Interview conducted by Chanèle McFarlane
Photography by Keidi Janz

How would you define your personal and professional values? Having a clear understanding of who you are - but more importantly, what you stand for, serves as a helpful ‘north star’ as you navigate your career journey. Your values should be unwavering - despite what life brings your way, you stand firm in your beliefs even if it forces you outside of your comfort zone.

 The career journey of Dr. Nekessa Remy is a prime example. As you’ll learn through reading her story, when faced with a dilemma that challenged her ethical values, she used the motivation to become her own boss by opening The Chiropractic Office, a comprehensive injury management clinic focused on sports related injuries and woman’s health issues.

For Nekessa, it all started when she met a black female doctor. As a young black girl, that experience had an immense impact on her - showing her that she too could become a doctor. Now, as an accomplished registered acupuncturist and chiropractor, in addition to a health/wellness expert, she now gets to serve as a role model for other young black girls looking to get into the profession. In fact, she was recently included in the award-winning photo project by CBC, HERstory, which features 150 Black Canadian Women and their range of professions, life experiences and perspectives.

Keep reading as Nekessa reflects on sticking to your values, the power of community and why being your authentic self is the key to success.

 

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

10 years ago, I was forced to leave a clinic where I had spent 2 years building a practice. Due to ethical differences I had to leave his clinic and possibly lose all the patients that I had formed relationships with. It was a very difficult time for me. With nowhere to go, I quickly decided to open my own clinic. At that time in my career I had no intention in opening my own office. I had done to research and really had no idea how to do it. My focus was just to pay off my student debt! What I did know is that my patients needed a place for me to treat them. I used that to motivate and within 3 months, The Chiropractic Office was opened.

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

After my first year I made an effort to align myself with other health professionals that share my same passion for delivering quality care. I knew I needed to get out of the office and network with other professionals especially women of colour like myself. I was thrilled to have found other women on their own entrepreneurial journeys who wanted not only to succeed in their own business but also wanted to see other women in our community succeed. With their help I was able to reach more audiences and spread my message to help build my patient base.

How do you measure success in your career?

I do what I do because I believe that ‘healthy living is a RIGHT not a privilege’. Success to me, is when I am able to assist anyone on their journey to being healthy.

"I have been very lucky. It has been a long time since anyone has doubted me openly. I think it's because the older I get, the easier it is to let go of those in my circle who are doubters or nay-sayers."  

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

I don’t know any successful entrepreneur that hasn’t taken risks in their career. Playing it safe only takes you so far. What makes you go further than your competitors is the ability to know when to take those risks. Deciding to open up a clinic within 3 months was a huge risk for me. I had no time to research or do much planning, but I had a passion and I followed my instincts. I was passionate about ensuring my patients stayed healthy and injury free. When I got scared or started to have doubts that’s when my instincts kicked in. I knew it would be challenging but I also knew that I could get through it.

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

There have been many moments where I have questioned my decision to work for myself. When things go wrong it’s up to me fix. But when things go right it’s due to my hard work and hustling! In those doubtful moments I just remember to focus on the small goals that I have set and make sure to take the time to celebrate each milestone.

What is the last investment you've made that has made your life better?

I started going to Orange Theory Fitness three times a week. I needed to be accountable to someone, otherwise my motivation to work out was replaced with the need to return more emails or go to more networking events. Three months into this workout regime, not only do I feel more fit than I have in years, but its three hours a week that I look forward to and truly enjoy. Don’t get me wrong I curse like a sailor as the reps increase or the incline on the treadmill goes up, but once that 60 minutes is up, I know what I’ve accomplished both physically and mentally.

What do you love most about yourself?

My ability to live my life with no regrets. I have had failures and made bad decisions but each mistake, each failure is one step closer to realizing my dreams.

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Have you ever had anyone doubt you? What did you do about it?

I have been very lucky. It has been a long time since anyone has doubted me openly. I think it's because the older I get, the easier it is to let go of those in my circle who are doubters or nay-sayers. I have learned the importance of surrounding myself with supportive and ambitious people who understand what it takes to be successful. I have no time to spend dealing with haters!

What is one thing you wish you knew before becoming your own boss?

9 to 5 does not exist when you are you own boss. You take work home with you, on vacation with you, anywhere you go, your business goes with you!


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