26 October, 2020
Looking back to the spring of 2020: Wearing your values on not just your sleeve
At the initiative of Quebec's head scientist, The Québec Research Funds and OSEntreprendre have joined forces to promote the resilience, creativity and initiatives of enterprises having won the Student Founder of a Business Prize awarded by the OSEntreprendre Challenge.
Janie Boivin had big plans to mark the first anniversary of Vêtements Moss Clothing, an ecological and equitable off-the-rack clothing enterprise founded in May 2019. These included a reception at the contemporarily chic offices of LABoite, the business incubator at Cégep de l’Outaouais, where the young woman had recently completed a DCS in business management.
"We wanted to present our new collection of tops to our partners and associates. It was also going to be an opportunity to meet out clients, since most of our sales are online," says Boivin, now the sole owner of Moss, having recently purchased the shares from her friend Lara Kelly, another of the enterprise's co-founders.
That was before the pandemic was declared in mid-March 2020. Boivin's plans changed overnight. She went from organizing a celebration to reviewing her procurement and marketing strategies to ensure the viability of her enterprise.
"Our ecological clothing had been made abroad by an environmentally-aware company that provided good working conditions to its employees. With the pandemic, the company reoriented its production," she says.
First, Boivin had to find a way for Moss to reach its clientele, mainly young adults aware of the fashion industry's heavy ecological footprint, which is considered to be the second most polluting in the world. To do so, the entrepreneur steadily increased her presence on social networks through collaborative arrangements, contests and promotions.
"I also created a group of brand ambassadors whom I offer freebies to and consult about certain business decisions," she adds. This 100% organic advertising is effective; Moss' online shop makes several sales a week.
But one needs inventory to sell products. Boivin thus turned to Alterna éco-solutions, a Quebec enterprise and OSEnterprendre Challenge winner, to resolve this particular issue. "The new Moss collection is made right here in Quebec, with organic cotton that is both pesticide and toxic ink free," she states proudly. "We are able to turn a profit despite COVID-19. The pandemic forced us to innovate while staying true to our community, social and environmental values."
Participation in the OSEntreprendre Challenge
- Participant Business Creation section Outaouais 2019
- Jury's Favorite Student Founder of a Business Prize - Outaouais - Les Fonds de recherche du Québec