Which “Loretto” school did you attend?
Loretto Abbey, class of 1981

What have you been up since hanging up the school uniform?
What a crazy journey & still continues each day.  I left Loretto Abbey thinking I had a clear path to university with my fellow graduates & then I panicked.  I really had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up (which I am still guilty of today as not really thinking I actually grew up).  I decided to take a gap year & follow my passion for skiing out to Whistler, B.C.

After a few blips & trips along the university pathway – ski instructing in Switzerland, beach babe in Greece & so on – I finally graduated the University of Waterloo with a 4-year Honours BA in Sociology.  After pursuing a job at a wonderful law firm downtown thinking I wanted to be a lawyer, fate intervened.  I ran into a great friend who convinced me I was probably better suited to try my hand at advertising.  That fateful intervention changed the course of my life forever.  I worked in the music & entertainment industry for a few years & then jumped to the client side as a regional marketing manager at McDonald’s Canada.

I eventually transitioned into a role as the National Advertising Manager & worked my way up the ladder in managing creative teams & supporting McDonald’s within their national broadcast medium.  Fate intervened once again, & Starbucks Canada came calling.  Starbucks was setting up a national office in Toronto with a Canadian reporting structure whose mandate was to grow the market.  I realized from the moment I joined Starbucks Canada back in 2002, I had unleashed my passion for working for a company with values aligned to who I was as an individual.  I had an opportunity to think like an entrepreneur & grow a brand that didn’t have much of a foothold in Eastern Canada.  I was fortunate to be able to work on many areas of the business & was able to take on the role of Director of Marketing & Communications for the last 5 years of my time at Starbucks Canada.

What a ride, but as all things much change I found myself at a crossroad & not sure where to turn.  To be honest, it wasn’t all a ‘bed of roses’ but after much soul searching & a couple of attempts at not listening to my ‘inner voice’ I opened up a small boutique in the Junction called Simply Beautiful handcrafted + discovered.  Starting a business from the ground up has been a scary but most fulfilling chapter of my life. I discovered everything I had done up until now & all those skills I had honed throughout my career, set me up for where I am today.  Plus, I always was a bit of a shopper so passion & skill set came hand in hand.

What is your favorite school memory?
My favorite school memories are my lifelong friends & rides to Dip & Sip on Yonge Street.   My closest circle of friends continue to be my Abbey gals & they have become my ‘support system’ through thick & thin.

Did any teacher go above & beyond to encourage or support you? 
My Phys ed teacher was someone I can truly remember as someone who impacted my life in a positive way at the Abbey.  She had great flair with her white tennis skirt & passion for ringing a bell for doing laps around the school yard. Sports has always been part of my life & I really appreciated that variety of different physical challenges she pushed us to achieve.

What are you passionate about?
I am a Scorpio by virtue of my birthdate –  anything you read about traits for Scorpio – passion is at the core.  I live on passion & at the moment I live for fostering a sense of community with Simply Beautiful.  I have a huge opportunity to work with a group of dynamic & entrepreneurial women who are a part of the adjoining businesses in the Junction area of Toronto –  I have been embraced & supported by a community.  Each day is a different day – with new relationships & new experiences. Part of my mandate for the store is to source from small design companies & artists doing mindful products.  By way of understanding where & who is making my products – it provides me with a endless new relationships & opportunities to give back.

Coffee or tea?
Coffee all the way.  You can’t work for Starbucks & not be a die hard fan of ‘great coffee’.

Where to find Deborah:
Connect with Deborah Ross on LinkedIn
Follow Deborah’s store, Simply Beautiful on Facebook, which is located in Toronto
Visit the Simply Beautiful website
Follow Simply Beautiful on Instagram