“Pursue your passion. Do what you enjoy, regardless of what people say, and the chips will fall into place.”
That’s the advice Jasmine Daya, Lawyer and Managing Principal at Jasmine Daya & Co., has for young girls. Jasmine took the leap into entrepreneurship after working her way up to managing partner at her previous firm. After her superior retired, she considered joining another law office – but nothing felt like the right fit. “I decided that the only real choice for me was to open my own firm,” says Jasmine. “Once I made the decision, I hit the ground running – and haven’t looked back.”
While Jasmine felt confident in her vision and abilities, she faced barriers along the way – including finding a bank that treated her with respect. “There have certainly been moments in my career when I felt that I was treated differently for being a woman. When I was seeking financing for my first commercial purchase, a group of bankers met me at my office. One asked me, ‘How do you think you will manage this purchase given everything else you are working on?’ Would they ask a man that question, or would they praise him for his accomplishments and aiming to acquire an excellent investment property?” says Jasmine.
It became clear to Jasmine that she needed a new bank. “My firm’s accounts were held with a traditional bank that did not take the time to understand me, my business or my goals. They made me feel like I was unimportant, inadequate and a risky client for them to have. They always tried to reign in my ability to grow,” says Jasmine. “From the moment I spoke to someone at BMO, I have felt that they have had my back 100%. I truly feel that they are proud to have me as a client.”
Jasmine notes that a relationship with a bank is of particular importance to a business owner, and that entrepreneurs need to feel comfortable asking for help in strategizing or financing. “If you cannot approach your bank, it can cause you to suffer from unnecessary stress and anxiety,” says Jasmine. “The transition to BMO has enabled me to refocus all my efforts on my business – which is where my focus should be.”
That focus has led to great things for Jasmine’s business. Her firm specializes in personal injury, which is a highly competitive area of law. Jasmine knew that to succeed, she needed a non-traditional vision, brand and business model. To realize it, she drew on her previous law experience, her educational background in economics, finance and law – and the work she did in her parents’ restaurants when she was growing up.
These days, her firm is thriving. Jasmine also gives back to her community through volunteer work, guest lecturing and mentoring as well as providing placements for co-op students in high school, college and university. Working with young people and breaking down barriers for them is a great pleasure for Jasmine, particularly after having faced barriers herself.
Those barriers have only inspired Jasmine to push through to get to the next level in her career, as well as her pursuits outside of work – blogging, publishing books, podcasting and more. “In recent years, I have again encountered issues that a man would not face – not as a lawyer but as an entrepreneur. Those negative experiences have fueled me to do more and do better,” says Jasmine. “There is truly no greater satisfaction in business than that!”
Jasmine is continuing to build on her practice and is looking forward to the future. “Everything I do is with passion and intention. It takes immense time and effort and thereafter, I feel a sense of accomplishment that fills me with pride.”
One of the ways BMO is observing International Women’s Day is by celebrating women entrepreneurs. Through a new content series, we’re telling the stories of businesses owners who’ve faced barriers of all kinds – and their inspiring experiences in breaking down those barriers. The series will run on social media across Canada and our U.S. footprint.
In addition to Jasmine Daya, the series features Daphne Jones, Owner of Glorious Malone’s Fine Sausage, an award-winning, Milwaukee-based small family business with deep roots in the community and a product that’s regionally celebrated.