by Kalysha Snow

    Carolann Harding: From Rejection to Success

    Carolann Harding has overcome many obstacles in her career to get to the point of pursuing her passion. That passion is helping companies and entrepreneurs explore, grow and flourish.

    Stemming from a family of entrepreneurs, Harding has always had the motivation for success: “Motivation, I believe, comes from within,” she states. “I am a highly motivated individual whether it is a personal quest or for work.” Upon completing her undergraduate degree at Dalhousie, she returned to Newfoundland to find that there was not much work in her field of costume design. Eager to enter the work force and gain experience, Harding began applying for entry level jobs in her field; but she was rejected because of her young age. She did not let that stop her on her road to success. In fact, she claims that, “it was just enough of a challenge to keep moving forward.”

    Harding obtained a job at a local tuxedo rental store – prepping and fixing formal wear. Harding, being such a creative and motivated individual, was not fully satisfied with this career so she decided to take matters into her own hands. She began making costumes and wedding dresses for individuals and eventually this grew into Carolann Harding Designs Ltd. – her first entrepreneurial venture, creating custom “design and fit” formal wear for her many clients.

    In 1986, Harding’s first year of business, she accumulated a part time revenue of $4000 and in only a few years, her profit sky-rocketed to $250,000. In 1990, she received the BDC Youth Entrepreneur of the Year award. Since then, she has also accumulated a degree in Vocational Education, Adult Education and Business (1997), The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador Public Service Award of Excellence (2001), Certificate of Achievement in Human Resource Development (2012) and The International Alliance of Women World of Difference 100 Award (2013). Harding claims that her greatest accomplishment to date is the relationships that she has with her colleagues and clients.

    Today, after years of being driven and working toward her goals, Harding now holds the position of The Director of International Business Development with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Her favorite part of her day is working with clients and staff on creating new projects that create and add value to the business community. Harding states that there are many diverse opportunities in Newfoundland and Labrador for local businesses – many more than were present 30 years ago when she began her entrepreneurial journey.

    Harding encourages her clients to seize these opportunities and continues to do her part, contributing to the ecosystem in a positive way so that businesses can compete successfully in international markets. Harding claims that success “is giving it all you have and making a difference, all while staying true to yourself and/or your organizations goals.” She says that her clients and the organizations that she works with inspire her daily. “They are the individuals that go to the max everyday to help understand the opportunities and make it happen. When you help them, and you can see it, you want to do more,” she states.

    Harding credits her own success to her initial need to start a business and her entrepreneurial experience. “I understand where they are coming from and the pressures they face on a daily basis,” she states. Harding is a creative thinker, as well as an entrepreneurial thinker and she believes that these two go hand-in-hand. However, she is not finished learning yet. She is currently finishing a leadership program – “I cannot imagine not learning something new each day,” she says.

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