“Really?! I’m surprised to hear that…”
“I would’ve never guessed…”
“Interesting…” accompanied by an incredulous look
“You don’t look like the typical…”

In your opinion, what’s the common denominator in those inferences above? If you’re thinking “offensive statements”…you’re not completely wrong. If you’re thinking “uninformed ignorance”… you’re certainly on to something. BUT, she.lace is doing you a disservice by not providing the all important CONTEXT of the above responses…it’s a very important layer. So imagine this plausible scenario: a woman goes to a networking event designed to connect post-secondary students aspiring to be civic architects. When asked to describe a “non-academic” passion they endeavour in, she proudly says… sneaker collecting. The responses she got, with quizzical looks, were the one above. In case you’re wondering, this was a completely hypothetical situation. But wait a second…is it really? The story may be fictional but the essence of what was described happens far too often. People deciding that certain individuals don’t match their preconceived assumptions of what something should “look”, “sound” or “act” like. Here’s the thing though, even though this kind of experience can be mortifying it can also be liberating. Why? Well, it’s confirmation that you’re making sure you’re “self-engineered”. Consider yourself a box of lego pieces…and YOU are the master builder.

We’ve all been defeated at some point in our lives. BUT, defeat and loss are not the same thing. Granted, as definitions they can be somewhat interchangeable… but there’s a reason why she.lace differentiates the two. Losing isn’t an outcome, it’s a state of mind. Here’s the paradox… you’re not a “loser” because you didn’t win; rather, you’re a “loser” if you don’t recognize the victory in your loss. The opportunity to learn, and hopefully improve, is the greatest win… and “not winning” is the greatest opportunity to learn.

So, when is the last time you lost… excuse us, we meant to ask when is the last time you “won”? Perhaps it’s when you pursued a career in which you would represent an overwhelming minority. Perhaps it’s because you have a passion for something that, inadvertently, overlooks you due to your gender. Perhaps it’s because you unapologetically establish your belonging in an environment in which your disproportionately underrepresented. Well, if you can say “yes” to any of those points then you have some things in common with our model. Even when you’re an outlier you can always find others who share your journey. And she.lace is proud to facilitate the introductions.

Listennnn (technically, it’s “reaaddd”)! This week’s model “is the best” at what she does, and all she does is “Win, Win, Win!” Wait, even though that’s completely true… she would probably introduce herself by asking if she “Can Kick It?” Either way, what you really need to know is she’s taking self-engineered to another level. Enjoy the Q&A!


Sneakers… Carol Ann. Explain how well these two know each other, and when did they first meet?

Carol-Ann: Sneakers and Carol-Ann first met in grade school. The rotation was my high and low top converse, my British Knights, my Jordan 5s and my air max 1s. Hip hop was one of the genres of music that heavily influenced what I put on my feet.

Sidenote: Just in case you were wondering, Leaders of the New School and A Tribe Called Quest were Carol-Ann’s favourites.

We’re going to engineer some questions to get a good understanding of who you are. So, who’s Carol Ann?

Carol-Ann: I am honest, strong willed, kind, love animals ( I just recently adopted 2 great danes from Houston after hurricane Harvey). I’m a vegetarian and not much of a foodie. I’ve been married for 12 years and my husband is my friend and great dane wrangler. My sneaker collection ranges around 40.

Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 12.09.19 AM
Courtesy: Carol-Ann (@caontheloose)

Sidenote: In August of 2017, the southern U.S. states of Texas and Louisiana (among others) were devastated by Hurricane Harvey. There was unfathomable loss to property, infrastructure and, most importantly, the saddening loss of life. Another polarizing story was the amount of pets that were left stranded…some that were strays, and others separated from their owners but all that needed new homes (this CBC article gives a great account of some of the rescue efforts that were executed). So, please take a moment to applaud the generosity and kindness of people like Carol-Ann and her husband who opened their homes to animals in need.  

Environmental Engineer… what does this mean?

An Environmental Engineer is an engineer who has been trained in the application of sciences and engineering principles to protect the environment and protect human health. Environmental Engineers can work in various industries including power generation, manufacturing, construction etc. They may choose to specialize in subject areas including air quality, waste management or wastewater management. Environmental Engineers generally promote adherence to legislation and environmental sustainability where applicable.

In your experience, what’s the biggest misconception about engineers?

Carol-Ann: I think one of the biggest misconceptions about engineers is that they have no imagination outside of their work.

Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 11.54.18 PM.png
Courtesy: Carol-Ann (@caontheloose)

How long have you been in your profession?

Carol-Ann: I have been working towards and in this field for 17 years. It was difficult initially to settle into the power generation and distribution sector. I have worked in manufacturing also including automotive, electronics, paper and other household products.

Thus far, how many other engineers have you encountered that look like you?

Carol-Ann: I have met a handful of other engineers that kind of look like me. The number of females in engineering sector is increasing but is still low in comparison to the number of women in medicine, business or law. Then to add another layer by being part of a minority group reduces the chances that I would encounter another engineer that looks like me.

If there are barriers to access for women in the field of engineering… what would you say they are?

Carol-Ann: There are still work environments that intentionally or inadvertently favour men. Sometimes it is quite obvious and sometimes not so much. I find that there is a lack of female engineers in leadership positions because there is a lack of internal development and opportunities by companies.

What’s the biggest challenge you face?

Carol-Ann: The biggest challenge I face is creating a work life balance that enables me to manage home and work the way I would like.


Complete this sentence: The thing about me that shocks people the most is ________

Carol-Ann: …that I am an engineer and I was born in Canada.

Why do you believe people are surprised by that?

I think some people have an unintentional bias of what an engineer should look like and I do not fit that box. A female engineer with locks is not common.

Let’s invert that last question… What’s the one thing others commonly assume about you that shocks you the most?  

Carol-Ann: That I was not born in Canada.

What stage in life (elementary, high school, university, etc.) would you have been when the OG 11s first came out in ’95?😉

Carol-Ann: I would have been in university. I was fully focused on school. School was harder than work. I would head over to Detroit regularly to do some sneaker shopping for a break.


Why did you model in the ‘Win Like Mike 96’?

Carol-Ann: I loved playing and watching basketball especially when the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan were dominating the NBA. I decided to wear these because they are such a bold red. I felt like wearing a loud shoe for the shoot. They take me back in time a bit.

Top 2 sneakers in your collection, and why?

Carol-Ann: Top 2 in the collection would be the AF1 Off-Whites and the Jordan 5 Supreme Camos. I have a soft spot for Jordan 5s since they originally came out, then to add Supreme as the collab made them almost impossible to resist. In terms of the AF1s, I would have taken any Off-Whites, but I was very fortunate to get one of the originals.

Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 12.10.35 AM
Courtesy: Carol-Ann (@caontheloose)

How did you come across she.lace?

Carol-Ann: I saw she.lace through a friend posting the CBC article. I was really impressed with what she.lace was trying to accomplish. Providing a voice for female sneakerheads is an amazing idea.

Why did you decide to model?

Carol-Ann: I decided that I wanted to be part of something bigger than me. I am hoping that my story will encourage others that look and sound like me to break the mould and be themselves.

You come across as very laid back… cool, calm and collected. Explain the handle @caontheloose, is it an alter ego?

Carol-Ann: Caontheloose is not so much an alter ego as it is another part of me that I try to embrace. I try to stay cool, calm and collected especially because of the field I work is fast paced and can be high risk. If I am calm generally others around me can be calm also and therefore hopefully effective.

What’s your message/words of encouragement to anyone who represents a small percentage in their career field?

Carol-Ann: I would encourage anyone who represents a small percentage to continue to define their own boundaries. Continue with professional development though your career to stay ahead of the crowd. Do not let anyone convince you, that you are not as good as someone else. Be confident in yourself. Find a champion who believes in you as much as you believe in yourself.

#uoft #masterthesis #exchangestudent #toronto #bioinformatics

A post shared by Valentina Corso (@valentina.corso93) on

When it comes to finding cool locations for photoshoots we’re certainly not “green” (as in inexperienced). In this case, the irony is that we wanted to be “green”.

The Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research (TDCCBR). The name is quite long, but the history of this building is very intriguing. As the name of the building suggests, this is a centre for biomedical research. The impetus for this world-class research facility dates back to early ‘90s when two University of Toronto professors (Cecil Yip and James Friesen) recognized a growing need for interdisciplinary approaches to studying, and hopefully, making advancements in areas such as DNA sequencing and stem cell technologies. Not too lose you with all the biomolecular jargon…it’s just that these kind of studies are considered vitally important to advance the understanding of human biology. So, thanks to a combination of private (a large contribution from philanthropist Terrence J. Donnelly) and public funding in November 2005 this centre became grounds for top researchers (nearly 500) from several fields to work in collaboration in one place. Here’s the best part for she.lace: the building is a exemplary model on sustainable energy designed by architectsAlliance. It houses world-class research attempting to discover paradigms to tackle some of the world’s most severe diseases…all while keeping a reasonable ecological footprint. So, we just HAD to bring an environmental engineer to a place like this for a photoshoot. Oh yeah, and the front foyer has an atrium that looks like a forest. We couldn’t resist photographing an “urban oasis, in a concrete jungle”. Hiding in plain sight on University of Toronto’s St. George Campus, is an environmentally sound building that’s a hub for genome research. If you’re ever in the area of College Street and University Avenue in downtown Toronto, we suggest you check it out.

“I loved playing and watching basketball especially when the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan were dominating the NBA.  I decided to where these because they are such a bold red.”


The Jordan VI is one of the “grail” silhouettes of the Jordan line. As of recent, the 11 Highs usually release in the fourth quarter of the year… and there’s always a considerable amount of anticipation. In 2017, there were TWO different colourways offered in the last months of the year: “Win Like ’82” and “Win Like ’96”. Both had the sneaker community buzzing…she.lace liked both, not picking favourites haha! BUT, the all red version that was formerly a Carmelo Anthony PE was calling for us. It was more than just the aesthetic of these iterations, it was the calculated messaging behind them. Kind of reminded she.lace of another historic campaign.

“Be Like Mike!” Some of us might remember Gatorade’s expansive marketing campaign in the early 90s that featured the legendary Michael Jordan. It was an interesting concept (not entirely unique in the realm of celebrity endorsed products) because it took a very direct tone: drink this and you could be a champion like this supernatural athlete. Or, perhaps they were suggesting you could/should adopt Jordan’s notorious winning mindset… and competitive nature. Either way, it made for some fun commercials. Even if you don’t remember the original project you most certainly saw the new rendition. Recently, there was a sort of reemergence of the Jordan/Gatorade collaboration.

This time it was the iconic athlete’s brand leading the campaign. But, here’s our main point… Imagine leaving such a legacy that you have something created to commemorate a PART of your career. That’s the greatness she.lace believes you should strive for. Why? Well, not because of the praise or accolades that may come with it.. simply because it means you’re self-engineered. What can we tell you about the coveted Jordan 11 that you probably don’t already know? Perhaps that the design inspiration came from the sleekness of a convertible, or that it was the first basketball sneaker to feature ballistic mesh material. Take a moment to look at one of the dominant features of this model. Patent leather on a sports performance sneaker?! What a bold idea… stepping outside the norm like a true winner. Carol-Ann certainly gets that, and that’s why she’s a champion.


EnvironMENTAL engineer! We hope you have a good glimpse into what this profession entails. More importantly, we hope you have a great example of a self-engineered engineer. Carol-Ann may represent a miniscule percentage in her field of work, but that just means she has a better chance of standing out. Here’s the question though, is that a problem or a challenge? Well, if you have that “winning” mindset… your answer was the latter. It’s not that Carol-Ann doesn’t look like an engineer, a Canadian, a sneakerhead. It’s that most engineers, Canadians and sneakerheads don’t look like Carol-Ann. Remember this though, not being part of the majority doesn’t mean you don’t exist. As the saying goes, “NEVER fall fallacy to the tyranny of the majority”. So, you’re what you’re until you decide you are not that anymore. BUT, you decide… engineer yourself. Put on your fly sneakers… listen to music that will compel you to be a leader (of the New School 😉)… work in a profession that makes you feel fulfilled and challenged… AND “Be Like Yourself!”

2 thoughts on “Self-Engineered

  1. Wowoo! I never thought there was a whole subject to sneakers. So there’s more to sneakers than just a fashion statement? My son will find comfort in knowing there’s a strategy to his sneaker madness.


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