"I wonder what she'll be like?" I had spoken to her several times over the phone and she seemed nice enough, but she is a model so I prepare myself for anything. She's twenty minutes late for our appointment (not her fault - bad directions) and now we're face to face. She enters my office, offers a handshake and hears my parrot say, "Hello". Her eyes light up, a bright smile emerges and I can tell she loves parrots. I know at that moment that everything will be okay.
We immediately visit with my Amazon parrot. The ice has been broken. She is thinking of buying a parrot so I sing the praises of my chattering pet, show her a great parrot video, and then we settle down to business.
When Hilary Rowland got her Power Mac computer at 14 years old, and then hooked up to the web, she didn't know then that she had equipped herself with the tools she would need to win first place in the 1999 national YTV Achievement Awards for Excellence in Business. (press release here)
Hilary accepts the 1999 YTV award for Business
It began when Hilary decided she wanted some extra pocket money. She had an interest in modeling and the fashion scene, access to the web, wanted to be her own boss and was 15 years old. New Faces Talent was born. It is an online service for models and actors to display their photos and information on the Web so agents and directors can discover them for assignments. Hilary believes, "It became successful very quickly because it was the first site of its kind." It gets about 2 ½ million hits a month.
With such success, Hilary started three other websites: Hilary Interactive, Hilary Magazine, and The Insiders Guide to Supermodels and Modeling. Hmm, a lot of this stuff seems to be about modeling. Well, like I said, she is a model.
While working for the Ford Modeling Agency, she had the opportunity to travel to Europe, Asia, and the U.S., and says, "In the beginning it was fun, but eventually I found modeling to be unsatisfying, so that's when I got serious about Web design."
A couple of the numerous modelling projects that took Hilary around the world
"When I started doing Web design in 1995, courses on Web design didn't exist. I started designing Web sites before hardly anyone knew what the Internet was - let alone a Web site or e-mail. I learned the tricks of the trade over time." In order to help her business grow, Hilary did a lot of research, went to seminars, and is still planning to go on to university.
Her role model is her mom who was the head of the graphics department at a prominent company. She says that her parents have always been supportive of her and offer advice that is always seriously considered. After all, "They obviously have more experience in business than I do." But advice seems to be where the business support ends as Hilary explains, "Designing Web sites doesn't require a lot of start-up money (capital) other than a computer and software, so I thankfully haven't had to get any financial help or loans."Hilary Interactive, is where she directs most of her energy now. This on-line company specializes in Web site design and Internet marketing. Her prices have ranged from $1,500.00 to $17,000.00 depending on the amount of work necessary.
Not bad for some extra pocket money!But Hilary says that this money does not come easily, "I work about 60-70 hours a week!" (That means if you started work at 9am you would still be working at 10pm!) But she loves the fact that she's an entrepreneur and explains what she has learned. "Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of skills. You have to have vision and goals, a good business sense and know how to deal with people. You also need to be willing to work very hard and be creative in thinking. Finally, you have to have a passion for what you do so that it's fun and you enjoy it, like I do."
Hilary-designed sites are popping up everywhere!
At this point, Hilary is very comfortable and accepts my earlier offer of a drink - Coke, Ginger Ale or Cranberry Juice. Without much thought she chooses Coke and I'm impressed she didn't ask, "Do you have any diet drinks?" Good thing, because I didn't.I figure Hilary must have been Miss Popularity in high school and so we begin to talk about her school life just outside of Toronto. "I'm the first to admit that if anyone hated highschool, it was me. Most of the time I didn't fit in and I absolutely hated not being treated like an adult. But I paid attention and worked hard anyway - and I guess that it's paid off already." I keep thinking, model.intelligent.she must have been something special in school. But she says, "No. I was always a little different, and the ones who are different don't seem to have a lot of friends but often turn out to be the most interesting people." She feels that not being popular can make a person stronger, "Not being part of the 'In' crowd, forces you to know yourself. Looking back now, I'm happy I wasn't popular because I learned to rely on myself and not my friends."
I really wasn't surprised when Hilary suggested that technology and Internet related careers would be a good path to investigate. "I can only see the demand in these fields increasing in the future as more Internet companies start up to handle the huge demand. Any skill that is in high demand can be a gold mine, provided you are good at what you do."Hilary is very serious when she says, "I believe you can achieve anything you want. All it takes is hard work. Hard work may not seem too appealing, I know, but if you choose to pursue a career doing something that you enjoy, then it doesn't really end up feeling like work. That, in essence, is the key to happiness and success. If you work at what you love, then you will want to work and you will put in that extra effort that makes all the difference in the world."As our interview is almost over now, Hilary ends with, "The best advise I ever heard was simply: work at what you love - love like you've never been hurt - and dance like nobody's watching!"
Check out some of Hilary's many sites:
Faces Talent-Online Talent Portfolios
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