Each week, Female CoFounder features a female founder in the community. Follow along each week and learn from different founders and their journeys.
FcF: Tell us about yourself?
Christine: I am a child of immigrants – the eldest daughter to Chinese-Vietnamese immigrants who fled after the Vietnam War. I never thought that I would become an entrepreneur. I thought it was risky and stressful. I went to the Schulich School of Business to pursue an MBA with a specialization in Real Estate and Infrastructure. I worked at the Real Estate Investment Trust in Land Development for 7 years after graduation and simply believed that I would continue to climb the corporate ladder, until I had a baby. Becoming a mother really compelled me to examine my own actions and its environmental impact – “what will our planet look like when my daughter grows up?”, and that is pretty much what has driven me to endure the ups and downs of entrepreneurship.
FcF: What is Beeja May?
Christine: Beeja May is an online business that buys and sells used kids and women’s clothing. You can find and filter through thousands of great quality brand-name secondhand items online and have them shipped to your door!
FcF: How did you meet your CoFounder?
Christine: My co-founder is my husband! We both have a great work ethic, the trust is obviously there, and luckily our skill sets are totally compatible!
FcF: How did you come up with Beeja May?
Christine: My husband (and co-founder) and I came up with the idea of Beeja May when I was on maternity leave with my daughter in 2018. I tried to shop used for my baby, because we truly believe that the most sustainable item is one that already exists, but it was challenging. Sifting through hundreds of items with a screaming baby at a brick and mortar store, or getting stood up by Kijiji sellers, made us realize that there was an opportunity to elevate the experience of shopping used items.
FcF: What is the meaning behind Beeja May? How did you come up with this name for your business?
Christine: Beeja is hindi and means seeds and signifies new beginnings. May is the month our daughter was born. Together, it represents a new beginning for the used clothing, and a new chapter for us as both parents and entrepreneurs.
FcF: What were the first 3 steps you took after you knew you wanted to pursue building Beeja May?
Christine: Created an Instagram account, incorporated the business, purchased used clothes.
FcF: How were you able to validate your idea to ensure it was something people wanted from your customer interviews?
Christine: The concept of shopping secondhand is not a new or novel idea, so we knew there was already an existing market out there. The challenge was to figure out how to scale a business that is traditionally tough to scale and how to do it online.
FcF: As you say that you strive for ethics and sustainability, you have a packaging reuse program and a dedicated section for Zero Waste Shop. Can you share more about your process of implementing the packaging reuse program and any other thoughts you have on businesses and sustainability? Do you have other plans to do other things in your business for sustainability?
Christine: Being a secondhand shop, our business is inherently more sustainable than conventional fashion retailers. We choose sustainable packaging materials (biodegradable, recycled and recyclable) and when possible, we reuse packaging. For example, our community drops off used poly mailers that can be reused and we package our orders with them. We also reuse packing and tissue paper to stuff and prop up items such as shoes or bags. We’re currently investigating methods to upcycle items that can not be resold - so stay tuned for that!
FcF: Congratulations on being selected as the first cohort at eCommerce North! What are you hoping to gain from entering an accelerator program? What advice do you have for others wanting to apply to an accelerator program?
Christine: My co-founder and I have absolutely no background in e-commerce, retail or fashion so we’re eager to learn more from the experience at Elevate + Moneris! We’re also excited to get to know the other founders in the cohort. In terms of advice for other founders wanting to apply to an accelerator program - I would just say to be genuine and sincerely passionate about your mission and that will resonate with anyone.
FcF: How have relationships with other founders helped you build your business?
Christine: I believe that it’s extremely valuable to meet other entrepreneurs because being a founder is an extremely unique experience that not everyone in your existing network might understand. Learning about their experiences, whether it be in securing funding, marketing, etc. has been extremely helpful.
FcF: What was a specific experience you learned from a founder that has influenced how you run your business or as an Entrepreneur?
Christine: The founder at the company I worked for prior to becoming a full-time entrepreneur always reminded me to be “thoughtful”. He said that it’s not necessarily about the business, but it’s about people, because people are behind everything. I’ve tried to carry that lesson in all my decisions, interactions and communications at Beeja May.
FcF: If you were to give advice to yourself as you were starting out, what would it be?
Christine: Be patient, everything worthwhile takes time, and show-up every day.
FcF: What advice do you have for other women who have a start-up idea or side project idea?
Christine: Start reaching out to and chatting with people who are doing things similar to what you hope to do. Cold calling might be tough so start with warm calls and people within your existing network.
FcF: How can the Female CoFounder community help you?
Christine: Would love to network, hear about the experiences of other female co-founders, and just to help share our story.
FcF: How can people contact you?
Christine: You can reach out via email: email@example.com
You can also DM @Christine Trinh in our Slack channel!
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