Giving Back: Keightley Bertram and Bronwyn Hendry

Something magical happens when two strangers meet and discover not only a friend but a kindred spirit; a special bond is created that continues to grow and strengthen as the two friends learn and share with one another. Such a bond was created when Keightley Bertram and Bronwyn Hendry first met working at lululemon together right here in Calgary.

Bertram, originally from upstate New York but born in Halifax, a daughter of a professor, moved to Calgary via Boston and Florida. Thirteen years later, she is still based here having completed two degrees at the University of Calgary. One in Development Studies where she focused on working with communities: “I loved their local focus on development which pinpointed starting your community work here at home before you go out and try to change the world or try to fix another culture. Basically, practicing what you preach right at home,” shares Bertram.

Her second degree was in Religious Studies focusing on Eastern Religion where sanskript became her second language. “My second degree focused a lot on Hinduism and my major interest was sanskript,” says Bertram. “At the same time, I found lululemon and fell in love with the team atmosphere that I felt I had been missing in other roles. I fell in love with it for the people, the community and for the culture. Over the past six years I’ve evolved and changed with the company.”

Working as the assistant manager for the 4th Street location (she recently relocated to the Market Mall store) and also acting as the Calgary Maven, Bertram’s dual role within the company keeps her focused and motivated but also always for a change of pace when she needs it. Bertram and Hendry met while working together at the lululemon on 4th Street: “It was so funny when we first met because everyone told me I was going to love Bronwyn – that we were so similar and had common interests,” shares Bertram. “When I finally met the mystical Bronwyn it was so surprising to me that we had never met as we had so much stuff in common. Sadly, I only got to work with her for two months before she moved to San Diego to go to school but I did see her during the holidays when she came back to work seasonally.”

Hendry, a born-and-raised Calgarian, lived in California briefly studying Communications and Journalism at Point Loma College in San Diego. “I was originally going to stay living in San Diego with lululemon working on the new store but I also had the opportunity to come home to Calgary to work with a brand-new magazine that was launching,” shares Hendry. “I took that opportunity but I also did not want to leave lululemon. Keightley got a very tearful phone call from me telling her that I never thought I’d come back to Calgary but she encouraged me to return. It was the best decision I ever made – the city was so different than when I left. So many things fell into place for me – it felt like it was meant to be.”

Bronwyn was working in freelance journalism and working on the floor team at lululemon when the opportunity for a new role within the brand called the Local Storyteller came available. The position, held by only 11 individuals currently, works social media into digital marketing with a big community involvement component. It was a natural fit for Hendry who had a passion for writing, photography and volunteering. Working on photoshoots, styling and collaborating with social media clients on content is all part of her role.

“The biggest thing for me coming back to Calgary was realizing how different the city was since I left,”shares Hendry. “I realized how many amazing things were happening and how I wanted to be part of it all.”

In their dual roles at lululemon, the two women are responsible for connecting the brand to the local community on a regular basis whether it be through charitable contributions, community events or keeping a mindful philosophy throughout everything they do. Beyond their work with lululemon they also do a lot of personal work with the community.

“Working with my team at lululemon, I feel like we’re always grounded in mindful performance and a mindful philosophy when we’re sharing with the community. What that means is that we’re just doing things with integrity in how we’re showing up in the community,” says Bertram. “I try to be like that every day because I am a representation of the lululemon brand. It’s always through the lens of sweat, through connection and through collaboration. That’s what I love about this role – getting your body moving, your mind moving and creating common ground whether that’s on the mat, on a spin bike, on a trail or just at a long table dinner. It is about building community in a positive space and direction.”

“For me it is always about the story,” shares Hendry. “When the Storyteller role became available it was incredible and exciting for me because it was such an intersection of my interests. I love being able to share these local stories about the people we work with, those who give back to the community and how our products mix with the bigger picture. There is always a way to go deeper into the story.”

Currently, Hendry is working on the beginning stages of a yoga and nutrition mentorship program for young girls and teens with a friend who is a teacher in the public school system. As an active yoga instructor in the Calgary community, creating an offering specifically designed for this demographic is one of Hendry’s biggest goals: “Teens are an interesting demographic to reach – it is very hard to get their attention. Their parents aren’t necessarily booking them into programs like younger children” says Hendry. “I am working hard on this niche to find a way to bring more of this kind of programming to studios. We’re planning some workshops for the new year and figuring out what that will look like.”

Bertram recently took on another yoga instruction role at Wymbin Yoga in Inglewood, teaching three and four year olds the fundamentals of yoga. When she isn’t working with the preschool crowd, Bertram also works with high school children, offering a safe space to participate in yoga classes. “I’ve been working at Saint Anne High School in Ramsay for four years now with their fresh start program,” says Bertram. “The basis of my yoga training is that everyone is at risk, no matter where they are from, what age, what situation – everyone is susceptible to being at risk. To be able to offer a program like this in a high school really allows the students to take a break, build their self-confidence and have a safe space to chill in.”

As this dynamic duo dream up new endeavours for the year ahead, they offer two tidbits of community-building advice to consider for the holidays, 2018 and beyond:

“You have to work with your community to allow for things to flow,” says Bertram. “Change doesn’t come overnight. There is a lot of heavy scary stuff going on in the world right now so it is important to put forth positive, welcoming opportunities of human connection.You don’t have to be on the forefront of everything but you can support and help make the world a better place.”

“We’re all guilty of getting too deep into our own heads but it is important to remember that there is a whole world out there,” shares Hendry. “It is important to learn what we can learn, share and give to others outside of our bubbles to truly be mindful within all of the chaos. We all don’t know everything about everything but the one thing we can definitely bring to the table is mindfulness. Get out of your daily comfort zone and give back to your community. There is so much fulfillment in expanding yourself in this way.”

Written and photographed by :: Kait Kucy / @kaitkucy

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