Jaclyn Hawkins is getting women on the ice
Running a business

Jaclyn Hawkins is getting women on the ice

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating the stories of the amazing women in small business that are conquering male-dominated industries and working to #breakthebias. 

Name: Jaclyn Hawkins 

Location: Ottawa, ON, Canada 

Business: Women’s Hockey Life 

Women’s Hockey Life

What does your business do?

We are a one-stop shop for all things women’s hockey. We offer an online course that helps high school female hockey players navigate the college recruiting process and earn scholarships, we sell merchandise, we have a podcast that highlights those in women’s hockey, we have a platform that allows players, parents, coaches and teams to connect at the university and prep school levels, and a website full of articles, stories and information about women’s hockey.

Why did you decide to start your own business? How did you get started?

I have played hockey my entire life—youth, prep school, college, and professionally—so it was only fitting that I create a business around the thing I am most passionate about and love—women’s hockey! 

When I stopped playing I wanted to stay involved in the game somehow. I coached at the youth and NCAA Division 1 levels, and while I enjoyed my time doing both, I still had an itch that I could be doing more to give back to the game that has given me everything. It was a passion project, a side hustle if you will, for the first 6 or 7 years before I really dove in head first. That happened after I gave birth to twins and the collegiate coaching lifestyle no longer meshed with the family lifestyle I wanted. 

What is the biggest lesson you learned in the first year?

Resiliency. I built what I thought was an amazing infrastructure and business plan, only to be turned down multiple times (think: years) before we even began to make money. I learned very quickly how to accept rejection, go back to the drawing board, and try again. 

What was the most surprising thing about becoming a business owner? 

It gets lonely. There will be times when you feel like no one understands you and your frustrations. It’s incredibly important to network and connect with other business owners who can empathize and support you. 

What is an aspect of running a business that you needed to learn more about when you started? How did you learn about it? 

Business in general. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes in running a business (accounting, bookkeeping, financial documents, incorporating a business, contracts) that I never really thought about when envisioning the business in the early days. Thankfully, my parents ran their own business so my Dad was a huge help in the accounting and bookkeeping area until I learned the ropes. 

Also, technology. Our entire business right now is online, even before COVID. I had to learn how to build websites and run them. I had to learn how social media works from best practices, which platforms to use, their algorithms, paid ads and so much more. 

The best way to learn anything is to ask for help. I learned as much as I could online, but eventually I put my ego aside and asked for help from those who know more than me. And, when you get to the point where you can hire others to do those tasks, do it! It will free up your time to do what you’re best at. 

How does running your own business make you feel? 

Empowered, free, and intelligent. A big reason I wanted to create my own business was to have freedom in time and money. Being a single mom to twins, it’s important for me to have the flexibility to be able to pick up and drop off my kids at school or to take them to practice or lessons. To set my own schedule and make time for what’s important in my life. In doing so, it has given me this incredible feeling of empowerment. I get to structure my days the way I want to, take time off when I want to and really it has allowed me to take control of the life I want to live. 

That being said, becoming a business owner has challenged me to question how I look at myself and the world. To really question the beliefs I have surrounding money, what a job “should” entail, and mostly the belief about myself and my intelligence. I struggled in school my whole life. I never loved it and my grades reflected that. I allowed the educational system to make me believe I wasn’t smart enough to succeed in life. In reality, I was always smart enough, I just didn’t know how to translate what I was passionate about into a profitable career. 

Women's Hockey Life

What are some of the challenges you’ve overcome or are working to overcome as a business owner?

Delegating work and time management. I know exactly how I want my business to look so “letting go” of the reins was a big challenge for me early on. Once I did, things turned out even better than I could have imagined. I was spending so much time on minute details that time would slip away from me. I wouldn’t complete the most important tasks first and felt like I was constantly playing catch up.

Secondly, COVID. Thankfully, I still have a business despite so many other businesses going under. But there was a time, not too long ago, where I had the tough conversation with my legal team and staff of possibly shutting down. I was given two options: File for bankruptcy or figure it out. My legal team pushed me towards option number one. I chose option number two. I will never give up on my dreams, business, staff, and all of the people out there who need our help. 

What are your proudest moments?

Players committing to schools. When a player we are working with commits to a University or College, we may be just as happy and proud as they are. I remember that feeling the first time it happened and I will never forget it. To be a small part of helping these young girls chase and achieve their dreams of playing in college is simply priceless. 

Women’s hockey doesn’t get the coverage it deserves, especially in non-Olympic years. We are trying to change that by highlighting it and those in the game with the articles we write and the podcasts we produce. So, when a player reaches out to us to thank us for putting them in the spotlight, we beam with gratitude and joy. 

What are the next big plans you have for your business? 

Eventually we plan to get into running hockey camps so that we can get out on the ice with players (young and old) to help improve their skills and teach them the game we all love. 

What are three things that you feel have contributed to your success as a business owner?

First, my mindset. Without a positive outlook on life, you won’t succeed. It’s so easy to see the glass half empty—I have failed way more than I have succeeded in business to date. But where success lies is seeing every obstacle as an opportunity to grow and learn. Second, passion. You have to be 100% committed to what you are doing. It has to excite you enough to get you up in the morning and keep you up at night. 

And third, patience and persistence. Great things take time. I believe a part of my early failures in starting my business were simply because I wanted everything to happen immediately. You have to trust that the universe will deliver everything that you need when the time is right. Having patience is hard, but with that, along with persistence and the belief that you were destined to create your business, it will all work out in the end. 

What challenges do you feel are unique to female small business owners?

Not being taken seriously. There is still a stigma out there that women are less than men. That we have to work twice as hard to get what we want. I have sat in many meetings where I was the only female in the room and my ideas were just brushed aside. 

Also, not being paid for what we are worth. Personally, a part of this falls on me (and probably many other women out there) because I never asked for more or believed I was worth more. It was a soul-searching experience to learn and know my value and then demand to be paid accordingly for it. 

What is it like working in an industry that some might see as traditionally male dominated? Have you come up against any bias?

Growing up, I played boys hockey. There just weren’t any girls teams until I got a bit older. A lot has changed since I was a kid, but the challenges are still there. Lack of coverage in female hockey, funding, pay equity, opportunities—but we’re working on changing all of that. 

Is there anything you want other women to know about working in your industry?

Be confident. Be bold. Be you. Let your skills speak for themselves. More and more females are being hired in what used to be traditionally “male roles.” The world is finally waking up and realizing that women are just as good, and in a lot of cases, better than their male counterparts.

quote image
When you strike out to do something great, there are always going to be people who doubt and question you…Do not let their fears become yours.”

What advice would you give to other women starting their own business?

Believe in yourself! When you strike out to do something great, there are always going to be people who doubt and question you. You can’t have those people in your inner circle. You have to surround yourself with other like-minded people and be very good at drowning out the nay-sayers and critics. Those people who try to knock you down are only projecting their own limiting beliefs and fears onto you. Do not let their fears become yours. Do not let them deter you from chasing your dreams. 

When you’re having a tough day, who or what inspires you to keep going?

My kids. I want them to grow up knowing that they can do, be, and chase whatever sets their souls on fire, no matter how steep of a hill it may appear to be. I want to be a living example to them that you can do anything you set your mind to. 

And my potential clients. I’m 100% biased when I say this, but what we do works! We have been fortunate enough as a staff to have chased down and lived out our dreams in the hockey world. We know what it takes and we know that we can help others achieve the goals they are determined to achieve. 

How can female business owners support one another and their community?

Network, be each other’s biggest fans, reach out to other female business owners and get to know them, their line of work, and how they run their business. Pump them up on your own social media, recommend them to your friends and family if they’re looking for the help that other business owners can assist them in attaining. There is enough money in this world where you can personally be successful, while also helping others succeed as well. 

What’s your “power song”? 

I actually have a playlist on my phone called “Awesome You” and it’s filled with songs that instantly put me in a good mood. Sometimes I even get up and just dance to help me get out of a funk or to celebrate a win. A few from that list are “I Made It” by Kevin Rudolf, “Dreams” by Gabrielle, “High Hopes” by Panic! At The Disco, and “Unbreakable” by Janelle Monáe & Kelly Clarkson.

To learn more about Women’s Hockey Life and support the business, visit their website or check them out on Instagram and TikTok.

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