Rachel Holt: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is PRiMAALA owner and director Rachel Holt, whose Toronto boutique specializes in outstanding pieces for women in the 12-24 size range. Here’s what inspired her career and where she sees herself in five years…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I am the owner and director of PRiMAALA, a highly curated boutique specializing in clothing for women sized 12-24. But I do more than sell clothes. Whether a client wants a stylist, a friend, or just an honest opinion, I try to inspire, I work to build confidence, and no matter what, I aim to make each and every person that walks out my door happier for having walked in.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
Writing my graduating thesis was the spark behind the fire. I worked with the 12-24 market while going through university, and decided to target the demographic for my project since I already had knowledge of and access to the customer base. The thesis required the creation of a five-look collection for a specific demographic, proof of a clientele, and a demonstration of how the collection catered to that clientele. Even before doing the math, I knew that defending my choice of the target market would be effortless, being so significantly underserved.

At the time, there were only 14 companies that offered any selection at all for the 12-24 size range in Toronto. These included stores that went from small independent retailers to major chains and department stores. In contrast, there were over 50 retailers in the Eaton Centre alone that sold women’s apparel in standard sizing.

After graduating, the entry-level job market in the fashion industry just didn’t excite me. However, the idea of filling a bit of the void I was so acutely aware of with something unique and compelling was beyond inspiring! After a few months of contemplating the notion, there was nothing else I could even imagine myself doing.  

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis?
Helping people recognize their beauty is limitless.


The most challenging part?
Helping people recognize their beauty is limitless.

What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
I work 6-7 days a week and didn’t take more than one full day off for over a year. A burnt out person is not a productive person.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Still working a lot and, ideally, expanding into other major Canadian cities.


What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
The fear of the unknown can be paralyzing, and starting a business from scratch is a vast expanse of the unknown. Taking the first leap is the biggest challenge, but I am incredibly lucky to have a strong support system and, though they tend to tell me I did it all by myself, the love and support I received helped me to overcome the multitude of challenges one faces when starting a business. And the jumps get easier as time goes on.

What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
I think we can all acknowledge that money provides a sense of ease and comfort, but happiness requires so much more than that. For me, I’m the happiest when I am surrounded by the people I love most. Success is finding joy in every day, learning, experiencing the world, and living to the best of your ability.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
There have been so many moments and milestones, but taking the paper off the windows and opening the door for the first time stands out!

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Step back once in a while; take a look at the bigger picture. Remember where you were five years ago, what you were doing, and take some real pride in how far you’ve come since then.

Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
I live and work near Trinity Bellwoods, so spots on Ossington, Queen West, and Dundas West are naturally where I end up. Foxley has been my favourite restaurant for a while now – best ceviche. Salt is great for wine or cocktails. Get Well for beer and arcade games.

When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
I like to read a lot. Snowboarding in the winter, tennis, bike rides, parks and patios in the summer. I’m also a victim of Netflix and its far too plentiful selection. I scroll a lot! 

Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
Scandinavia is incredible, and if it has to be one city, then Copenhagen. Everywhere you look, there’s an amazing story attached to the most striking architecture; everything is beautifully designed. Bicycles are the primary mode of transportation; the people are kind and their way of life is beyond admirable. The shopping is great too.

If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
The ‘Mermaids’ soundtrack… in its entirety.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
I can’t imagine doing anything else!

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I give to the CAMH and various cancer charities. I give to CAMH because a healthy mind is as important as a healthy body, and mental illness can be just as devastating as any physical ailment. I support cancer research because like so many, this terrible disease has had a deep impact on my life.

I was also a sponsor for the 2014 Body Confidence Canada Awards (BCCA). The BCCAs recognize individuals who have contributed significant work towards acceptance and fighting against the discrimination and marginalization of people of any size, race, or dis/ability. Being a part of the BCCAs means amplifying the voices of those recognized and their causes, which is so meaningful. There’s so much hate and discrimination in the world; taking action towards love and acceptance of ourselves and others should be something we’re all committed to. 

What to you is notable?
Integrity, ingenuity and persistence. Comparing yourself to others, or trying to replicate what someone else has done, will never be as gratifying or bring you as much joy and success as being a trailblazer yourself! 

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