Lacey Koughan: Empowering young women to exceed their potential
Figuring out what makes you want to jump out of bed every morning is a lifelong process for most of us. For 18-year-old Lacey Koughan, it was a difficult struggle with mental illness that motivated her not to spend another day doing something she didn’t love.
It’s this change of mindset that thrust her into taking a leap of faith in March of 2016 when she opened her own dance studio, 24DANCEPEI. Having spent most of grade 10 and 11 learning independently through Co-op programs, travel, entrepreneurship and the people who inspire her, Lacey later made the decision to drop out of high school, officially, in grade 12.
“The classroom setting just doesn’t work for me, so I chose to follow my heart and believe in my dreams and abilities to learn from the world instead,” she says.
While still living in P.E.I., Lacey also enjoyed volunteering at Kinetic Fitness, where she learned how to run a wellness focused business and formed a close relationship with one of the owners, Nick.
It was Nick who later initiated the opening of her dance studio, the idea for which began during her grade 11 Co-op placement at Kinetic Fitness, before expanding to a new space.
Lacey believes her many Co-op and volunteer experiences have all contributed to shaping her future goals. “Volunteering my time and talents to causes and people I am passionately interested in teaches me so much,” she says.
While traditional education proved not to be her cup of tea, Lacey recently graduated from P.E.I.’s first business incubator “Startup Zone,” which aims to accelerate new startups by connecting them with resources, mentors, and supports they need to grow.
Now living in Toronto, Ont., she is focused on establishing a presence in the GTA for her current company, 24STRONG. The organization offers a safe and supportive space for girls to develop healthy habits and build positive relationships with other women through workshops and activities.
When asked about her biggest mentor, Lacey doesn’t hesitate to shout Alex Mazerolle. Alex is the founder of Girlvana and Ladyvana, as well as co-owner of the Distrikt Movement in Vancouver, BC.
“I met Ally through a mutual friend back home, who helped us set up a Skype call,” says Lacey.
“We connected right away and ended up sharing our pasts, dreams, goals, struggles and successes with each other over that call. She is a few years older than me but has a similar story to my own, which we were able to relate to and still do, to this day.”
Alex invited Lacey to attend the Girlvana Spring Break retreat this past March. It was during this trip that Lacey realized just how incredible of a woman Alex is.
“I look up to Ally because she is the most beautiful person I have ever met. Inside and out, Ally has a presence like no other. She is truly a kind and compassionate individual who gives so much positivity and insight to the lives of so many, including my own. Ally inspires me because she takes the time for herself to stay grounded and focused, running 3 companies plus taking part in various projects, always on the go. Ally makes sure she stays true to her own values and needs.”
When not busy establishing her company or volunteering, Lacey also thrives on keeping up with her blog “Truth and Lattes,” as well as writing for her book, which she plans to publish in 2024.
By getting involved with Catalyst, she hopes to see youth change makers have more access to each other — not through government programs but through the actions of youth leaders like herself.
“We need to be connecting and collaborating. All of our diverse strengths and talents need to be brought together if we want to see real change. Let’s just sit down, start talking and change the world.”
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