I recently attended the Chamber of Commerce Business Achievement Awards dinner and was inspired by Barb Stegemann, author and CEO )“The Seven Virtues of Beauty Inc.”), guest speaker for the evening. She was both articulate and comical in telling her story of entrepreneurship and I realized that in writing my business articles I had neglected to include more local female entrepreneurs! Having worked with Melissa Neuman on sales and advertising projects for CHAD Transit and knowing that she had recently taken over a shop in downtown New Glasgow I decided to sit down with her for an informal interview and get an insight as to how she managed her business in addition to a full-time sales position as well as family obligations.
Melissa was born in Calgary and moved to Pictou County in 2003. Unlike the outward migration we are experiencing, hers was a case of inward migration and her motivation was the quality of life that rural Nova Scotia offers. Her initial position entailed scoping out the Pictou County real estate market for an Edmonton-based real estate firm. She liked Pictou County so much that she decided to stay and went to work for Convergys for the next four years. In December 2010 she started her sales career with The News where she is still actively employed.
Melissa’s first love has always been fashion and her friends jokingly refer to her as the “Fashion Queen”! In 2014 she was approached to go into the retail business. Not having business experience in this sector she approached NOBL regarding their Succession Program. This program matches existing business owners with potential new entrepreneurs who want to eventually take ownership of the business and run it themselves. The main criteria of this program is that you need to take a majority ownership share in the business in addition to going through what she refers to as a “business owners boot camp” to learn the basics of running your own business. Her new business is called In Mint, a high-end consignment store for women. When asked, why the clothing business, she explained that she had worked with her mother in the retail clothing market and enjoyed the fashion aspect of it. Her source of merchandise is mainly local and since opening in August she has hired staff to look after the business when she is at her other job, thus creating employment. Her obligations to NOBL include a repayable loan with interest and providing quarterly financials,
Asked what her biggest seller was she indicated wedding dresses were an important part of her business. The stigma has gone out of the consignment business and people are happy to be able to have their gently used items recycled so the consumer can benefit from a lower price and both the owner and the merchandizer can make a profit on apparel that may otherwise get discarded. Melissa carries new products as well such as jewelry, hats and scarfs. Unsold items go Summer Street to benefit that important organization.
The retail business is very competitive but this young lady is not only putting money back into the pockets of the merchandise owners but also creating a value chain for the consumer.
Faus Johnson is a graduate of Dalhousie University and the University of Western Ontario Ivey School of Business. He resides in the Town of Pictou with his wife Lee.