MEET MANDY: Introducing Mandy Balak, Founder and CEO of Canadian media and events company – The Ace Class. We were initially introduced to this babe when she asked Brunette founder Miriam Alden to be a key speaker at The Ace Class event in Vancouver, BC. Inspired by Mandy’s mission to create a world where women can thrive together, Miriam was honoured to be a part of the movement. Less than two years after founding the business, Mandy has grown the Ace Class to expand to six cities across Canada, released a popular podcast called “Ace Talks”, and hosted over 5000 women at her events. Mandy has also been internationally recognized for her work within The Ace Class, she was awarded Start Up of the Year and Canadian Entrepreneur of the Year by the Stevie Awards for Women in Business. In true babes supporting babes fashion, Mandy recently featured Miriam on Ace Talks, and we are so excited to now have her on The Babe List.
What does babes supporting babes mean to you?
Babes supporting babes means no judgement towards other women. It’s easy to get caught up in a narrative about someone based on the way they look or dress and that is not fair. It is important to acknowledge that there is much more that connects us than divides us, and we should be opening the door for other women any chance we get.
Do you have a life mantra/motto that you live by?
If it’s not a fuck yes, it’s a no.
What does your day-to-day look like?
My day-to-day is about juggling priorities and is almost always gorgeous chaos. Back to back meetings, phone calls and e-mails - each day is different, which I love. Some days I’m heavily focused on events and working with my team to scout out cool venues, inspiring speakers and ideate on content development, while others are for future planning projects like our upcoming conference, RISE, or recording an episode of Ace Talks. I get to connect with incredible women across the country on the daily and I feel very lucky for the work we do. Our evenings are mostly packed with events, but when we can, my fiancé and I like to cook dinner at home or meet for a drink to unwind the day.
What is your most used app?
Slack for team communication, Google Calendar to run my life, Headspace for Meditation and Instagram — not necessarily in that order.
Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?
Yes. When I was a little girl, I remember very vividly being at one of my parents dinner parties and someone asking me to draw what I wanted to be when I grew up. I took out my pens and drew a picture of ‘future me’ as I imagined myself, I remember drawing myself wearing pointy shoes, a leopard skirt and carrying a briefcase. I confidently said, “I’m going to be a CEO.” I didn’t know what an entrepreneur was when I was 5 years old, but I think my parents knew from my first lemonade stand or when I sold herring off my Dad’s boat. I can’t tell you the last time I wore pointy stilettos though.
What product would you seriously stockpile if you found out they weren’t selling anymore?
What emoji best describes you?
Face palm girl, panda or the 100 emoji, it really depends on the day.
Who should EVERYONE be following right now?
@cleowade for good vibes
What is your favourite place to travel to?
New York. There is something about the incredible hustle and busyness of the city that makes me feel so comfortable with myself and so inspired by ideas and possibility.
Tell us about a Babe who has supported you?
I am so lucky to have what seems like an army of women around me between my incredible team of all babes to the mentors in my life and friends who have been cheering me on. Support to me doesn’t mean just nice compliments, it means honesty, constructive feedback and showing up when the chips are down. The babes who have gotten on planes to be there for me and stayed late when the work needed to be done are the same women I get out of bed for every day. Also, my mom is my ultimate cheerleader and the OG boss babe in my life.
How would you describe your personal style?
Laid back. I feel the most myself in a leather jacket, jeans and boots.
What is the most fulfilling part of your career?
Seeing the impact in women’s lives across Canada that we’re making every day and seeing the incredible women on my team grow into their potential - that makes me feel like a proud mama.
Do you have a morning routine?
My alarm goes off at 5:15am Monday through Friday as I have learned if I don’t prioritize myself in the morning, it won’t happen. I hit a spin class at 6 and then make a smoothie while I get ready. If I can sit down and write down my priorities for the day before I hit the door and make the bed, then it’s going to be a good day.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Toast for dinner & Kung-Fu Girl Riesling.
When I dance I look like….
I feel like this question would be better answered with a GIF.
What quality are you working on yourself right now?
Self-love. As someone who has created a business around empowering and inspiring other women to be the best versions of themselves, its been a journey of self discovery as to why this is so hard for me to do myself. I have learnt a lot about the narrative in our own heads we carry around with us like ‘I’m not enough’ and I’m working on turning that around to show myself compassion, respect and love so I can best show up for others.
What is the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome in business?
Failure. The Ace Class is my third business and I’ve fallen down many times to get where I am today. I now look at failure as something that happens for you, not to you — and I’m very grateful for the lessons failure has gifted me.
What advice do you have for those trying to break into your industry?
For anyone who wants to become an entrepreneur, find a mentor who will challenge you and respect their time. It is 100 x harder than you think it’s going to be so be prepared to do the work.