Geneviève Lorange, owner of Bigarade, breathes new life into lasting, vintage fabrics that she finds scattered across our beautiful province. Inspired by her grandmother’s craftsmanship, she creates quality fine bed linens, cushions and accessories meant to last. Geneviève recently opened up her gorgeous store front on Sainte-Catherine Street East so you can see her handy work in person, but you can also see her boutique online.
She’s opened up and let us in on some very frank and honest advice. Read on to hear what she had to say.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a passionate woman who likes to build projects and do things differently. I studied fashion design and then industrial design. I really believe that creation has no limits and no boundaries. For me, not only is a good product something nice but it is also something strong. It is important to look at the way it is made and the way it will die in nature.
Why did you decide to start your own business, versus work for someone else?
I never imagined that I would be an entrepreneur; I just always did things differently than other people. From a very young age, experimenting with fabrics was my passion. I was always making clothes, recycling what I could find, or trying to give a second life to a sofa that found on the street. I never understood this type of waste. Why do we recycle metal, paper and plastic but not fabric? In the end I did not make a choice, this route was the only obvious path.
Can you remember when you first learned about your field of work? How did you discover what it was and how you knew it was what you wanted to do?
One year after I finished university I was working for the City of Montreal to create outdoor furniture. I loved my colleagues but I was bored. I decided to create a collection of cushions with old clothing, but at the same time someone offered me a big contract in interior design and for 5 years I did that. A year and a half ago, at Christmas, I told my boyfriend that I was tired of running after my clients to get paid and I felt my clients didn’t really appreciate all the work and effort that I put into each project. He suggested to me to follow my heart and to do what I really liked, which was creating products with fabric. I launched Bigarade six months later in August 2015.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?
Failure is a way to learn and improve. The people around you will make all the difference; so take the time to carefully choose your friends, lover and suppliers. Be patient!!!!!!!
Can you name a moment of failure in your business experiences that you learned from or that helped you improve your business or the way you work?
I had so many failures and in the past I was ashamed of them in. I discovered that when you expose yourself, the true you with all its imperfections, it’s only then that quality people are willing to help you achieve your goals compared to “faking it until you make it”. When I was working as an interior designer, my business was not doing very well during the five years. Although I was a good designer, I didn’t have good connections and I was playing a game. I was paying for staff and a beautiful office to convince my clients to sign with me. Nobody was fooled. They still signed but everyone knew that if I was ready to work right now on their project, it was because I didn’t have enough projects.
At the end, you may still sign for a project that will not make you money, for the simple reason that you need money to feed your staff, the nice office, and keep up the lifestyle that everyone thinks you have, or should have. It’s OK to say now that I failed and that I lost more money than I gained, but at the end I learnt something. I learned to define myself now with less fear, and I gained better friends and more knowledge.
If you were magically given 3 more hours per day, what would you do with them?
More yoga. More creative time. More quality time with my boyfriend. More cleaning at home.
What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting your business?
At the start, I sacrificed everything. Friendship, love, and quality time for myself. I also sacrificed and used all the money that I had, that I could borrow, make or imagine. But now 6 years later after a first failed business, I can say that with my second one, Bigarade, thing are changing for the best. I am proud but I am taking nothing for granted.
Can you name your greatest success (or something you’re most proud of) in your business experiences?
The opening of my first boutique Bigarade with lots of faith and 5000$ in credit available on my credit card. If I am a fool, that’s OK because sometimes you need to be a fool to go ahead and take that leap.
What resources would you recommend to someone starting a creative business of his or her own?
A really good bookkeeper!
A mentor or someone that can say no to you, that will listen to you and be able afterwards to help you to make the right decision with a different point of view.
In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?
How do you deal with insecurity?
Are you with the right partner (in business and in your private life?)
Are you realistic about your expectations?
What’s the first website you open in the morning?
Why did you decide to start your own business?
To have the freedom to make my own choices.
How do you define your business?
Fine bedding made in Montreal.
I redefine and improve what this definition means every week. I listen to my clients and do my best to create what they deserve all the while dreaming of supporting a better planet and a better future.
Thank you Geneviève!
Interested in more advice from entrepreneurs? Check out these other interviews.