Sofia Sayani is an Elite+ Mompreneur member based out of Vancouver, British Columbia. She is the Director of Marketing & Operations for her family business, Executive Hotels & Resorts, a chain of boutique 4-star hotels spanning across North America in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Washington, California, and New York. We are excited to share Sofia’s story!
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
I grew up in an entrepreneurial family. My parents started the Executive Hotel chain in 1986 – they opened their first hotel just before Expo 86 and expanded the hotel chain from there. I grew up learning that nothing happens in your life unless you make it happen – and that you are the key to your own success. Based on these principals, I knew I wanted to run my own business and be in control of my own destiny.
Entrepreneurship is about seeing opportunities and having the faith in yourself to jump in and do it.
What’s the best part about owning your own business?
For me, it’s the satisfaction of creating and providing something relevant and valued. To open a Hotel (pub/lounge/restaurant) from zero and build it into something other people value and appreciate is rewarding: as is creating a place they want to be at. I love having a creative outlet where I can build something beautiful – a place where Design, Style, Tastes and Trends converge and develop. I also enjoy working with and inspiring a team of people and I get excited over the synergy when the whole team is working towards the same goal.
Apart from managing the Hotel I have a real estate investment company and my husband and I renovate and flip condominiums in the city. Vancouver is a beautiful and desirable city to live in with lots of condos looking for a fix up. I do the design and style, and he does the hard work!
Can you describe a typical day?
To be honest, no two days are exactly alike however I have certain habits that I follow. Each day, after I wake up, I have coffee and breakfast with my husband and 2 teenage daughters and go for a 30-minute walk, before heading into the office. Evenings are often less scheduled and more flexible, so I like to have my morning “family time”. I usually check in with my office, answer and respond to emails, follow up with staff and check in with key people.
Another important component for me is to make time to be out of the office and catch up with others in my industry to gain insights into trends.
Who do you count on for help? Do you have a network of family that answer the call?
Having a strong support base is so essential to everyone no matter what they do. It’s important to me to take the time to cultivate friendships and offer my support to others as well. I have a core group of people, consisting of my family, including my husband, children and parents. I truly value my extended family – which is my work family. I spend many hours of my day and years of my life with my work team that I consider them my extended family. I definitely count on them for support. I also make time for my girlfriends. Having fun together shopping, going to the spa and relaxing. It’s important to me to have a strong support network with friends. I also develop professional contacts and support from people relevant to my industry, who I call on for advice, assistance and general industry updates. It’s important to stay in the loop of what’s going on around you.
Have you ever had to sacrifice something at home for work? Or vice versa?
Yes! All the time… but I prefer to call it compromising not sacrificing. I try and juggle my schedule to accommodate everything but sometimes things just can’t or won’t happen and I don’t take it personally. I try and find the balance between Home and Work and I prioritize what is a ‘must do’ over a ‘should do’.
What do you do on a day off? Do you even know what a day off is?
I know what it is now – but there was a time in my life when I didn’t ever take a day off. I lived and breathed my work, as is the case with many entrepreneurs and this is usually in the startup or “making it” phase. And that’s ok, if that’s where your mind is at during that time. However, now I’m in a different place and I do take days off and time for myself. This was the purpose of being an entrepreneur – to be in charge of your time and work. I love going for a hike, to hot yoga and of course running errands on my days off.
Are you active in your community? What does supporting local mean to you?
I am committed to being active in my community both through my business and as a family. My twin daughters were born at BC Women’s Hospital and they spent the first few years of their life in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit. It was a very stressful time for me as a new mother but the doctors and especially the nurses in the NICU were outstanding. They were so patient, supportive and understanding not only of the babies but also of their mothers and fathers. They taught me so much about caring for premature babies that I honestly can’t imagine how I would have survived without their support. My family and I are very committed to supporting BC Women’s Hospital and have donated $500,000 dollars through our business over the years. Our management team and staff also organized an employee driven campaign to raise additional funds, and for this I am so proud.
Recently, I was asked to Co–Chair the Glow Gala in Support of the NICU at BC Women’s Hospital, which was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. We raised $2 million during two separate galas, helping to raise awareness and funds for women and children’s healthcare needs across BC.
On a business level, I like to remain involved with our local Chamber of Commerce as well as local charities and organizations supporting people living in the community.