Meet Karina Karassev

In honour of International Women's Day, Grayes will be dedicating the month of March to celebrating women. We will be posting a series of interviews featuring inspiring Grayes women driving change.

Tell us about your career journey.

I started my  full time career in Procurement while pursuing my undergrad in Accounting and later CPA-CMA on a full time basis. I started in consumer packaging; but quickly transitioned to financial services. I am now currently the Director of Strategic Sourcing at Sun Life supporting the Canadian operations. My day to day involves meeting with internal clients on various projects and with external suppliers and partners to negotiate mutually beneficial agreements.

I'm also involved in a few startups in an advisor capacity: Willful (estate planning) and RCU (cannabis education)

Tell us about your personal style and how it has evolved over your career.

Starting out in financial services more than 15 years ago, everyone  basically had to wear a uniform without much of a personality. The gray, navy blue or black pencil skirt or pants with a blouse. As I've gained more experience, I've learned to be more comfortable with myself and adjust my style to my personality. I've leaned towards comfortable, yet fashionable style.

What's the best style advice you've ever received? What's the most important piece of style advice you would offer young businesswomen?

Be comfortable. If you’re not comfortable you can’t think clearly. Your mind will focus on that sweater that’s itchy but looks good vs negotiating the deal you have to close. I envied men that can walk from building to building in the same shoes and not have to worry about their feet hurting, or carrying their flats and heels in some bag that I see many women do.

So I just stopped wearing heels. You can look professional and not wear heels at the same time.

What items of clothing or ‘looks’ make you feel the most powerful and like your most authentic self?

I’m most comfortable in jeans, a blouse and a blazer. Super simple and comfortable.

What do you love most about the Grayes brand?

Being versatile is key to me. I used to have to have a wardrobe for work and a wardrobe for my personal life. I currently work for Sun Life  who have recently stepped out of their financial services comfort zone and have allowed their employees to “Dress for their day”. So, I've now merged my wardrobe where I can buy clothes that work for both at the office and on the weekend.

What is your philosophy when it comes to your wardrobe, and particularly your work wardrobe?

Simple, comfortable and professional. If something makes me feel good I usually buy it in  multiple colours. It’s very simple to me, if i feel good in my clothes I’m much more efficient and effective.

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