By KD Dao • November 2021

Founder Feature: KD’s Lifestyle Change & She’s Not the Only One

When I went to Queen’s University for Commerce, many of my classmates were focused on finance or consulting from day one; had their paths drawn out. I, however, didn’t know where I’d end up. By my third year, I took an HR internship with Shell out in Alberta, and they hired me back after I graduated.

At the time I thought, “Okay, this is a good fit for me.” So, I moved out to Calgary and after a year and a half, I realized this wasn’t the city I wanted to end up in. And I wasn’t particularly passionate about oil & gas…Being out there in the world of work, seeing real life for what it is – that I’m going to be working for a long, long time – made me realize I better find something I really enjoy.

So, I moved back to my hometown of Toronto, and for the next 4 years worked in a couple roles at a real estate private equity fund. Safe to say, I loved my team and discovered real estate is my industry.

But as the ‘corporate honeymoon’ subdues, I realized I could continue this for the rest of my career…or I could use my time to create something that’s really needed in Toronto.

That’s when Sheryl introduced her Ryna concept to me, and I resonated with it deeply. Here’s the thing: I’ve had a total of 20-35 roommates in my life so far. It’s been the by-product of university – exchange when I was the sole Queen’s student going to Portugal – new fourth year housemates – new roomies for internship – new roomies my second time in Calgary…When I came back home, I was sick and tired of it. And all my friends in Toronto already lived together or lived with their significant other.

I wasn’t in university anymore where there’s usually a mutual friend and trust. With Toronto so big, I wasn’t comfortable shacking up with strangers so I ended up at my parent’s place. But if Ryna existed at the time – a network of property rentals for empowered women – it would’ve been perfect for me. It would’ve made my life a lot easier. My friend who got a job offer in DC, put a priority pro in her decision-making list “if my friend ends up moving to DC I will have a roommate.” You can tell how important a support system is when it comes to living in a big city.

Ryna was also introduced to me when I was going through a major lifestyle change. Living with my parents hadn’t seemed that bad because I’d been at my boyfriend’s most of the time. But when we split after 2 years, it sprung me to look for my own place. Again, none of my friends were looking. My circle was full of 5-year couples, so even when my friends were there for me, I couldn’t help but feel lonely.

I wanted to meet people I could talk to and connect with in my perspective. Luckily, Ryna was in the works at that time. Sheryl and I grew close and bought Ryna’s third property, where I experienced being a Ryna tenant first-hand. It confirmed I wasn’t the only one who needed something like Ryna. Other women have similar problems sprung on them – moving (maybe back) to the city with a bleak roommate scene, needing to move because they split with their partner, or because their roommates are moving in with their partners.

Coming from, but not limited to, those situations – it was so nice to move into the community feel that Ryna is all about. It’s about going home, where you not only love your place, but you love the people in it. It was so nice to room with new girlfriends you can enjoy life with after a long, hard day – who were also single/in the early stages of dating. Who you’d come home to – even if you’re in different life stages – where you can try out new things – like a rock-climbing class near your house (happened with me and one of my Ryna roomies!).

We’re diverse but likeminded in our strength as women, who thrive in community. We’d have movie nights once a month, wine & cheeses; it was exactly the kind of change in my life I was looking for. Having lived the Ryna concept for myself – I have a newfound appreciation for it. I lived the difference it makes, creating those friendships and bonds with my Ryna roommates.

It’s an experience in the city you don’t really get unless you happen to get extremely lucky. Where you have a fantastic landlord, a fantastic space and so forth. And we can’t forget: living in Toronto is expensive. No one wants to spend 80% of their salary on rent. We want to keep costs low so we can all have a chance to travel, live life and truly learn that way, go to the amazing restaurants that’s part of the city’s charm.

I’ve partnered with Sheryl for all these reasons; I want to create this opportunity for people, so that living well in the city is not only for the extremely lucky. I want women to have a trusted resource when they need the lifestyle shift – a stage that’s very common now – where Ryna can be there for you. To be the property rental women can trust, love, and form empowering friendships out of.

So, welcome to Ryna – our living revolution!