused public relations agency with clients in a variety of industries.
While the two come from different professional backgrounds, they realized right away that their skillsets and personalities complemented each other well.
“We met for breakfast and talked endlessly, getting to know one another and sharing experiences,” says Valerie about their first meeting. “Daniela struck me as creative, unafraid to take risks and knowledgeable about all things entrepreneurship and PR. Within the first hour, I was already learning how to look at situations through different lenses.”
Daniela was similarly impressed by Valerie: “She struck me as professional, assertive, thoughtful and prepared. All things I really value,” she says.
From that first meeting onward, their relationship has continued to blossom into a truly productive pairing – and the two have only been working together since January!
For Valerie, what she appreciates most about working with Daniela is her ability to pinpoint the key areas she needs to work on and help her think more strategically about her business.
“Every time I speak with Daniela, she gets right to the heart of the matter,” says Valerie. “She sees the overarching themes and offers a holistic view when I’m a bit stuck in the weeds. I really enjoy brainstorming and riffing together and I always leave our calls energized and full of ideas.”
Additionally, Valerie’s experience is proof that mentorship is not a one-way street. Mentors can gain just as much knowledge and insight from their mentees.
“Every time I talk to Val, I feel I learn something new,” says Daniela. “She has a strong vision for her company and a real understanding of her product and the unique value proposition she brings to the world. I love when I can mentor someone and they teach me things.”
Of course, it hasn’t been entirely smooth sailing for the two of them. Scheduling biweekly meetings between two busy entrepreneurs is not always easy. Fortunately, both of them know that strong communication, co-operation and commitment are big components of a successful mentoring relationship so they do their best to make it work.
Plus, for both Valerie and Daniela, the benefits of mentoring far outweigh the cons.
“I decided to become a volunteer mentor because there is nothing greater in life than the feeling that you’re able to help someone with something they’re working on,” says Daniela. “Giving is living and with each new business I mentor, I get the opportunity to learn about that business and to grow with that entrepreneur. It’s a beautiful journey.”
Valerie’s company will be launching their flagship product this spring and after only a few months of working with her mentor, she feels more confident and focused than ever. With her branding and mission more aligned under Daniela’s guidance, she knows she’s ready to take the Canadian backpack market by storm.
“Daniela has seen many types of businesses and offers a birds-eye view of how my mission fits into the world and all the different ways that can be crafted,” says Valerie. “This relationship has already blown my mind.”
Written by: Jasmine Williams, Social Media and Content Specialist, Futurpreneur Canada