(As told by Candice Ward-Smith)
It seems like just yesterday was the 21st September, 2015. It was the day that changed my life: the day that I decided to resign from what any budding corporate young woman would dream of.
Completing my EMBA, becoming a director for a regional organisation, making $40K a month, driving a fully-company-maintained SUV and enjoying countless perks, all while already being married, owning my own home and raising a four-year-old daughter. From the outside looking in, life was great! Anyone would think what more could I possibly have asked for?
However, while both my corporate and academic career were on an all-time high, my family life – particularly affecting my daughter – was on a down-low.
My husband picked up the slack where he could, while I spent hours studying at school or working the usual late hours and weekends. Some nights after work, I’d head to Diego Martin to pick up my daughter from school or karate lessons, only to head back to St. Joseph. And alongside all of that, I had a newly-launched boutique – a side project that I opened in May 2015 that my cousin was managing for me.
How did I get where I was? Well, I started off my career at A.V. Knowles and Company, then CCS (back in the day a part of Massy), then Scotiabank for 9 years (foundation stage), LJ Williams, and Massy Distribution for another 9 years. I grew up in Massy Distribution, an organisation which I owe a lot of my growth and development to. I met a lot of lovely people on my journey, with whom I have maintained great relationships.
I’ll never forget when my then-Director at Massy Distribution, now-CEO Gerard Edghill told me about how important it was for him to attend all of his son’s activities. It didn’t matter if he was at a board meeting, he would always ask for an excuse to attend something deemed important to any of his children. It was the one thing I always kept at the back of my mind.
I started my “dream job” in June 2015. When my cousin migrated to the United States, my mom retired to assist with picking up my daughter from school and keeping her until my husband or I got home. My mother-in-law and cousins would cook and send food for the family while I was in school. Thank God my network of support was endless.
There I was, juggling going to school, working and trying to give my daughter everything she ever wanted, or so I thought. Until one night, I got home late after work to find my daughter sitting on the bed waiting up for me with her dad. I asked her “why aren’t you asleep missy? It’s past your bedtime!” Her response broke my heart.
In her little four-year-old voice, I heard, “MOM! Can you do me one favour please?!” I listened attentively, awaiting the completing of her sentence. “Come home one day in DAYLIGHT!”
Here I was, trying to give her the world and to please her and all she really wanted was some time with her mom. That night, I slept in her bedroom and I couldn’t go to sleep at all. I kept hearing that statement repeatedly in my head.
The next day, I went to work and spent the entire day in board meetings, and all I could think about was my daughter. I went home that evening and spoke to my husband, telling him how I felt about the job and what our daughter said, but he didn’t seem to understand how significant her statement was to me as a mother. That weekend, I took my daughter up to Mt. St. Benedict’s and I sat in the church asking God to show me the way forward. I cried and cried, asking him what his plan was for me. I had made up my mind, but before I resigned, I met with my husband, financial advisor and life coach, who all told me to have a plan in place before I made the move to the next level. But I went against all odds and did my own thing in my own fashion, regardless of the circumstances or unforeseen risks involved.
That Monday morning, I got to work and wrote my resignation letter and delivered it to my Managing Director, with my last day as 29th October, 2015, the day before my daughter’s 5th birthday. I had no idea what was ahead. I was leaving a steady income, my financial commitments, company vehicle, and all I had was my four-month-old boutique. I had no clarity. I went with my faith. Any normal person would say “what a lunatic!”, but I got involved with my business and got support from my life coach, family and friends. I felt like everything was against me, but the most important thing was that the only person who was now finally happy was my daughter T’sehai.
My husband assisted me both directly and indirectly, although he wasn’t consulted or in agreement when I resigned. In fact, I came home and told him after I did it, because I knew he would try to deter me. I am still shocked he stuck around to this day, and he’ll jokingly mention it from time to time. It has not been an easy road but one thing I can surely say is that my daughter is a happier person overall. She mentions how happy she is that I’m around all the time, and if I ever mention going back to the corporate life, I get a resounding “please NO, mom!”.
Now, years later, I’m still in the retail clothing business – which is not an easy one at all, but I have grown and achieved 46% increase in sales in the last three years. In May 2018, I achieved my ultimate goal of moving Tifara Boutique to Long Circular Mall, and I’m going to continue to get bigger and stronger. By 2020, my goal is to become the ultimate Macy’s of the Caribbean.
A leader in fast moving consumer goods, banking, retail sales and marketing for over 21 years, Candice Ward-Smith is currently the owner of a 3 year old professional women boutique. She holds an EMBA from Arthur Lok Jack Business School and a BBA from the University of Sunderland.