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Spotlight on Kanevas: Disrupting the Handbag Industry

Futurpreneur | May 14, 2018

A handbag can be the perfect accessory to complete your look and store all of your stuff. However, the experience could be quite tricky: with so many factors to consider – the color, the size, the price, and the quality – finding the true one can be a real headache.

Thanks to Kanevas, the nightmare is over. This Quebec-based company allows you to design the bag of your dreams. Bu who is behind this great concept?

Two women who simply couldn’t find their own perfect bag, so they decided to create their own and help other women like themselves.

Meet Mylène Cusson and Marie-Hélène David.

“It all started when Mylène was looking for a bag big enough to carry her big laptop,” says Marie-Hélène. “She was looking for something classic, quite professional and she couldn’t find it.”

Since Marie-Hélène had been sewing from a very young age, she offered to design the bag for Mylène.

“It was not long after we thought, ‘why not allow each woman to design their perfect bag?’ It is from this promise that Kanevas was born,” says Marie-Hélène.

While the two had a lot in common, they also have different strengths that complemented each other well. For instance, they both worked as accountants and were passionate about their business, however one was more focused on creativity, the other more so on logistics.

After agreeing on their business plan, the two entrepreneurs decided to make their dreams come true. But, they soon discovered that it’s not that easy to change your life.

“At the launch and the months before the launch, we both had full-time jobs. One of the challenges was starting a business while working. We could have dropped our jobs from the start, but in the beginning, we often invested our profits into the development of the company. There is, therefore, little room for pay,” they explain.

And this is not the only difficulty they encountered.

“For both of us, it was important to start a family. We felt that doing it early in our business was the best way to focus on growth. It was not easy, though. We launched the company in May and the same month Mylène was giving birth,” says Marie-Hélène. “Seven months later, it was my turn.”

And getting funding wasn’t easy either. As Marie-Hélène points out, when you start out in fashion, without necessarily having experience in the industry, it can be difficult to apply for loans.

“We worked hard to show them that our business model was innovative and different from our competitors. We had to be creative about how to finance ourselves. […] Futurpreneur was the first to help us, but we also did socio-financing in order to pre-sell products and get cash,” says Marie-Hélène.

Despite the obstacles, the two entrepreneurs did not give up and now the company has just celebrated its first year.

“We are proud to have founded Kanevas without specific skills in the world of fashion, production or design. We knew how to surround ourselves and work hard to acquire the skills we lacked,” they say.

For aspiring entrepreneurs, Marie-Hélène and Mylène give the following advice:

“It’s cliché, but be well surrounded and don’t hesitate to seek advice. We can’t know everything and often we do not have enough perspective on a situation.”

They continue: “Starting a business is a roller coaster. There are incredible highs as there can be lows. There are often big decisions to make that affect our business as well as our personal lives. Our mentor allows us to take a step back from a situation, identify the elements that we would not have thought of on our own and ask the questions that lead us to walk.”

Ready to be your own boss? Learn more about our Start-Up Program!

Written by: Charlotte Robert, Bilingual Copywriter, Futurpreneur Canada