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You’ve had a dramatic life-abusive home, you’ve been homeless, had a child at 15, then became very successful in business. Why go public?
It kind of slipped out in 2006 when I was on stage accepting the YWCA Women of Distinction Award. I got feedback from people saying my story saved their life. I thought, “How is my story saving lives?” I just went with it, even though it’s uncomfortable to talk about.
There are some pretty confessional things in your memoir, Beautiful Buttons.
People always say, it will feel so good to get it out, it’ll be like self-therapy. No, it isn’t, not at all. I’m a long project.
Your message is “Dream it, believe it, be it” and you’ve built your image around transformation, spending a fortune on plastic surgery.
Self-acceptance is the ideal way to be. If I accepted myself the way I was, I’d probably be in jail again. I had to change or I wouldn’t have become anything.
Before you started a mystery shopping company to help stores review their customer service, you ran an escort agency. Did that teach you about business?
What I should have done was start my own agency, but there was a man telling me I couldn’t do it without him. It was my need to be loved and impress him.
Your mystery shopping clients now include some big companies-London Drugs, Vancouver International Airport, Fido.
My husband says business is in my blood. We present the data to clients and I point out weaknesses in their stores, positive trends across all the locations, where they need to focus. I’m not afraid to look a CEO in the face and tell him what I think.
How did you like your recent Globe and Mail profile?
You know why I wasn’t happy? It was all about my sexual past and my Louis Vuitton bags. My story is about transformation and taking chances. Why don’t you ask me how much money I give to charity?
Some people say that they wouldn’t change a thing about their past.
Mistakes are how you grow. Hell yeah, I have a lot of regrets. When I was starving, I went to my uncle and he pimped me out instead of giving me food. I regret being the victim in those situations. I put B.Sc.(Hons) on my business card when I started, because I didn’t feel like I was good enough.
Would you like to appear on Oprah?
Yes, but I’m afraid she’d do to me what she did to James Frey-even though there are no lies in my book.
What would you say if Oprah questioned the authenticity of your story?
I’d say, “You can’t make this shit up.” Can you say shit on Oprah?