2020: need we say more....well of course as that's how good stories are born!

Individuals, families, small businesses and corporations across the world are still adapting to the ongoing disruptions in their daily rituals and operations as a result of COVID-19.  Everyone is faced with adopting new coping mechanisms amidst these unprecedented, adverse times.  Challenge has been tossed in our laps at the blink of an eye – kind of like a “while you were sleeping” and POOF; we woke up to this new normal.  In my mind challenge doesn’t always have to be perceived as negative although many tend to lean more towards the definition of the word as a definitive obstacle.  

I wanted to share my story with you as guess what!? Although a round wheel runs smooth and is very effective - there's time when you have to still run even when your wheel is shaped like an octagon!   I love analogies!

My name is Heather Stockley and for the first time since the age of 16, 2020 left me unemployed, without a plan (not by choice), searching for my own self-worth and future purpose.  I tend to be modest about my experience; I often catch myself in interviews or conversations being so “matter of fact” about my knowledge and expertise often understating my achievements.  2020 changed my way of viewing little old me.  I have some outstanding stories in my back pocket. Through most of my adult life I have always been strong.  A fighter.  Independent. Driven to excel and take calculated risks.  I do things that others think about but place on their bucket list.  I am a believer in solutions and getting shit done.

I graduated from the Humber College School of Business Cosmetics Management Program at the top of my class - a 96% average.  I share this not to brag but rather to set the tone about my passion for beauty!  Cosmetic ingredients, applications and entrepreneurship are my forte!  Throughout my college years I worked in a variety of jobs doing makeup for fashion shows and managing cosmetics counters at the Bay.  In my early 20’s I travelled throughout Canada and the US for a modelling franchise setting up satellite schools and events.  I frequented trendy cities like LA, New York and such.  Loving this walk down memory lane as I write it!

After a short stint in Real Estate Administration, I realized that a desk job in a closed office wasn’t for me.  I don’t sit still very well unless cruising at an altitude of 30,000 feet in turbulence. In 2001 I opened my first business at the age of 24; a small salon + spa just outside Toronto which I operated for 18 years.  I signed the lease and had 30 days free rent.  My mindset: get it open in 30 days.  And I did taking advantage of a 3 day pleasure trip to New York!  I renovated, hired staff, ordered product, trained and voila – Self the Spa opened its’ doors on July 2, 2001.  At the same time I started teaching at Humber College in the Fashion Arts, Spa Management & Continuing Education Programs.  I wasn’t much older than my students but they respected me and I loved the classroom.  I wrote the Dean for several years inquiring about a teaching opportunity until my dream came true!

In 2008 I wrote two custom curriculum for the Donato Academy, a Private Career College.   My interview for that job was interesting as the owner thought I wanted to teach in the yet to be approved programs in which I replied; “No, I want to run your school!”  I became the Academy Director and wrote the Hairstyling & Aesthetics Programs both approved by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.  Although each program had to be submitted in different stages – I wrote them in two weeks.  The first being 1500+ hours of content and the second 1100 hours all broken into individual courses which adhered to the ministry guidelines.  I later went on to assist other colleges to register their programs offering Third Party Assessments and program reviews.

In 2013 I was hired by BABOR North America as a freelance educator. I travelled extensively throughout Canada, the US and the Caribbean training the staff at day spas, medi-spas and five star hotels on this global German brand and its treatments. Some of the properties I worked with include the Fairmont Hotels, Vintage Hotels, and the Royalton Resorts.  I even had the cool opportunity to treat bachelorette Andi Dorfman to a 30th birthday facial at the Ritz in NYC.

In late 2018 BABOR’s Asia Pacific division hired me as the Business Development & Education Manager for Asia-Pacific. This was my dream job and my career expertise grew beyond what I could imagine in this role.  Based in Singapore, my territory included Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Tawain, & Vietnam.   

After spending the majority of 2019 abroad working in Asia, Europe, Dubai and Australia with beauty distributors, marketing teams, influencers and spa owners, I had to make one of her toughest decisions to date; and I chose to give up my “career opportunity of a lifetime” and returned to Canada out of necessity to be with family.  With BABOR’s support I had hoped to continue into 2020 offering freelance support for the brand, but COVID hit and future projects and travel plans for Quarter 1 quickly fizzled.  As I began to assess the current job market I quickly realized the opportunity for a national or even regionally based position in beauty was limited.   I felt gutted, confused, sad and uncertain where my life was headed.   After spending the last decade travelling the globe as a Business Development Manager & Educator in the skincare industry, it was difficult to wait out the storm.  I realized that the need to transform my life and journey while adapting to the “new normal” was essential to maintain continuity, to thrive and to achieve new levels of personal growth.  Growing “stale” is never an option for me.

One evening in late March 2020, while flopped on my bed, I started to verbalize some ideas with my partner.  At first I thought to introduce an online virtual learning platform/spa consulting firm for my next business venture; however, with the uncertainty of spas opening in the near future and with potential for ongoing lockdown restrictions, I felt the need to dig deeper.  The name SWAT beauty was formed during this initial brainstorm as the first key pillar of beauty. I felt we were living in a time where many individuals were and still are emotionally struggling and could benefit in boosting their Self Worth & Assertive Transformation, myself included. True to who I am I still craved more and quickly pivoted on these plans.  I had often considered starting my own brand of skincare and what better time than the present!  Here the second key pillar of beauty was formed: Skin Worthy Aesthetic Treatments.

I began to research the lab that would bring SWAT beauty to market.  I hired a graphics team to design the logo, product labels and branding.   I worked on product names and descriptions to align with current market demands.  I also knew from the very start that a launch of only 2-3 products wasn’t an option. With my esthetics background there are so many skin conditions to treat and I wanted premium, tailored products to target specific needs and wants.   I also knew that the brand would start with cosmeceuticals.  I am a strong believer in bio-technology and also love plant stem cells for their ability to mimic what our human skin cells need!   Using my expertise as an esthetician, educator, and business development manager, I worked diligently on SWAT beauty to create 6 collections with a total of 30 SKU’s.  Although cliché, a close mentor told me “You have made lemons from lemonade! You launched an Indie Beauty Brand.”  That was an aha moment for me! 

My mission was to utilize the 20+ years of expertise in beauty to reinvent my footprint while leveraging my passion to inspire others.  While SWAT beauty products were in their development stage – I worked on creating two short online courses for Udemy!  I felt it important to keep up my public speaking skills and ability to share “how-to” sessions for all levels of learning. 

My goal has always been to inspire individuals to recognize the importance of overcoming challenges, big or small, and that the word “challenge” is not a negative word. I can count the number of times I have picked myself up off the floor, dusted myself off and pushed forward full steam ahead!  Use the glue required to hold oneself together and keep thriving! 

The philosophy behind SWAT’s two pillars of beauty is to transform both the inner and outer self by instilling confidence and self-worth which is more relevant than ever.  I love sharing my passion with others and helping them grow in different aspects of their life.  In business I try to have as much personal touch as possible.  I never want to be that silent partner you never see or can’t approach.  SWAT beauty is about US.  

In addition to offering a range of cosmeceuticals made in Canada I wanted SWAT beauty products to be paraben-free, cruelty-free, and to focus on optimizing skin health.  In a world where social media often hides imperfections and flaws behind makeup and filters, my aim is to inspire individuals to embrace foundation and filter free skin to put their best face forward – beauty is forever!