We work with countless remarkable women, from our customers through to our fit models and wear-testers. So it’s understandable that the thinking around our office is that there’s no shortage of remarkable women out there. What continues to inspire us, though, are the unique stories that make each one of these women remarkable.
Take Jessie Behan, for example. Jessie’s path to becoming the remarkable woman she is goes a little something like this: Grows up between Toronto and Collingwood, Ontario; ski races at a national level; launches acting career with YouTube video that goes viral; works in the corporate world to fund that acting career; lives all over the globe, then returns home and marries amazing man who can handle her awesomeness; becomes mother twice in less than two years; gets down to her skivvies at our fashion show while eight months preggers.
Meet Jessie: daughter, sister, wife, mother, and self-proclaimed “corporate artist” (more on that below).
What was it like to walk the runway for us last year in just a bra and underwear at eight months pregnant?
As a proud feminist and lover of the female body, I love partaking in Knix events. As soon as I heard the mission statement for that fashion show—that every woman is an angel—I was on board. Plus, I would never show off that much skin if I didn’t feel confident in not only the quality of the product and the brand, but how it made me feel when I wore it. I have never been more in love with my body than when I was pregnant. Some people thought I was crazy but I thought it was an amazing opportunity to show off that love and connection with my baby—and my pregnancy curves and belly, no matter how different they felt from my regular body. I decided to own it!
How does one go from ski racing to acting?
Well, I didn’t have any acting friends or come from an artistic family. My family was sports sports sports. We were put into every sport known. In my drama class in grade 11, I remember falling in love with doing monologues. I went to McGill University for a general arts degree but I minored in theatre. In my fourth year, I did The Vagina Monologues with 10 amazing women and that was probably the most incredible experience I’ve had in the theatre world. It brought together all these amazing women sharing all these powerful stories. It was then, on stage in front of 800 people, where I was like oh my God, I just did a four-year degree, and this is what I want to do.
When I look back, I wish I had had a female mentor in the performing arts space. I had to learn the hard way through trial and error. As a result, I have had the opportunity to help several young women pursue acting and [have mentored them to teach them] what not to do.
Um, “corporate artist”?
I call myself a corporate artist because I never really did the “starving artist” thing. I’ve always had a corporate job. I went into finance because that’s one industry that definitely makes money. I got licensed to trade and started working on Bay Street and acting at the same time. If I booked a commercial and it was one day on set then I would take a vacation day from my corporate work. I would tell people in the acting world that I was a temp, because if I was seen as having a full time job I wasn’t seen as a “real” artist. Then I would tell people in the corporate world that acting is just for fun, just a hobby. I felt like I was living this secret life.
Between acting and finance you’ve navigated the waters of two of the most infamous boys’ clubs in the world.
There’s a lot of good guys out there. That said, all the stuff that’s happened in Hollywood that has come out recently has happened to me. Not to the same degree, maybe, but it’s definitely happened. A director once called me after shooting a short, short scene saying what a great job I did and that we should go out for a drink. Then I found out that director, who’s married, is known to hit on tons of girls that are new to the industry. So that was really disappointing. I thought I did a great job and had a great day on set. Then he kind of ruined it with that.
Then there’s the world of finance….
Bay Street is male-dominated for sure. I took all my courses to make sure I was that much better [at my job] and that much more respected, but I also remember never wanting to wear short skirts or dress too sexy because I never wanted it to be about them looking at me or hitting on me. I wanted it to be about the actual meeting and what we were discussing. I know some would say you should be able to dress how you want but I remember wearing turtle necks and not wearing makeup because I wanted to be seen as an equal.
I ended up leaving Bay Street to join my husband in running his company, Aux Mode. He had 22 part-time employees -- primarily men. I pointed that out to my husband and he agreed we needed to find some more capable women to join the company. Three years later, we now have five full-time female and three full-time male employees.
What’s the best thing about being a woman in 2018?
You can actually feel and smell the change coming. Things are starting to change for us. We will be seen as equal. It’s the collectiveness—the strong bond between us, whether we know each other or not. We are standing up and finally having a voice. Body image is starting to change as well, which is really exciting because nobody wants their daughter growing up in a world where not eating is seen as the cool thing to do.
On the food note, pizza or tacos?
Depends on my mood. If I am tired or had a bad day, pizza. If I’m feeling good and energized the winner right now is braised short rib tacos and fish tacos.
Share a tip: what’s the app that serves your busy life the best?
The Green P parking app. It’s awesome. I am either parking for a work meeting, at an acting audition or at an appointment for my kids, and I never know how long they could take. The convenience of plugging into the app and reloading more time if I need it makes my life so much easier.
The best thing about female friends?
I always made really strong female connections—especially in industries that were male dominated—as we really supported one another and stuck together. And the female friends I’ve made in the “mom community” have been really special. We are like a sports team, working through all stages of our kids’ lives together. Female friends are great communicators. We can talk for hours and never get bored. There is always enough time for each other to get down to the nitty gritty about what’s happening in life.
Going back to the sentiment of our fashion show last fall, why do you think every woman is an angel?
I felt proud to stand alongside many incredible women of all shapes and sizes celebrating and owning their bodies. We were baring it all to be the change that we want to see for our gender. I think all women can agree that what we see in magazines and in media is not real and it’s not healthy. Those models don’t represent us. This is what I love about Knix: all women are recognized as angels.