You are only as good as the team that surrounds you.
Nicole Authier launched MYTAGALONGS in 2006 in Montreal, Canada with the objective of streamlining women’s lives in the smartest way. Authier’s path to launching the global women’s accessories brand now known for product that simplifies and organizes women’s lives began with disposable underwear, her very first effort to create a solution for busy women that would help make their everyday lives easier.
With a plan to launch additional products in other retail channels, Authier surveyed 200 women to see what they carried in their purses, briefcases and gym bags and found that the common denominator amongst all women was Ziploc bags, or the “plastic bag problem” as she has coined it.
The MYTAGALONGS product offering has evolved into over 50 products and is available at over 150 retailers including Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom, Anthropologie and more. The brand offers lifestyle accessories where fashion meets function. What started in a small home office has grown into an in-house team of 10 with offices and warehouses in two countries.
Currently, MYTAGALONGS is proud to partner with the Because I Am A Girl initiative by sponsoring a girl in Guatemala for every employee on the team, and a dedicated collection donates 50% of the proceeds to this cause.
Authier is single mother of three who grew up in Guatemala and Mexico before moving to Canada and has a degree in Language and Translation. MYTAGALONGS has been seen in Oprah’s Favorite Things, Good Morning America, Buzzfeed and more.
Where did the idea for MYTAGALONGS come from?
As a single working mother of 3 I know how hectic life can be and even when you try to get organized, it is hardly ever pretty. I interviewed 200 women to see how they got organized, what they carried in their purses, gym bags, suitcases… The one thing that we all had in common was the use of Ziplock bags. We use them for everything! So I created a collection of smart, fashionable and affordable products that help women get organized.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I try to get to the gym by 7am on most days and into the office by 9. I start by following the to do list that I created the night before, which I do every night before leaving, and decide on the priorities. I don’t like scheduling meetings as soon as I get in as I like to leave time to deal with unexpected issues that came in overnight from China.
The rest of the day consists on splitting my time between the creative department and the sales department.
How do you bring ideas to life?
When it comes to creating products, I will either have a concept in mind or a similar item that I want to improve on as a starting point. I will discuss it with our creative team to determine the feasibility. If we give the idea the thumbs up then we will create a sample which will then be vetted by the sales team or even a customer before becoming part of our offering.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Studies are showing that people are spending more money on experiences than on material things. I think that placing value on creating memories like those created while travelling is very important and it makes me incredibly happy that this is a trend.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I ask questions… lots of them and I try to inspire my team to do the same. Stay curious and interested.
Challenge the status quo: is this the best way to do things? Can we make this product better?
What advice would you give your younger self?
You might not have the business degree you think you need to do this but don’t doubt yourself, the skills you have are equally important and they will get you there.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Happiness is a choice (As long as you don’t suffer from mental illness).
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I listen to my customers; they are the lifeline of any business. The minute you don’t you lose the pulse and direction you should be focusing on.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
When I started this business, it was an inventory based model so I had to invest in buying product. I mortgaged my house for the first round. Taking this risk and understanding that in order to meet projections, I had to carry the correct amount of inventory in stock helped me grow.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Our second year of business we did not reach the sales goals that we had projected with our financial investors and they decided that they wanted to withdraw from the business. They took a loss but were generous in that they let me keep the trademark and I was free to continue on my own.
I could have walked away but instead decided to take a mortgage on my house and invest in inventory on my own and continue selling. I worked at this as a second job out of my house designing product at night and taking a day off of work every month to go to New York to see my customers. Persistence and perseverance.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Create a company that focuses on helping people sleep better. This would include a meditation app, weighted blankets, eye masks, essentials oils etc. Everybody is looking for ways to sleep more and better.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A pink SMEG kettle for the office Kitchen. It is beautifully designed and matches the pink walls perfectly.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I wish I could say there was a web service that helped me, but I don’t have one.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Any book by Malcolm Gladwell because he provides entertaining insight into our society.
What is your favorite quote?
Only those who risk going too far can possibly know how far one can go. T.S. Elliot
- Question the Status Quo
- You are only as good as the team that surrounds you
- Don’t be afraid to take the risk