In this age of social media we are influenced every time we check our feed. I admit I, myself, have fallen victim to the powers of persuasion wielded by many an influencer.Buy this and wear that! It's exhausting and hard to keep up. Then Britt Barkwell announced her new venture - Trouvaille Online - with her partner Sasha Johnson. Trouvaille Online is changing things up with a three pronged approach - online content and affiliate edits, seasonal pop ups and styling services. The site offers a carefully curated and classic edit of pieces for both personal styling and home decor along with an integrative social media platform with features such as weekly Q&A's on how to solve styling conundrums. The site also offers personal and home styling services if you'd like a more customised reflection of your indivitual style. Barkwell herself is one of those women who has a timeless style yet her look is equally fresh and fashionable. It's a fine balance and one she walks really well. Here, she explains how she got her start and what spurred her to create Trouvaille Online.
What were you doing in your previous life? I spent the last 7 + years as the founding editor of Holt Renfrew’s first-ever digital magazine. I managed a team of editor’s and travelled to London, Paris & Milan with the team to help curate the assortment and develop content for the brand.
What gave you the idea to start your business? I’ve always had knack for finding things online. Over the years, I’ve truly enjoyed crafting my style and decorating my home with unique and special pieces. I’d revel in the evenings and weekends spent hunting down the perfect accent for a room or finishing touch for an outfit, but after having my daughter Izzie and returning to work, I realized that I was seriously lacking time. Naturally, any free moments I had I’d spend with Izzie rather than scouring the Internet. Around the same time I started to have friends reach out with design and styling questions. They knew my love for interior and fashion, and were in similar life situations, so they didn’t have the time to do it themselves. It was that common theme of being time-starved and in search of an edited assortment that kept coming up – and ultimately inspired Trouvaille. With a distinct POV, Trouvaille aims to help on-the-go women navigate the world of online shopping. We want to help women discover and define their personal style while offering customized wardrobe and interior solutions that fit their individual lifestyles and budgets – and save on time!
What spurred you to make the change? It seemed like there was a hole in the Canadian market and that we could add value by helping women live beautifully, simply.
Was there anything holding you back? It’s scary to wrap your head around going out on your own. You have to really put yourself out there and take a leap but it has certainly been worth it.
How did you prepare to pivot? We launched with 3 revenue streams: affiliate sales, partnership revenue, and revenue from our services. We wanted to launch broadly and see what woman would find most useful and would drive traffic and sales. Since launching just under six months ago, we’ve seen success with all streams and have had such a positive response to our services that we are currently looking at ways to improve them so we can take on greater volume.
Some challenges you faced when you first started? Being a team of two, I think the biggest challenge has been trying to be smart about what/how much we take on. It’s a constant struggle but we need to focus on the things that help us drive our mandate of helping women live beautifully, simply. We evaluate everything through this lens.
What was the hardest part of building your own business/changing careers? I think just taking the leap and being prepared to fail. It’s scary leaving the comforts of the corporate world, and being 100% responsible for the success of your business. There is a lot of self doubt and worrying but at the end of the day it is totally worth every minute.
Advice for women who want to follow in your footsteps?There is no silver bullet to success. It takes time to build a brand. We are trying to be patient and strategic and keep our momentum.
Would you do anything differently? Absolutely not. The one thing I learned pretty quickly is that it’s all about trial and error. You need to try things and see what works.
How do you set your goals? We have an overall mandate and we set our goals by evaluating what will help us achieve this overarching goal.
What are the daily rituals that make you successful? I spend a lot of time looking at what’s going on in the market—what are other sites doing? Who are other influencers working with? Who are the new and emerging brands that should be on our radar? I think it’s important to watch what others are doing so we can learn and be better.
What helps you be your most productive? Having a schedule--luckily having a 2 year old makes this very easy!
What inspires you? I’m currently obsessed with the “How I built This” podcasts—I find the stories so inspiring.
What music are you currently listening to? I’m super into David Bowie at the moment.
Who or what has been your greatest professional influence? Over the course of my career, I’ve tried to soak up as much as I can from various mentors in my life. I don’t think one person can get it all right. I’ve been fortunate to have several in my life that have taught me everything from how to navigate motherhood and have a career, to what fuels passion and creativity.
What does your own home say about you? Less is more.
What style icons influence you? Carolyn Bessette Kennedy always and forever.
What are your top five timeless wardrobe staples?Oversized white shirt, great fitting pair of jeans, classic slingbacks, structured blazer and a gold cuff.
How often do you clean out your closet? Every season.
What are some pieces you’re currently on the hunt for? I’m redecorating my dining room and looking for a marble tulip table and a statement light fixture. I’m obsessed with French designer Joseph Dirand and French minimalism at the moment.