Four things I've learned from natural disaster
Humble up and keep your worries in check."
Entrepreneur Mya Khan is the queen of rolling with the punches. Since launching her Fort McMurray store, Project Clothing, it has been affected by wildfires, the flood of 2020, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — and still, Khan wakes up every morning feeling passionate about helping her devoted customers.
Specializing in high-end, ethical fashion and lifestyle goods, Project Clothing opened in August 2015. It re-opened on Oct. 2, 2016, after a wildfire swept through Fort McMurray — and on Nov. 13, 2020, it re-opened in a new location after the floods. Despite the many trials life has thrown at Khan and her store, they’re both standing tall as symbols of strength in their community.
To understand how Khan keeps a level head in difficult times, LINK asks what she’s learned from natural disasters.
Put your energy into the things you can control
“As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that, in any given day, you don’t have a lot of time or energy to make unnecessary decisions and you have to really prioritize what’s important — but you can decide what you put your energy into. You can control what your day looks like and how organized you’re going to be. Facing three major challenges within five years was a huge opportunity for me to put that mantra into practice and assess what I can do in the moment to be productive instead of staying at home, with a bucket of ice cream, crying over the situation.”
Focus on what's important
“Even though my tires were melting as I was evacuating the fire, and even when my store was under six feet of water, I wasn’t stressed because I was focused on keeping myself safe. During hard times, remind yourself that things can be replaced — your car, your home, your store — but your life and your health cannot. Humble up and keep your worries in check.”
Stay positive and open to life's lessons
“Through it all, I kept a positive mindset. In a way, there’s a beautiful lesson you can learn through tragedy about how precious moments are. Until then, you don’t truly appreciate how good you have things. The day we flooded was the day my husband and I found out we were pregnant, and we were so happy. And the universe kind of gave me forced time off to actually enjoy the pregnancy. The timing was perfect — I just had to be willing to pay attention and understand what the universe was trying to teach me.”
Don't hesitate to help others
“When we were evacuating from the fire and a car would pull over on the side of the road, other people would pull over, too, to see if that driver needed help. Those moments remind you it takes a village to take care of everyone. If you see your neighbour is in distress, do what you can to help them out.”
This story was originally written for the print version of the Fall 2021 issue of LINK.