Sylvie Bouchard has had a rather unusual journey in her career, leading to the creation of her business, Pure Laine, located on Principale Street in Saint-Sauveur. With her naturally enthusiastic and positive attitude, she was able to turn what some would consider unfortunate events into an interesting business opportunity!
Originally from the Montérégie region, Sylvie began her studies in accounting at the age of 22 at Université du Québec in Montréal (UQAM) where she obtained her Chartered Accountant diploma. At the age of 28, she moved to the Eastern Townships where she held various positions in her field of expertise for more than 20 years.
More than just the traditional profile!
Throughout her various jobs, there is one constant: Sylvie does not have the traditional profile of a chartered accountant, who is sometimes pictured as an old-fashioned person preoccupied with balancing columns of numbers or producing financial statements!
No! Not at all, she is concerned about the well-being of her employees: she does not hesitate, for example, to go and greet the employees in the factory or to suggest to her employer to give an employee the day off on his or her birthday, in fact, incentives that promote the value of employees; but her "extravaganza" does not always seem to be understood by employers, and yet these are the characteristics of a good entrepreneur!
Turning negative into positive!
In the fall of 2012, the door closes on a job she had held for seven years, and she found herself out of work. Her job hunt led her to a company in Saint-Jérôme in the same field as her last employer. However, this company was in a precarious financial situation and closed its doors for good barely three months later. Sylvie is unemployed but she will transform her passion for knitting into a business opportunity.
"When I arrived in Saint-Jérôme, I was looking for a store to buy some yarn because I have always loved knitting since I was a child; to my great surprise, I realized that there was no business in this sector in Saint-Sauveur and only in Saint-Jérôme, and this place did not quite meet my expectations of such a store," she explains.
She then decided with a friend to start Pure Laine, a name chosen with the intention of offering only natural fibers. It was November 3, and the boutique opened its doors on December 1: finding a location, buying the material, setting up the store, all in less than a month. "We did it all ourselves, we had no time to waste, we wanted to be ready for the Christmas shopping season”.
I must add, during this period of excitement and change. "I was alone with my daughter in Saint-Sauveur and my partner, who had been unemployed for almost a year, was in our house in Magog with my son", says Sylvie before adding "I don't really know how we managed to do it". After three months of Pure Laine’s operation, the business could not support two families, so her partner left, and she became the unique owner.
“From one thing to another”
Over the years, Sylvie has never stops being creative in trying to improve the results of her business; so, when the pandemic happened, and online sales exploded, she says she was ready because already in 2013, barely a year after the beginning of Pure Laine, she already had a transactional website that has been improved over the years.
"In 2013 when we created the website, I was already excited about the idea of doing online sales". Today, these sales are multiplying at a fast pace so that Sylvie can count on one employee who works exclusively on this side of the business to respond quickly to requests. "The quality and effectiveness of customer service is very important," says Sylvie. Today, online sales come from all over Quebec and even from Ontario and the Maritimes. "I even have regular customers in Europe, namely in Switzerland and France," she admits.
If Sylvie Bouchard has a passion for knitting, she admits she also has a passion for business. "Developing the company, creating new products, marketing, all these things drive me. I love yarn but also doing business", she says with enthusiasm because it’s important for this entrepreneur to "do different" and to always be the first to do things.
To demonstrate her concern to properly develop her business, she says: "I was afraid that customer service would not be as effective online as in person. Therefore, we now offer "kits" to do projects and we can even customize them if people send us a picture of what they want to make. She adds, "We are also very available by phone or chat to help our customers whenever they have a question”.
Also, for the past five years, she has been broadcasting online on Facebook every Friday late afternoon. "People are loyal and tune in for these generally improvised live segments where I present new products or new techniques".
The recipe for success in entrepreneurship
Today, Pure Laine is a team of four employees as well as Sylvie, her companion and her two children. The couple sold their home in Magog five years ago to settle in Piedmont.
Sylvie's success as an entrepreneur is all about knitting a bit of silliness with resilience, creativity and commitment.