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Meet Sonja
Founder, SF&Co

How does a philosophy degree translate into creating a pet lifestyle brand? 

Huron alumna, Sonja Fernandes, shares, “A Liberal Arts degree helps develop your critical thinking skills, which are transferable to being an entrepreneur. In philosophy, you question everything. This ability to think critically about every decision you make plays a significant part in entrepreneurial life. You have to make sure you fully weigh your options and feel confident you’re making the best possible decision – your business depends on it.”

While the value and relevance of the Liberal Arts has been called into question by some critics, today’s ever-fluctuating job market demands the transferable skills of students who engage in the well-rounded courses offered through a Liberal Arts education. Instead of focusing on one specialized area, Huron students, like Sonja, get exposed to a wide variety of topics, research projects and community engagement opportunities. 

Sonja’s entrepreneurial experiences have shown her how important it was to develop leadership skills during university. She imparts this wisdom onto students who may be considering a similar path; “Whether it’s becoming an executive in a club or joining Huron’s Student Council, you have to participate in these opportunities to become more comfortable with leading. Also, network as much as possible, so when you’re ready to take that next step as an entrepreneur, you’ll already have people you can call upon for support – that’s invaluable.” 

What did the development of Sonja’s capacity for leadership and relationship building do for her? It helped her pursue a unique vision to serve a marginalized group in her community – animals! After graduation, Sonja created SH&Co, a pet lifestyle brand of homemade products. The boutique accessories, for pets and their people, are thoughtfully handcrafted and each purchase results in a donation to the Animal Rescue Foundation of Ontario. 

Compassion, community and creativity define Sonja’s entrepreneurial experiences. But, she recognizes the path to business ownership is not always easy – especially for young women. “Female entrepreneurs should never give up. There’s a lot of naysayers, but if you believe in something with your whole heart, don’t give up, just work toward it. Women often value the opinion of others which can influence our decision to pursue entrepreneurship, but know you can be successful.”

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