In June, we had the pleasure of meeting Hollie Pratt Campbell, the editor of the Kingston Heritage and Frontenac Gazette newspapers. She wanted to take a picture of us for an article she was writing about us, but at the time we were extremely scared of putting our faces to our business. We have ccontinuously faced a lot discrimination, due to our age (and sometimes our gender). The way we’ve combated this… is by demanding respect.

When we first moved to Kingston to start up our business, we were extremely excited (and we still are!). Many amazing people reached out to us and have been mentors to us. With some other individuals, when we showed up for our meetings, we were completely written off due to our ages. Deals were taken off the table, and the meetings solely became about how we are so young to start a business. Not only would this happen in meetings, but frequently in daily encounters. Whether we are standing in line at the bank under business services, and someone tells us we’re in the wrong lines (or “students shouldn’t be in this line”), or tellers asking us if our bosses know that we’re at the bank using the companies money. It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating that we continuously get judged because of our ages. The way we deal with this is by demanding respect.

Standing eye to eye with an experienced businessman or businesswoman can be slightly unnerving, but giving them that firm handshake and looking them straight in the eyes shows that you mean business. We will not let anyone walk all over us or not take us seriously because of our age. We do not appear frightened or shy in our business endeavours, we act confidently, and this demands the respect of those around us. If you’re starting your own business, have the confidence in yourself that you should be taken seriously. You’re amazing for starting a business, or taking that promotion, or stepping into unknown territory.

If someone is treating you unkindly due to your age, call them out on it (in a polite manner). There have been situations where we have done this to make these people aware that they need to take us seriously. If they make quips about you being too young, or being a student (even if you’re not), just tell them that you’re not. The simple act of telling them that you’re not a student or not young, seems to freeze them in their place.

Don’t be afraid. Fear is what makes others think that they can walk all over you. And plus, you don’t even have a reason to be afraid. You have the power in the situation to make them respect you.