Interview conducted by Chanèle McFarlane
Photography by Keidi Janz

If you’ve never fully believed the saying, “when one door closes, another door opens”, you will after hearing Bahar Niramwalla’s story.

As the proverbial door unexpectedly closed on her marketing career, it was only a matter of hours (yes, hours!) until another door opened, leading her to the incredible career that she has today.

Over the last 10+ years, Bahar has successfully climbed the ranks in the beauty world to become one of the country’s most sought after experts, specializing in all things beauty, grooming and lifestyle. As an editor, TV personality and make up artist, she’s appeared on shows such as Cityline, The Marilyn Denis Show and CTV Morning Live in several cities across Canada.

She’s often in-demand to lend her expertise to outlets and publications including The Globe and Mail, TheKit.ca and Yahoo! Canada, and she’s had the opportunity to serve as a brand ambassador for major companies including Shoppers Drug Mart, The Body Shop and Dove – just to name a few. 

Keep reading to learn more about Bahar’s journey to entrepreneurship and why she prefers to measure her success by her own personal satisfaction:

Tell us about a time that life handed you lemons. Did you make lemonade? 

The last big moment I can remember was when I was let go from what turned out to be the last marketing job I would have. I wasn't sure what I was going to do, but I did sit on a curb, not a few hours after having left the office, and realized that there was a HUGE opportunity waiting for me that I wouldn't have been able to take if it wasn't for this job. That was the opportunity to work with The Globe & Mail during their style section re-brand and all it took was an email to begin the journey that's brought me to where I am today. That was 8 years ago.

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After that first year, how did you scale your business and continue to grow?

It actually took more than a year for me to understand what I was doing and how to make it work for me. I overthink every situation, try to look at it from every possible angle and also take a long time to make a decision, so it took a while to take my work, so far, and present it to other people, brands, stations, etc. and try to branch out from where I started. 

How much of your success has come from taking risks versus playing it safe?

ALL OF IT. The reality is that taking risks in situations has paid off constantly. Not because it always worked out (in fact, quite the opposite) but because I have learned from every move I've made. You can't go very far if you just sit still, and that is a good, general life lesson to know.

How do you measure success in your career?

By my own satisfaction. There is a lot of competition out there, but I truly want to be happy with what I do at the end of each day, week, month and year. If I find happiness with my accomplishments, I feel like I've succeeded.  

"You can't go very far if you just sit still."

Was there ever a moment when you questioned your decision to become an entrepreneur? How did you overcome it? 

Every day! That may be the life of someone who works for themselves, no? I wonder every week if it would be easier to have a salaried job where I go into an office every day, know when quitting time is and have scheduled performance reviews, so I still haven't overcome it! But, that also comes with the afterthought of "No. I don't want to work for anyone else. I like being in control of my work, my destiny and my career."

What do you love most about yourself?

My confidence level, which has grown a great deal over the past decade. I am less and less afraid to do what I want or to ask for what I want and when you are self-employed *that* is super valuable to have.

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What is your biggest professional pet peeve?

People who don't read emails through before responding. I think there is a lot of pressure to respond ASAP to messages, especially since there is a lot of communication happening on multiple platforms, but, really, we can all stand to read a note, take it, read it again, and then formulate a reply before pulling the trigger and having to deal with multiple back and forth notes to clarify. Or, perhaps, we can pick up a phone once in a while.

Who is a fellow Toronto-based female entrepreneur that inspires you and why?

Amira De Vera! She is a fantastic PR pro who has started her own firm which is NOT an easy task in our city, our climate and with all the competition around. She has managed to take on a HUGE task and she does it so well and with such a great attitude. Lucky to know her - a real gem. 

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If you could re-live one career defining moment in your life again, what would it be and why?

Meeting Susan Sarandon during a press interview in New York. I would want to re-live it, as we had a GREAT Q&A for an article I wrote and afterwards, she approached me, asked me if I wanted to be her guest at her new ping pong club SPiN that evening, and I couldn't go because I had food poisoning. :(  

What is a personal or professional challenge you're faced with right now?

How to do everything without exploding :) I am in the middle of figuring out how to branch out my current workload and introduce another employee, which is so much harder than just looking through resumes. Offloading some of my brain onto another human being is beyond scary!


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