Boucle & Papier is a fantastic new paper goods store located in Montreal’s Mile End. If I was having a rough day, it’s just the place I’d go to cheer myself up. Somehow, a beautiful notebook and new pen always seems the solution to getting myself organized and my life back on track. Somehow my to-do list will get done (clean the fridge!) if only the paper it was written on was new, crisp and colourful.
Owner Jessyca Houle is also just the type of person I’d want to run into. I felt like within moments of meeting each other we knew about each others lives, trials and tribulations. Her kids (2 + 1 on the way), mine (2 including one making an in-person appearance), her store (I wanted everything), my life (what am I going to do with it?), childcare decisions, multi-tasking men (non-existent), mat leave, pregnancy symptoms (why does wine sometimes taste corked when you’re pregnant?) and our mutual love (obsession) of beautiful paper goods.
Jessyca has been generous enough to answer all my questions about life and business.
Please let me know a little bit about your professional background including where you grew up.
I was born in Trois-Rivières but grew up in Montreal and up north in Saint-Sauveur. I studied at the Université de Montréal and HEC focusing on Marketing and Entrepreneurship. After graduating I worked at Marketel, an advertising agency, in client services. This was my job prior to opening the boutique. It was fun and I learned a lot even though sometimes it could be quite painful.
Why paper? And can you let us know a little bit more about Boucles et Papier?
First things first, I love paper! I was always that girl bringing back a mountain of greeting cards from trips abroad and ordering all sorts of goodies online. I have every birthday card from my first birthday until the present (trust me – they haven’t all aged well). Throughout university I used Claire Fontaine notebooks (the highest-end I could afford) and later at work I always had my Moleskine notebooks, Rifle Paper Co. list pad, wall calendar and paper agenda despite always being on my iPhone. I really need to write everything down otherwise I’ll forget my to-do list.
In 2013, we took the family to California for a road trip. I stumbled upon a paper store and fell in love with everything. At that point I realized that we did not have this type of store in Montreal and I told my husband my idea for opening one up. He was supportive but because of his financial background, he urged me to do my homework and research the feasibility. Two years later, my homework was done and I used my second maternity leave to start my project.
Over the two years I attended trade shows and started reaching out to suppliers. My office and storeroom were my dining area, which wasn’t much fun with two kids. We survived and the store opened on June 19th, 2015.
Boucle & Papier offers greeting cards, art prints, notebooks, paper goods, party supplies, toys and gifts. On top of that there are items that I just fell in love with and I couldn’t resist carrying. Every product is special and where possible has a story behind it. I enjoy talking about those little things with our customers so that they know more about what they are buying and why it is so special.
Why did you choose to open a bricks and mortar store when there are so many more costs and risks involved? Why didn’t you just go with an online store?
Honestly, I opened up a bricks and mortar store because I LOVE people. I love keeping in touch and exchanging ideas. I would just not be happy alone at home at my desk all day. I feel like the boutique is an extension of my home (albeit a nicer and cleaner version) so for me having customers come by is like having people over all the time. It’s exhausting but so much fun.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?
I learned to trust my ideas and myself. It turns out that they are not so crazy after all!
If you were magically given 3 more hours per day, what would you do with them?
1 hour for real quality time with my kids and husband
1 hour for a yoga class or a run in Park Lafontaine
1 hour of admin
As a mother, what advice would you give other mom’s who are thinking about launching her own business.
Thanks Jessyca for looking after my kiddo while I snapped the pictures and for answering my questions.
Boucle & Papier, 5183 Blvd St-Laurent, 514-397-9186