au revoir from Julie
We hold this space on our site for portia-ella founder - Julie Michaud Angelatos. We admire her tenacity, respect her grace and are humbled by her accomplishments. We are in awe of her grand vision to disrupt the beauty industry and eager to continue this mission together. Julie can now be found writing and inspiring at The Sacred Family.
From Julie - June 30, 2023
As I write this, my heart is full. I am happy, excited, yet crying. I want to release, but I don’t know how, because it hasn’t sunk in yet. It is real. Portia-ella was acquired, and it is time for me to let go and move on. Long read ahead with all the details!
My children don’t know anything else work-related. This is how our family has grown. I see my eldest daughters so young in our studio in Winnipeg, running around, waiting for their mama who is once again working a bit more, a bit late. Because I knew it was possible. Why not smash an unhealthy beauty culture and build a new one that brings hope and peace to the world? My kids would one day be proud of me.
They saw us grind daily, and create in seemingly impossible ways! We had inclusivity and diversity at heart before it was cool on Instagram. We proudly had the most ethnically diverse team in the indi industry even though our team was so small! Small and mighty! We had the big players looking at our strategies and integrating them on a bigger scale. We changed the culture and transformed what it means to live and do business as a community. We started, built and supported so many brands to do the same! Building our community is part of who we are! We grew, and we grew.
Despite all of this and our hearts, we also got smashed. Partnerships fell through with ripple effects. Our children saw me cry, defeated and on my knees as I experienced being slandered and left by the very people we trusted and considered friends while I was just about to give birth. They saw me work up to 16 hours a day with my newborn in hand, at home and in our studios in shopping malls, my newborn daughter wrapped on me and Stavros giving me breaks from holding her and helping clients as much as possible. The whole team had left in the midst of what they felt was social justice... we didn’t have the words right - we had the street creds from actually doing the things that make the difference- but they needed the words and the social media statement that suited the day.
I was beaten, but not defeated. I wasn’t ready to let it all go.
In retrospect, I don’t know how I did it. And I cry again, thinking of how hard it was and the battle in my mind of my yearning to be present for my children, for my body who was still aching from childbirth and up onto that floor, working to keep the vision of goodness alive.
It would not have been possible without Candace Rae, a ray of light in this world, in my world. She knew what she was embarking in. While I was handling things in Kelowna, she stepped in the studio in Winnipeg, full hours without any help at all. Just her, on her own all day, all week. She rebuilt a whole team in Winnipeg with a tired mama on the line to help her as she could. She did the impossible and brought the studio back with a full team, our shipping centre, our distribution company, ALL of it. I mean, who is that lucky to have that kind of support?!! Me, I am that lucky!
Along came Leah in Kelowna, and with a heart bigger than nature, she re-built a team from scratch in Kelowna and created a culture of love and acceptance through the political divisiveness of the last three years. I could finally be with my baby. I am so lucky to have her in my life.
But real hardship was still ahead for us.
We closed Winnipeg after our manager there decided to go for another venture and couldn’t find another one amongst intermittent covid closures in Manitoba. The whole team there hammered out the closure at a distance as travelling wasn’t possible for me at the time.
Meanwhile, we took this opportunity to step out of malls altogether, as the rules and inflexibility got hard on our small business, aside big industry players. Another big move, supported by my family, friends, team, and supportive clients. I am so lucky.
Natalya chose us as her full-time gig, with her sales skills, extraordinaire and contagious high energy. Devika came back in full force, lending her intelligence, unmatched work ethic, and task-driven mind and delivering training, website, and so many other things that make portia-ella go round!
And we kept on, until…
The unfathomable happened. My dearest daughter passed away in a tragic incident. The guilt and pain that goes with losing a child is unbearable. And I questioned: How did I prioritize work? What have I been doing? The questions while holding my passed daughter in my arms… this was to change everything. Because from that point on, I knew that NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.
While my grief is a story of its own, for this purpose what I wish to share is that since then, I haven’t prioritized work over my family, although I could never fully let go or stop. Leah held the team and supported in a thousand ways while navigating her own political responsibilities.
We operated without signage on our new location in Kelowna for nearly a year, and most people could either not find us, or thought we had gone entirely. There was lots of work to be done to get back to where we once were yet the team went on and built upward!
We finally had our grand re-opening last June but it was before I was ready. The community showed endless support and love but my grief was still too big to be able to hop on everything that it meant.
My mind had changed, I changed. Nothing else matters as much as my family. My energy is better spent when I can be fully present with my family. I recognize that this is the single most important thing I can do. We build a better community from well-loved and emotionally balanced children, from emotionally available parents. With strong communities, our cities are vibrant. Our country is stronger. Our world, our planet, is a better place because our families come first. It was time for me to plan my exit as the CEO of portia-ella.
Candace Rae came back for a second time to support me and portia-ella while I had another child, our son and sun. And we kept on with the loving and unwavering support of a team who believe that small businesses with a heart matters BIG, and that beauty is much more beautiful when it genuinely cares for all the people involved in it. They believed in me. I am so lucky.
Rachelle came just a few months ago, and her ability to ride the wave and her love and compassion has touched me to my core. While she had a team behind the curtains, and many have come to help, she managed one of the hardest tasks on a manager with the tiniest team left: she closed this chapter for us. She liquidated our Kelowna studio on her own so the next chapter could open up freely.
I am so lucky. I am so grateful. I am so blessed. There are so many clients, employees, friends, family, and people who I haven’t named, present and past, who have contributed their hearts for the success of portia-ella and me. None of the good and bad partnerships mattered in the big scheme of things; it’s part of growth and maturity.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you to all.
As for me, you may ask what’s next? Well, as of now, it’s family and a whole lot of letting go. I get to embrace the newest addition to our family without the attention owning a retail business requires. I wrote my first children’s book in honour of Anastasia, and the pre-sale is on! You can pre-buy it now and support us as we dive into this next chapter of our lives HERE. I am already working on other titles that encompass the spiritual side of motherhood and childhood. In the meantime, you can navigate www.thesacredfamily.com and subscribe to The Sacred Family to see what’s next and be a part of our continued journey as it keeps growing with new opportunities.
To the last chapter for me with portia-ella. I honour you, I respect you, I love you, I release you. Big breath in, big release out. This chapter may be done for me but the best part is that it will continue on in new and capable hands, filled with new life.
To the next chapter, I am here and now for you, for me, for us. With so much love and gratitude, I thank you again for being in my life.