Michèle has lived a fairly full life, from having a daughter when she was 22 to a stint in the Federal Government to becoming a Human Resources Consultant for 10 years. She’s lived in the provinces of Quebec, Ontario and Nova Scotia and finally settled down in Gatineau, Quebec. She’s owned a B&B while teaching quilting in her home. She’s organized retreats, quilt shows and other activities related to quilting. This culminated into her purchasing “The Running Stitch”, a well-established quilt store in Ottawa, Ontario.
Nowadays her life is pretty simple; by day she runs her shop and by night she invests time in learning about running a business.
“I love my job because of the contact that I establish with both customers and staff. We share stories, projects, organize events and have tons of fun.”
The shop itself was already in existence and was quite popular and successful. She knew it was a done deal. What a surprise it was, although she knew quilting, she was still green on the business side and had to learn quickly. Because she didn’t share the same vision of the previous owner, it was like opening a brand new store. She had to establish her credibility, hire the right people, and develop the sewing center.
“The Running Stitch” is located in a strip mall on Hazeldean Road the main thoroughfare of the city of Kanata, which is now part of the city of Ottawa. When it was first purchased they weren’t entirely happy with the location, as it was not visible enough. She began searching for a new location with a better layout and eventually took a risk and moved the store to a 3,000 square foot location with plenty of space for the Sewing Centre. In her opinion, it was a very good decision to make the move.
As a quilter Michèle knew what sewing machine was her favourite, but would it sell in her store was the question. She needed to find a brand that had excellent stitch quality as well as a good reputation. She had no interest in carrying many different brands and after some research decided to focus on just one. The criterion was that it would have to be the best. The brand would also have to be of the highest quality, as she does not want to leave her customers unhappy. BERNINA was the obvious choice. It gave her the Swiss made high-quality they were looking for as well as the variety of machines and corporate dedication to satisfy their existing and potential customers.
Her priority as well as that of the store’s manager is to give the best experience ever to their consumers. Their approach is to make sure that customers buying a sewing machine will be happy with their purchase because they’ve found the right machine for them. Asking the right questions is key in finding the right solution.
“Running a store is the time of my life. This is where I found out that I was indeed a businesswoman, that I love everything about managing a store. I love being able to use my creativity to inspire people. I love challenge and I have a tendency to set the bar really high.”
Her best advice is to hire the right people. Being a successful BERNINA dealer means having knowledgeable staff on board and a very good technician. Providing good after-sale service will establish your credibility as a dealer. Her manager is very enthusiastic about the store and acting like it is her own. Her technician is passionate about his job and can fully explain what happened and how it can be fixed. Wendy, the manager is teaching a lot of classes. They are running a few clubs that they call BERNINA Academy and BERNINA Sophomore. They also have embroidery classes such as Hoop Sisters and are working on more options for embroidery machine owners.