Leave it to Danielle-Jocelyne Otou to start a business while being on bed rest during a difficult pregnancy. Where most people would see a challenge, the founder of the Montreal online boutique Female Department saw an opportunity. Female Department is a platform to shop for stylish, carefully-curated outfits. But it is also a lifestyle brand that reflects the values of its creator: Passion, creativity, entrepreneurship and community involvement. From featuring inspirational women as fashion models to establishing business partnerships with other local female entrepreneurs, Danielle-Jocelyne demonstrates that she truly walks the walk. After three successful editions, her Brunch in the City networking event is now a fixture on the Montreal lifestyle scene. And being insanely busy growing her brand doesn’t stop her from taking care of her health and happiness. Here she shares how a girl can have it all (including the occasional Big Mac!).
What is your eating philosophy?
I prefer staying active so that I don’t have to have any restrictions in terms of what I eat. I am a big foodie. I will have junk food occasionally. I like indulging and going to Café Parvis to have my pizza or salad. I don’t have any restrictions and that’s the good thing about staying in shape consistently. You get to eat whatever you want.
What is your favourite workout and why?
So far my favourite workout is Bikram yoga. Bikram is hot yoga times fifty. It’s so hard it’s just mind-blowing. But what I like about it is that it forces me to be intense for 90 minutes. It’s an hour and a half or purely focusing on stretching my limits.
What is your favourite healthy dish?
Liquid Nutrition’s Early Bird smoothie (vanilla almond milk, oats, berries, banana, vanilla protein powder and maple syrup).
What about your favourite treat?
I am a big candy eater. I love gummies.
How do you de-stress?
Meditation is key. Breathing exercises are good and so is writing. Taking the habit to journal your thoughts and de-clutter your mind is therapeutic.
And the busier you get, the more important it is to take time for yourself.
Describe the ideal weekend.
Sleeping in, a nice big breakfast, a nice hot bath. And either Netflix-binging or reading a really good book.
I also believe in the therapeutic properties of dancing and going out for drinks with your friends!
How do you manage having a healthy lifestyle with a busy schedule while maintaining a work/life balance?
Help. If there is one thing my pregnancy taught me it’s to ask for help. I think often times I wanted to take on everything and be a superwoman. There are [popular] notions of being “self-made” or that “behind every successful woman is herself” but I don’t believe in that.
You need to know how to ask for help. And I have found great support in my family and friends.
When I am in the process of accomplishing something that I have been thinking about. When you see it come together it gives you the confidence to do more and initiate more and to take on more projects.
What would be your advice to a friend going through difficult times?
Trust the process. Normally, hard times tend to prepare you for something. And depending on your attitude they can either propel you towards growth or misery. And with knowing that you are in a bad place and knowing yourself comes the power to take the necessary steps to get out of it and learn from it.
What is the greatest challenge that you’ve had to overcome and what did you learn from it?
Being a young mom. Accepting that I was going to be a young mom was a big decision. I overcame the challenge by showing others that it could be done.
It was challenging because I had to give up the idea of what I thought my life would be like. And I had to accept that it was going to change my life drastically. That it was not going to be just about myself anymore.[Motherhood] was a whole new world that I had to open myself to and it was petrifying. But it ended up being easier than I expected once I learned to ask for help.
I had trouble doing that before because I always thought I was so independent and autonomous and I didn’t need to ask anybody for help. But because my pregnancy was so difficult I had to. And that was a lesson I needed to learn.
…I am with the ones I love.