The big pink truck showed up in Saint John in 2013 with owner, Dominque Leger, at the wheel. One of the freshest ideas to hit the east coast retail industry, the In Pursuit Mobile Boutique garners a lot of attention and has a huge following. If anyone can make a retail venture successful, it’s Dominique – Saint John’s #mobilepreneur!
It’s a mix of Dominique’s love of fashion, desire to make a difference and her willingness to stand out that is behind the success of her popular truck boutique.
Our animated chat started by me asking Dominique where she got the idea for her business on wheels…
A: My background is all retail – fashion-based. I graduated from high school in Fredericton and moved to Toronto to attend the International Academy of Design and Technology’s Fashion Marketing and Merchandising program. I’ve always been interested in fashion and the business and the psychology behind retail. I worked in various retail jobs, moved around a lot and then relocated from Ottawa to Saint John in 2009.
When I came back, I didn’t want to do retail anymore. I didn’t know what it was like to have a 9 to 5 job. I decided to get a desk job.
Q: How did that go?
A: I hated it. I was really excited at first. That excitement wore off once I realized that when you work that kind of a job, you do the same things every single day, all day in the same place. I was used to a fast pace. I didn’t understand office culture -I didn’t know how to fit in.
Q: What happened when you realized this?
A: I started looking around for something else that I could do while I was still working my full-time job. I came across a posting – a virtual community manager for a startup fashion business based in New York City. I did their digital community management – Face-book, Instagram, Twitter and also writing articles every single week based on my experience in the retail industry. The purpose of the company was to help up and coming designers reach out to retailers and brands and get noticed.
Once I started having those conversations, I knew that I was home. I knew that’s where I had to be and that’s where I belonged – these were my people. It was a light bulb moment.
Q: How did the idea of the truck come about?
A: Actually at a market in Boston. I was walking through the food truck market and off in the corner, there was this white truck all by itself. There were women all around it and they were waiting to get in. It was actually called the Fashion Truck. That was my ‘aha moment’.
Q: What was the appeal of The Fashion Truck?
A: The biggest problem in the mall is traffic – how do you drive traffic to your standalone store? How do you get people to come out when it’s raining, when it’s snowing and when the weather is terrible? I didn’t want to take that risk and have to sit around and wait for people to find me.
The idea of it being a ‘pop up’ appealed to me – making my own hours, not having to do all of that standing around waiting for business. With the truck I could essentially go anywhere.
Q: Has there been a downside to a being a pop up?
A: It’s a very small space. I’m working with 18 square feet versus 1,800 square feet in a typical retail location. For the most part, the advantages far outweigh the negatives.
Q: What do you carry in the truck?
A: It’s a little bit of everything right now. It’s like Winners – where you go in and you’re never exactly sure what’s going to be in there, but you know if you don’t get it when you see it, it’s not going to be there when you go back again.
Q: What’s your marketing strategy for In Pursuit?
A: I have some interesting marketing strategies that work for me that wouldn’t work for typical bricks and mortar – definitely a sense of urgency comes into play, not only with my product but also with my opening hours so I definitely use FOMO (fear of missing out).
My price point is really reasonable. I’m in the centre of where all the clothing boutiques are – my pricing is a little bit higher than big box, but much lower than boutique pricing. It’s affordable, fun and it’s things that you can’t find anywhere else.
Q: When it comes to social media, what platform do you use the most?
A: I use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter religiously, a little bit of Pinterest. For the most part I stick to those three. I find that’s where the majority of my customer base is. But that being said, it’s a completely different audience and a completely different conversation on each platform.
Q: In the four years, what’s the biggest learning for you around owning your own business?
A: It’s consistency and authenticity that has grown my brand from where I was in year three to where I am now in year four going into year five. I went from no structure to putting a structure in place. Consistency changed my business so much.
Q: What does the future hold for In Pursuit?
A: The future is actually really interesting. I launched a Kickstarter campaign recently and raised enough to purchase a second truck that carries my stationary and gift items.
Q: What was your goal with the Kickstarter campaign?
A: I hoped to raise $10,000 for a down payment on the second truck. I had already designed the second truck. I approached the people who gave me loan money to start truck number one – after all, I’ve doubled my sales every single year for the last four years I’ve been in business. Guess what? They said no.
There’s a lot of programs in place to help people start, but once you’ve started, I guess the answer is no. I’m not really sure why. They just don’t have those plans in place to help you expand.
Q: You’ve got a great franchising opportunity – have people talked to you about franchising?
A: A lot of people have thrown around the F-word. I don’t know. I think the magic is here. The magic is in Saint John and in this community. I don’t know if you can duplicate that anywhere else.
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This article published in the Telegraph-Journal on Saturday, July 7, 2018