Fanny-Maude Théberge had never considered having her own business. It was a personal need that led her and her partner Steve Leduc to the Newex adventure.
Originally from Abitibi, Fanny-Maude settled in the Outaouais region to study to become a police officer. She quickly realized that this will definitely not be her future career. She considers herself too sensitive for this type of job. At the same time, she met Steve, her future spouse and business partner. Her academic career shifted to administration and led her to a position as a financial advisor at the National Bank before becoming director.
Nothing predestined Fanny-Maude for entrepreneurship. It is her husband who has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Steve had long wanted to own a business. However, starting a business without having real needs to meet in the market is very risky. So they put entrepreneurship aside to focus on one of the most significant events in their lives: the birth of their first child.
The turning point
The return to training wasn’t easy for Fanny-Maude. The new mother was now living with bladder weakness. As soon as she jumps, runs or squats, leaks appear during her physical activity. Fanny-Maude has tried all the products on the market. Whether it was irritation, discomfort or non-absorption, no product perfectly met her needs. That’s when Steve proposed to make a product adapted for his wife.
At first, the couple was a little lost, they didn’t know where to start. Both had no knowledge of textiles. Also, Fanny-Maude and Steve didn’t know if there is a market for their product. After some research, they discovered that one in three women lives with a bladder weakness problem. They confirmed the need so their project could begin.
Research and development
For over two years, they have been working with a clothing research and innovation center to develop the perfect product that will stand out and meet expectations. With the help of engineers and prototypers, they created panties that meet two of the main market challenges: absorption and movement. After several tests, they succeeded in creating a high-end technical garment with patent pending technology. In addition, the panties are made in Quebec. This was a very important point for Fanny-Maude!
To rise to the challenge
Newex’s biggest challenge is liquidity. When the company started, suppliers were not yet familiar with it and liquidity was limited. As a result, Newex owners had to order small quantities of textiles, which prevented them from doing business with the largest manufacturers in Quebec that required a minimum number of units. The company grew very quickly and Fanny-Maude and Steve did not have the necessary inventory to meet the demand. As a result, they lost sales and, at the same time, income. Fortunately, today, they can count on a financial partner and cash is available for working capital.
Now, their challenge is to find a way to reduce production costs, because, despite the advantages of production in Quebec, it is expensive.
Looking to the future
Newex’s co-owners are especially interested in expanding their underwear range. Newex’s largest market is currently in the United States and Western Canada, but Fanny-Maude wants to expand it internationally. Since there has not been much evolution or progress in the products available on the market for bladder weakness and menstruation, she also wants to continue research and development in order to find new and more effective absorbent technologies.
His first advice is not to be afraid to try, because help is everywhere! In the Outaouais, there is a great culture of help.
Then it’s about being in the action; you have to go for it, surround yourself with the right people and trust yourself.
Third, don’t get side-tracked, focus on yourself and follow your instincts. Finally, we must learn from our mistakes.
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