W-Power Inspiring Women in Business Podcast
Listen here (english) : Interview with Lyne Chantal Boudreau, a social entrepreneur and founder of Bibilyn Designs
Date: October 7, 2020
Guest : Lyne Chantal Boudreau, CEO
Contact: Jennifer Mcdonald-Nethercott
1. Why did you start doing what you’re doing?
For a very long time, I had the desire to one day become an entrepreneur. However, I did not have the training at the time, and I had not figured out what type of business I wanted to develop. I knew, however, that no matter what business plan I was going to develop, the issue of education would come forward, being myself a teacher by training.
One day, I found myself in a situation of domestic violence. Having gone through several traumatic experiences where I wondered how women could get out of this situation without the family and community support that I had received at the time. It was after this difficult time that the Bibilyn Designs business started to take shape in my mind.
After some thought - while I was a doctoral student in education - I researched how my company could advance my strengths and ambitions. I didn’t know yet how my business would really define itself, but I was convinced that it would focus on education, that it would help women and children who are victims of domestic violence. I also knew that my cat Bibi, who had helped me and my family in his own way during this rather dark period of life, was going to be recognized in this new company.
2. Where did the idea first come from?
I love the world of fashion, the unique items, the fabrics, the feel-good mood related to wearing clothes that match our free spirit lifestyles. That's when I started designing dresses and then the company started making scarves with high quality fabrics, in different shapes and styles. At the same time, I was working on my trademark. It was essential for me that our black cat Bibi was going to be represented. It was then after several sketches that the Bibilyn
Designs logo took shape, an iconic black cat. Then I wrote my mission and my story. I sought to inspire other abused people and encourage them to hope that one day they can regain their confidence and that resources are available to them.
Bibilyn Designs is a social enterprise with a percentage of net profits going to domestic violence causes that rely on education to advance this great cause.
3. What process did you go through when setting up your business?
I took several steps because for my part, as mentioned, I did not have the background in business administration in my academic career. I come from the world of education which is very different. First of all, I had to read on the best strategies to take, to follow tailor-made training, to find the best people to surround me and being with me and that includes for exemples lawyers, bankers and people skilled in marketing. I had to set up my website, take care of the various steps to be able to do all the actions for the online market, taking pictures of your products, planning the packaging and sending them.
At the same time, there was the shopping of beautiful fabrics across the different countries because it is not possible to find silk in my province, by seeking to know the trends in fashion, by assuring I’m surrounded by people I trust to be part of my team and also I decided to proceed with the incorporation of my company and give myself the intellectual property of all the products sold.
At this time, I am so thankful to my seesmstress Jocelyne, my right hand personne. She’s very professional, I am very happy to work with her.
4. What challenges did you face along the way and how did you overcome them?
My big challenge for me was the whole accounting aspect. The artist in me doesn't really like numbers. There was also the whole question of making a business plan. What I gave myself as a tool was to surround myself well with competent people that would support me by searching various resources that were available to me. The problem I realized was that one day I had to
make a profit and then contribute more to the cause of the company. Another challenge I faced is the change in the production of products. At the beginning I offered a tailor-made dress service and this service took a lot of time from the designs to the final product. The costs associated with this product are too high for the market. So, I decided to go for making scarves instead and slightly smaller items like pocket squares and handbag charms. I have also been making animal bandanas for the last few months.
5. What challenges did Covid-19 bring to you and your business?
Bibilyn Designs has really felt the need to do something to make its own contribution to getting through this pandemic. Especially since we have alarming statistics in our province in terms of violence against women and children, I was aware that many children could no longer go to school, the only place where they had the possibility of living without violence.
It was then that after some thought, my company started making masks. In the beginning, several models were created in order to find the ones that best suited the customers. With my team, we researched to find the right packaging while relying on brochures to inform clients about resources to counter domestic violence. We have undertaken to promote through key messages and video clips in both official languages in our province: French and English in order to reach as many people as possible. I have also placed some of my products in different stores across the province. With every mask sold, an amount of money goes to the Bibilyn Designs cause. Since the start of the pandemic, shelters in the 3 major regions in my province have received a donation from the company Bibilyn Designs.
6. What are your goals and objectives for the rest of this year?
• Continue the production of Bibilyn Designs masks by providing the necessary resources to help women and children victims of domestic violence.
• Showcase other Bibilyn Designs company products on the website, promote individual products on the website to drive more sales and revenue.
• Continue to promote our products and services on social media
• Continue to collaborate with other professionals to help advance Bibilyn Designs activities.
• Improve the Bibilyn Designs experience with clients by researching clients’ needs.
7. How has networking helped you and / or your business?
In my opinion, networking is the key to success. The importance of surrounding yourself with people you can count on at all times for ideas and advice, it’s like gold. Getting involved in networks also where women entrepreneurs experience more or less the same realities can really help a person like me who, as mentioned, did not necessarily have access to the same network since I did not come from the world of business administration.
Also, I must say that I been bless to be part of the Women in Business group of NB, thanks to their support, I have felt supported in my initiatives as a woman in business and even more since the arrival of COVID- 19. They have allowed me to develop some really interesting friendships and business opportunities. Since last week, I have co-owned a brand new organization, a new non-profit company with other women in business. We put our expertise together to create the company EL2ES: education, leadership, empowerment, Inc. which offers education, training, awareness, intervention services and support related to victims of domestic violence. This is really great, I thank Women in Business of NB for their support and excellent advice, especially Audrey Poitras and Claire Ephestion and this networking opportunity.
8. What one thing do you wish you'd known when you started your business?
Understanding that there are many compromises that is required to be a woman entrepreneur. Every day you live for your business, you are truly ready to make whatever sacrifices it takes to be on top of things all the time so that you are exposed to as many opportunities as possible. The importance is having supportive people surrounding you who believe in you and give you the courage to continue to focus on your business mission
and your big goals. Currently, I greatly appreciate the expertise of my seamstress Jocelyne like I said, who has been there since the beginning of the creation of Bibilyn Designs and also of the person who works with me in Marketing, Talya. Thanks to them, I feel confident and encouraged to continue the work required and the one that will be to come.
And to have an excellent business plan that includes a well researched market, obtaining the necessary training and the physical and financial resources necessary to achieve the major short to long term objectives.
9. Share your elevator pitch with the listeners (share what listeners will experience from you and your product / service)
• Help Bibilyn Designs to create a world without violence, one article at a time
• When you wear a Bibilyn Design creation, you don't just follow a fashion, you support the cause for women and children. Thanks to unique and dazzling pieces, high fashion goes perfectly with the act of well-being.
• HAUTE COUTURE AT THE SERVICE OF THE COMMUNITY
• Bibilyn Designs is a luxury ready-to-wear brand whose goal is to restore the self-esteem of women and children victims of violence
• I invite you without further delay to visit our website at Bibilyndesigns.com because together let's end domestic violence, every action count to create a world without violence.
10. What’s your vision for the business over the next 5 years?
Over the next 5 years, I see the big roll-out of Bibilyn Designs promoting our products here and internationally. I also want to make a change that will have an impact on the environment by giving a second life to high-end fabrics. We have already started this shift and the customers appreciate our initiatives in this direction. I expect to continue the personalized approach in the delivery of my products so that each person who receives an item from Bibilyn Designs feels unique and feels like they are contributing to this great mission.
I would also appreciate expanding my team and having a great reputation, for international artists to wear my items.
That I still have the same satisfaction when I find myself in my Bibilyn store is that of an accomplishment in continuing to take steps towards achieving Bibilyn's mission of creating a world without violence, one article at a time.
Thank you for giving me this opportuny to doing this podcast.