Introduce yourself! Who are you?
Hello! My name is Sonal Haria. I am 28 years old and I am the co-founder of Canvas Cosmetics, a make-up brand for the on-the-go woman. I have also co-founded a marketing agency, Canvas Media and a health and nutrition brand, NutriEats.
What is one thing no one really knows about you?
I have a phobia of elevators.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
The Law of Attraction never fails you.
What would you say to 16 year old you?
“Don’t question yourself for being different. Different means unique. Embrace your identity, your thoughts, your dreams and your ambition. Also appreciate your upbringing and childhood because that is what will turn out to be the backbone for all your decisions; your values, your driving ambitions and your respect for things around you.”
What is your greatest fear?
Not being able to achieve everything I want to in this lifetime; as an entrepreneur, your dreams don’t really have a limit. They continue to grow as you grow because you’re not really set on one goal – you’re just set on being better than yesterday and making an impact. You also are never really satisfied.
And Death of course.
Have you ever had anyone doubt you? How did that make you feel?
That’s a tough question. Not implicitly, but then again, I’ve never really relied on the advice of others to validate my actions apart from my parents and my business partner / fiancé who have always encouraged me.
What message do you think every woman should hear?
You are stronger than you think. Don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith. Also, society will always judge you, don’t let the opinions and actions of others affect how you value yourself, because everyone that is judging you is secretly judging themselves harder. Also, it is SO important in this day and age to make sure you are financially independent. Being able to stand on your own two feet will make you feel so secure and confident.
Have you always had confidence in yourself?
I think so. I was always studious, I loved sports and I’ve always loved standing out, whether its by doing something different or just doing what I feel is right. I think it’s because my parents always made me feel special that really helped. There are obviously times when you second guess yourself based on people’s reactions and society, but I’m good to quickly snap out of it. I think it’s important to have a good moral support system or 3/4 people who you can lean on for reassurance and who believe in you.
What is your favourite thing about where you live?
Nairobi, Kenya is home. I was born and lived here until I went to University. I love the chaos. How no day is ever the same. The weather is also always mostly perfect, but its a small city so it’s like a bubble – you can make a big difference in a small amount of time. You can also make a bigger change. This city has definitely been the catalyst for our growth in business and as people. It’s also a melting-pot. I was born here, but I am second-generation Indian by ethnicity who grew up in the British Schooling System and a university Degree from Vancouver, BC. I love the way Kenya was a door to the world. I feel so culturally exposed.
What do you love most about yourself?
I love my ability to identify opportunities that don’t yet exist. I tend to create them for myself – which has been a great advantage in being able to create brands from scratch and turn them into something that people need, want and like. I also love the fact that I can reason level-headedly under pressure and in any argument or conflict.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned along the way?
Enjoy the journey. Ive grown to realize that even if I want to be a Fortune 500 company or Forbes Top 30 under 30, I won’t be happier then than I am today. I’ve learnt to appreciate and indulge in the little moments; a calm coffee with my partner, a glass of wine with my Dad, a rom-com sunday evening with my Mum or just me-time; a bubble bath or reading a book. I LOVE reading.
What motivates you most?
My ambition is crazily high. This can be a good and bad thing. But I’m motivated by the mere fact that I don’t want to be average. I want to be able to build a company that can be big enough to create a positive impact, socially and environmentally. In order to make a difference in the world, you need resources. And to attain resources you need to be successful. Money also motivates me – I want to be able to never have to worry about not having enough.
How do you manage your work-life balance?
The gym has always be my go-to de-stress outlet, although sometimes I don’t go as much as I should due to crazy work days. I also go for 6am early morning walks and do practice 20 minutes of morning Yoga on weekdays. It’s hard to say if an avid entrepreneur actually has a work-life ‘balance’ but I think the more important thing is state of mind. Stress management and mentally balancing ambition and inner peace. Being able to switch off is important – although I have not mastered that, I try to read and have me-time – even if it’s getting my nails done or a bubble bath with candles and bath salts, whilst listening to Pride and Prejudice on Audible. In addition, because my fiancé and I are also business partners, we still make time for work-free weekends.
What is your favorite meal?
Asian fusion. Zuma is a treat!
What do you do on a daily basis to grow and move forward?
I try to achieve little goals each day and I also try to find new opportunity in every situation that presents itself so that no day is a repetition of the same task.
Do you have a mentor? If so, what did they teach you?
When I started my first agency in Kenya 5 years ago, I would always fret to my partner that I didn’t have a mentor. I don’t have one specific mentor, but there are different people I go to for advice in different areas of my life. Mentors come in all shapes and forms. It could be people around you, it could be a coach, it could be and inspirational quote you read today or even someone you don’t even know but follow (Shout-out Manny Khoshbin, Grant Cardone & Elena Cardone and Omar Elattar!) Everyone has so much to share and I feel with social media, it’s so easy to learn and get inspired.
What is one thing people would be surprised to hear about you?
I always wished I was able to dance hip-hop street style – I think it’s so cool!
Did you always know what you wanted to do as a career?
I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur and create something great – I didn’t know what exactly, but i knew it would fall into place.
Were you scared to start the process?
Not really. Right after university a classmate and I started our first agency. We weren’t quite sure if we were doing it right, but we did it anyway with all the confidence in the world. Now I look back and realize how amateur we were but it taught us so much!
If you weren’t doing the job you have now, what would you be doing?
I would probably be a fashion designer or interior designer! I love making things pretty!
What is something on your bucket list?
I have a lot on my bucket list.
The first thing is to be on Forbes Top 30 under 30 (I have 2 years left so fingers crossed!)
To buy a house overlooking the water in West Vancouver and wake up to view of the bridge and downtown in the background with the morning sun glittering in the water as I sit on my porch drinking a coffee still in my pyjamas and a dressing gown, planning my day ahead. (I hope to be in my 30’s or 40’s here so not so old!)
Who is your biggest role model? Why?
My mother. She is the most positive person I know. She wakes up with a smile on her face everyday. She always tells me “I am in love with life”. She rarely complains and she finds pleasure in the smallest of things – whether it’s a hot cup of coffee or a bird on our window sill. She is also the least judgemental person I know – she always sees the best in everyone and always gives them the benefit of the doubt. She has had a tough life, but she is the happiest person I know!
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration within me. Whenever I feel low or I complain I try and talk myself out of it. I am lucky that my fiancé is my confidante – he helps talk me through obstacle practically. I also love the journey. My office is my dream office and I find inspiration from my team and following other companies and leaders I admire!
What are your biggest passions?
Building Brands, Reading, Fashion, Travelling and Celebrating Life!
Sonal Haria is the co-founder of Canvas Cosmetics, a high quality beauty brand for the on-the-go woman