OK, hold on to your hats and get ready to fall in love with Winnipeg's Kelsey & April and their little shop of dreams, Margot + Maude! We're not kidding... if you like fun, fashion and friendliness, this is your new favourite shop (to go along with our other retailers). Their level of knowledge on what they carry in their shop is incredible, their welcoming nature is classic Canadian, and their selections are simply delightful. When you're in the 'Peg, you simply must pop in.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background(s)?
M + M: We worked independent retail together at a little boutique in Osborne Village back in 2007. We got to be very hands on in our roles there and even after we had moved on, it just stuck with us as our favourite job! We knew we had to do something about it.
How do you take your tea or coffee?
M + M: When we were renovating our space before we opened, it was always Baileys & coffee! Always. Mini-addiction. But it was January and we were painting the walls white for like 400 hours, soooo...Baileys! But on a regular day we both opt for coffee & vanilla unsweetened almond milk. Very specific! Haha.
When did you know that you were going to take the jump and open your first store? Scary or thrilling?
M + M: Both! Haha, you're definitely putting yourself out there, and when we opened, it was all us. Scraping our own dollars to make it happen. So very scary. But also it happened so fast that you couldn't help but be thrilled.
How long did it take you to plan & launch?
M + M: We built the store in our heads over many years, like 7 years, and we went to Blanche Macdonald in Vancouver to prep ourselves for anything we didn't learn hands-on in the boutique we worked in previously. We put together a blog to sort of find our brand voice and keep ourselves thinking fashion and paying attention to how the industry was evolving. We got word of a space in our dream neighbourhood and talked to the landlord the very next morning. From there we contacted Futurpreneurs & the BDC about funding...we had two weeks to put together a business plan (which was basically floating around in our head for years), get a business bank account, get quotes on insurance and all the costs associated with our renovations, etc. We only had two weeks because we were working on lease negotiations at the same time and had to secure our funding before we signed the lease. It was the wildest race ever--but we won!
So awesome! I love the story about the name [find it on their site, but here's a teaser: To top it all off, one day when the pug-obsessed Kelsey ("aggghh I want one!") and the Valentino-obsessed April ("aggghh he's perfect!") were googling things they stumbled upon the greatest, most serendipitous find ever....] but can you tell us some of the other names you considered?
M + M: We had the name decided since 2012 (we opened in 2016), but before that we tossed around “Let Them Eat Cake,” as a way of saying “go ahead, treat yourself! Indulge!” but ultimately we knew we’d be confused with being a bakery, haha, so we had to drop it. We have a little framed card in our office that says “let them eat cake” as an homage to those early days ;)
When did you first open the doors to the public?
M + M: We had a sneak peek party for our friends and family on March 16, 2016, and then opened the doors to the public March 30, 2016.
How did you choose the location? How do you like the area?
M + M: We always really liked this neighbourhood, it's clean and has sort of a posh vibe. There's a lot of businesses in one clustered area that includes nail salons, hair salons, a bakery, a bridal salon, a Starbucks (aka golden location), and other little boutiques that catered to a similar demographic as us but we're still different enough from our own.
What’s something people wouldn’t know about Winnipeg?
M + M: Winnipeg is secret cool. The rest of the country likes to diss Winnipeg but it's almost better that way, keeps the riff raff out and only a more tolerant, humble crowd in ;) that and there's only one degree of separation between everyone in Winnipeg and Kevin Bacon.
What’s one thing that you’ve learned, and that’s really surprised you since opening?
M + M: Winnipeg is the best. I guess that's not a surprise but the surprise is really just how “the best” the people here really are. Winnipeg loves to support local and we’ve really been overwhelmed by the love and support in this community. It's great.
That's so great to hear (Go Jets!). You’ve got such a good product mix, how do you decide what to carry? Do you go to the shows now or is it true that they’re dying a little?
M + M: We go to shows! We like to explore. We pick things that we would want to wear or have in our homes or just make us laugh. We do a lot of Instagram stalking to find new goods as well, so I can see how shows might be less relevant than they once were in that sense, but ultimately we really like to touch and feel and try on as much as possible. We’re definitely “show-goers.”
What are some of your favourite stores or operations out there?
M + M: Oooo, can we just list a bunch of stuff without explanation? Because there's so many great places it's too much writing! To eat: Bronuts, Clementine, King + Bann, Merchant Kitchen, Maque, Enoteca, Deer + Almond, Segovia. The bakery next door to us is incredible, Jenna Rae Cakes, and they just started making cream puffs and it will surely be the cause of our death. It's hard to name shops because we know lots of shop owners and we're afraid to leave anyone out! But here's our number one fave: Tiny Feast. It's this great little stationery and home goods store that you can spend forever in!
What would be your advice to someone who was thinking about opening a retail store from the beginning?
M + M: Focus on one task at a time. If you consider all the tasks you need to complete all at once you’ll get overwhelmed! When you break it down into small manageable tasks, nothing is impossible.
Lastly, how popular is this couch? You guys feature it a lot.
M + M: If this couch could talk...