17 YEARS OLD / 2 COMPANIES / COUNTLESS DREAMS MADE
What were you doing when you were 17? Our youngest Brand Connector, Lacey Koughan has already accomplished more than some of us will in our lifetime. This go-getter hails from Canada’s East Coast, straight out of Charlottetown, P.E.I. (East Coast, represent!). At 17, Lacey had already opened her own dance studio in P.E.I and was teaching five classes per week. She has since gone on to start an empowerment program for girls, called 24STRONG.
Lacey Koughan lives a fast and full life. Where she gets her enthusiasm and inexhaustible energy, we’re still trying to figure out. The best thing we’ve learned about Lacey, is that she spreads these contagious vibes far and wide.
So without further hesitation, may we introduce you to our girl, Lacey!
Tell us a bit about yourself, and what fires you up?
I’m Lacey. I’m 17, but not for long! I’m turning 18 on March 24. When I was 16, I opened 24DANCE, a recreational and competitive dance school, located in Charlottetown. I’m also the creator of 24STRONG, which is a global empowerment program for girls. I enjoy staying active, and right now, I am obsessed with CrossFit and jump rope, and I love being vegan. I like travelling and meeting new people, oh, and coffee, I really like coffee.
Tell us a bit more about 24STRONG?
24STRONG is a safe and supportive community that encourages girls and young women from around the world to realize their dreams and abilities. We all have different personality traits, and it’s amazing when we recognize these traits as unique gifts, that we can use to make a positive change in our own lives, and the lives of others. I want to bring girls together, and help them to become the best version of themselves!
At 24STRONG, we focus on authenticity, so being your REAL self, and on collaboration; bringing girls together, rather than competing against each other. We also love to talk about healthy habits both physically, mentally and emotionally. We do strategic goal setting too. Girls will come to me with their big dreams, and I will offer tips and tricks to help them make these lofty dreams a reality.
Where do you see 24STRONG going?
My three year goal is to have a 24STRONG chapter in every province, and eventually every city, and then take it global! I want to travel the world, meet girls and women from different cultures, and share their stories! I want to film a 24STRONG documentary and write a book.
What’s your experience with social media, and how do you feel it influences the confidence of young girls?
I primarily use Instagram, and so do a lot of girls my age. Instagram was once a place where I would simply share a photo of what I was up to in that moment, but now, it’s become a much more “strategic” platform, where all you see are carefully curated posts -- the highlight reel of people’s lives.
Most young girls, are following other young girls. As they scroll, they automatically start to compare themselves to these girls, who seemingly “have it all.” When I was in grade 8, I was one of these girls, scrolling through my Instagram feed all day, and feeling bad about myself. I was looking up to girls in highschool, thinking that they had everything, that they were perfect, and I wanted to be just like them.
But when I started to travel and do cool things, my Instagram feed quickly changed from posts about my OOTD (outfit of the day) to the amazing things I was seeing, and focused more about the people I was meeting. I started to get more followers, and I am so happy I have such a strong following, because I can inspire so many girls to use Instagram as a tool to share their true selves, and to connect with other amazing girls.
For us to say that you are a dreamer is an absolute understatement! Do you have a vision board?
I’ve made a few vision boards in the past, but I prefer to Vlog. I have a camera, and everyday I press record, and just talk. Sometimes, I share these videos, but mostly I keep them for myself. I often rewatch them, and hearing myself saying what I want out loud, fires me up! Ever since I was 11, at the end of each year, I film a video of me answering the same 50 questions, and now I am able to look back, and see how my answers have changed, and really understand my own transformation!
You’re 17 and absolutely crushing it! How are you building two businesses and completing high school?
I’ve always been interested in learning from the world, and when I heard about “unschooling,” I knew it was for me. In Florida, my best friend and I learned from a private teacher by the poolside. In Europe, I learned through experiencing new cultures, documented everything, shared it with my school, and got high school credits. In Charlottetown, I did two co-ops, opened two businesses, all while accumulating more credits.
Now, after three years of learning outside of the classroom, I’m back at school taking the courses I need to graduate … but the best thing about it .... is that my teachers allow me to work from wherever! Getting my education in this unconventional way has allowed me to learn from life, and it’s shaped me into who I am today.
I am moving to Halifax in June! I’m not sure if I’ll be graduated from high school by then, but regardless, I’m moving there to open up 24STRONG chapters, go to post-secondary school, or do both! My high school guidance counselor has a few connections at The University of King’s College, and I’m looking into their Journalism program. I am waiting to hear if they’ll accept me without my high school diploma. It looks promising!
Who is it that you look up to for inspiration?
I’ve been asked this before, and I was never able to think of a person, but when I really think about it, my inspiration comes from myself. I have been through some tough times, but I’ve always been able to get through them. When I feel down, I get all my tears out, and then remind myself of what I have accomplished, and think about all the girls who look up to me. This makes me feel better, and inspires me to keep going. Other than myself, I am inspired by all the amazing people I meet!
What is your spirit animal?
A dolphin. I’ve always felt connected to the ocean. Anytime, I’m by the ocean, I feel great. Also, I’m like a dolphin who swims underwater, and then jumps out to do cool tricks. I work really hard without telling people, and then once I’ve created something awesome, I pop up and say, “Hey guys, look at this!” and then I go back under, keep working, and pop up again.
What inspired you to become a United and Free Brand Connector?
It was you. Honestly, it could have been anyone who reached out, and if I didn’t feel a connection with them, then I wouldn’t have been interested. We were relating on so many levels, and this is what first got me engaged. After learning more about the brand, and how it aligns with how I want to live my life, it was a no brainier. I love the products, and I’m really excited to meet the other Brand Connectors!
Aww, thanks Lacey! So, last question. What does the free life mean to you?
Being true to yourself and others is freedom. If you’re not hiding anything, and are accepting of everything you are going through, then you are free. Honesty is freedom.
Well, there you have it. Miss Lacey Koughan everyone! Follow Lacey at @lace.yk, and her squad of inspiring young girls @24strong. She’s a real change maker, and one to keep an eye on, that’s for sure!
Interview by Liz Hammond