Kerryn Cooper
Credit: Lindsay Siu

Kerryn Cooper, 29

Founder, CEO and co-owner

Life Story: One year into a business degree at the University of Calgary, Kerryn Cooper felt uninspired. “I was getting really discouraged,” the South African–born entrepreneur recalls. “It was dry; I wanted to be more creative.” At her mother’s suggestion, Cooper, who had immigrated to Victoria with her family at age nine, enrolled in the makeup artistry program at Vancouver Film School. After completing the one-year course in 2007, she freelanced on film sets in Vancouver, but her career took a detour a couple of years later when she saw a friend sporting eyelash extensions. Intrigued, Cooper got certified in applying extensions herself, a move that paid off when she moved back to Victoria in 2012: there, she was one of only two people offering the service. Launching Heartwood & Co. the following year, she worked out of a small space at the back of a friend’s clothing boutique until she had a large enough clientele to open her own salon.

In a larger storefront, Cooper solidified her brand; in 2016 she brought on her first business partner, stylist Jen Li. Last May, Heartwood moved into its current 4,200-square-foot multifunctional space. The company’s services now include a hair and beauty salon, a beauty academy, a community and event space, and a catering bakery specializing in wedding cakes—the latter run by Cooper’s newest business partner, her sibling, Megan Cooper.

The Bottom Line: Heartwood employs 20, monthly revenue exceeds $100,000, and Cooper plans to open a second location in another Canadian city within five years. 

What’s the best advice you ever received?
Put your energy into you and your passion, not your competition.

Your favourite movie and album are…
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou and Bob Seger’s Stranger in Town.

Who is your role model or mentor?
My mother and father. They are such strong, brave and supportive humans.

What’s your biggest regret?
Being afraid of rejection when I first started out as a makeup artist in Vancouver. My skills and portfolio were excellent, however I never felt I was good enough, and my portfolio was never “perfect” enough to put myself out there. I could have really pushed into the industry over those years, if I was only brave enough then.

A little-known fact about me is…
I am from Bloemfontein, South Africa, and have a little boy on the way!