Lisa WillStonz Wear Incorporated
What challenges did you face as a woman entrepreneur?
Where, what and when to let go! Initially, I tried to get involved in too many details which led to many sleepless nights. As an entrepreneur, it is important to know when to let go!
What were your major successes?
My major successes to date would include starting a business from a kitchen (cutting) table and basement and building it to include an amazing team of 7 employees, 6 expert consultants I call on, having Stonz offered by some of the largest and key Shoe, Children's, and Sport/Outdoor retailers in Canada, USA and Scandinavia. I have kept the work/life balance by managing to raise 2 amazingly kind, appreciative and hardworking little people who are now aged 13 and 10, and all the while remaining married. I have also been nominated and named as a Finalist as RBC's Entrepreneur of the Year.
Why did you start your own business?
I loved being outdoors and wanted to continue spending time outside with my new son…which meant he too needed warm footwear. I could not find anything on the market that filled my need for warm, soft-soled, stay-on footwear for my 5 month old. I knew it was a market need I had not seen filled. I was keen to begin a business and had been ready for some time to start one before my son came along. Prototypes were finished within 4 months of starting the business and a friend and I we were displaying them at a tradeshow in Vancouver within 6 months.
At what point did you know you had achieved success?
When people stop me mid-sentence and say, "oh Stonz, we know Stonz". Or seeing our products at local parks and schools. These recognitions are very proud moments for both me and my kids. My kids are aware of how hard this has been, how much work it's taken to get here and how much personal time I've had to sacrifice to get the business to where it is today.
Do you have any advice or suggestions for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Train good people to help and grow with you, allowing you to work on the business, not only in it. And it's much more fun! Great employees will want only the best for the business and themselves.
How did the Women's organization you are affiliated with help you grow your business?
Our business advisor at WEC was like none other we had encountered before from a financial supportive organization. She made herself available at all hours which matches most entrepreneurs' wacky schedules. Her knowledge around both the business side and financial lending was impressive. The WEC loan has enabled us to build up our inventory for our growing client base, expand our product line and move to the next level by expanding into new world markets. WEC's due diligence process and belief in our business has been a great boost–an intangible benefit I never expected to get from a lender.
What's next for you and your business?
My goal is to continue growing the brand to include several option of multi season, high quality, and innovative kids footwear and gear. Becoming a well-known brand in the world of eco conscious and long lasting products is very important to me; re-use, pass along and keeping out of a landfill is key!
Stonz designs, makes and sells high quality outdoor kids gear including booties, mittz, linerz, rain boots, new super lightweight winter boots. They are made in Canada, hard soled and extraordinary light-weight that can withstand cold to -58F!
This success story is provided by the Women's Entreprise Centre – helping your business start, grow and succeed.
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