Jacquelyn Cyr, 34
Cyr likes to do business her own way—and has done so over and over again. Born and raised on Cape Breton Island, she moved to Halifax to attend Dalhousie University and, at 19, decided to start a record label—just because she loved music. She released a CD with songs from more than 20 Canadian bands, did all the marketing and distribution herself, and even got MuchMusic to come out and cover the launch. Then Cyr took the profits from that one hit CD and launched a magazine covering the East Coast arts-and-entertainment scene, which she later sold to a national publisher.
Next came two online women’s media ventures and an MBA at the Rotman School of Management, during which she supported herself by working for a marketing agency. Wanting to draw on her experience building her own brands, three years ago she co-founded branding and marketing boutique Espresso with three arm’s-length partners. The industry is extremely competitive, Cyr concedes, but the agency has gained a number of high-profile clients, including Samsung Canada, Nike, eBay and Koodo. It has also opened foreign offices, most recently in Brazil.
On attitude: “Throughout my career, people have told me I need to be more serious or people won’t take me seriously. But I tell them, I don’t care. I’m going to be amazing, and they can figure out how to take me seriously.”