Couple leaves corporate jobs and $400K combined income to start Toronto business
If you were making a combined income of $400K with your partner in Toronto's corporate world, would you leave it all behind to start a dream business together?
That's exactly what Simon Tan and Christine Trinh did when they launched Beeja May.
Tan previously worked in finance at a private equity firm, focusing on acquisitions, and Trinh worked at a real estate investment trust as a development manager. Tan was working full-time and Trinh was on maternity leave when they started work on Beeja May in 2019.
Before a new career path or even lockdowns would change their lives, they had already been adjusting to a huge shift: becoming parents, and wanting to parent in a sustainable fashion.
"I would oftentimes spend hours preparing to leave the house with our newborn, drive to the thrift store, sift through dozens of racks and bins with a screaming baby in the stoller and then come home empty handed," Trinh tells blogTO.
"The other alternative was to meet up with sellers through online marketplaces, but after getting stood up a few times, I quickly understood why many well-intentioned parents turned to big box fast-fashion retailers instead."
Not wanting other parents to have to deal with the same dilemmas, Beeja May was born: an online marketplace with all kinds of coveted clothes, accessories, toys and books, all second hand, to slow down the ravage of fast fashion in the world of clothing for kids that grow quickly.
Beeja is a Hindi word meaning seeds, and May is the month their daughter Charlie was born.
The couple had eventually been hoping to take the business full-time, but the process was sped up by lockdowns boosting sales for e-commerce businesses, including theirs. Trinh left her full-time job in May 2020, Tan leaving his in June 2020.
"We did not want to look back with regret and wonder, what if?" says Trinh.
Their experience as thrifting parents taught them that items have to be snapped up quickly, and they find that the same effect takes place with Beeja May.
"All of the pieces we sell are either resale, which means they are all unique and one-of-a-kind, or a part of our 'Rescues Collection,' which are brand new deadstock, imperfect or damaged box items, which we typically receive limited quantites of," says Trinh.
"If you see a pre-loved Canada Goose bunting in store, you better snag it quick because once it's gone, it's gone."
The fawn buntings from Canada Goose she's referring to are intended for babies up to two years old, and cost $650 retail.
"Our lives have changed so much in both positive and negative ways," says Trinh.
"Owning our own business has meant that we've had the flexbility to make our own schedule and take time off as needed when our daughter was at home with us. That said, bootstrapping a startup and having to go through the financial ups and downs that accompany that has been a stark contrast to the bi-weekly paychecks we used to receive."
You can browse Beeja May's inventory and order online, and if you're interested in selling with them you can also schedule a drop-off to hand over your items, or a pickup where they'll come and get them.
"Our plan is to eventually go into the US and become the go-to place for families to shop sustainably," says Trinh.
"Our mission has been to make slow fashion as fun and convenient as shopping from fast fashion retailers."
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