Women across Canada are kicking butt in the workforce, all while maintaining their cool and doing the things in life they enjoy. “Monday Motivation: How she does it” is a news series where we profile notable women working in various fields to find out how they juggle work-life, balance. For this installment, we spoke with twin sisters Michèle and Véronik Bastien - the founders of PEPPERMINT Cycling Co., a fashionable and functional Canadian cyclewear company.
Launched in April 2016, PEPPERMINT Cycling Co. has been making waves in the women's cycling community! Read on to discover how they do it:
In a nutshell, can you tell me what PEPPERMINT Cycling Co. is all about?
PEPPERMINT was built for women cyclist and it’s a speciality clothing and accessories line for them. The clothing is all made in Quebec and all our fabrics come from Europe. The idea was to create high-quality products that are fashionable, and to be able to put the product on the market at an accessible price point. Sports brands often focus on men or performance, and most of the time the products are built for men too. But women cyclist are built very differently than men, so we need to have a product that really fits us well. The community aspect of cycling is also very important to us. We really want to encourage women to try cycling, to do it together and to enjoy the overall lifestyle of cycling.
A lot of people think of launching a business, but they don’t actually do it! What gave you the motivation to launch your own business?
We always wanted to start something together. We were working in communications and advertising for about 10 years before we launched the company. We were thinking about what we could do and everyone was saying that we should start our own communications agency, but the competition is big in Montreal. So, we were actually on vacation in Croatia when we had this idea that there was something missing in terms of a fashion product for women cyclist. When we got back to Montreal, we did a market survey and we saw that there really was a need for such a product. We wanted to launch as soon as possible. We felt like if we didn’t run with this idea, someone else would.
How did you get into cycling?
We started cycling because we were doing Alpine skiing competitions, so we cycled in the summer as a training. Then, we also did a half Ironman competition, and again we trained by cycling.
So what does a typical day look like for you starting from the moment you wake up?
It’s never the same (laughs). You always have surprises. For now, we do everything. I’m more focused on production and finance, and product design. My sister Véronik is more focused on communications and marketing, and also product design. We’re working through the week and we don’t have a lot of weekends (laughs).
What are some of the challenges you face as business women?
For sure for us, production was a challenge because we didn’t have any expertise in production. Resources are also limited in Quebec, so we had to source internationally. We’re also women launching a company in an industry lead by men. It’s kind of a first actually in Canada.
How do you overcome these challenges?
We saw this as an opportunity and not as a challenge. Even some men who own cycling businesses come to see us to say it’s nice to see women involved in this industry. So far, everything about PEPPERMINT is really positive.
And in terms of your personal lives, how do you juggle work-life, balance?
We’re trying to do our best to manage our lives and find balance (laughs). Since we were working in advertising before, you’re used to working many many hours. So that wasn’t a surprise. For sure the first year, if you want to reach your goals, you need to work many long hours to see your business succeed. But it’s an industry that we’re passionate about and we like, so we don’t see this as really work or a job, but for sure we need to live balanced lives. I think for us cycling brought us balance before launching the company, so we really need to make sure we can still have time to ride during the week or weekend, to make sure we come with fresh ideas and we’re not too tired to lead the company.
When you do have free time, how do you like to unwind?
Sports helps us unwind. We’re Alpine skiers and do cross-country ski, so we really like to live the outdoor life. We’re very active women. Then of course, we try to see our friends, family and boyfriends as much as we can.
Choose one: wine or cocktails?
We like to drink (laughs). I would choose wine over cocktails, but for us cycling is really a lifestyle so when we go do our 100 km on a saturday, we stop for a coffee before and afterwards, we stop for a beer. So coffee, bikes and beer is really something that we put together.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Follow your passion, but also make sure you have a strong plan. If PEPPERMINT is the success that it is today, it’s really because we took the time to analyze the market and we followed a set path.
How would you define success?
Success for us is about how people see and talk about the brand, and how it’s resonating in the market.
This article has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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