Hi! My name is Melanie Vandersluis but please call me Mel...unless I’m in trouble. I was born in Montreal, Canada on April 22nd 1989 and to this day still live in Montreal :) I grew up in a home with two very supportive and ambitious entrepreneurs, my mom and dad. This probably prepared me for my future in business as the female entrepreneur that I am now. I will forever be grateful for them for their unconditional love and support in all I do.
Growing up I was quite the shy and introverted kid. My mom would often worry when I would let kids cut in front of me in lines and I wouldn’t say anything. I was always chill and made friends with everyone, even my teachers and the school nurse. Such good friends in fact that I would often find myself skipping class to hang out in the nurses office. No one asked questions I just figured out how to work the system (lol). When it came to school, I was a terrible student. I always got passable grades and there were often plenty of tears when I had to get assignments done that I had procrastinated until the last possible minute. Anyone else a master procrastinator? Join the club.
When I got to university I had almost lost my marbles and wanted to drop out. I was studying psychology and was in classes with so many people that gave a way bigger shit then I did. “What the hell am I doing here?!”, I thought. My dad insisted I graduate so that I could always fall back on Plan B! Thank goodness, I don’t regret getting a degree in psychology, I use it everyday in my work and life.
At the age of 10 I fell in love with swimming and swam competitively for 10 year. Like most kids that get into sports, I had goals to go to the Olympics but when I turned 18 I decided to retire as I was no longer passionate about the sport I once loved. One thing I was really good at but didn’t love was long distance swimming. We're talking 60 laps as fast and as steady as you can. Those times in my life feel so far away but they were also incredibly valuable to shape me into the human I am today. It was also a time where I met some of the friends I still have to this day and the memories I have from swimming will live on in my mind forever!
When I was 16, I got my first job as a sales person at a bathing suit store and in the summers I life guarded. I taught everything from swimming, diving, synchro and all kinds of other kids programs. I did lifeguarding for 6 summers and those were some of the best time of my life. I also interned at a PR company, worked for my dads company and worked at lululemon athletica. Lululemon is where everything changed for me. When a company focuses on the growth of their employees your mind explodes with all that is possible. In 2014, I handed in my resignation to lululemon because a really incredible travel opportunity came up that I just couldn’t pass up.
In the summer of 2014, I got accepted on birthright, that’s a free trip to Israel to discover your Jewish roots (yes, I’m half Jewish). I extended my trip and after Israel I travelled to France to travel around the country with my dad, then explored Greece and after 5 weeks of traveling I had decided along the way that I could not work for anyone else. I needed to try working for myself.
I came home and started my first e-commerce business called Melanie Audrey. I was making bracelets with semi-precious stones and named each one after someone who inspired me and also attached a story about them. You can read about the brand here. This business was my full time job within 6 months and I was working on that full time until Instagram caught my attention.
In 2016, my cousin Tracy Komlos invited myself and my best friend Lisa Homsy on a trip to Bali to create content for brands. I didn’t really know what that meant at the time but I was game! After that trip I was hooked. Creating travel content was inspiring, creative and got me excited and curious.
I came home and decided to reach out to brands and see if I could start working with some in exchange for free product. Over the course of a year I had gone from 5,000 followers on Instagram to almost 100,000. I managed to create a full time business out of Instagram in about a year a half. I’ve been able to work with fashion, lifestyle and tourism boards all over the world to create some of the coolest projects I’ve ever been a part of. Sounds pretty great but I’ll tell you there were and still are plenty of struggles just like any job and I work myself to the point of burn out sometimes, but the truth is I wouldn’t have it any other way because I love the process of this work.
If you made it this far then you are pretty well caught up on my work life and how I got here. You’ll find more info on my blog about what I’m up to, projects I’m working on, struggles I’m having, my relationship, how to make money, travel, Instagram and photography tips.