Business is Business and Personal is Personal. I agree to a certain extent, but I also know I wont do business with anyone I don't feel a good connection with. Life is too short to deal with stupid, simple as that and if I choose to do business with someone I do not like or respect that makes me stupid, ( IMO ) .
We spent almost a year finding the right manufacture for our apparel. Our list of criteria was specific and non negotiable.
1- High quality fabric. I was recently reminded of the importance of this, I bought a couple of cute summer tops, as I wanted to wear something other than my own apparel all the time ( I know! can you imagine? lol ) After one wash the stitching came out on one shirt and after two washes the fabric faded and pilled. Boo, clothes should last longer than that! Our apparel has to pass a min 30 wash test before I use it. I recently tested a new stitch on a reversible t shirt, it almost made 30 washes but stitches failed after 25, so it failed and was not put into production.
2- Full disclosure of all staff, products, warehouse and manufacturing plant. So basically I said I can show up at anytime unannounced and come in to the manufacturing plant. You'd be surprised how many said no to me, I mean really surprised, even though their fabric passed my tests and pricing would work, I had to skip them.
3- Family run- this was not a must for me, but a huge bonus if I could find a manufacturing plant that was a family run business. I did find that
4- Ideally wanted to stay within North America. I knew it would cost me more to manufacture, but staying in N America sure makes it easier for dropping in. As it was we found one in Mexico, terrible business trip I know.
5- Meet everyone- Yup, everyone. We flew to mexico a few times and met everyone involved with our apparel. We chatted and laughed and made great connections with them. Our last trip, my parents came along to meet them too. My parents live close by six months a year, so having this connection is a great bonus for us. My mare recently had a baby and I sent a picture to the owner of the manufacturing plant via WhatsApp, she loved the foal and congratulated me. That is the kind of connect I want with everyone involved with our apparel
that is it, that was my list, it is an odd list for many and certainly had many a manufacture thinking I was a wee nuts. That is okay. I aim to be different. I know not everyone cares where their clothes comes from, but I do believe the time is coming where buyers will demand to know who makes their clothes, in a world of choices, why not choose the one that you know, the one that makes you feel like family, the one that connects you. We are after all, all connected. M Sport 6= 6 degrees of separation, connecting you to your clothes.
So what is with the unicorn? A question we are are often asked, to be 100% honest it was a family outing in late summer 2016 that had us browsing the Halloween department at a local store, our youngest son Kyle saw a mask and had to have it, it was a toss up between the talking unicorn head or the bacon costume. Hard choice , bacon is awesome, but in the end this unicorn mask came home.
But this time we went in with the mind set of getting to air and to do that we had to be entertaining, television entertaining. We needed Nigel.
I wish I could tell you the reaction the Dragons had to Nigel, I cant, the show is currently in editing with expected air time to be between September 2017 and March 2018, I know!! can you imagine keeping your mouth shut that long? All I can say is when it does air, you MUST watch it.
You can however watch this video of him after the taping of Dragons Den when Nigel hit the streets of downtown Toronto, it might give you a pretty good indication of what it was like in the studio.
I will share this quote with you that I said to the Dragons "For our family life is all about having fun, if they are too many days in a row and we are not having fun, something has to change"
We take that mindset in all we do, especially business.
It has taken me a day to figure out how to say this, the words do not want to leave my lips, the sting is too much, he was after all ' Just a dog '
Major died in his sleep in the early morning hours of January 30th/2016. We knew it was his time and said our good byes the night before. I do not want this to be sad, even though I have huge tears right now. Major is the light that will forever shine for me. He was a striking dog, very regal, very loyal. He almost seemed like an old man to me, even as a pup he was calm and polite. He was free heeling at three months old, literally glued to my knee and when I stopped, he always plopped sideways on one side of his butt and look up at me with those eyes.
I am going to miss those eyes.
Kids loved him, even with how big he was, all kids came right up to him and hugged him, most kids never even knew him, but I guess they knew he was a good dog. I recall being a a rodeo once and a toddler, barley able to walk, came up to Major as he was laying down and fell right into Majors belly, the little one giggled at all the hair in its face, Major looked at me with concern, I said " It's okay" and he carried on with this little one playing on his tummy. He would fill the whole back seat when we would go on a road trip, he loved road trips. It was only he and I, no other dogs, no kids, no husband, just he and I.
He loved it, so did I
He use to come mountain biking with us, he was not a fast dog so he'd always be behind. We scared a bunch of tourists once, who thought I was being chased by a bear. hahahaha…. he was quite the sight.
I am grateful for many things in my life. I am blessed beyond measure. Major was one of those blessings. I am not sure if I can accurately word what he was to me, dog people will understand. He was that 'Dog' We all have that one special one in our lives, that change the very being of who we are. Major was that dog for me. Something about the way he looked at me, I never saw ' Just a dog' I saw a soul, I saw a friend, I saw how much better of a person I can be. He lead me through some of the toughest moments in my life, He lead me to some of my greatest, he lead me film. I wanted to capture the essence of who he is, so I practiced filming over and over again. Now, I am pretty darn talented when comes to filming animals, I dare to say, no one films like I do, it is soulful filming. You see the animals soul. That is what Major taught me, to see his soul, not bad for ' Just a dog'
He was by side on most of my wildlife filming shoots, he'd be as quiet as a mouse, so he'd not scare off the deer, coyotes, eagles, hawks, bears, you name it, he 'tried' to be quiet. He was a big dog after all.
When ever I was riding my horses in the arena, he'd sit by the gate and wait for me to be done. When we went on trail rides, he'd lumber along behind me, he always gave the horses a wide berth, he tolerated them, but I do not think he liked them, lol. He liked me and would follow me when ever I asked.
He was a good boy.
Major would of turned nine this March, too young for such an illness, he was diagnosed with leukaemia ten days before his death. I took it hard, I tried to save him, I did as much as I could and that I felt right for him, it took me a few days to shake it off and come to grips with the diagnosis. I did come to grips with it. Our last week together was buckets of fun, we spoiled him rotten, we loved the heck out of him and right to the very last 12 hours, he acted like a normal dog. On his last day, he spent much of his time in the trees behind the house, he'd watch me come and go, I'd look up at him and tell he was a good boy and carry on doing my thing. He had not eaten breakfast that morning, nor his dinner that night. We knew, he knew. Closing the door that night after I kissed him and told him I loved him before I went to bed was one of the toughest things I've ever done. My tears were on his back as he laid his head down on his paws. I closed the door, he wanted to be alone, no more fussing, just peace. I gave it to him.
This is the last picture I took of him, it was taken the day before he passed, we were on a walk, we stopped and visited, had snuggles, then he moved down to the tree to keep watch.
The morning we buried him was tough, We buried him up in the old sand box where the kids use to play, it was a favourite spot for him, he already had a big hole dug that he use to lay in when it was hot outside. The family all dug together, we all cried together and we all said good bye together. I saw my boys become men, maybe they already were and I had only now noticed, but the compassion they gave me was something I will never forget.
I expect I will have many moments of tears, the air is thick with his memory, everywhere a reminder, in the days before his passing the snow had all melted, replaced with mud. The ground has now froze again, his paw prints are everywhere, paw prints I can never follow. Soon those paw prints will disappear, along with the other physical things I can see that remind me of him, but he will never be forgotten, his soul is free, he told me so.
We came home from town yesterday, it was sad not seeing him waiting for me. I went in the house, changed my boots and went back outside to feed the horses. There is a solar light that is in a planter right by my door, it has not been on in months, not enough sun has shone for it to have a charge, but there it was shining away, weird is what I said to Jim, how is that possible? not even dark out yet.
yet I knew, I smiled.
when I came back from feeding the light was out.
Some may say a sign, some may say its ' Just a dog' I know what it was for me and though I do not see him anymore, I know I will see him again, so please no need to say you are sorry, I sure am not. I am honoured to have had such a wonderful gift.
He has gone on ahead, one day I can follow, he will come meet me, but until that day, I will do the best.
I will give, I will love, I will change the way people look at animals, my Major was more than 'Just a dog'
until I see you again, sweet Major, love you
**** UPDATE- April 1/2016- It has been a few months, the sting is still there, but it softens a little bit each day. I thought it was important to share this update. Since this blog was written we have been contacted by a large university asking to use this blog in their veterinary program. They feel it is a great example of the human/animal bond and will give their students great insight into their future carreers as veterinarians. So even in death, my Major is still giving his gift, he is showing all of us, that behind those eyes, there is so much more than ' just a dog '
To the students, thank you for reading this, We wish you tons of success in the future.
**** UPDATE- July 25/2016- it has been 6 months, as ridiculous as it may sound, I miss Major still, I think I finally came to terms with that and said it is okay to miss him, he was a special dog. I hesitated on getting a new pup, How could it ever measure up to Major? well the answer is, it cant, no dog every will and once I realized that I was okay with getting a new pup. Even the pups name being so close to Majors name, seemed okay.
Ranger is a independent, aloof, confident sable German Shepherd, he doesn't not care if I am there or not, but I do know that when he chooses me, it will be for life, those kinda dogs always are. I know Major would of loved him and I am sure he sat on the hill and watched me try to get the pup to warm up to me, he would of given me a look that said" be patient, he's worth it." and he is.
Every video I volunteer my time to is in Major's honour, every one is made and inspired by his desire to show me what was behind those big eyes he has.
He made me better than I am, he will make you better too.
share the joy.
I guess the title says it all, WOW, just WOW! I can't believe everything that has happened in the last nine months since we launched this company. As I am preparing to present to a large advisory board where questions will be asked of me, where are you now? where do you want to go? How do you plan to get there? As I ponder these questions in my head, I also reflect back on where I have been. The last year has been crazy and I mean crazy in a good way. We have launched a new product, we have 3 of the top 10 barrel racers currently in the world wearing our shirts ( one still in secret ) , we have sold all over the States, Canada, Germany and Australia,
We have had a name change ,we now have an office, a for real office, not a corner in my house beside the dinning room table.
How the heck did all this happen in 9 months? Well you did it, it was all the amazing support we have received, the feedback, the post shares, the word of mouth traffic, all of that came from you. I do not suppose I could say thank you enough, but our family is forever grateful to all of you.
So the name change, what the heck does M Sport 6 stand for ? well M=me, Sport is what we sell- athletic wear, and the 6 ? it stands for 6 degrees of separation , I believe we are all connected and we are all only 6 people away from knowing anyone in the world, Anyone! I also believe we are only 6 people away from who makes our clothing, that is why we work hard on staying connected to everyone involved with our product, from those that sew to those that buy,
As we move forward with this company, I come to see everything I do not know yet about fashion, I mean I am lucky to have matching socks on, but I do work hard at finding the right fabric, the right look and the right manufactures. Athletes come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, one of our best selling sizes is 3XL . I am actually surprised no one caters to plus sized athletes, I mean we all start somewhere right? We also have tons of fun with the designs, again I am not a designer, but I know what I like and just do it, if it is a fashion no no. oh well, maybe that is why what we do works, is we break the idea of what is fashionable and what is deemed athletic.
This fall we are launching our line of racer back, polo and T shirts, we are making them in our famous air-conditioned fabric but also in a new insulated fabric for winter ( feels like new fleece pj's, you never want to take them off )
I know that our athletic western shirts are doing well, no one makes them, we are the first, but when it comes to athletic tanks and T's, well heck everyone makes those, so how will we compete with all that? How do I get noticed in that area? not real sure yet, but I will find a way and am sure we will have help too, someone will believe in us and introduce us to the right people and the next thing you know we are
" Nike " big
So as I prep for my presentation, I am left in awe of how far we have come and am excited to see what is still yet to come.
Dream it, Believe it, Live it
Dream it, Believe it, Live it. I am not sure when I started saying this or why, but I do believe those three words, Dream, Believe and live are the back bone of who I now am.
I say now because I also believe that some of us need to hit rock bottom to see who we truly are. I know I did. My rock bottom won't be the same as yours, it doesn't need to be, some of you may have never even doubted who you are and why you are here and that is extra fantastic, all that really needs to happen is for you and I to look in the mirror , see who we are, who we truly are. and like it.
When that happens, not even the sky is the limit.
Dream it- I have big dreams and I mean huge. Some of my dreams are frivolous , like this Aston Martin car I want. Pretty sexy car hey?
I also want to travel the world, gosh I love travel, airports are one of my favourite places to be, there is such a charge of energy there. It is fun to sit and watch people, wondering where they have been or where they are going. Some of my favourite memories have been of talking to complete strangers on a plane. People that I had just met and likely will never see again, but for that moment, we were the best of friends. That to me is a rush.
Africa has been on my dream board my whole life. I love to film, for what ever reason I have been gifted with a talent for filming animals in a way like no one else can. I can promise you when I finally go, I will be crying the biggest happiest tears you've ever seen. With my camera , I can change how animals are seen.
I dream of being successful in business, I mean very successful, like Nike big. I am unsure of the steps I need to take to make that happen, but I know I just have to follow the crumbs, placing one foot in front of the other and the way will be set, the right people will show up , the right opportunities and the right ' luck ' when the time is needed for luck will all happen when it needs to happen. I know I am a relatively small company now, but I won't stay that way for long, I dream of Nike big, I believe I will be Nike big and soon I will live it too.
These are only a few of my dreams. I have many. I dream that my kids will see their mom following her dreams, her crazy wild dreams and they won't be afraid to follow their own, as a mom, that is pretty cool. I am guessing my parents are thinking the same thing.
There are no limits to how many dreams you and I can have.
Dream it, Believe it, Live it - Monique
Update on all our shenanigans, SO much going on, ty to everyone who has sent us messages of encouragement, you are all part of the team.
Dragons Den- We have not had a callback as of yet, but still time or as Kyle said to me this morning " well if don't get in this year, we can go next year, but we probably won't need them then " ha love that kid.
Olympic Design for sports team- We sent our vision for the team and the designs are a hit, now we wait and see, big players in the industry are wanting this contract and we foresee and small 100% Canadian made family run business taking it.
The clothing line- is going well, we are pretty excited that the Prime minister and the lady who made the maple leaf for our flag will get a front row seat to seeing them at a large event this summer.
The documentary - is done and having huge response, we are working on a pretty cool one next, not to be filmed on this continent though. that means travel ..whoop whoop , I am so over due.
Barrel racing- I have not competed since last October, This weekend is my first one.
Mountain Biking, same thing, not been on my bike since last fall, but that is soon to change too as we get started with our Wednesday Riders after school group.
Family- supportive, tolerant and making life a whole lot better, do not know what I would do without them.
Me- as insane as ever about living life to the fullest. no limits.
cheers - Q
aI am in a fantastic business networking group, last night at our meeting , one of the gals spoke of her insecurity of not knowing it all in her industry, what she said resonated with me. I sure feel like that as I venture into this world of shirt design.
I keep saying to myself, " what the heck is going on ? you don't know a damn thing about this industry" I worry about not being good enough, no prepared enough. Ironically or more totally meant to be, I was in Chapters tonight scanning through the business section ( my new favourite section ) and saw a Arlene Dickinson book, she is on the Dragons Den. I had just read a Dragons Den book from one of the other stars and didn't have much interest in reading another, but I still flipped it open and scanned a page. These were the words I first saw and read
' Fear of not being good enough and not measuring up to other people is one of the best excuses there is to not even bother trying '
Well, suppose as Jeff Foxworthy Show would say " there's a sign "
I was being my own worse critic, but I have felt that way before. I felt unprepared and out of my realm of expertise when I took on the handle Monique The Mountain Biker, I felt the same when I started a production company and had never been to film school, both of those ventures have been successful, so why worry? I am thinking it is my own insecurity coming through, fear of failing is a hang up I am not a fan of, I mean , really I am little miss positive, lol.
A dear friend of mine said to me today " It is out in left field for you only in the area of expertise - fact is being creative and fun and edgy and stylish is who you are and what you do daily, doesn't matter if its a film or a shirt " Thank you J for your words. I am green as grass at many things, but desire and passion will guide me. I have many friends, strangers and family helping me, offering advice and cheering this venture on, I can't thank all of you enough for joining me on this journey, your words are a fantastic compass to keep me moving in the right direction. I have to take my own advice and be my message and the name on my first line of shirts ,' Fearless' . I would regret not trying and I fear that more than I would ever fear failing.
So who am I? I am the same as you, We can be what ever we want, keep following those crumbs and so will I.