Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Paige Boersma, wholaunched the Bicyclette Boutique online store in August 2010, followed by two pop-up shops that fall, and then opened a Queen West storefront in March 2011. What was the inspiration for her boutique? Find out in today’s profile…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
Bicyclette Boutique is an independent clothing store that offers a finely curated assortment of pieces. We’re a lifestyle brand that merges downtown, city life with a whimsical twist – street style meets fairy tale. We believe in finding magic in the every day, and like telling stories and offering an escape.
Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
Bicyclette actually started as a school project for my creative thesis in my final year at Ryerson. I came up with the concept and started building the visuals and branding for the boutique, tracking the whole process and gathering inspiration on a blog and sharing that with my online community. I had been working in a number of different retail positions, both independent and corporate, and fell in love with the retail fashion industry. I saw a gap in the market that I felt I had the vision and skills to fill, and imagined a boutique that had a whimsical style that would focus more on the overall experience and tell a story. The product assortment and how we style our pieces has always been an extremely important aspect – we only carry products we love and are constantly searching for unique pieces that are hard to find and special in their own way, while still being conscious of price and accessibility.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
I love the variety of what I do and the fact that I’m involved in every aspect of my business. No two days are ever the same and I wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s a huge element of creativity in what I do, and that for me is probably the best part. At the same time, that can also be a challenging aspect; figuring out how to divide my time and learning that sometimes it’s OK to not do everything myself and to ask for help.
Where do you see your business going in five years?
Right now, we’re really focused on building Bicyclette’s online presence, through both the online store and also the Bicyclette blog and other projects. I really want to take the brand global, and I think that exceeds far beyond simply selling clothes. We just released our first short film, ‘90 Days’, which was a labour of love that celebrates summer fashion and romance, and I think this is the beginning of a really exciting chapter for us.
Those who follow us online will also know that we have a serious love affair with California, and I’ve often thought that if Bicyclette expanded to open a second store, it would be there.
What does success look like to you?
Being able to do what I love and support myself on that, allowing myself to dream big, and being challenged and inspired on a daily basis. Having Bicyclette be a destination for style and inspiration both online and in-store. Being an employer of choice and having the opportunity to collaborate with other creative visionaries.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
It may seem fairly obvious, but opening the doors on our first day on Queen West will always be a huge milestone for me. It was something that I had been working towards for a long time, but also a process that happened extremely quickly once I made the decision to sign the lease. It was a completely surreal, dream-come-true moment.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
I’ll speak more to the entrepreneurial side of things, since that’s what I relate to most, but surround yourself with people you admire and who support you – it sounds so simple, but I think it’s incredibly important. Work hard and do your research. Talk to people, learn about the industry you’re interested in, who your competition is, and how you can set yourself apart. It’s essential to balance practicality and reality with a sense of adventure and risk in order to make things happen.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
We’ve been involved in a number of community and charity events, such as donating gift certificates and styling services to high school fashion shows, running a coat drive for the local women’s shelter during the holiday season, among others. We’re very community-focused, so we’re constantly looking for other opportunities to get involved and support in any way we can.
What is Notable to you?
Being notable is both staying true to who you are and not being afraid to dream big. Follow your heart and stand out from the crowd.
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How do you keep active, energetic, and vibrant?
My lifestyle in general keeps me on the go, and living and working in the neighbourhood of West Queen West helps with that as well. Running, biking, and wandering through Trinity Bellwoods with my dog, Nico. I love exploring the city, finding inspiration in a new neighbourhood. Music is an important element in my life, whether it’s the background soundtrack to a long workday, a live show, or the perfect playlist on a road trip with my girlfriends. I also love to travel, and I’m lucky that Bicyclette has provided me with the opportunity to do more of that – I’m excited about where that could take me in the future as well.