If you've dreamed of franchising your concept, here's some inspiration. Devon Brooks came up with hers in second-year university, launched it when she was just 21 years old and, five years later, has 25 locations spanning the U.S. and Canada. Blo Blow Dry Bar, a Vancouver-based chain of blow-dry-only hair styling salons (no cuts, no colouring), has franchises in three provinces and five U.S. states. "I expect we'll see continued growth," says Brooks.
Brooks isn't just a young entrepreneur—she's a survivor. The native Vancouverite was violently assaulted twice as a young woman in two unrelated incidents at ages 18 and 21—events that ultimately shaped the businesswoman she would become. "It became an intrinsic part of me," she says. "It dictated who I want to be as a leader, how I want to care about people."
Now a shareholder but no longer involved in day-to-day operations of Blo, Brooks is using her experience to help others and advance entrepreneurship. She speaks regularly to groups on topics such as personal growth, brand, culture and leadership. Last year, she was one of Canada's delegates to the G20 Young Entrepreneur Summit, an annual conference that brings together influential entrepreneurs from G20 nations to identify the ways governments and business communities can best harness the potential of young entrepreneurs while also driving public policy, raising awareness and providing a voice for entrepreneurs around the globe. Most recently, Brooks became the youngest-ever mentor in the Canadian Youth Business Foundation's mentorship program.
"It's an honour, and quite a big commitment," says Brooks, who spends three hours every month with her protegés, which will continue for a three-year period. "It was a desire to see other people fulfill their dreams, and to be a part of that," she says. "I just love to see people's dreams come true."
Read other entrepreneurial success stories in "The Fabulous 30."