Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Adrien Lavoie, who sells shoes, apparel and other sporting goods both online at Wooki.ca and at his recently opened bricks and mortar retail store in Gatineau. What was the inspiration for his career route? Find out in today’s profile…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
My business, Wooki.ca, sells shoes, apparel and other sporting goods online. I recently opened a bricks and mortar retail store in Gatineau, QC.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
In 2004, I started working for a local bicycle store. Another employee and I started selling bicycle parts on eBay Canada. At that time we only sold a few parts here and there with a very basic knowledge of e-commerce. With time and trial and error, we were able to effectively exploit a part of the online market. Six years later, I was confident enough to try and start my own e-tail store and cater to a different market. After establishing contacts with a few companies and acquiring a small inventory, I used platforms like eBay to start selling online.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
Being self-employed and seeing how quickly things can change. Every small decision can have a huge and direct impact on the company’s direction.
Right now, the most challenging part would probably be maintaining the retail store. When I was working solely online, it was less complicated and the physical retail store added a whole new dynamic to the mix; displaying the merchandise, physically pricing the items, purchasing a cash register, washing the windows and face-to-face contact with clients. Even with my prior experience in a bicycle retail store, the classic retail aspect was still fairly new to me since most of my experience was selling merchandise online on eBay.
What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
I’ve been working seven days a week for the past five months without taking a day off, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make to create a successful business! Even with my busy schedule, I still manage to find time to have fun – work hard, play hard!
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself having a bigger warehouse space for my online merchandise and having trusted employees to help manage the store so I can devote more time strategizing different growth opportunities to grow my business. But honestly, the business is so constantly changing that it’s hard to know where I’ll be even in two years!
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
I guess the major challenge I’ve encountered in my relatively short career would be opening my store; just thinking of every little detail and who to reach out to were my some of my biggest challenges. Starting a store from scratch with relatively no experience required me to think of things like my Point of Sale (POS) system, merchandising, inventory shipment and city regulations for commercial signage. The whole process from A to Z was a learning experience and should I ever need to do it again, I would totally be able to!
What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Success, for me, would be looking back at what you’ve achieved and smiling.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Opening my store and winning eBay’s 2013 Young-preneur of the Year Award, which recognizes entrepreneurially-spirited sellers under the age of 29. Being recognized by eBay for being the top young entrepreneur in 2013 was pretty cool!
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Procrastinating won’t get you anywhere. Everyone has great ideas; the difference between you and them is conceptualizing that great idea. My advice would be to just get started and move on to the next step!
Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
Bam Bam Patate because it’s right next to my store! They have great burgers and poutine.
When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
Simply hanging out with friends, riding my motorcycle or going skiing in the wintertime.
Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
Wherever my friends are.
If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
I have a big Grooveshark playlist on the store’s computer but I particularly love listening to some Wu-Tang when working.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
I’ve always been very entrepreneurial, so even though I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, I would probably be trying to figure out a way to start my own business.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I love supporting local athletes and I currently sponsor three (BMX, skiing and longboarding) When I was younger, having a support system meant so much. It encouraged me to strive to be my best, regardless of what I was trying to accomplish. I admire what these young athletes are doing and I happily know that I am contributing to their success.
What to you is notable?
People who are open-minded and who actually listen and take an interest in what you have to say.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
I’ve been using the iPhone since it first came out… lately, I’ve been tempted to switch to Android since all my services/calendars/contacts/emails go through Google – maybe one day!
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