Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dani Kagan, Co-Founder of Mave & Chez, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Mave & Chez is a women-owned luxury ergonomic slipper brand. It's our mission to help women invest in slippers that have unparalleled support without having to ever compromise on style. We've created House Flats: a brand-new category of slippers offering the perfect cross between a comfortable loafer and a sophisticated slipper, with the support of a sneaker. Made with the help of foot experts, our House Flats are designed with 9 function-first features, including arch support and temperature control to help alleviate foot pain and improve women's body biomechanics.
Tell us about yourself
I'm a serial entrepreneur who loves to create purpose-driven brands. I have dedicated the past decade of my life to helping others, specifically women, through mentorship and my previous business, City MOGULS. My co-founder Victoria Marshman and I built a community that supported entrepreneurs and gave back to charities to support the next generation.
As a former competitive dancer and athlete, I know the importance of taking care of your physical health, which starts with supportive slippers at home. At the very beginning of the pandemic, spending workdays from home in bare feet and flat frumpy slippers was taking a toll on my back, feet, and overall well-being. Not to mention, my slippers would get stinky. Wearing slippers can make you feel cozy, but most slippers lack the support needed to give you the maximum support and comfort that you deserve. Our bodies were designed to tread on soft surfaces like sand and soil, not the unforgiving hardwood and tile that we have in our homes.
After speaking to many foot experts and hundreds of other women, I learned that there was a major gap in the market. So we created Mave & Chez - to bring women everywhere ultra-supportive, ergonomically designed slippers that make them feel and look incredible. I am on a personal mission to educate women on how an investment in slippers is an investment in your overall health.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
One of my biggest accomplishments is having raised over $250k for Canadian at-risk youth. Being able to contribute to opening up a safe house for victims of human trafficking in Toronto through Covenant House has been one of the most moving things I've ever done. As a business owner, in my day-to-day life, being able to share my struggles and experiences with other entrepreneurs and inspire them is what keeps me going every day. Entrepreneurship is not an easy path. Business owners definitely need to help each other and stick together. So if I can help someone else in any way, big or small, I feel accomplished.
Recently, my most exciting accomplishment is having created a product from complete scratch. Not knowing much about the footwear industry to building an ergonomic slipper from scratch and getting it to market within three years has been so rewarding. I cannot wait for people to wear them! I deeply care about working with ethical factories and am so proud to be working with ours in Brazil, who receive fair wages and work in great conditions (and I know this because I've visited my factory!).
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Being a business owner means working most of the time on your own. Self-motivating can be incredibly challenging. Not to mention, you are running all parts of the business: accounting, finance, raising capital (at least in my case), branding, marketing, product building, hiring... the list is endless! So it can definitely feel overwhelming, and it takes time (and, in my case, an amazing business partner) to figure out your priorities and how to motivate yourself each day.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Go all in. If you have a great idea, and you are determined and excited to build a business, you have to dive in head first and give it your all. It's sometimes challenging to do that, so timing is key, and knowing you have a support system to go all in is incredibly helpful.
- Use your network. We all have a plethora of people in our lives that can help us. People are surprised to know that many people within your network are willing to help. So use your network, ask for new introductions and grow your networks, and don't be afraid to ask for help.
- Don't wait. Most people think there is a perfect time and place to start their business. It's never going to be perfect. If you really want it, and have the grit to get through those incredibly tough first few years, then just start.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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