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Mariah Owen | Toronto | Growing & Evolving!

I’ve always been someone who wanted to follow their dreams and believe that hard work and being nice to people along the way is a great recipe for success. I grew up modelling and performing and when I was 20, I began working on a show as a social media producer, I worked my way up and realized I didn’t love who I was working for and hated the way people were being treated. I thought, “I think I can do this better… and definitely treat people better.” So, I tried! With a lot of hard work, dedication and awesome people who took a chance on a kid with a vision - we’ve been able to create a reputation for being a production company that hears, supports and encourages the creatives and projects we take on. I want people to know that everyone deserves a seat at the table and to have their stories told.

How did the idea for your business come about?

I’ve always wanted to tell stories, I’m an actor and wanted to tell stories that were important to me as well. As I mentioned earlier, GTE was really born out of a strong desire to create content that I was proud of, with people I respected and felt like a “team atmosphere”. There are so many stories I want to tell and know that there are so many to find that need to be told. I want GTE to be the voice and friend to filmmakers that we so desperately crave for in this entertainment industry. The name GTE stands for Gerry Turner Entertainment… Gerry was my grandfather and Turner… Garfield Turner was a very good friend and teammate. Both have passed away and I want to emulate the way they treated people. They would light up a room when they entered and made everyone feel welcomed. I hope GTE always feels like that to our creators, filmmakers and employees.

What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?

The biggest hurdle for me at the time was my age. I would walk into a room and people would immediately think I wasn’t ready, or I wasn’t old enough. I heard a lot of bad jokes like “Does your Mom know you're here?” but with each one, I became closer to my goal. I made connections by laughing things off, being honest about my age, where I was currently at and where I knew I was heading. If I didn’t know something -I asked or did the research to find out (still do this! No one can ever know everything!).

What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?

I'm currently reading Educated by Tara Westover. I read so many scripts, it’s awesome to take a break and read a great book. I just finished reading the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and I would highly recommend that to ANYONE, not just entrepreneurs. Next up, I want to read the 4 hour work week by Tim Ferris.

Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it?

I wouldn’t call it contention but definitely. I think it’s that kind of radical kindness that my family, in particular, my Dad gave me. The kind of concern that a parent has for their kid because what they’re doing is so unpredictable. I know he supports me too but it almost makes me work 5x harder because I feel like I don’t have a choice but to be successful and innovative, haha. Luckily, my Mom, close family and friends have supported me since day one. I’m indubitably grateful for the people I have in my life; they support me, challenge me, believe in me and love me. I think what has made me continue is knowing I have my “home team” of people who are rooting for me to succeed and they inspire me.

What would you do differently in hindsight? What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?

To be honest, I’m not sure if I would do anything different because then I wouldn’t be here and I really like where I am and where I’m going. However, what I would recommend to anyone wanting to start their own production company or be an actor/producer, is to go to business school. I think the single most influencer factor in GTE’s success has been the stories we’ve been able to tell. The goal has always been to tell stories that people haven't or were too nervous to shed light on. I think if a project doesn't scare you a little, or make people start a conversation then it isn't worth doing.

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?

That you are going to fail more times than you succeed in the beginning and that is 100% okay! I’ve learned more from my mistakes than I ever have from my wins.

What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?

My advice to any entrepreneur is to make sure you LOVE what you do. If you can imagine yourself doing something else, then go do that thing. If you can’t, follow your dream and keep working away at it, looking at it from all angles, researching it until you find a way to make it happen and sustain yourself. And once you’re there! Keep working, growing and evolving! Never stay inside the box. When you work hard and are kind to people - anything is possible.


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