For my next Cool Caper Q&A I wanted to introduce Meghan Finney, a CBU graduate who is following her dreams – and in the most fashionable way!
Here’s what Meghan had to say.
Q: You went to CBU… What did you study?
A: My undergraduate degree from CBU was a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in English.
Q: What do you currently do?
A: I’m the Communications Coordinator at Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, an organization that develops alternatives and promotes Mi’kmaq education, interests and rights, and has jurisdiction in Mi’kmaq educational matters for 11 communities in Nova Scotia. That’s a mouthful! I’m also the owner/operator of La Quaintrelle.
Q: Tell us more about your fashionable entrepreneurial venture, La Quaintrelle?
A: La Quaintrelle is a boutique carrying vintage-inspired clothing and accessories for women. I have an online shop at www.laquaintrelle.ca and a bricks-and-mortar store in downtown North Sydney.
The idea of La Quaintrelle came to fruition from my own difficulty in finding clothes that I really liked and wanted to wear. I was often unable to find anything at a mall or outlet store that I felt fit my personal style, and I soon began looking elsewhere – online, family closets, and vintage stores – for pieces to incorporate into my wardrobe. I soon realized that this was an opportunity. It was an opportunity to help others with the same problem and to infuse something new and different into the local market.
A quaintrelle is defined as “a woman who emphasizes a life of passion expressed through personal style, leisurely pastimes, charm, and cultivation of life’s pleasures.” The best thing about a “quaintrelle” is that any woman is able to be one. I believe that creating personal style is much more important, and true to one’s self, than attempting to, perhaps, conform to a latest trend, magazine spread, or what’s on a big-box mannequin.
La Quaintrelle focuses on this idea of personal style, and each item is hand-picked so that they are unique in design and have some feature that is “enchanting”, whether it’s the fabric, buttons or belt detail. They’re chosen this way because I believe each and every one that’s selected is a something that helps someone better express who they are and feel comfortable while doing so. It’s very interesting, and fulfilling, to see people of very different backgrounds, sizes, tastes and ages come into the shop and find something they love and that speaks to them.
Q: What tips can you offer CBU students looking to follow their dreams, post-grad?
A: Go for it! Make it happen. It’s very easy to get stuck in the dream phase. I think a lot of people have great ideas, the only difference between them and an entrepreneur is the next (albeit, scary) step of putting in some $$ and getting the idea out there.
Surround yourself with people who support what you’re doing. Don’t worry if there are people who don’t encourage you along the way. Instead, listen to what they say. There is probably wisdom you can take from these critiques and use them in a way that will help you grow. Expect to make mistakes. Be patient. There will be discouraging days, but then there will be excellent days that keep reminding you that it’s all worth it!
Read, read and read some more. Do your research. Seek out information about the business’ field from books, blogs, mentors, classes, market research, reviews, and networks. Expect to always be learning. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Use your personal resources. You may know a photographer, a web developer, or a financial advisor, for example, who can help you at a lower cost. Get feedback on ideas and take it into consideration. Make sure you have a polished look and that you’re on top of the business legalities and finances – get the assistance of an accountant. Prepare and save money.
Most importantly, believe you can do it! Despite how nervous or apprehensive you may be, absolutely go for it. It may be the most liberating and self-fulfilling thing you do. Stay positive and surround yourself with things and people that inspire you. Gamble on different opportunities, but also stay focused on what you want. Make personal connections with people, and always be honest and nice.
Q: What would you say are wardrobe essentials for stylish –yet cash strapped- CBU students?
A: Money goes a lot further with classic looks! Avoid cashing out the big bucks for a fad that won’t be around in a few months. A cardigan and boyfriend shirt is always in style, and it can easily be dressed up for a presentation or casual interview, or thrown together with jeans for a day out.
Q: Coffee or tea?
A: Definitely coffee.
Q: Favourite thing to do in Sydney?
A: One of my favourite things to do is to go for a run around Sydney. I’ve been able to see a lot of the nooks and crannies that aren’t on my daily commute or are accessible by car. I’m also loving all the new international/alternative restaurants popping up lately! I’m just waiting for the day Thai comes to town. (Editor’s Note: I am too!)
Q: Anything exciting planned for 2012?
A: 2012 has been pretty exciting so far! I’m excited every day, of course, to watch the business grow. I am working with a few brides-to-be on their weddings in 2012. I will also be partnering with a few local businesses for several events this spring. A line expansion may also be in store for La Quaintrelle in 2012. A nice trip in and around there sounds pretty good, too!
Readers, you can hear more from Meghan by following her on Twitter at @meghanfinney.