Recycled clothing store gets motivational boost from entrepreneur development program
Danielle and Bill Perry always had an entrepreneurial spirit deep down inside, but just needed a little inspirational kick-start to get them moving and make their dream come true.~
“We really wanted to be self-employed,” said Danielle, who along with husband Bill recently opened their second Priced Green recycled clothing store on Wyandotte Street West, just a few blocks from campus.
Until recently Danielle was a stay-at-home mother and Bill was a production manager at a window factory. They had a side business, an on-line thrift store, but wanted actual retail space. They had some retail experience, but felt they could use a little more business acumen and practical know-how to make their vision reality.
Enter the university’s Youth Entrepreneurship Program. Led by business professor Francine Schlosser and law professor Myra Tawfik, the project helps young entrepreneurs by providing market research, business plan preparation, and assistance with patenting and incorporation guidance. Now in its third year, the program’s funding was recently renewed with $75,000 from the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade.
The couple attended three program seminars in the fall of 2009 and had the chance to meet with other successful local entrepreneurs who critiqued their plans and offered them with some helpful guidance and support. Bill said the two most important services they provided were motivation and their availability as a resource for information.
“They were always there whenever we had any questions and they offered a lot of great advice,” he said. “We had a business model, but it drastically changed throughout the process. We began with a concept that eventually evolved into a business plan.”
The couple opened their first store in Pillette Village in April and their newest location shortly after Labour Day. They hope to open a third store in the next few months and will soon hire their first new employee. Their business is just one of five that launched in the last year with help from the program.
“We try to help local businesses establish themselves by giving them the tools they need to succeed,” said Tawfik. “We really want to recruit young entrepreneurs from campus. We’re trying to build an entrepreneurial culture here.”
Unlike stores that focus on vintage clothing, the couple sells current fashions and rather than a consignment system, they offer credit or pay cash for the clothes they select for re-sale. They hope to capitalize on a trend towards increased sustainability in the retail sector.
“Right now there’s so much clothing out there and it’s amazing how much goes to the landfill,” said Bill.
This year's seminars will be held on Oct. 14, Oct. 28 and Nov. 18. A forum will be held Nov. 27 and one-on-one mentoring runs from January through April. For more information, contact the Centre for Enterprise and Law at 519-253-3000, ext. 4627.
— Stephen Fields
Bill and Danielle Perry in their Wyandotte Street store. Reproduced with permission of the Daily News, September 29, 2010