Stacked with homegrown labels, floral wallpaper, and classic (but edgy) styles, Victoire Boutique is the store women across Ottawa have always wanted. The boutique first opened ten years ago in the heart of the capital by long-time friends Regine Paquette and Katie Frappier. And it quickly became one of Ottawa’s go-to places for ageless wardrobe staples and high-quality Canadian design.
“What makes Victoire special to me is the connections we’ve been able to establish between our designers and our customers,” explains Regine, “I really love that our customers are a part of that process (of things being made and creation in Canada) and it’s not just buying something at a shop and you don’t know where it comes from or how it was made.”
The duo has since opened a second location in Ottawa and expanded to Toronto, so it’s surprising to hear that neither of the co-founders had prior experience working within the fashion industry or running small businesses. They started fresh with nothing but an entrepreneurial spirit and an idea. And they relied closely on the expertise of mentors and industry experts to guide them along the way.
“[Regine and Katie] came in with a business plan, their ideas and overall vision for Victoire and really just wanted to absorb any advice that we could possibly give them. They were both incredibly hardworking and I think that it truly reflected in how their store succeeded.” Says Invest Ottawa Entrepreneurship Advisor, Christine Evans.
The duo spent a lot of time attending workshops to learn their small business basics and at any major crux of their development, returned back to Invest Ottawa, to once again utilize the resources. Even now, a decade after their original launch, they are still attending classes. Except now they are now learning how to grow their online business instead of ways to grow their employee base, and they are attending SEO workshops instead of cash flow seminars.
The two friends can attest to the fact that mentorship was a critical factor in their success. Even today they continue to receive advice as well as mentor other founders. Regine says collaboration and support among businesses is the only way to grow and thrive as entrepreneurs.
“We continue to have mentors,” says Regine, “it’s indispensable. We seek them out continuously because every new stage that you reach in your business you need new mentors to guide you through. If you’re an entrepreneur, I think you have to be looking for mentors in every opportunity.”
If you are a small business within the Ottawa region and are ready to seek out help, see what Invest Ottawa can do for entrepreneurs such as yourself.