Welcome to our newest blog series! Haleigh and I thought it would be fun (and informative) to interview entrepreneurs and people with interesting and successful businesses to see how they got to where they are today.
For our first contributor I am so happy to introduce Carli Strauss, owner of Montrose & George General Store.
My first time stumbling into Montrose & George I felt like I had arrived at my perfect clothing store. From the brand names to the thoughtful collection of soap, jewelry and other goods I felt SO happy I didn’t have to leave my home town to shop downtown Vancouver. Then I met Carli and we chatted, which left me realizing that this woman had some serious drive and entrepreneurial spirit to open up the shop and run it on her own.
When we decided to do this series, I knew I would love to ask her some questions about how she got to where she is. I loved seeing her responses and hope you enjoy this post as much as we did! Without further ado:)
1. How did you decide to start Montrose & George?
Montrose And George has been a story of growth – it all started when a close family friend, Janet (years later we discovered we are actually family, but that’s another story for another time) asked me to join her in a business she was wanting to start- a clothing and gift store. Janet had had management and business experience in the past but this type of retail was brand new to the both of us. We sort of just enthusiastically jumped into it with both feet – the rest we just learned as we went along.
2. What were you doing before? Did you have any background in this field?
I studied at the University of Victoria where I graduated with my Bachelors in Economics and a minor in Business. I never knew exactly what field I wanted to go into, but I always knew that I’d like to start my own business one day. So when the opportunity presented itself, I just knew it was the right time.
Initially we started out very small and were able to fund ourselves. Almost everything that the business made was re-invested back into it in order to allow growth at it’s fullest.
I committed completely! Ideally I think being able to give all of your focus on your start-up is the best, but I realise that it’s hard to do when initially raising the funds. I was very fortunate to be able to dive in and give it my all.
5. How long have you been in business for?
We used to be under a different name in a different location for about a year and a half before rebranding. Officially as Montrose And George General Store we’ve been in business since September 2015.
I used to work a lot of hours weekly (probably around 60-70) up until a little over a year ago. Now I’d say I work probably work around 48 hours a week. It totally depends on what’s going on in the store and what season it is though.
7. What has been the most difficult part of building a business?
There are a lot of challenges; however, I think not always knowing if your decision is the right decision is sometimes the most daunting. I’ve learned to just follow my intuition and if I make a mistake I learn from it and move on.
8. What’s been your favorite part about building a business?
The relationships and community that’s been created around M+G is probably my favourite, a close second would be being able to create something and seeing it come to fruition.
9. What advice would you give other entrepreneurs?
So many things I could say, I suppose the main thing is to follow your heart – if you have a dream, plan it out and go for it, don’t let anyone’s opinions or concerns hinder you. It’s really hard work the first few years – blood, sweat, and tears, but if you’re passionate about your endeavour it’s all worth it.
10. How do you plan for the future?
A huge thank you to Carli for being a part of this series! If you would like to stay up to date with her store you can find her on Instagram: @montrose.and.george and be sure to visit the store in person!