Michael McFadden: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Michael McFadden, Founder and Creative Director of Boto, Canada’s first line of designer men’s swim shorts that offers European-inspired styles tailored to fit the tastes of the modern man…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I do it all: Product design, sourcing, web development, sales, PR, logistics. I wear more hats than swim shorts these days.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I have a background in fashion marketing and realized there was a need for better options in men’s swimwear. I was looking for a pair of swim shorts for my trip to Jamaica. I had outgrown the baggy boardshorts and was not ready for the elastic waistband volleys. Further investigation online found high-end European brands that were a bit too short and far too expensive for my budget.

I realized then I had to start Canada’s first boutique men’s swimwear brand. I have travelled extensively to the beaches in the South and love the Latin culture. This line is the perfect marriage of my interests and expertise.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part is meeting so many great people. Right now I am building the brand and engaging with designers, photographers, bloggers, editors, and customers.  The challenge is finding the time to do everything.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I am continuing to expand the product line and in five years men will be able to outfit themselves with a total beach look from Boto. I see us hiring 3-4 full time people and continuing to tap the amazing talent pool of Montreal freelancers.

What does success look like to you?
My dream is for Boto to be an internationally-renowned brand. There is Villebrequin from St. Tropez, Orlebar Brown from London, and now Boto from Montreal.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
We received our first production of swim shorts in July. These shorts were the product of a year of development. We sourced multiple fabrics, designed many styles and developed countless fit samples to achieve the ideal swim short. We had received feedback from industry professionals but had yet to prove our concept with the consumer. It was the end of the swimwear season but Archies Surf Shop in Grand Bend, Ontario was willing to give them a try. Our Boto shorts were on shelf at $69 beside international brands that were already discounted below $50, and we sold out in three weeks. The consumer had spoken and we have not looked back since.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
I would advise young entrepreneurs to put quality above all else when developing their business.  Throughout the process the suppliers, designers, photographers will all ask you to accept their work even if it is not perfect in your eyes. Always insist that everything be done as well as possible and then come back to it later to see how you can further improve.  Once the product has launched it will be in the hands of consumers, buyers, bloggers; a high quality product and impressive brand image will drive your business to heights you could not have imagined.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
We have collaborated with a few of the yacht clubs around Montreal to understand what sailors would like to see in the ideal swim short. This past summer the Beaconsfield Yacht Club was holding a fundraiser for the Cancer Wellness Center. Boto donated some swim shorts to help raise donations through the silent auction. We are a local Montreal brand with all of our freelancers tapped from the local talent pool. We have received a lot of support from our local community and will continue to give back.

What to you is notable?
Innovation! Develop a great product and show consumers what they are missing.  Henry Ford said it best: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

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