ABOUT LEAH CHEVALLIER
My business career in the Juvenile Industry started back 1996 with the birth of my first son. Arriving in Calgary after living with my husband in Europe (and South America), and full of ideas for baby gear; I was hugely disappointed with the baby store selection in the city. I took a $2,000 start-up loan, an idea I was passionate about and in a few years, turned my home-based business into a 5 store, award winning retail chain.
I went on to create a high-end kids shoe store in one of the top ten malls in Canada, as well as an eco toy store venture as well as launched a 40 page parenting magazine. To expand and diversify my stores I also started a manufacturing/distribution company to supply my own stores with 60+ products, but also supplied over 200 other baby stores in the juvenile industry in Canada.
I learned the ins and outs of the retail world first hand and eventually grew my startup to $6 million a year and with my other companies, grossed a total sales revenue of more than $30 million.
In 2009, the beginning of the next chapter in my learning was unfolding, the recession was starting to get a chokehold on the baby industry in North America and we were beginning to feel the pinch from the the online deal sites, bargain discounters and brand hackers. Not to mention, people were tightening up their wallets and downgrading the calibre of their key nursery and juvenile items. At the same time I was helping my young daughter navigate Alberta Children's Hospital with a serious neurological condition that would see us through a 2 year treatment, 8 blood tests a day, 34 pills per day and countless sleepless nights. (Update: she is off treatment and seizure free! HUGE grateful hugs to all the people at Alberta Children's Hospital for the life changing and life saving work they do on a daily basis!)
In hindsight, I could have slowed down the business pace at which we had become accustomed to, but hindsight is always blindingly clear, isn't it?
In the end, due to recession, changes in demographic buying habits, bailing out a franchised location before our corporate ones and other trying circumstances, we were forced to close several stores, sell another and lost our flagship Westhills store for a multitude of reasons. Painful? You bet. But all of these trials have helped round out my award winning career in the juvenile, retail and design industry with some well seasoned lessons and fantastic learnings. I can tell you that there are several incredible learnings that will forever mold and shape the business person I am today!
Would I change the outcome in some areas if I could? Yes, but truthfully, the learnings that come from being on top and then humbly sweeping up pieces are not something that can be taught in any business school, classroom or seminar. It is a very sad and humbling experience but not without it's education.
As a successful business owner and CEO of a company that birthed multiple successful business concepts, I now place my passion and experience into the hands of my clients. I thrive on helping my customers see new potential, research markets, competitors, source manufacturing, track compliance, labelling, packaging, help them to watch for warning signs, tighten processes, tweak procedures, create HR protocols, employee management, as well as branding, social media, visual merchandising.
My goal is to take my personal business experiences and use it to improve the overall business functionality and performance for my clients.
AREAS OF EXPERTISE
- 30+ years of hands on, award winning business experience
- Ability to tap into YOUR business and increase productivity, organization and revenues
- English/French bilingual benefits
- Drop shipping, sourcing
- Product design, manufacturing, production & distribution expertise
- Market research, planning and positioning
- Government regulations, testing requirements
- Labelling & product compliance experience
- Commercial leasing and contract negotiations
- Licensing, Franchising and scaling
- Marketing & Branding Profile Packages
- HR & Administration experience
"Leah has vast knowledge in product design, manufacturing, production, distribution as well as all areas of retailing, production, franchising and business duplication. From her first small retail kiosk to 7,000 square foot power center stores in some of Canada's top shopping centres, her passion lies in precision brand execution, fine tuning processes and creating scalable business opportunities."
AWARDS & NOMINATIONS:
✔ RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award
✔ Fastest Growing Mompreneur Business (Canada)
✔ Top Canadian Mompreneurs - Mompreneur Magazine
✔ Parent's Choice Award -Calgary Child Magazine (for multiple businesses)
✔ Canada's Top 40 Under 40
✔ Canada's Top 100 Business Women 2008 and many others spanning two decades.