Jasmine Daya developed a successful injury law practice in downtown Toronto leading up to the pandemic – in the down-time when courts were closed and business was slow, her entrepreneurial spirit saw opportunity in hospitality.
Today, Jasmine still practices the law but has reduced her hours on cases to focus on her nightlife establishments, and she’s actively developing new projects in real estate.
This interesting conversation has a lot of insight for professionals considering leaving their professions to pursue entrepreneurialism and forms episode 54 of the StartWell Podcast.
In a rush? Here are some highlights from this conversation
- Career change from law school to personal injury law. (0:00)
- Career choices, finance, and immigration challenges. (4:03)
- Law school, career goals, and specialization. (7:52)
- Law school, moots, and personal experiences. (11:35)
- Pregnancy, exams, and career plans during articling. (15:02)
- Personal injury law and advertising. (22:11)
- Career growth and firm culture in the legal profession. (24:33)
- Law firm management and entrepreneurship. (27:12)
- Personal and professional challenges during a pandemic. (30:43)
- Economic impact of COVID-19 and government spending. (34:26)
- Buying a vodka bar with a surprise connection to the speaker's brother's company. (40:41)
- COVID-19 lockdown experiences and decision-making. (44:44)
- Running a bar during the pandemic. (48:09)
- Reopening a nightclub in Toronto after pandemic closures. (52:07)
- Insurance and business challenges in a post-pandemic city. (55:11)
- Staffing issues in the nightlife industry. (1:00:21)
- Challenges in the hospitality industry, including staffing shortages and high expectations from customers. (1:03:38)
- Digital marketing strategies for small businesses. (1:07:36)
- Entrepreneurship, law, and business ventures. (1:11:27)
Spend time with this conversation - here's the full transcript
Jasmine Daya 0:00
The majority of people go into law school thinking they want to do one thing and end up doing another. And it was in my last year of law school where I realized I certainly do not want to be a corporate lawyer. So I realized, yeah, I wanted to be in court. But the little wrinkle in the plan the bump in the road, I don't know if you know, I published a book called law girls bump in the revenue. It's based on a true life story about this girl who found out that she was pregnant in her last semester for last year law school. I was that girl it was I was like, who gets pregnant by accident? How does that even happen? And here I am. So I came home from the hospital to a voice message on my home answering machine, right, an offer for an interview for articling. I had a personal injury firm. And I was like, this is the best gift ever. I've had this child, I can do this. Yeah. So I called them back right away. I said, I would come in for an interview. Like I could come the next week. And then they said, but didn't you just have a baby? Why don't we give it a couple of weeks? I'm like, okay, but my first day I walk in, and I'm like, Why are there people in wheelchairs in the lobby? Yeah. And then I realized they'd been in an accident. Both of them was brother sister were paraplegic, from a motor vehicle accident, and their father had been the driver. Oh, my God. It was just a devastating, sad story. But in that moment, I realized what personal injury was. And so while I was so proud to help the families that we helped, I also had this realization that I was actually a true ambulance chaser, and how was my family gonna react?
Qasim Virjee 1:34
Founded in 2017, start well, is Toronto's independent hub for innovators to collaborate, our podcasts relate perspectives from the world's most diverse urban population to reflect unique insights into global business, media, and culture?
Qasim Virjee 1:55
First off, welcome to the studio.
Jasmine Daya 1:57
Qasim Virjee 1:59
We're gonna we're gonna paint your picture of your career. Okay. Okay. So law school, you like what was what was your kind of background to becoming a lawyer? Did you? Did you want to be a lawyer? Or was this just like a safe job that you kind of thought, this is a career track?
Jasmine Daya 2:14
I was 12 years old. I told my parents, I wanted to be a lawyer because I'd watched a movie. And I loved what I saw in the courtroom. And I thought to myself, I can do that. I want to do that. And my dad said to me, lawyers are a dime a dozen. Why would you want to be a lawyer? I was around 12 years old. So it was the early 90s. And my mother said to me, interestingly enough, she was a legal secretary. Oh, that's what her training is in. from Nairobi, Kenya. Wow. And when she came to Canada, her first job was as a legal secretary. And she saw what lawyers did, which was a lot of reading. And she said to me, do you really think you want to spend the rest of your life reading and researching, and fast forward, neither of them were wrong? Lawyers are a dime a dozen. And law does require a lot of reading and researching. So back then, though, they tried to put the idea out of my mind, my mom more than my dad, I think that my mom thought I wasn't capable, because she knew what I was doing in my early teenage years, which was up to no good whenever I could. And she just, I was in Toronto, but when we lived in BC, yeah. From ages when I was ages three to three to nine, so six years. So we were I was born in Toronto, move to Victoria, moved back to Toronto. But in Victoria, I told everybody that I was from Toronto, at age like 567 psi. Yes, exactly. was not going to be from Victoria. That's not that it's not a beautiful place. But yeah, so they were trying to steer me my mom more so trying to steer me into what do you think which direction? premed obviously, really? Yes. She's like, you need to go to medical school and you need to go to Harvard. I'm like, okay, but I don't want to do either of these things. And then I did a program at Johns Hopkins University, okay, in pre med, and it was right before I started university. And I decided I am. I was correct. I don't want to do medical school. I don't want to do science. I am not studying biological macromolecules for another second of my life, or chemistry, or biology or physics. While they are fascinating as topics. I don't want to study this for years of my life, or even another minute, which is what I did at Johns Hopkins. And so I loved that program. I made amazing friends and appreciate so much that I did that program before I made a huge mistake. And so I started in September, I at university and I studied economics, which I always loved at school. And then while I was in university, I learned about finance because I didn't know that topic. Remember this is Before the internet, right? We didn't know all these things. You knew what you were about something
Qasim Virjee 5:03
your parents teach, you know, like, right? No. Financial literacy in general.
Jasmine Daya 5:08
More so now because now they have courses and we talk to our kids a little bit more.
Qasim Virjee 5:12
I never filed my taxes, man until I was a till I was how old? Are
Jasmine Daya 5:18
you sure you want to admit this? Yeah. Well, I built
Qasim Virjee 5:20
I've dealt with the CRA on making sure I never knew that I had to. Isn't that crazy? I never knew because I never thought that I earn money. So I was like, Why do I need to file taxes? Yes.
Jasmine Daya 5:30
People don't realize that even if you don't make money, you're supposed to file a tax return as an adult in Canada. So I
Qasim Virjee 5:35
was like, 26, no, or later, 29. And I think the CRA was like you haven't filed for 10 years, you owe us this much. We guesstimated that you owe us like $300,000 or something. And I was like, and I went through that. And I had to go through that. And that, for me was the big catalyst late in life that like, oh, wow, okay. And I was already an entrepreneur. When I was like, Wait, what am I assuming that I can ignore, you know, and fix that. But anyway, back to your story. So
Jasmine Daya 6:04
I Yeah, so I did. I did double major in economics and finance. And my goal, my dream was to be on Wall Street. Wow. And he's again, no, actually probably, you know, it probably now that you have like, maybe I've watched Wall Street probably. I don't know, I guess so.
Qasim Virjee 6:20
I mean, Gordon Gekko,
Jasmine Daya 6:21
I could do it. Probably not a good thing.
Qasim Virjee 6:25
I could go back to the 80s and be a stockbroker? Well,
Jasmine Daya 6:27
the I mean, that was it was probably I mean, where else would I have gotten it? I don't know. But I just loved the excitement of it. Yeah. And it's, it was very in line with my personality. And I thought that's what I wanted. I believe I did want it. But the problem is, I graduated a semester early. I was in the US for university. And so I graduated December 2001. What had happened in September
Qasim Virjee 6:52
911. That's correct. And the boom and bust right before that, the startup bubble anyway. So lots of
Jasmine Daya 6:59
Yeah, there was a lot and so I had all these wonderful interviews lined up. Interestingly enough, my accounting professor was trying to get me to go to Enron, because he had a he had an in with them, and he was always allowed to recommend a couple. And good thing that did not happen because I was like, I don't really want to go to Houston. That was my that was my thinking of why I didn't want to go to Enron and it was all set. I'm like, I don't want to go to Houston. I wanted to go to New York. And I had interviews lined up with Arthur Andersen. Okay, JP Morgan Chase. And I was actually in the second round at one of those companies. And then I was told, we've inquired, and we're not going to be able to secure your visa. Because you are Canadian, and that is foreign.
Qasim Virjee 7:43
Foreign? Difficult. We don't
Jasmine Daya 7:47
think there was a freeze for a little while because of September 11, or was that Yeah. And you know, I was just graduating, there's so many other people, why would they deal with me, even if they could try and figure it out? So I was already toying with the idea of further education. Because that summer and the prior summers, I'd been working at a company called Pegasus solutions in their treasury department, I was blown away with what I learned and loved the people I worked with and enjoyed being in the, in the office with all these people and doing all these things with currency exchange. And I just realized that I looked around and I'm like, okay, but this is fantastic. In my early 20s, late teens, but do I really want to be doing this? For the rest of my back office? Yeah, because everyone around me was significantly older than me doing the same thing as me. Right. So I realized that in order for me to do more, I need more education. Yeah. And so it was like going back to the law school idea. And then with the interview process, it solidified my thinking. And so I signed up for the LSAT and went in, did the LSAT and here we are. I went to law school moved back to Canada. Yeah. Went to Queens law. Okay. And I loved it. I love that school. Really perfect for me. Yes. Great people,
Qasim Virjee 9:00
very social, and the focus on the university not necessarily like the city, right? That's right. And
Jasmine Daya 9:05
I think that was important for me because I felt concerned that if I was in Toronto, I may not focus on school, whereas in Kingston, you have nothing else to focus on, except school. Certainly not focusing on Kingston. So I made amazing friends. And to this day, I'm still in touch with them. And even the people I wasn't so close to we had such a collegial group and became very close because again, there was nothing else to be close to that I would not hesitate to contact any of them even if I had seen them in years. If I needed anything or just want to chat, I wouldn't hesitate to contact them and I'm pretty sure that they would be receptive to that. So I was blessed to go there and then yeah, I started my legal career.
Qasim Virjee 9:52
And the Okay, I gotta ask this like it's a it's something I always ask lawyers and Ron has a weird answer. At what point as you're starting kind of your legal education, do you decide on what your specialty would be? If anything, you know, are you going to be corporate? Are you going to be criminal? Are you going to be sorry to say it, but an ambulance chaser like, I
Jasmine Daya 10:17
mean, what I do. So the majority of people go into law school thinking they want to do one thing and end up doing another. Because you can't really appreciate what these areas of practice do until you're doing it. I thought, because of my background in business growing up in my family's business, as well as my educational background in economics and finance, that I would definitely be either a corporate lawyer or tax lawyer or securities, something in that vein, because of Yeah, finance law, it all seemed to line up to me. And it was in my last year of law school, where I realized I certainly do not want to be a corporate lawyer, because you are doing you're the middleman for two sides. You don't get to make any decisions. In fact, even if what decision you think should be made should be made. It is not up to you. It is up to your client who has significantly more power than you. You're just the lawyer just doing the work for them. You're just pushing paper, and I'm like, I can't just push paper for these people. They need to listen to me. So I recognize that that's that wasn't going to work. I probably would have no clients because I would tell them what to do, which is not the way it's supposed to be. They're supposed to tell me what to do. And I loved my moot class. Now, I didn't even know what a moot was. Yeah. Do you know what it is? Well, putting you on the spot? Yeah.
Qasim Virjee 11:44
Isn't a moot? Like basically, you get some sort of thesis to argue it's like a debate. Yeah. Emotion. It's
Jasmine Daya 11:51
like being in court. It's like a fake fake court. Court case. Yeah. So you're like, pretending
Qasim Virjee 11:59
you have no time to research and stuff do you do? Oh, yeah. I thought it was all spontaneous. No.
Jasmine Daya 12:02
So there are competitive moods, and there's compulsory mute. And we had a compulsory one at Queen's, and I never did the competitive ones because I didn't even know what the word meant. And I'm like, I don't know what a mood is. It sounds boring.
Qasim Virjee 12:14
Is it pronounced outside of Canada's? I'm
Jasmine Daya 12:15
out? I don't know.
Qasim Virjee 12:20
I was like, is it mot? Because, you know, sounds very Canadian, right? Like a moose. And who's Oh, and a moot?
Jasmine Daya 12:26
Well, because I was born and raised in Canada. I never thought of that. But again, this is coming from a girl who didn't even know what a moot was, and never heard of it until law school, and everyone seemed to know what it was. And in the first week of law school, everyone's trying out for the competitive moot. And I'm like, What the hell is a moot? Like, what
Qasim Virjee 12:41
is this and you're excited to find out about it? Well,
Jasmine Daya 12:43
I found out about three years later, when it was compulsory, it was a mandatory class to graduate. I'm like, I guess I have to do this moot thing. And so we were presented with a case and we had to represent one side, there's plaintiff and defendant. And so me and my partner had represented one side, and I recognized not only was I good at it, but I loved it nice. It's thinking on your feet. Just thinking quick, doing the research. I didn't mind because it was so exciting to argue, where's all the research and all my other classes? I'm like, Oh, my God, please not another research paper. Oh, God, please. No, you know, even when I got into practice, as soon as I had had any sort of status, and was able to use the articling student or junior lawyer, I did to do the research, because that is just one thing I've hated always. It's just really boring to go through all these cases. I'm like, Just give me the Coles Notes version, please. Like, what do I need to know here? So and there's some people out there that actually do enjoy the research aspect is
Qasim Virjee 13:38
different strokes, like some people like the front end of the business, and some people like the backend. So
Jasmine Daya 13:43
for me, it was getting out there. And there's some people who hate that they just don't want to, they would rather sit at the desk and do the research. So we need people that enjoy different things. So it's good that there are those people. So I realized, yeah, I wanted to be in court. And so for articling, I applied to every position that involves litigation, okay. And the problem or maybe not the problem, but the little wrinkle in the plan, the bump in the road. I don't know if you know, I published a book called log girls bump in the
Qasim Virjee 14:13
ribs. Oh, I didn't know this. So it's based
Jasmine Daya 14:18
on a true life story about this girl who found out that she was pregnant in her last semester for last year of law school.
Qasim Virjee 14:23
Oh, yes. That's, you know, this girl, like when you look in the mirror, do you see her? I seem to see
Jasmine Daya 14:30
like a little glimmer of her. And, you know, I see this 17 year old son who's graduating school, it just so happens that that's how long I've been out of law school. Yes. And I had my son and I had to halt all my interviews for articling positions. So I went through the whole routine of doing the applications and setting up interviews and all of a sudden in February find out that I'm pregnant. And I was That girl was always like, who gets pregnant by accident? How does that even happen? And here I am. Yes. So here I was with this child and I had to cancel everything not because I didn't want to Article I did. But I didn't know what it would be like to go through pregnancy, how long I would need off with the labor would be like, this was my first kid. Like I had no idea what to a young man. I was very young and very scared. This was not part of the plan. I was planning to follow the traditional route of getting my articling job being called back as an associate getting to be partner having that corner office and then having a child
Qasim Virjee 15:34
family when you're 40. You know, yeah, well, hopefully
Jasmine Daya 15:37
not that long. But, you know, that was the plan. And this was a big bump in the road. And I yeah, I stopped everything. I could keep going. Should I tell you what happened? Or should I make you read my book? Oh,
Qasim Virjee 15:50
come on. No cliffhangers. So I wrote read the book. Regardless,
Jasmine Daya 15:55
September 14, I have my son. I was at home for a couple of weeks. So after that Labor Day weekend, and all my friends had started their articling positions. And here I am very large, very uncomfortable, and very hot, because it was just just brutal with the heat that summer. So I had my last exam at the end of August. And it was wills and estates. And I remember waking up that morning and back up back then that morning, I recall not having slept because you have to pee a lot at the end of your pregnancy. Like you're getting up to go to the bathroom. And I'm like, I am so tired. I am so hot and sweaty. I like it's the end of summer. I'm so fat and pregnant. Everyone's gonna stare at me, right? Because I'm the pregnant girl with all these people that are about to be lawyers. And you're not supposed to do that, you know, and maybe TV show man, it was really it was it was brutal. And I'm lying there. And I'm like, should I go to this exam? Should I not? Well, if I don't, then I can just reschedule it. But I don't even know how to reschedule it when what I rescheduled for will be worse with a child like how am I going to study? Yeah.
Qasim Virjee 17:05
Last chance I gotta make this happen. Yeah. And
Jasmine Daya 17:07
it was only pass fail. I just had to pass. Yeah. And so I'm like, Okay, I got up. I found whatever clothes I could put on, that would fit me. And I remember we I also not only do peel up but you're hungry, like every five minutes, but nothing will fit in you. So it's like you're just constantly hungry. And uncomfortable. Yeah. So I'm like actually getting granola bar because I can't sit through like a three hour exam without eating. And if they tell me in my mind, I'm like preparing myself for my, my debate with the person watching over us. I was thinking if they get upset at me for eating a granola bar during this exam, I'm just gonna say Look at me. Look at me. You
Qasim Virjee 17:48
had it all you had the argument all prepared. So
Jasmine Daya 17:51
I take my granola bars, I take my pens, and I just, you know waddled to this Metro Convention Center class. What was a room they set up as a class with all these desks. And I'm sure everyone was staring at me. But at the same time, I think it was worse for me the perception that everyone's staring at me. I think they were more concerned about passing
Qasim Virjee 18:10
their exam. Yeah, they didn't even see you. Like, they
Jasmine Daya 18:13
saw me like it was hard to miss at that point. But yeah, maybe they saw me for a second and be like, Oh, she's pregnant, and then go back to their thinking. But in my mind, I'm like, everyone's staring at me. This is very uncomfortable. And so I did that exam. Yeah. And I went home immediately. I didn't want to talk to anyone. I don't want to do anything. I just wanted to get out of there. And I, yeah, I passed, but I passed by, I think it was just a few grades. So now they don't tell you what you passed by them. They did. And I used to remember exactly how many marks I passed by. But I recall it being just to feel like I'm just like, did it I passed my last exam. Now I just had to Article. I'm so glad I did that last exam is just as uncomfortable as it was. Two weeks later. Everyone's articling I am not. But I had this child and it was a very easy labor. He was brutal because he kept waking up every like few hours. He was colicky. I don't even know what colicky was. I still not sure I really understand what colic is. But he was colicky. And it was as soon as I as soon as I came home from the hospital because we didn't all have cell phones back then. No, we did not. I had one but I don't think
Qasim Virjee 19:23
I even knew the other people didn't. So then you're like, Well, how do I reach anyone? Yeah, I'm reachable. But
Jasmine Daya 19:29
so I came home from the hospital to a voice message on my home answering machine right
Qasim Virjee 19:36
on a little cassette that fit inside of it. Thank
Jasmine Daya 19:38
God it wasn't that bad. But it was like something school and it was a into an interview. An offer for an interview for articling. I had a personal injury firm. Okay. And I was like, this is the best gift ever. I've had this child. I can do this. Yeah. So I call them back right away. And I arranged the interview and then they knew that I had been pregnant. Someone had told them that, you know, it didn't care so much about pay. I just needed to article and we're
Qasim Virjee 20:10
looking for like anyone? Yes. We'll take the pregnant girl, she might be okay. But you went to
Jasmine Daya 20:20
Queens, they knew that. It's good. Okay. So. So I said I would come in for an interview, like I could come the next week and they said, Virginia, just have a baby. Why don't we give it a couple of weeks? I'm like, okay, so I had my interview a couple of weeks later, and we decided I would start articling a couple of weeks after that. And I was so excited that I got the job. And what happened was, it was this individual. He was in his 60s, who had started he was very successful, very successful litigator. His name was Jack fireman. And he was known, he's not so known any worse, he's passed away. But he was well known in the in the industry as being a top litigator. And he had just started his firm. And I now know how difficult it must have been in the 60s because he could not fail. He was already at the top of his game, and he should have been retiring. But for whatever reason, the man decides to start his own firm to prove something to himself, I guess I don't know where to others who knows. But he needed help. And because the startup cost of a firm is so high, he was very happy Labor, primarily. Labor and in personal injury. There's disbursements we front the cost of the litigation. Oh, right. So what the court filing fees, the process servers, the med legal reports, those are in the 1000s. And the way he would run files, it was like 2030 40,000 of file. Wow. So each client had the necessity to have that big spent. And so the labor Yeah, the labor was there, but you had all these other costs, too. So it was a balancing act. So when he heard of me, this is like, it was a win win. And I was happy to start with him. But my first day I walk in, and I'm like, Why? Why are there he goes, we have a client meeting. And I'm like, Why are there people in wheelchairs in the, in the lobby? Yeah. And then I realized they'd been in an accident. And they were both of them was brother sister were paraplegic, from a motor vehicle accident, and their father had been the driver, oh, my God. And it was just a devastating, sad story. But in that moment, I realized what personal injury was right. And so while I was so proud to help the families that we helped, I also had this realization that I was actually a true ambulance chaser, and how was my family going to react? And while people would say to me now, how did you not know what personal injury really was? I didn't have the internet back, then we didn't have all the research you can do with the tips of your fingers, like coming here today. You know, you just Google you. There's no girls,
Qasim Virjee 22:56
even in school. So as you're training to be a lawyer, that kind of like lived in reality of being a lawyer doesn't get brought back to the school. So you probably didn't have like active lawyers coming back to classes to give talks about what it's like, like we did
Jasmine Daya 23:11
occasionally, but not as much as now. And personal injury and insurance law. We're not courses until recently. Also, all the billboards you see around town and the bus ads and the TV ads, they didn't exist, because the Law Society was very strict about advertising rules. They relaxed those rules in the early 2000s. And people didn't take advantage of it until the mid 2000s. And I graduated law school 2005. So there was you know, it was just starting all this, all the advertising you see now
Qasim Virjee 23:42
so I know. Have you ever heard of an accident that might have been caused by the back of the bus? getting distracted? Driving into the bus?
Jasmine Daya 23:50
The irony, I know, but I do know the lawyers that advertise on the back of the bus very well. And I should ask them have you? Diamond,
Qasim Virjee 23:58
Diamond? Diamond, Diamond diamond. So okay, so here you are, you're an ambulance chaser. You're you're dealing with the reality of what that meant. And you have a child. But you got it. You gotta make it work. There's your career. You're doing? That's correct. And then how long did it take you to become Jasmine Daya and company?
Jasmine Daya 24:22
Well, despite not starting on the traditional route of articling, without child, I then started following a very traditional route. So yes, I had my child but I got called to the bar with my friends. I think a lot of them were very surprised to see me there. Because and some of them were not so happy for me, because they were like, Wait, it's not fair that she got to have a kid and get called to the bar with us. That's Yes, lawyers are very competitive really are Yeah. So I get called to the bar. I was called back to the same firm. I was an associate there. I stayed as a partner there. Then I became named partner had my name on the wall, which is a dream come true for most lawyers. And then I became managing partner. And then when my superior was phasing out, and he should have probably phased out sooner than he did, but he kind of already had phase out. But he was closing the firm. Yeah, I started my own firm. And it was not my intention, most lawyers, their goal in life is to, is to hang a shingle, as they say, you know, start their own law firm. It For Me, that was never a desire, I had a really cushy job in the sense that, yeah, I was busting my ass, and doing everything I needed to do to make money and to ensure the success of my little practice within the firm. But I had no liability. It was all on someone else. And so I was very content to continue that. But I realized I had to grow up, because I did meet with several people and did have job offers or job opportunities presented to me whether it was be an associate or partner, other personal injury firms. But I realized going into each firm that each firm had its own culture. And because I'd been at the same firm for so long, I didn't realize that also, we had a culture. And it was not a healthy one, by the way, because it was created, it was very old school in the sense that my superior sort of pitted us one against the other to make sure that we're always constantly trying to one up each other and do better, instead of a collegial collaborative environment, which is the more healthy way and perhaps a better way in some respects. So I decided I can't really fit the mold of these firms. I don't think I can see myself doing some of these things. For example, one firm every Friday morning, would get together and discuss case law, the new laws that had just been released or released. So we could all be on the same wavelength and be up to speed and share anything we wanted to share about and discuss any questions we had about cases we had. So we could all have what they called, quote, a powwow. I like how do I get out of the powwow? Thursday night I go with my friends, I am not making it into that morning meeting on Friday. Yeah, I while I would come to work, I wouldn't want to be discussing the law and my condition on Friday morning. So I was already having these thoughts. I'm like, if I'm having these thoughts about this firm, how can I be at it? Yeah. And it's not a bad thing. What they did was great. It just wasn't for me. Yeah.
Qasim Virjee 27:21
And you've been outside of that you've been kind of doing your own thing. And in that competition, we're probably you know, that you grew up with kind of like, bred in you that necessity to be on top of what you need to know. Yeah, and reasoned it out already. So you felt like that was just a waste of time
Jasmine Daya 27:37
anyway, like, for me, it was it was, but each firm had different things that they did that I was like, I can just can't do this. Like even checking in keeping a docket and explaining where you are, at all times. I hadn't done that I'd never done that. I worked more hours than anyone, I still work more hours than anyone pretty sure. And I'm proud of that. But I don't have anyone checking in on me, I just know what needs to get done. I'm gonna, I'm going to make sure that it gets done. And my boss was like, as long as you're making money, I don't care. So to have that kind of scrutiny, I was like, I don't think I can actually check in with someone like that's not going to work for me. Not that I have anything to hide, but I like squeezing, you know, my kids, school play or parent teacher or having my meetings with banks were like, I was buying real estate on the side, even back then. And so I would meet my brokers and real estate agents like on the way back from court, I would stop school look at property, and no one cared back then. But part of
Qasim Virjee 28:32
this also this kind of like the problematic kind of aspect of of law as a business, which is this billable hour, like the billable hours, kind of an inefficient means of you know, well,
Jasmine Daya 28:42
in personal injury, we don't work on billable hours or personal injury, we're on contingency fee. And that's why it mattered less, where I wasn't what I was doing as long as I was making money, right? Because we take a percentage of the settlement. Right? So it doesn't matter how you get there, no long as you win, no, yeah, it whether it's 10 hours, or it's 10 years, we're making the same percentage of whatever the settlement is. So that's why my boss probably didn't care, because he knew, but I mean, the majority of cases require a lot of work. And in fact, if you look at how much time we spend on some of these cases, if you looked at it, by the hours spent, oftentimes, it's more than we are making by way of contingency fee, and the individuals that are injured could never afford to pay us on an hourly rate. So I think it's beneficial, that model is beneficial. But coming back to me personally, I don't need people check it out on me, so I was like, okay, Jasmine, you gotta grow up. Time to grow up time to sink in some money into your own firm. Yep, have some liability attached to it. And here we are. I started my firm in 2017 2017.
Qasim Virjee 29:53
Oh, those the same time I started this company start well, yeah. Interesting times in Toronto, right. The economy was picking up and things were busy or good. It was going crazy. Really good
Jasmine Daya 30:04
until November 2019. I decided, because of my entrepreneurial side and the real estate that I alluded to, I'm like, why am I paying rent for my office? So I buy an office building in Yorkville. Ah, so you own that building? Yes, sir. I do. And I'm very proud of that building. I love it. However, listen to the date, November 2019. Fast Forward, march 2020. I'm sitting in my office with nobody in it and the lights off. And I'm like, Oh, my God, what have I done?
Qasim Virjee 30:34
Hey, what at least as a as a kind of line item, you know, your expenses. So long as the firm had work?
Jasmine Daya 30:43
Yeah. But the courts closed for six months? Yes. So you didn't have the work? No, we did not have the work that we also who was getting injured on a stay at home order. There were no injuries for injuries. This is great for society. But I'm a personal injury lawyer that owns a building with the courts closed and no injured people. That's when
Qasim Virjee 31:04
you started saying I gotta do something else. Correct. Okay, and what did that what what did that kind of mental process involved for you?
Jasmine Daya 31:12
I'm laughing because back then all he could do is cry. But it was, you know, I was sitting there. First of all, I had to lay off my staff for a period of time, which all jokes aside, like, That was brutal. Yeah, it was tough. It's tough. It was brutal. And, you know, interestingly enough, they took it really well, because they didn't want to work. I didn't realize but they were mentally not able to work. Not all of them. But some of them. They were very happy for the time off because of the uncertainty of the world. Whereas I was like, please just open a bottle of anything. I just need to like, drink this before I do what I have to do as a boss. Yeah. And tell these people I'm sorry to kill your livelihood.
Qasim Virjee 31:50
It's a weird thing when you're kind of like, laying someone off for whatever the reason? And they're like, Yeah, cool. You know, like, I just went through so much pain,
Jasmine Daya 31:59
I didn't sleep for a week, you know, and I even went home and it weighed on me. And I, I remember that. My husband at the time. Hope to add that in. He, he asked me how things went. I said, just have some bottle read open when I get home, please, because I can't even talk about it. Because it was one after the other, you know, and I thought it was important to not how
Qasim Virjee 32:20
many how many stuff do you have? It's time. Like going into? Yeah.
Jasmine Daya 32:26
It was between 17 and 20.
Qasim Virjee 32:28
Okay, that's a lot of people to figure out. Yeah. Plus, we had
Jasmine Daya 32:31
suppliers and contract independent contractors, and we had students and it was just a lot. Well,
Qasim Virjee 32:38
also, because in the question, of course, with that uncertainty at the time is like, well, is this temporary? And even coming out of it? How do I rebuild this? Do I want to rebuild this? Or does that look like I
Jasmine Daya 32:48
wasn't thinking about how would I? Or would I, my thinking was okay, now, I'm going to clean up all this stuff on my desk and settle as many files as I can, yeah, that have just been sitting here and need my attention in time while the courts are closed. And while I can't get pre trials and trials and mediations, and my discoveries were canceled, I do have files that I could work on. So I did all that. I even you know organized all the papers for taxes. And then I organized. I organized by house I went through all the baby clothes had been sitting there for years and was like, Okay, we try it we can discard like I'm like I finally had and I had the silver lining for me was time with my kids, which I would have never had. Because I'd been so busy building right. And while I saw them every day, I always had dinner with them. It was important to me as a family. I was out again. And they just you know, I blinked and they were already these ages. And so I had a lot of time with them. And we we did things together and we had like pool tournaments and played blackjack and I realized that my kids are spotting me money for blackjack or they're better than me. I've trained very well. The even the pool tournaments. I'm like, Oh my God, when did I start sucking? Like I grew up with a pool table. Yeah, maybe just really good. I don't know. So we had a great time. But then I'm like, Okay, I really need to occupy my mind. Because while this has been great. I just can't sit here sipping on wine and hanging out with my kids and wasting away my life like
Qasim Virjee 34:13
I became becomes a vacation. Yeah, yeah. And that's
Jasmine Daya 34:18
I felt like worthless. Like, I'm like, I need to do something for myself now. So the novelty wore off, and I'm like, Okay, let's figure out what we're going to do. And I thought that the real estate market would crash. Like it was very on top of the news, more than I'd ever been from the moment that pandemic hit. And I was watching the trends, the real estate, the markets, the politics, the everything. And I was like the market is gonna crash, the markets gonna crash. I'm gonna buy it. And when the market crashes, and the market didn't crash, the real estate market went up. But what was crashing were all the businesses. They could not sustain themselves. How could they they were closed, but they're still fixed expenses. And that's what a lot of people don't understand. So the government gives you While the subsidies, but guess what? That doesn't cover everything.
Qasim Virjee 35:04
There is an interesting point to interject here. Of course, that's so interesting for me is an observation, right? Is that like publicly traded companies kind of kept shuffling things around in their books for a couple of years. And so everyone, you know, that was invested in the in the public markets was kind of like, you know, who had like, let's call it a conventional job that didn't that wasn't threatened by the pandemic. Yeah, they were at home sitting, sitting pretty kind of earning salaries kind of feeling like, alright, investments don't seem to be too threatened. And when there was that dip, I forget, when there was a dip, it got recovered within a couple of weeks, it felt like, so they're like, you know, I guess, I guess, businesses, okay, and you're right, like to that note, I have a lot of professional friends that don't understand when I try and express they're like, Oh, the government just save your assets, right? And I'm like, Well, it kind of not really, I had a lot of expenses to carry, because there wasn't some sort of like 100% Keep, keep your business open or put it on pause, you will subsidize your lifestyle kind of money.
Jasmine Daya 36:04
You still got a mortgage to pay. But all
Qasim Virjee 36:06
of these like actual businesses, you know, tanked, of course, because there's no revenue.
Jasmine Daya 36:13
Went color was fine, to some degree, because they're sitting at home still doing the same work. They're just doing it at home. They're still continuing
Qasim Virjee 36:20
a lot of publicly traded companies, though their revenues did tank, but it wasn't anything that was as immediate because they had access to debt, they might have gone public in the last five to
Jasmine Daya 36:30
10 years. Correct. But you know what, and that's why I'm very concerned about where we go from now. Because, because you so you have all this government spending. And I'm like, Okay, this is economics 101. Okay. It you're, and I still remember when I don't want to name names here. But politicians, let's just say, so that they wanted to use the low interest rates to our advantage and borrow money and give it to the people. And so they give all these subsidies, subsidies out. I'm like, what you think will happen when you have huge government spending, you're gonna have inflation. And what happens when you have inflation, the only way to rein it in, is to raise interest rates. And that's where we are right now, what happens when you raise interest? Well, first of all, the inflation has been passed on to consumers. So they're forced to spend more on everything, and they can't afford it, because their wages haven't gone up enough. And then you have the interest rates and what happens with the interest rate? So all these people that have over leveraged themselves with the low interest rate, time period? Yeah. Including myself. That's what you do. Yeah. What are you going to do? How are you going to afford your mortgage? My building this Yorkville building? Yeah, it came up for renewal this past November. And my rate went up, like a few percentage points. And that's a few $1,000 extra per
Qasim Virjee 37:47
$1,000? Yeah, we've gone through that ourselves in a personal note. But then also, this is this is the big threat, right? Is that like, in the commercial real estate world? You know, this is what everyone is freaked out about in the States, Canada, because there's the REITs own everything. Everyone thinks that REITs are gods, and they only exist forever. But we've seen it with like Brookfield handing back leases in California, a number of big companies have been kind of defaulting or not renewing leases. Well,
Jasmine Daya 38:19
there's gonna be a continued trend of that no one wants to talk about it. But we've got a few issues at play here, in the sense that, so we have all these Seba loans that have to be repaid the personal individuals or businesses or business got, you know, I think the first round was 40,000. And up back to one, it
Qasim Virjee 38:38
was like 30, and then it doubled yesterday or something, yeah, whatever it was,
Jasmine Daya 38:43
but you have to pay back a certain amount, and then you get to keep a certain amount, anyway, but the point is, that they were supposed to be repaid last December, and then they pushed it to this coming December. And they're gonna have to extend it again, because nobody has the money. Number one, they can't admit number two, something else, which is a lot of the businesses that they lent to have folded. Yeah. So where's that money coming in? There's no personal guarantee. There's no personal guarantee on them. So what's gonna happen? I mean, the government doesn't want to doesn't want to admit it. I don't even know if they know how colossal this problem is.
Qasim Virjee 39:17
I personally think even if they wrote a clean slate for all the government subsidized funding that they did, like to all businesses, and they said, You know what, we don't want the money back. But they had a backup plan to reactivate the economy and and never in the first place, stop economic activity. figured out a way.
Jasmine Daya 39:37
Oh, instead of paying every single commercial lease. No, I mean, well, like that's also a problem. Yeah,
Qasim Virjee 39:44
it is a problem. It is a problem. But I think that again, this is now getting into like politics, right? But from the outset, I was very surprised as a business operator to see how in Canada we never think about this until this crisis, right? But how the various levels of government in our country from municipal to provincial to federal interact, and the truth is they kind of don't. Right. There's a few when they need to. Yeah, I mean, like, like
Jasmine Daya 40:08
you have the city asking the province right now for money because there's so short funds,
Qasim Virjee 40:13
right? So they all ask for money from each other, right? And then there's this cross provincial trade thing. There's like Alberta has feeling like this subsidize the whole world because of oil and all that stuff. But I mean, in terms of active communication, and this
Jasmine Daya 40:25
goes back to what I said earlier, it all comes down to money and politics. Absolutely. And it's sad because it's at the mercy of the people that they're supposed to serve. Yeah, that we have all these issues. And
Qasim Virjee 40:38
so, okay, let's get micro again. Okay. Sorry. pandemic. And you're looking at opportunities. Yes. Forgot your path forward. And you're seeing businesses that are closing.
Jasmine Daya 40:47
Yeah. So I started looking at buying businesses, because I just needed to do something I needed to consume my mind with a new project before I lost my mind. And so I was looking at all sorts of different businesses. I remember I even looked into this coin operated laundromat. I'm like, Oh, yeah. Yeah. What do you have to do? Like, I mean, how hard is it to just get the washing machines fixed and go pick up the coin? Like, the business? It is, but then it isn't. I mean, you know, things. No business at the end of the day is totally easy. Yeah. But in any event, I was looking at that I was looking at so many different things, and then look at
Qasim Virjee 41:22
ATMs. I mean, it would have been a bad time for ATMs. But that's another business like coin laundry. Yeah. Interesting little business. Yeah.
Jasmine Daya 41:29
I actually know the guy who installs in my businesses. And it's like, kind of a side hustle for him. When I he actually brings the physical machine in with a dolly and I'm like, he's sweating. It takes
Qasim Virjee 41:39
work. It takes work. And the third party vendors that manage it all. Eat up so much of the march. Oh, yeah.
Jasmine Daya 41:44
And then I'm like the harassing. I'm like, There's no cash in the ATM. I have a big event tonight. You need to get over here to drop everything to come fill the cash.
Qasim Virjee 41:53
We're banks at some point using Uber to deliver money. I
Jasmine Daya 41:58
didn't hear that. Yeah. Anyway, we digress. So yeah, so I was looking at different businesses. And then I was like, profit of vodka bars for sale. And I was instantly intrigued and excited about the prospect. And I had breakfast with my parents. I guess that was an illegal breakfast because we weren't supposed to be Oh, you're
Qasim Virjee 42:22
supposed to be sitting at home. It was it? Was it called social, social distancing. And all that. Yeah.
Jasmine Daya 42:27
I can't remember the term of when you're anyway. So my father and I will my mom is making eggs and parota and my spicy potatoes that I love. My dad and I chat about business and real estate and he loves talking about currency and crypto. I'm not into crypto, I won't touch it. He thinks it's fascinating. But we talk about business. And I told him, I told him few things were on my radar. And then I said, and so the last thing that I want to chat with you Dad is product, because I'm thinking about going to take a look and he goes provde and he goes the vodka bar. And I'm like, Yeah, and this is shocking to me that my father even knows because my parents don't drink, right? They don't go to anywhere nightlife fish. Yeah, that's not their scene. And and I'm happy. It's not I wouldn't want them there. But I couldn't believe he knew it. And I go, how do you even know the place? He's like, I know the owner. I like how do you know the odor? I don't even know the owner. It's so random. And he said that one of there's two owners, and one of them sits on the board of directors of my brother's company, oh, small world. And I said, Can I talked to him? Can you help me? And he's like, Yes, I have his phone number and his email. I go, let's do an email intro. And so my dad's like, let's do it. So he pulls out his phone and my father and I very much like, like, we just do things on the spot. Still waiting for our protein eggs. And we're like, we're gonna make some use of this time. So he pulls out his phone. And he started a company. Oh, yes. So he's like, trying to email one of the owners. And I'm like, annoyed because my dad is, you know, he's, he's very good with his phone. Yeah, but Oh, yes. I'm not into this one finger, old man, texting typing, whatever. Should I say that? It's bad. But anyway, I was like, Dad, give me the phone right now. So and you know, actually, my kids are doing this to me. Now. They think I'm slow. Not at typing, but the social media stuff. Yeah. Because they just know it's so much faster. And it's like, I aggravate them. I'm like, How dare you touch my phone. But now I realize how my parents must feel. So I grabbed the phone. I do my own email intro from his email to the owner saying my daughter is very interested of blah, blah, blah. And we set it up right then and there. And so that week, so that was a weekend I'd gone for breakfast. Yeah. And that week, I went and saw privata and I remember sneaking pictures of this place and sending it to my friends covertly. I'm like, I'm at a bar because we were in a heavy lockdown, right? It was 2020 Yeah, it was 2020 We're in a heavy lock. You are not supposed to be anywhere.
Qasim Virjee 45:01
Yeah. And for our listeners that are kind of like, not in Ontario, not in Toronto, not in Canada, then. You know, it was crazy because the aesthetics of lockdown for us wasn't like we had like the National Guard in the streets, but kind of did. It felt like that where, you know, there were like lineups to get into the Shoppers Drug Mart.
Jasmine Daya 45:23
But there were people at points questioning and we were also at one point, I still remember again, I won't name names, but some of the politicians said like, if you see people report social, was it social mingling was it. I'm still trying to remember those really, there
Qasim Virjee 45:38
was a lot of this short sighted stupidity. And they were kind of like creating this culture of fear. And then there were hotlines that go see people or knock on your neighbor's for having a barbecue. Yeah,
Jasmine Daya 45:50
you should not be celebrating with your family and friends. You should not be socialized socializing, social gatherings. That's what it was, like, it just came to be one
Qasim Virjee 45:59
of the kinds of gatherings is there. They're all social. Yeah. And there were like signs on the highway that literally said for two years almost stay at home, keep everyone safe. Like I have photos of this, because I hadn't gone on the highway for long, so I don't drive on the highway, unless I'm flying somewhere. And I remember going on the highway once and I was like laughing to myself, cruising down this empty highway, it felt like I was in like, you know, a zombie movie. And this is what was in people's heads as they went down the highway, being told, stay at home, stay at home, stay at home and never kind of like we're still at home because you told us to stay at home. Yeah. It
Jasmine Daya 46:37
was interesting times. But I remember sending these pictures. And my friends were were messaging back saying where are you? How are you in a bar? Because I did not just for everyone listening? Yeah, the truth is I did not do anything. Other than seeing my parents. I didn't do anything that was against the law. Yeah, like throwing a party or No, I didn't go there. And there were you know, there were underground parties and all sorts of stuff. And I didn't go to any I was invited to a few I didn't because I did not quite frankly, I as a lawyer did not want to jeopardize anything with my law license. I did not have an issue. And I did not report people. Because my belief was people should do what they want to do. But I didn't engage. I did however travel in social gather with others elsewhere.
Qasim Virjee 47:22
Yeah, outside of the country. Yeah. Yeah. So okay, so you, you look at this bar, you're excited by this opportunity. It's available, you can make it work. But of course, there's absolutely no like,
Jasmine Daya 47:34
what was close? Yeah, it was closed. So I walked in, saw the place loved it. And I'm the type of person I do this is real estate two. If I want it, I will make an offer right there. And then or that day? Yeah. And some people think that I'm being impulsive, or don't you want to think about do you want to see it a second time? I'm like, No, I know. I also don't want to waste time when I see an opportunity. I do not want to lose out to anyone. How
Qasim Virjee 47:57
did you figure out the whole, like, the lease situation, like paying rent for, you know, clothes business?
Jasmine Daya 48:04
So I actually didn't take it over until September 2020. Okay. So the deal was, I said to the owners, I said, Look, I'm going to make you an offer. But I need you to open it for me first, I can't buy a closed bar, I'd never owned a bar. Nice. Okay. My family had never owned a bar, I'd never owned a bar. While we had owned restaurants and hotels. I had not owned a bar. And, you know, while I consumed enough, my entire adult bar operated wine paid
Qasim Virjee 48:34
for the bar to exist. Yes,
Jasmine Daya 48:36
yes, I've done a lot of bottle service. I know what that requires. But I hadn't own one. And it didn't know a lot about the licensing in the operation. So I needed to have someone show me. And so I had the benefit of that I had a couple of weeks where the prior owner showed me a few things. And I picked it up really fast. And I transitioned everything in terms of all the accounts and gotten all the suppliers and the staff and how to operate the place. And then we were shut down again. Right. So I had six weeks of proper takeover and training. And
Qasim Virjee 49:13
at that point when you walk down again, yes.
Jasmine Daya 49:17
Then I had to figure out what to do. Yeah. And I was in tears, because, again, I had to lay everyone off at another business. And again, it took a toll on me and I just told all these people, you know, I'm new and so excited, and I can't wait to take this place to new heights. Sure. Yeah. I'm like, crushing them. I
Qasim Virjee 49:38
know it, man. I started to ventures in that in between period. I'd had to close them as well. Yeah, it's pretty it was pretty painful.
Jasmine Daya 49:47
Yeah, I mean, again, they seem to understand that it wasn't my fault. But as an entrepreneur, it weighs on you. It's on your shoulders in a way that you can never fully express to someone who's not in that position,
Qasim Virjee 49:59
or leave aside I'd like shedding the relationships in the staff. It's this kind of shedding the quest or questioning shedding the potentiality of the venture. Right? It's like, When will I ever be able to run this thing?
Jasmine Daya 50:10
Well, and that was a never ending lockdown that second time. Yeah. So here we are, you know, with this new lever and your
Qasim Virjee 50:17
hands. Oh, yeah. Okay, I thought you're doing about right now. No, no, no, you are.
Jasmine Daya 50:21
This is the never ending pandemic. But no. So the second lockdown was very long. So we shut down, I believe was December. Yeah. And then we're just like, closed, closed, closed. And during that time period, I traveled and did all these things that I was like, You know what, I'm just gonna go for it. Yeah. Because I saw what operated Club was like, and it's a lot. Yeah. And between the law firm, and the nightclub, and the three kids and I own other real estate, it was just, there's just a lot. So I'm like, I'm just gonna really enjoy this time. Because once this lockdown is over, I'm gonna be grounded in Toronto. Except it was like, not ending. And then I'm like, then I became angry, because I had bills mounting now to the bills I talked about earlier that aren't covered by the government. You know, I have costs of operations. Yeah, things that needed to get paid. And I have my own expenses, too. I mean, the kids aren't free. They have their needs. So I was getting frustrated and angry, and I couldn't do anything. But anyway, I was like, Okay, I got to occupy my mind again. So I picked up another bar.
Qasim Virjee 51:30
Okay. So during look, I'm already in it. Let's see what happened. And
Jasmine Daya 51:36
I know how to do it now. Yeah, so picked up another closed bar. And then I picked up a closed nightclub. When
Qasim Virjee 51:42
you say nightclub now we're talking like if we talked about square footage, so your first bar is how big just
Jasmine Daya 51:48
over 5000 square feet second bar 4500 square feet. Okay, so
Qasim Virjee 51:53
the same kind of model,
Jasmine Daya 51:54
actually very different, but the size is the same. And the next one was another, like 45 5000 are on the same size.
Qasim Virjee 52:00
Okay, so it's not about so the night when you say nightclub, like what's the day? Okay, so these are bars people go a drink? They probably
Jasmine Daya 52:06
the vodka bar. Yeah. Then I buy bar 244 in entertainment district. So prompt a is St. Lawrence Market area? Yeah, no, that one, it's an older, mature crowd. People in their 30s 40s 50s are out for good time. It's unlike any other place in the city. We have live entertainment. It was Soviet themed. I had to strip that because of the war, which was another hurdle. Bar to four fours in entertainment district. And it's what I call a college bar, okay. And it was known for their $3 drinks, which was very difficult to get rid of, but had been close for two years. So in that way, it was easy. But I still have people saying, well, it says online that you have $3 drinks and like there's something called inflation. And that was a really long time ago. And in fact, the prior owner had wanted to get rid of it. But then he was saved by not having to get rid of it because of the pandemic. So it wasn't a feasible model anymore. Yeah. Downtown rent, can you imagine? So there was bar to report then there was a nightclub i bought called cake nightclub. But I it had been closed for two years. And I bought it and rebranded it as angels den. And I created a space a nightclub that women would like going to. So everything was pink, you walked in and there was this scent in the air. And everything had the angel wings, I'm letting up as a talk about because I'm so proud of these projects that I've had. And it took forever to reopen because what I didn't realize is that there was a new bylaw created by the City of Toronto in 2020. And it was a new noise bylaw. And so you had to have a sound engineer prepare report to comply with the noise bylaw. Except I'm like how many nightclubs have opened since 2022. When I bought it None None because we were in a pandemic. So I kept asking them what do we need? Like I'm asking the City of Toronto municipal licensing office what do we need? Except they have no one answering the phones because they have no staff? Yeah, and then when I finally made all these threats and gotten department heads and whatever, so I'm like I have a closed business that I cannot open now that I can legally open because the restrictions of ease I can't open because you won't give me a license and you won't tell me what I need to comply with this noise
Qasim Virjee 54:15
is gonna come to like no, because no staff exist. No,
Jasmine Daya 54:19
they did it. So they said we are training for 99 types of licenses and so we don't have anyone I know that is not my problem. Would you like to pay my rent and insurance because there's no more subsidies for that either?
Qasim Virjee 54:30
Did you have to soundproof the so they find I finally got
Jasmine Daya 54:34
a sound engineer in and I didn't even know what I needed. They weren't telling me I to like figure this out on my own. And so I've got a sound engineer, and he came into the report and everything was done in compliance and quite frankly, I pretty sure that some things were overlooked because I got the mayor involved because it would nothing was moving. And I was actually having like a little bit of anxiety mode happening because let's go As
Qasim Virjee 55:00
you're stuck in like, like, you're stuck in limbo on this, it's kind of very frustrating for
Jasmine Daya 55:05
1000s a month are going in rent and insurance. And by the way, getting insurance for bar nightclub in Toronto is almost impossible. Now,
Qasim Virjee 55:11
I would think so, you know, you can't even get like there's only one company in Canada that ensures Vespas?
Jasmine Daya 55:16
No, I didn't. But we're talking about very limited selection, also on nightclubs, because I thought I told my broker, I'm like, Hey, but there was no claims. I know that I'm a personal jeweler, there was no claims, the insurer should be so happy, like no one got injured. So they shouldn't be pulling heavy paying out claims. He goes Jaza. And you're failing to recognize that all the businesses closed, and nobody paid their their premium. So there's claims that have to be paid from the past. However, they don't have any money that came in because no one paid their premium because everyone shut their doors. So they just decided to get out of the space altogether.
Qasim Virjee 55:48
Oh, I went through this with Can you imagine with office space, I went through this. So my broker that I had a couple years ago then for like five years was, you know, was was doing our stuff. They basically said, yeah, so Lloyd's of London is in Lloyds of London. Who was like the actual.
Jasmine Daya 56:11
So Lloyd's of London. They're in London. They're an insurer. Yeah. And they are they take forever by the way to pay claims. Just as a side note, I always have this joke with insurance defense lawyer saying is the check on a canoe with one man rowing? Because it would take months, whereas you know, there's something called the wire transfer. Yeah, so easy. Yeah. Did you on purpose, but
Qasim Virjee 56:30
you know, I was told through our broker of many years that like, Lloyds is no longer insuring offices as a segment because of the high risk to do with gatherings. And so it was, it was like 20 hearings, like will gather, like people coming together inside of real estate. So this was 2020 Going into 2021. And they had their whatever, internal miscommunications. But basically, they said, we've talked to all the different suppliers of policies, and no one will insure. I think it was Beasley that was like the in between. But anyway, they were like, we can't get insurance for your segment, which is at the time co working and as like so no co working operators in Canada are insurable. Yes, according to all of our
Jasmine Daya 57:18
that's the same thing. So Lloyds pulled out, but I have a funny story. So Lloyds also pulled out my understanding as they've pulled out of doing these nightclubs and bars, which they used to do, in least in Toronto. And I know that they were insuring these places because one of my areas of specialty within personal injury was commercial host liability and bouncer assault claims. And so my broker's like, basically you single handedly pushed them out. So now I can't even I can't even verbalize your own. I can't get them for my own business because I made them pay all the claims. I'm like, okay, great. I didn't know. I knew I had so much power. Oh, my
Qasim Virjee 57:59
goodness, you know. And then, but then you manage like I don't know how even us we managed to through NF P or another brokerage get? I think it was backed by the same company. Or maybe we're not on Barclays now or something. Well, I have insurance,
Jasmine Daya 58:11
but it's it was between the insurance in the downtown rent. Yeah. It's really stressful. Like we have not also bounced back in the downtown core.
Qasim Virjee 58:22
No. Traffic's down. Yeah, we
Jasmine Daya 58:25
have density on Monday and Friday. Right.
Qasim Virjee 58:27
And even if people live here, this is what got me very interesting, because we're in a very dense neighborhood in terms of, you know, proximity to condo buildings. But we saw no bump at all through the pandemic post pandemic, if we're even in post pandemic, in demand for co working one of our like, now our lower tier, so yes. Coming from our neighbors, we're a destination like people come from all over town to be here for meetings, particularly meetings and corporate events. And coworkers. Very few we have a limited co working like kind of quotient of our business and space allotted to it. But I was really surprised like people don't even if they live in condos don't necessarily want to like walk the streets.
Jasmine Daya 59:10
No, they don't. They don't it's like it's like a ghost town. And so that affects my businesses, right? Because they're not, you know, Thursday after work drinks. Friday after work drinks, that's not happening. And because
Qasim Virjee 59:21
there's there's, you know, for commuters, right, yeah, today and they don't want to on Tuesday
Jasmine Daya 59:25
and Wednesday, they're not going out for drinks, they're just going to get home to their kids as they should. So it's very sad because businesses downtown have not bounced back because the downtown core hasn't bounced back. And that impacts our city at large. Agreed.
Qasim Virjee 59:40
Right. It's difficult, like we facilitate a lot of these kinds of like offsites right, so what we will have up to 20 teams in different spaces on campus. between our three buildings flying in and you'll see suitcases all over the place we will be flying in from New York and from San Fran and from all over Canada for meetings, team meetings coming together. They're, and then we've had to take on a whole new kind of consulting layer of the business to almost like help them program what their the rest of their agenda in the city is. Yeah. Because it's so difficult for them to like navigate it these days to figure out like
Jasmine Daya 1:00:12
interesting things aren't open. Yeah. Like the restaurants aren't open. There's restaurants that are not open on Mondays and Tuesdays. Because one there's not enough people to fill them. But to that we have a staffing issue. Yeah, you've got a shortage of labor. I can't get people to come. So a lot of my bartenders, I've good crew finally nice. But oh, I have had to bartender many nights. And I've become very good. Have you know, a shake up and they said, cocktail next time you're at one of my bars. But, you know, I learned out of necessity. And I wasn't just going to stand there and watch people not get served because they didn't have enough bartender. So I would hop on the bar and I'm like, Well, I can't be the dumb girl. I've always heard out Yeah, fun. I've always had that mentality can be the dumb girl in the room. And so I couldn't be the dumb girl at the bar. Like I had to figure it out. And I'm glad I did. So I can hop on and off. The issue is when I get stuck on the bar, I can't put out the fires at all my bars.
Qasim Virjee 1:01:05
Well, yeah, it's this classic operator dilemma. Yeah, you don't want to be operating you can't
Jasmine Daya 1:01:09
be stuck there. Yeah, so I don't mind helping when there's overfill but it cannot be the dedicated bartender because there could be issues and when I say issues these are significant issues that happened in nightlife like a bylaw compliance officer. AGC. Oh, so liquor compliance officer. The police just in general stop by like things happen. A fight breaks out. Broken toilets, broken dishwasher broken. This broken, everything's broken.
Qasim Virjee 1:01:34
There's no forks. Yeah. So love the fork. Yes. So much. foreclose disappear. So
Jasmine Daya 1:01:42
yeah, that's just it's funny you say that actually disappear at my office. Everywhere. Forks were stealing for
Qasim Virjee 1:01:50
will love forks. It's crazy. The amount that we spend on forks
Jasmine Daya 1:01:54
and I, I have hot meals for lunch, I bring my wonderful home cooked meal from dinner the neck of the night before and I'm like going to get a fork and there's no fork, like great. I have to eat like my spaghetti with the spoon today.
Qasim Virjee 1:02:06
Like all the lunch that I plan now that I bring home from home is all spoon food, because I know I can get us well at
Jasmine Daya 1:02:12
least we're on the same. We have a same issue here. So getting back to staff shortages. Yeah. So we had significant issues. And we've got a good crew now. But my staff, most of them have a day job. And so you know, when I have events, private bookings on a Tuesday or Wednesday, corporate groups, I'm excited. But then I have to find out who can come. Yeah, because they have day jobs.
Qasim Virjee 1:02:37
And all the staffing agencies either closed through the pandemic, or are terribly unreliable.
Jasmine Daya 1:02:44
But they're also we've got one other issue. They're very expensive. Yeah. And so rates have gone up. When I, when I do the math, I'm like, Okay, I like to keep my venues at a low price. Because I remember what it was like when I'm when I have my little law firm. And I want to take people out, but I don't, I don't want to spend 1000s, because it doesn't make sense. But I want to take them out to a nice place. And so I want to be that destination at my bars where it's affordable, for good people that want to use the venue. Yeah. And I'm looking at it not from a short sighted lens, these people are going to come back, right. And as long as they're happy, I'm happy. They're coming back. It's all good. But it has to make sense now. Because if my labor cost is high, and you know, my inventory is now high. Well, there has to be some profitability there. Otherwise, it just doesn't make sense, right?
Qasim Virjee 1:03:39
No, I mean, it's getting tough, like, for so many reasons. And some of the macro pictures that you've painted, of course, play into it, like the interest rates, cost of borrowing, you know, this, like staff churn shortage question, it's very difficult to operate and operate profitably. And, you know, of course, the streets expectation, like people, the end users expectation of hospitality services is Oh, is that if it exists, it's kind of its institutional. That's the way I look at it. You know, maybe because we don't have a generally a very entrepreneurial society in Canada. You know, your end user is kind of coming in. And assuming that you Everything's cool, like you're doing what you're doing. Yeah, selling your service, because it's like, it's what you do, and you're probably making, and this goes back to the teenage Sunday making. So everyone thinks that wherever I think, you know, what I think it is, is to do with the aesthetics of transaction. So as people become it was a reality is become more digital. They're set apart from true transactions. If you see numbers moving in and out of your bank account, if you're trading crypto, if the fluidity of numbers is something that you're familiar with as transactions, and then you go somewhere and you actually pay for something and receive a suit reverse back immediately. Dual realities become merged in people's heads. So I think they kind of like they don't calculate the value of transactions. You know, something I grew up with my dad doing is any business that I go to, I can break down their their business model. Yeah, like calculate approximately how much I
Jasmine Daya 1:05:18
don't know that the toilet replacement that's happening like every week because some drunk person smashes it. Yeah, it used to cost me five 600 bucks to replace, and now they're costing me 1000. And
Qasim Virjee 1:05:28
you've got wait times on like getting the plumber in the car. Yeah, he's like, yes. Is that how you had to come? Yeah,
Jasmine Daya 1:05:34
yeah, so everything has gone up, everything is costing more. And I'm not increasing my prices at that rate, otherwise, people will just not come, right. And the other issue I'm having is that a lot of guests right now they, you know, they expect the best of everything. And I want to give them the best of everything. But it may be that that day, I had a bartender just not show up for work. They don't call they just don't show up. And or that day, the coat check girl called in sick. So we have no code check that night, like little things happen. And people get very upset. And they're very quick to just go put a bad Google review.
Qasim Virjee 1:06:17
That's the worst thing. It's so
Jasmine Daya 1:06:18
and I'm so it hurts me. And you know, people in my, in my workplace that keep telling me, Jasmine, you know, they were just angry people or you know how hard you work. Don't sweat the small stuff, but I can't because my heart is in this business. And I'm like, they don't know that the bartender didn't show up. And that's why we're short staffed, they don't know that my coach girl was sick. And that's what enough code check. Like, it's just there's so much stuff happens behind the scenes and people are very unforgiving in the city. Like if they have one bad experience, one little things the night might have been fantastic.
Qasim Virjee 1:06:50
Again, I think a lot of it is because of Instagram, you know, in terms of people living behind screens looking at kind of fake perfection. You're right. And there's this anticipation also with the low utilization, like people not necessarily going out every day, every experience that they have every service experience, whether it's a hotel, a restaurant, a bar, a nightclub, even with us meeting space, the expectation for that experience is is like a once a week. So they're like this has to make my way
Jasmine Daya 1:07:19
this has to be amazing. Yeah, this has to be amazing. And of course, it's
Qasim Virjee 1:07:23
not transactional in the sense of like, their patron their customer. And so they understand that they are kind of part of the service provision. Yeah. It's it's this very kind of like Amazon Prime expectation. Yeah.
Jasmine Daya 1:07:36
instant satisfaction, satisfaction. Yeah. Instant gratification. But
Qasim Virjee 1:07:40
so it makes it difficult, but at the same time, well, yeah, that's a separate discussion, how to manage your Google reviews, you know, oh, gosh, drown the bad ones, and good ones. You know, the people,
Jasmine Daya 1:07:54
you know, it's hard people, there's a lot of people that love my venues, but they're not all gonna post because they're just so happy. They're happy to be there. And that's what it's about. It's all the people that weren't happy to feel like they need to make it known. So yes, we could talk for hours about Google reviews,
Qasim Virjee 1:08:08
yeah, Google reviews, and the onus on business to do digital marketing and engage in digital marketing. And like, that's a whole business
Jasmine Daya 1:08:17
digital marketing. So I did a course at MIT on digital marketing in recent years, okay. And the reason I did it was because I just felt this was pre pandemic. And I felt that people with my law firm, were trying to sell me things and talking to me in a language that I knew a little bit of, yeah, but not enough of Yeah. And they were trying to sell me things that I was pretty sure I didn't need, but wanted to make sure that I didn't need it and have the language to use to explain why I didn't need it, instead of again, being the dumb girl in the room, as I said before, so I did this course. And I learned so much. And I'm so happy that I took it because the world is moved at a rapid pace. And I needed to have the skill set because digital marketing is a necessity in any business today. Yeah,
Qasim Virjee 1:09:10
you can't put a sandwich board on the street.
Jasmine Daya 1:09:12
It's not going to reach out by a
Qasim Virjee 1:09:14
radio ad or a TV ad. Yeah. It's all digital. And it's a tricky, tricky thing, because it's it's constantly fluid. It's always changing. It
Jasmine Daya 1:09:25
is, of course, sometime soon.
Qasim Virjee 1:09:27
Yeah. Right. It's like the courses themselves or, you know, the people writing the courses need to take courses, it is just becoming a nightmare. Yeah, so I think that's another discussion. And I think that's a roundtable discussion. We'll have to have, you know, few small business people talking about kind of like, what they have to do and what they have to know, in order to be relevant. And a side note to that is you can't rely on agencies. If you're a small business, it's like really difficult to rely on a digital marketing agency.
Jasmine Daya 1:09:56
That's one problem I'm having with it. hit it right on, on the head. One issue I'm having is that because of my online presentation, because people know that I have multiple businesses, because of everything I've created. There's the assumption that I can afford it. And I don't know if that's true or not. But the point is that just because I can or cannot afford something that's not what I'm looking at, I look at, does it make sense for that business that I want to market? So if we're talking about puravida, for example, prompt a vodka bar? What is the spend for that? What makes sense for that particular business? Not what is Jasmine's affordability? Yeah, I need to. And the other thing is I, one of the questions that I hate that people ask me, I understand what they asked me it's a normal question. But whether it's a contractor or someone providing me the service, they want to know what my budget is. And I never tell them my budget because I don't have one. I know what makes sense for what I've asked for. If I tell you that my budget is 20,000. You are going to spend my 20,000. I don't want to spend my 20,000. If it can be done in 2000. Yes,
Qasim Virjee 1:11:13
your budgets 2005. used to calculate your answer to as close
Jasmine Daya 1:11:18
to zero as possible. That is my budget. My other the other question people have asked me is well, what's your timeline? When When are you looking to start? And my my favorite response? How's tomorrow for you? And they look at me and I'm like, Oh, is that too soon? What about the day after? You know, I would I have an idea in mind. It's not for next year. I want to do it right now. Tell me when you can do it. So I have a new lounge coming.
Qasim Virjee 1:11:49
So this will be the fourth Tality venture? Yes.
Jasmine Daya 1:11:52
Actually, there's also a fifth, but we'll talk about fourth. Okay. So with fourth. It's in Yorkville, and I had someone come in the space, an interior designer, and she asked me the same thing like what's your timeline? And I said the same thing? How about tomorrow? Oh, how about the next day or next week was good for you? And she said it was going to take six months? And I'm like, I'm sorry. Are you going to pay for this? Why didn't you tell me this before we even met? Why would I wait six months for sofas and I don't know other decor? Stuff. UK? I'll just go to Wayfair. That's fine. So I don't know, I was really irritated with that. But it did teach me a lesson to ask in advance of the meeting. Yeah. Can you have? Can you have this done by a certain time? Or what's your timeline? Like? What's your schedule? Like? Absolutely. Which I just assumed incorrectly, that they would just have time? It's
Qasim Virjee 1:12:47
difficult to anticipate? Yeah, vendor partner, anyone like in business? I feel like even more so these days, you know, like post pandemic supply chain issues, whatever it is. It's really difficult to assume simpatico and, and to assume kind of like let's just call it motivation. Well, you're
Jasmine Daya 1:13:11
right. And she said to me, she brought that up. She said, Look, we may want something and there's a lot of supply chain issues I go, then get something else
Qasim Virjee 1:13:19
find the vendor that doesn't have
Jasmine Daya 1:13:21
issues. So it's a little table Lake No, totally, just get something else. So we were not on the same wavelength. Needless to say. So going going to someone
Qasim Virjee 1:13:31
with a fourth place is opening up soon. You're so that's the Yorkville one.
Jasmine Daya 1:13:35
And then I have another project happening outside of Canada. Cool. It's more of its hospitality. So I've bought I'm not telling you where yet because we haven't released this yet. And I don't know when your podcast is coming out. But it's six acres of land waterfront property on an island that's well known. And it has a villa right now and we're looking to expand on the property and develop property into either more villas or a small boutique hotel. We need to go down there and figure out what's going to make more sense. I do you have a partner this is the first time I'm doing a business venture with a partner which is a big deal for me because I have trust issues. And I also am the type of person that likes to do everything my way immediately now yesterday, you know, so this is new, new ground for me and hopefully it's it works well.
Qasim Virjee 1:14:29
So how are you? We can obviously do 10 episodes of our podcast and we'll have you on again. What what do you primarily spending your time on then? If you were to divvied up? Like are you have you moved away from LA Are you done with it?
Jasmine Daya 1:14:45
I still have a law firm I haven't been taking on new clients for about six to eight months now. Okay. My my realization let's put it is that I can no longer balance the firm we With all these entrepreneurial pursuits, and I loved practicing law, I absolutely loved it. I attribute a lot of my success to being a practicing lawyer and meeting the connections and learning the law and understanding everything that is necessary to operate my businesses, like I negotiate my own lease agreements. I have redone lease agreements, I was sitting on a beach recently in Hilton Head, and redoing a lease agreement that a lawyer for the other side had drafted and I'm like, you know, by the time I get my lawyer to do this, I'm paying my loan student myself, it's just easier. So I do a lot of it myself, and even the liquor licensing stuff that normally you pay a lawyer to take care of I do do it myself, business licensing, I do it myself. So it's definitely I'm using my legal skills for my own businesses at this point. But the pandemic definitely took away a lot of the fun aspects of the law and just kind of left me with the law. So I'm not in personal injury going around to different courts anymore. I don't meet my clients in person anymore. All our proceedings that were done at court or in court reporters offices are now down on Zoom, I'm trapped at my desk, with sore hips sore back, you know, shifting around, like I just, it is not for me anymore. It's also become more expensive in terms of the disbursements and the outlay. And the the overhead is just it's too high. The business model doesn't make enough sense to me anymore. It's a very crowded market. The last few years, as I mentioned, all jokes aside, you've had less people injured, you have the same number of lawyers all fighting for the same clients. So you're just just all around for me. I'm the type of person that if if I don't love what I'm doing, it's time to move on. Yeah. And I loved it. And I don't want to be that cranky lawyer that just doesn't love it anymore, but still doing it. So I am making my exit. And I just announced that publicly a few days ago. Okay, congratulations. Thank you. It was bittersweet because it's been 17 years since I became a lawyer and 21 years since I started law school. And it's been an amazing journey met so many incredible people. But when it's time, it's time.
Qasim Virjee 1:17:11
And so hospitality is your focus.
Jasmine Daya 1:17:14
Hospitality is a focus. Real estate investments is another. But you know, I've got logros bump in the road in one day, I'd still like it to be a movie. I've got my cookbooks three more coming. So there's lots of different projects. Like I'm really excited every day there's not enough hours in the day I fight sleep as my office manager tells me, I My eyes are closing and I'm trying so hard to stay awake. And you know, I can hear her in my head. She's my last thought these days. Before I go to sleep as my office manager saying stop fighting sleep, you need to sleep. But I'm enjoying everything I work on.
Qasim Virjee 1:17:54
And that's everyone's dream is to have a life filled with excitement, adventure and facing challenges with, you know, with enthusiasm.
Jasmine Daya 1:18:05
Yeah, no, it's never a dull moment, loving every moment.
Qasim Virjee 1:18:07
Thanks for sharing your story with us. Thanks for having me.