Founder of Blo Blow Dry Bar
Passionate, and intensely down-to-earth, Devon Brooks knows all about giving a brand “legs and longevity,” and bringing emotional integrity to any company or product. Blo Blow Dry Bar has become widely known for its community engagement, its smart branding, and its firm understanding of creating a culture—as has Brooks herself.
But the boldest part of Devon Brooks’ story is a personal one: she was assaulted in two untimely and entirely separate incidents at 18, and then again at 21, and went through the ensuing judicial process that eventually led to a guilty plea by both men. Now, Brooks is an advocate for speaking up against, and about, rape and sexual assault. Recently she gave a TEDX talk called “Talking Trauma, Transforming Truth.” Brooks continues to support, and promote having these difficult conversations, confronting one's issues, and learning to cope when life gets messy.
In 2011, Brooks represented Canada at the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Summit in Nice, France, and again as one of 15 delegates at the Mexico City G20 (Y.E.S) in June 2012. Brooks made Profit’s Top 30 Entrepreneurs for their Fab 30 list. She has been featured and profiled in Fashion, National Post, CTV, and The Globe and Mail.
The New Millennials: Taking Responsibility for How We See the World
The National Post put it well when they called Devon Brooks “an adventuress who doesn’t cut corners.’’ Devon Brooks has volunteered at orphanages and for organizations around the world. She crossed the globe on a 182 foot sail boat at 15. She mentors young entrepreneurs and businesses, coaching them on creating products and services that leave a lasting, positive impression on society—because Brooks believes doing great business is about being cognisant of how you want to make people feel. She penned and launched her first business at 21—a first-to-market concept that has grown across North America. She has been recognized as a brand and culture innovator. Brooks dove head first into her personal journey of triumphing over physical and sexual violence, and a long judicial process that eventually led to a guilty plea by both men. A culture advocate—and purveyor of honesty and action; Devon figures life is about doing something, not about being someone.
Many people describe today’s under 35’s as entitled—a reputation that Brooks thinks the new Millennials can smash. There are more young people in the world today than ever before, and Brooks believes that therein lies an opportunity for magnanimous change. It’s a sort of new-school Noah’s Ark. With a keep-it-real attitude, Brooks shares the lessons she learned through epic failures, wondrous successes, brutal relationships and the magic of strangers. This talk offers thoughtful insights on self-activation, carving out your place in the world and navigating your values.
Millennials, start your engines.
The Culture of Your Brand: How to Create a Business with Legs and Longevity
It's not about hair. Or at least, it's not all about hair. Blo Blow Dry Bar's success, says Devon Brooks, lies in its ability to maintain strong cultural roots and interface: it is, after all, all about branding. But the most important question isn't what is your brand—it's who is your brand. “At the end of the day, people connect with... other people,” Brooks says. Does your brand have a three-dimensional persona? Would your brand be someone who makes your consumers happier people? In this talk, Brooks explains the keys to creating a complex brand culture—including, creating a culture that people can relate to, want to interact with, and that leaves them feeling great about themselves. Punchy, infectiously happy and upbeat, she takes you through her journey creating Blo (which started during a phone conversation with her mother, during which they were discussing the rampant issue of failed female hair’dos), offering a comprehensive guideline to how to emotionally brand your product, no matter what it is. Online, offline or in between.
Business is Messy
We've all had tough times in our lives. What happens to our work ethic, our motivation, and our office relationships when tragedy hits? How do we pick up the pieces and get back to business? When she was 18, and again at age 21, Devon Brooks was assaulted. At first, she powered through: taking all necessary steps to ensure her personal safety, and then getting back to work the very next day. But when she decided to turn a new leaf and make a career change, Devon's anxiety hit an all-time high. She was having severe flashbacks, was overwhelmed with fear and was repeatedly hospitalized by blackout panic attacks. Brooks had developed PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and depression. After being prescribed a medley of medication, she knew it was time to reflect and refine how she was going to move forward.
Brooks is candid about her experiences: she finds humour in life’s curve balls, and argues that maintaining authenticity—for your emotions and mental processes, no matter what they are—is key. Asked often to speak publicly about her first-hand experiences with assault and rape, she provides personal lessons and a refreshing, positive outlook on pressing topics like depression and PTSD, overcoming violence, redefining passion, and courage, and maintaining momentum when you can barely get out of bed. This talk is essential to those who have suffered vicarious trauma, and need a hand getting back on the right track. In this honest and informative talk, Brooks reveals why she believes “perspective is the greatest gift of adversity,” and that “momentum can be medicine.” Anyone rallying to make their dreams come true despite experiencing trauma, PTSD or depression will find inspiration in Brooks’s optimism and perseverance.
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