Kena Paranjape, a seasoned retail industry veteran and entrepreneur, is the founder of All You Are—a Toronto-based lifestyle brand. The brand launched simply with one product, their signature robe, which was Kena’s answer to the robe she always wanted but could never find. Since then, that robe has wrapped itself around thousands of amazing women.
Today, All You Are stands for more than just a robe. Through their products, articles and community, they aim to inspire women to step into who they truly are and to live fully and well, regardless of their current circumstances. Read on to learn how Kena’s daughter inspired not only the robe, but also the cause behind the brand; what to expect when you dive into the entrepreneurial space; and some of Kena’s personal small-biz favorites.
All You Are has evolved to become more than a loungewear brand. Can you speak to what inspired the original robe and your choice to tie the brand to a social cause?
I conceived of the original robe while I sat on the couch as my newborn daughter slept. I'd been spending a lot of time in robes, and while I love a good robe, lamented that I could never find ONE that met all my expectations. The beginning of our robe is the quintessential entrepreneurial story - I set out to solve a problem I had and that I imagined other women must have as well.
I didn't immediately come up with cause for All You Are. I wanted to make sure that whatever I chose felt authentic, true to the brand vs simply a marketing tactic. As my daughter started growing up, it became so clear to me how much a child needs to become a healthy, grounded, emotionally intelligent adult. It takes consistent love, safety and understanding. And I became so aware that so many children in the world are lacking those things in the worst way. So we now donate 1% of all sales to International Justice Mission, an organization dedicated to protecting children throughout the developing world. If our kids receive what they need, they'll grow into healthy, contributing adults and our world will be a better place.
From a female founder perspective, what tips and tricks have helped you push forward in the entrepreneurial space?
Being an entrepreneur is the ultimate track for personal growth. You are challenged every day to solve seemingly unsolvable problems, do things that scare you and take massive leaps. You have to be prepared mentally and emotionally for what it takes to grow a business. You have to love it so much that you're willing to push past the headaches and often the sleepless nights.
At the same time, you have to be completely committed to taking care of yourself and understanding what you need. It is so easy to burn out and to grow a business you need longevity. Figure out how to support your business and let it support you (it's the path to your dreams!).
We’d love to hear more about the workshops and programs you offer — can you let us in on what they cover?
I'm so passionate about women purposefully creating a life that feels aligned to their true selves. At one point in our lives we're all about checking boxes, but there comes a point where we desire more fulfillment and more connection to who we are. My workshops are for successful, driven women who want to rediscover their inner spark. That is just the beginning of the journey to creating a life that feels satisfying, joyful and in tune with who you are. The magic that happens when women come together and are vulnerable about their dreams is addictive!
What is the favorite thing you’ve heard from one of your customers about your products?
Ohhh, I think the ones we are most touched by are when a customer gifts our robes to someone who needs some extra love. Our signature robe has a hidden message under the cuff (my possibilities are endless) and our long hooded robe has heart open embroidered under the hood. Our robes have gone to those who are going through chemo, or who recently experienced the loss of a loved one or a break-up. We love the idea of our products bringing comfort to those who need it. Because we all need comforting sometimes.
What are some small businesses you’ve been digging recently?
I have worked with hundreds of small businesses over the years so my list is long! I love Lodge candles, Wild North Flowers and Chocolat de Kat to name a few!