Thursday, September 12, 2013

Gals We Admire: Virginia Champoux

If you live in Montreal, you're likely familiar with Mortimer Snodgrass, a fun and funky gift and novelty store. Not in Montreal? No worries, they've got a website with online shipping, too. Find out more about Virginia Champoux, co-founder of "The Snod"and what goes behind running a successful business.

Name: Virginia Champoux
Profession: Co-owner of Mortimer Snodgrass
Twitter handle: @snodv

Describe your typical work day, from start to finish
I drop off my kids at school before 8 am and then I run whatever errand the store needs: Home Depot, Art Supplies, the bank. We do everything in-house, do there is always something to pick up! I get to work about 30 minutes before we open and I do a bit of office work, looking over invoices, stock, preparing the social media ideas for the day. 

We open at 10 am. We use the quiet first hour to package the internet orders and unpack any deliveries of new merchandise. This is when I put on my "French brain": we do our own translation of all the packaging for the products we bring in from outside Canada. I also write witty online descriptions. The lunch rush is just that: a rush! Serving customers, helping them find the right gift, TONS of gift-wrapping. It usually winds down around 1:30, at which point I try to grab a bite at the counter or walk to the post office to mail the internet orders. 

The afternoon staff usually start at 2, so I can work on things like window display ideas or in-store signage. I always leave in time to pick up my kids from school at 4 pm. Then, I'm mom until after they go to bed. If anything still needs to get down, I grab my laptop and work a bit more. But these days, unless we are working on something big, I can have my evenings free.

When you were a kid, what did you want to grow up to be?
I thought I would be a teacher. Then I realized I had a knack for languages, so I travelled the world via student exchanges and learned German and Spanish. I started out as a corporate communications specialist. The store was something we did as a young couple trying to establish a more balanced life for a future family.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
The creative part: the window displays, figuring out where to put things in the store, making themes for Pinterest boards, coming up with witty online banter to get us noticed. I'm a very creative person, so I channel all my ideas into the store. 

What do you find to be the biggest challenge in your profession?
Bar none: staffing. It's become next to impossible to find part-time employees that are eager to work and want to be invested in their job. I lose sleep over it. If I could out-source one part of my job as owner, it would be that. 

Do you believe you had a "calling" for your profession?
I think so. I did very corporate work before, and it just didn't feel right. This feels much more like me, fits my personality much better. I think I could do lots of different things, I still hope to do many more things (hello, TV gig!) but I adore what I do, it makes me happy and fulfilled.

What are the three most important pieces of career advice you would give to other Canadian Career Gals?
Have a goal and work towards it. Not everything will be enjoyable, but if it brings you in the direction of your goal, stick it out.

Find something you love in what you are doing. Again, not every day is going to be a party, but a little part of your day should bring you satisfaction, every day.

If it's not working, change what you are doing. It could be a small change, or a big bold change, but any kind of change is better than none.


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