Joanna Track is more than a successful entrepreneur; she’s a marketing guru on a mission to give-back to others in her community, including youth. The founder of sweetspot.ca, as well as popular online retailer eLuxe, Track now runs Good Eggs & Co., a boutique consultancy, with her sister-in-law and business partner, Lori. Dedicated to management, marketing, digital media, e-commerce, and creative services, Good Eggs & Co. combines both founders’ skills and experiences into a proverbial one-stop-shop for ventures, big and small.
Set to attend the 15th Annual Children’s Aid Foundation Women’s Golf Classic, Track will be delivering a keynote address to over a hundred influential female executives and senior level employees from across the Greater Toronto Area.
In preparation of the big day, we caught-up with Track to chat about her entrepreneurial success, experiences as a woman in business, and philosophy on philanthropy.
Children’s Aid Foundation: Can you tell me about your business, Good Eggs & Co.?
Joanna Track: I started Good Eggs & Co. to address my own personal needs and wants. After having been an entrepreneur and start-up junkie for a decade, I would say I was burnt-out. I definitely needed a different pace, more manageable, and had also gotten far away from doing the things that I really loved. I loved running my own business, but it required a lot of other things like managing shareholders and finance and operational stuff. I love managing people but it’s also very time consuming, which left me very little time to do what I’m passionate about: marketing and strategy. I was constantly being approached by friends, colleagues, friends of friends, asking for my advice on what to do in their own businesses, so Good Eggs & Co. is addressing those needs. It’s a consultancy that I work on with my business partner and sister-in-law, Lori. We don’t have any employees, we bring people in as freelance as we need them, we don’t have an office. I’ve scaled-back my life in terms of all the moving parts that I need to manage. And then, I get to do what I love: I go into businesses and help them figure out their strategies. Lori’s background is more operations and legal; between the two of us, we always joke that we’re the perfect employee.
CAF: How have your experiences as an entrepreneur been influenced by gender?
JT: Growing-up in my career, I actually used to be a bit skeptical about “women’s issues” because I never felt it. I got jobs, I got promoted, I had a lot of great career opportunities. In school, I majored in math and finance, and that was definitely more male-dominated, and people were sometimes surprised that I belonged there. My first start-up was in a female targeted market, so I was surrounded by women and working with women, and [my gender] was never an issue. Where it really slapped me in the face was when I started my next business, eLuxe, which required significant fundraising as it was a very capital-intensive business. I was running around town meeting with venture capitalists and investment bankers, and every room was a room full of men. And then I started to read the stats and understand that five percent of investment funds raised go to women-led businesses. And for the first time in my life, I was like [gender issues] are real in business. I’ve had people say to me that they didn’t want to invest because they were worried I was going to have another baby. Also, because of the fact that what I was selling was a female-targeted business, it was women’s fashion e-commerce, I wasn’t showing-up with some techie widget in a room full of men. They didn’t take the time to realize that maybe they weren’t the target audience, but it was a [profitable model]. And [there was] also the scrutiny of whether I was going to take the job seriously and be there and available.
“And for the first time in my life, I was like [gender issues] are real in business. I’ve had people say to me that they didn’t want to invest because they were worried I was going to have another baby. Also, because of the fact that what I was selling was a female-targeted business, it was women’s fashion e-commerce, I wasn’t showing-up with some techie widget in a room full of men.”
CAF: How important has networking with other women been in your career?
JT: It’s been amazing. I’ve met some incredible women who are such major mentors to me, but at the same time I don’t want to discriminate. Especially when I worked in advertising, the main manager was a “he”, and he was an incredible mentor to me. So, I feel like I’ve learned from both, but because of the industry I’ve been in — marketing is very female focused, fashion is [female focused] — I’ve been surrounded by women in my career and it’s been mostly good.
CAF: What’s your take on philanthropy?
JT: I actually started my own charitable initiative called Do Something Sweet. It was born out of my philanthropic philosophy. I’ve always given-back in terms of donating, but a number of years ago I was attending an event for a very large, established charity and the host kicked-off the night by saying [the charity] had received a huge amount of money from a not as huge amount of donors, and I thought “I’m proud that I’m associated with this charity, but they don’t need me”, whereas just weeks prior I was approached by a group of social workers from the Toronto District School Board, who were trying to help kids meet their urgent needs, for example they didn’t have bus fare, they hadn’t eaten, they didn’t have a coat. And they were looking for some help to raise $500, and it hit me: these people need me. And I started Do Something Sweet to raise these small amounts of money that could go a really long way. The money goes straight to a fund that social workers in the TDSB can access, so there’s no red tape, they don’t have to fill out a form in order to get that kid what they need in that moment. My philosophy is that it doesn’t matter if it’s five dollars or five million dollars, we all have an obligation to help others around us.
CAF: Do you feel compelled to specifically give-back to youth?
JT: I’ve been very fortunate in my life to not be afflicted, or anyone around me, with any serious illnesses; I think a lot of times people align themselves with those [causes] due to a personal experience. For me, I spent a lot of time in my life working with kids at summer camp and teaching in schools. I’ve been so connected to that my whole life, I really believe in the potential of children. While my life wasn’t nearly as rough as the children you help within your organization, I didn’t have an easy go either. Because I’m very fortunate now to have reached this point of success in my life, I want other people to know that they can do it, too. I wasn’t given anything, my parents didn’t give me money, I started at the same starting point. I went to public school, went into university, got a job, and built my career.
“I was approached by a group of social workers from the Toronto District School Board, who were trying to help kids meet their urgent needs, for example they didn’t have bus fare, they hadn’t eaten, they didn’t have a coat. And they were looking for some help to raise $500, and it hit me: these people need me. And I started Do Something Sweet to raise these small amounts of money that could go a really long way.”
CAF: What do you attribute to having driven you to achieve success?
JT: It’s interesting. I have two brothers and all three of us are entrepreneurs with viable businesses. I think growing-up in the situation that we did, our parents got divorced when we were very young, we didn’t have a lot of money, we happened to live in an affluent area of the city, so we were surrounded by it, but we didn’t have it. And, I think we all became very driven to say “the only way we’re going to get there, is to do it ourselves”. We did see from our parents a very strong work ethic, and that obviously resonated with all of us, and then each other; we gained fuel from each other.
CAF: What advice would you give to young people who are beginning their careers?
JT: I would say a couple things: Always having a job is better than having no job, even if you don’t love it. People would be shocked by the kinds of jobs I’ve had in my life, but I’ve learned something for every, single one. You gain something even if it’s not what you expected, you gain from bad experiences as much as you gain from good experiences, and as long as you’re showing-up to work, you’re getting paid. At the end of the day, you need the money. The second thing is: Get into a field you enjoy. Say, for example, that you love fashion. You might not get a job in the headquarters of a brand right away; work in the store, work in the back stock room, you are going to learn about that business. A job in the stock room is just as important as what goes on in the headquarters.
CAF: You’re coming to the annual Women’s Golf Classic on June 2nd. What are you looking forward to?
JT: I’m looking forward to the spa, I’m looking forward to meeting all of these different women because I just thrive on that environment of meeting other hardworking, inspirational women. Even though I might be the one getting-up on the podium to speak, everyone in the room has a story and I love connecting with others and learning how they got to where they are.