As part of our series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lina Kennedy. Lina is a global authority and 30-year pioneer of professional body sugaring for hair removal. Completely on her own, after a childhood of poverty and relentless abuse, Lina started her company, Alexandria Professional, and built it into a multi-million dollar business operating in more than 30 countries around the world, manufacturing and distribution sugar pastes and other skin care products. Her new autobiography, The Sugar Queen, recounts her inspirational personal story of courage, motivation, forgiveness and joy.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
A serious car accident and a very deep prayer led me to become the person I am today, led me to my success; and the journey continues from here. So that was my teaser answer! I really was injured in a serious car accident in January 1991. There were lots of complications. I was bedridden to heal a bleeding kidney and spleen, and very concerned as to whether or not I was going to heal well, and how long it would take. Would I be able to get back to the work I was doing? Able to continue to raise my son by myself? And so, one night, I fell asleep praying and crying. What I prayed for was direction. “Show me where I’m going next. My eyes are open, my heart is open. Just, please show me!” I literally fell asleep crying.
Next morning, I woke up, turned on the TV to a popular local talk show in Toronto, and saw a demonstration of something new in North America, hair removal using sugar. I got up from my bed, wrapped myself in gauze, and drove to Toronto to see the people who could le me to pursue this opportunity. I can honestly say that I’ve never looked back from that moment. I saw my sign, grabbed onto it, and the journey began. I’m still going strong!
What does it mean for you to live “on purpose”? Can you explain? How can one achieve that?
I’m going to imagine that by “live on purpose”, you mean living in the moment or being aware of what you do every day. In that case, I would have to say I’m still practicing it. I can’t say I’m a master, but I am better today than I was twenty or even ten years ago. I’ve learned to accept what cannot be changed, to put negative thoughts aside, and move forward day to day with what I am on this planet to do.
Do you have an example or story in your own life of how your pain helped to guide you to finding your life’s purpose?
When I was seven years old and had my tonsils removed, I had to remain in the hospital longer than the typical one night because I hemorrhage during the surgery, and the story goes that they nearly lost me. The out-of-body experience I had in these moments near death was the beginning of my personal journey.
Of course, there is ALSO the amazing story of the car accident and what followed from the prayers and the tears that poured from me to our Universe, to God, and to my angels. That was the beginning of my Alexandria Professional business journey.
Then there’s my journey to find healing for the severe pain I suffered for years after the accident. The doctors I saw could not help me — These were the days before fibromyalgia well known to the public or even to the medical industry. The only person who really knew of my pain was my mother. I tried to hide it from everyone. I was building a business and raising two very young daughters. I’d have good days when I felt great and went for walks with my girlfriend, only to be in severe pain the next day. It was a roller-coaster of ups and downs.
Finally, I searched for alternative medicines because I didn’t want to take powerful pain killers. I did find some alternative healing processes, and I have some really good stories about that, but I can tell everyone right now that if you’re in severe pain and you’re a doer — and I’m definitely a doer — you will and should seek out every possible way to heal your body. Put that vehicle back into perfect operation.
In addition to physical pain, we can also experience psychological pain. The abuse I experienced in childhood required a lot of healing over many years. But in the long process of that healing, I gained a deeper and deeper understanding of myself and others.
The United States is currently rated at #18 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low?
I remember seeing something about the World Happiness Report on my feed a couple of months ago, and I didn’t feel it was a fair representation. The majority of the countries that ranked higher than the United States have populations of less than 10 million. You can’t compare their experience to ours with the variety of people we have here, the variety of traditions and ethnicities. And considering our differences, we get along very well.
That having been said, I think the countries that are happiest invest a lot in their people. They invest in their education, healthcare, and life-work balance. Everyone who works for a living deserves a fair wage; enough so they can have a better quality of life.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I don’t normally think about this but it’s other people who bring it up to me, people who are part of my worldwide network of distributors, educators, and practitioners. They say, “Wow, Lina, you’ve really helped so many people have great careers where they can sustain a healthy family atmosphere through their own successes.”
I also believe passionately in the work that I do and its ability to make life better! Hair removal and truly effective care of the skin help people face the world feeling good about themselves. And sometimes there are medical benefits, too. We’ve had success addressing several kinds of adverse skin conditions.
A topic very close to my heart is the need to support the cause of stopping abuse and domestic violence. My company supports two shelters for abused women and children. I’m really looking forward to taking that to new heights for my personal philanthropy, which just keeps getting stronger and stronger.
What are your 6 strategies to help you face your day with exuberance, “Joie De Vivre” and a “ravenous thirst for life”? Can you please give a story or example for each?
- Express my gratitude: Every day when I open my eyes, I am so grateful to be alive and I thank the Universe for this day. That’s first and foremost. I do this every morning because I’m so grateful to have another day of opportunity ahead of me. It’s another day to enjoy being BE in the company of the people I enjoy.
- Stretching: I do some form of stretching to get my body moving and blood flowing every day. Some days it’s more intentional, where I really do a routine in my exercise room and other times it’s simple movements done before getting out of bed.
- Take in some love: I take my ritual infusion of non-human love — thanks to my pets — followed by reciting my self-love affirmation for the day. I do this to set myself on a path of acceptance and to trust in what the Universe will bring to the day.
- Delay news intake: While enjoying my morning two cups of French pressed coffee, I glance at the daily news and immediately look for the good that’s going on around the world. I don’t mean I’m not informed. But I try to keep the bad news in perspective and focus on the good.
- Feed my soul: I enjoy Italian lessons, dance lessons of all kinds, meeting with friends for a cocktail and a bite, and generally just having good conversations which all lend themselves to making me feel good in life. I learned a long time ago how important it is not to neglect my own needs.
- Seek improvement: I believe that everything can be improved, from self-improvement to all forms of environmental conditions. I love the adage “Better is better”. You can’t argue with that!
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?
I think I’ve been living with a thirst for life since the day I was seven and had that beautiful experience, and I believe I carry the blessings of that moment in time with me. It takes away the feelings of fear that a many people carry through life. So, that’s the number one for me!
As far as books, I especially remember Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now. I actually applied it to my life, and I can tell you honestly that several times in practicing his teachings I learned what it feels like to really be in the moment. It’s like a hyper-sensation of feeling. I’ll be honest, I need to be more diligent to practice and benefit from this simple form of pleasure. That’s what life is all about — improving ourselves.
There’s also one of my favorite personal stories, involving Mr. Phil Donahue. I was a troubled teenager in a troubled family, looking for direction. Phil Donahue was a king of talk shows who addressed the serious issues of life. I learned a lot through him and have carried the advice and insights he shared with his audience with me to this day. I will forever be appreciative and grateful to him.
Since the blessed experienced I had at the age of 7, I have always believed being here on this earth is a gift to be appreciated each day. And, I have always known and accepted that I will become a source capable of doing wonderful things that will in turn help many. Therefore, I wrote my new book, The Sugar Queen, telling my personal story, and now people are coming to me saying “You’re very inspirational”. The purpose of the book is to help even one person who gains some insight into themselves that will encourage and strengthen them to reach their highest potential.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that relates to having a Joie De Vivre? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favourite quote is “If you don’t MIND it, it doesn’t manifest… so mind your thoughts.”
I truly believe in this concept and try to live my life using this knowledge. I have an opportunity every moment of every day to think positive thoughts of others and myself. I like to envision where I’m going, where I want to be — and I allow myself to bathe in the feeling of it all. Surely this one of the reasons so many great things continue to line up for me!
For example, there was a really challenging moment that happened in my life not too long ago. My company’s rented commercial building, where we manufactured AND had our corporate offices and training center, was sold our from under our feet. We were given a short 60-day timeframe to move out. The whole story is explained in my book. But the Reader’s Digest version is that I had but a few minutes to decide to let this beat me down or accept that the Universe had something much more compatible for me, for my company. I decided to mind my thoughts with positive thoughts of finding a great location, with thoughts of new and better opportunities. Within a few short hours, everything quickly started snowballing into exactly what we needed and more. By letting go of all the negatives surrounding our situation, I had nothing to lose but fear itself.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Well, I am never out of ideas! I can say that one of the projects I’m excited about is to provide better and healthier pain management to people. It seems like the Universe has just lined me up again, to work on this project. I can’t tell you everything about it just yet but it’s going to be a healthy game changer. This ancient methodology to treat pain will be services by qualified therapist with heart. The Universe has just connected me to the right person who will lead us to the right group. I’m super excited!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I want to become an advocate to stop human trafficking. This is the era of awareness. Almost every issue known to man is being pushed out there, and rightfully so! And that’s going to shake the ground on so many levels and make a lot of people feel very uncomfortable. When it comes to human trafficking, I feel the more it comes out, the more people are going to become aware of what’s going on around them and that’s where the ground is going to shake. That’s when it’s really going to cause a lot of damage before it gets better. There will be intense disappointments, that in turn will help guide us to change. We must expose the people providing human trafficking, but I believe it is even more important that we expose those who are buying into human trafficking, paying to abuse helpless innocents in order to pleasure themselves. And as those who are involved in these heinous crimes become exposed, we will be shocked.
In those moments in time, we will need as many people to collectively mind thoughts of healing, positivity, and yes, even forgiveness. The greatest thought we can put out right now is that WE can and will get through it all and become a better people.
I’m told I am a pie in the sky dreamer! I’m shooting for the stars on this one.