I can’t even begin to tell you how absolutely ecstatic I am for Dominique. Not to mention for the City. This Mobile Boutique has been a labour of love (and Saint John’s best kept secret) for so, so long.
It’s finally arrived and I couldn’t wait to get my own private tour of the truck.
Thanks to Dominique for taking the time to answer a few of my burning questions about “In Pursuit”. I hope you enjoy!
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Hi Dominique! Tell me about yourself and what you do!
Hi Barb! Thanks for asking, during the week I work a regular 9-5 job but I’m about to embark on a new adventure that I’m really excited about.
In Pursuit is a new mobile boutique.
Tell me more about your new venture!
In Pursuit Mobile Boutique is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a store on wheels! Housed inside of a hot pink, completely renovated 2004 GMC Workhorse, the boutique features on trend clothing and accessories bought with women aged 20-35 in mind. Sizes range from 2-18 and there isn’t anything priced over $100. There is absolutely something for everyone!
It’s the first of its kind on the East Coast. Having a mobile boutique is a great alternative to a typical brick and mortar location. Not having to pay rent really helps keep the costs down and we’re absolutely going to pass on those savings to our customers.
Original idea in the original City.
Where on earth did you get this idea?
After having lived in metropolitan cities like Toronto and Ottawa and having spent a lot of time working in and around Montreal, I had developed a little bit of a crush on food trucks (who hasn’t?) and street food culture. Two summers ago, I traveled to Boston and ended up discovering SoWa Open Market; an incredible indoor/outdoor marketplace open only on Sundays. Not only does SoWa feature tents overflowing with local artisans plus fresh produce and organic foods, there is also a huge vintage and antiques marketplace in a large building right in the middle annnnd.. you guessed it, an entire parking lot devoted to dozens and dozens of food trucks.
While we were wandering the market we noticed a white delivery truck hidden in the back corner behind trucks serving grilled cheese sandwiches and deep fried pickles. Except, this truck wasn’t handing greasy food through the windows. Instead, there were stairs leading into the back door and a very large crowd of eager ladies waiting patiently to get inside. At the time I didn’t have a chance to check it out for myself but I Googled “white delivery truck – SoWa” the moment I got home and uncovered “The Fashion Truck” and was more than a little upset to realize that I had missed out on 22 feet of clothing and accessories.
I did a little more research and uncovered that mobile retail is an extremely popular trend all over the West Coast that’s slowing building momentum and moving east. It was amazing to see all of the different trucks that already existed! I couldn’t get the idea out of my head and I immediately started to figure out a plan to get one of my own right here in Saint John.
What hoops have you had to jump through to get your mobile boutique ready to go?
This journey has been interesting, to say the least. The biggest hurdle was that the City had put changes in place to the by-laws about 10 years ago and decided against allowing mobile food vendors on Uptown streets. It was discouraging at first but the more I talked about my vision, I found there were way more people who were in favor of the idea and way less that were against it. It gave me the ammunition I needed. I just had to keep talking and keep fighting and eventually with the support of great members of our City Council, our Police Department, Waterfront Development, Enterprise SJ, and so many more individuals, everything eventually came together and I can now proudly display a Peddlers & Hawkers permit in my driver’s side window making it legal for me to park Uptown at any metered spot.
The truck itself has been a unique challenge all on its own. Believe it or not, the Ford Focus I drive every day pales in comparison to my 26′ 2004 GMC Workhorse. There were a few things we uncovered after we picked her up from Halifax like a leak in the roof and a hole in the gas tank that needed to be looked after, but once Country Cuts Carpentry in Fredericton drew up the plans for her boutique style interior, there was no turning back.
Where you do envision setting up?
Ideally I will be around the Uptown area for the most part. I have my eye on Water Street because it’s so vibrant and the street is wide enough to host the truck for an extended period of time.
We’re working on developing an official “truck tracker” app but for now, people can stay “In Pursuit” of our next location and everything else fashion truck related by following along via social media. We’re live on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and each platform has a bit of a different twist. You’re going to want to follow all 3 to get the maximum mobile experience!
Going forward, are there opportunities for partnerships, pop ups and special event?
Absolutely! This is what I’m most excited about. I LOVE collaborating! I’m definitely looking forward to chatting with other local entrepreneurs and business owners to see what kind of creative partnerships we can develop. The great thing about being mobile is that there are no limits!
I’m picturing a “Dine & Dash” collaboration with a restauranteur where you ‘dine’ on fantastic cuisine and then ‘dash’ into the truck for a great outfit. Or how about a discount at another retailer for buying something from the truck or vice versa? The options are endless!
Local events like Buskerfest or holiday celebrations during Canada Day or New Brunswick Day will be perfect pop up opportunities for the truck but I’m also looking forward to branching out a little further away from the Saint John core and meeting & greeting new customers at places like the Sussex Balloon Festival, St Andrews Festival By the Sea and even the Victoria Park Arts & Craft Fair in Moncton.
Am I going to be able to invite my girlfriends over for a shopping party?
Will you be doing house calls?
Heck yes! The official launch of the “home party” option will come in the Spring as we head into a full year of mobile business in 2014 once the snow melts but we’re absolutely looking forward to house calls, personal 1:1 styling sessions and being invited over for birthdays and bachelorette parties.
Having a boutique the size of a large walk in closet gives me a perfect opportunity to curate merchandise specifically with your guests in mind. Instead of showing up with product you may have seen the last time you visited me street side, I’ll get to know your guestlist in advance and order in pieces specifically for them that will make their debut at YOUR house. So much fun!
What’s a typical day like for you?
I think my typical day is pretty average. I bring flavoured coffee with me to work, catch up on social media and fashion blogs between clients, hit the gym after my workday is done and then come home for the night to mini creative projects or enjoy a bowl of ice cream while catching up on PVR’d television. Sometimes there’s a Seadogs hockey game thrown in the mix.
What is your dream day?
My dream day would be spent traveling/exploring/adventuring in someplace new. Browsing local markets, talking to locals, taking in some live music. I have an endless bucket list of dream destinations.
I hope my story and the truck will inspire someone else to follow their dream, and to keep pushing no matter how many times they hear “no”. As far as mobile business is concerned, now that trucks are legal I hope that there’s someone out there who is on the cusp of launching a food truck. I envision Saint John being a hub for this emerging industry, allowing many different types of mobile vendors and eventually having a dedicated mobile site somewhere along the Waterfront that will draw tourists and locals all year round.
My first truck is for just for women but I can see a fleet of all different types of trucks in the future!
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Be sure to follow In Pursuit on Twitter & Facebook so you always know where she’ll be popping up!