Marnie Vandenbroek-Hookey and Jamie Hayes became friends in Grade 2. Over the years, interests, family, and life took them in different directions, but whenever they got together, they picked up right where they left off. In October 2018, Vandenbroek-Hookey and Hayes connected again over coffee. “We chatted and giggled for a couple of hours, and then Marnie said, ‘We should do this and put it out there.’” The pair are passionate about sharing their authentic selves and encouraging other women to do the same. “We want women to support each other and embrace their own and each other’s uniqueness. Women should be on the same team, not in competition with each other,” shares Hayes.
Vandenbroek-Hookey and Hayes launched Helmet Free Life on social media two weeks after their coffee date. “I remembered a saying, ‘Life’s hard, get a helmet,’ and I never really liked it. We want to encourage people to be a little more carefree, so take off the helmet and experience life,” explains Hayes. Helmet Free Life has over 5,500 Instagram followers, a blog, and a donut. “Our Instagram account exploded when Global Donuts came out with the Helmet Free Life Donut,” explains Vandenbroek-Hookey. Hayes came up with the whipped cream filled donut, and her husband reached out to his friend at Global Donuts to make a batch. Fast forward six months and Global sold over 300 Helmet Free Life Donuts when they were released.
Helmet Free Life shares messages of positivity and encouragement, as well as moments from their daily lives, on Instagram. “A lot of women look at social media and don’t see themselves because it’s not reality. We share our lives, including our struggles, because so often we are struggling with the same things, and it’s important to know you are not alone,” explains Vandenbroek-Hookey. The pair share about fashion, style, food, and family. “We take our role as influencers seriously, and we have a responsibility on our platform to create a space that is inclusive and safe for everyone.”
‘BE YOU DO YOU’ is Helmet Free Life’s slogan, and the pair created t-shirts in limited edition runs for their followers. They have also been approached by a number of businesses to promote their products and services. “This is turning into a business, so we developed a media kit and have a lot of exciting ideas for 2020,” explains Vandenbroek-Hookey. The pair are thrilled to be working with all of the great local businesses that have reached out so far in hopes to provide their followers with options as to what our community has to offer.
In October 2019, Vandenbroek-Hookey spoke at HAL Social’s The Birds Papaya event. “I was so nervous to speak in front of 250 people, but the positive feedback I got from sharing my story was so worth it.” Both Vandenbroek-Hookey and Hayes will be speaking at the event in 2020. Motivational speaking, a podcast, and an expanded BE YOU DO YOU line of clothing are in the works for Helmet Free Life. “Our positive message is having an impact, and we are excited about what the future holds.”