Basic economics help student entrepreneur land VentureQuest gold

Joelle Mason finds an untapped market in small-town style.

When Joelle Mason was younger, she’d always get excited to switch out her clothing when a new season would start.

“It’s almost like you’re getting new clothes,” says Joelle, who is taking the Human Resources Certificate at the College.

That’s one thought that inspired Memory Laine, the business idea that won Joelle the top prize at VentureQuest on February 9. VentureQuest is a competition where learners from the College pitch their idea for a chance to win $10,000 for their startup.

Joelle’s Memory Laine is a mobile consignment store that sells gently used clothing to women in small towns. It’s like a food truck for second-hand clothing with a focus on smaller communities. Joelle is targeting towns in Alberta and British Columbia. 

“The demand for clothing is different in these areas,” says Joelle, who is from Nelson, British Columbia. “I realized this at an early age from growing up in Nelson where there were limited reasonably priced places to shop.”

Nelson is where Joelle’s idea started to sprout. After earning next to nothing for her next-to-new clothes in Calgary, she tried selling them in Nelson. They sold  over time, they sold for enough to pay for her travels to and from Nelson and gave her a little extra spending money.  

The reason it worked was fundamental economics. In Calgary, there wasn’t enough supply for her clothes, even the ones that still had the tags on them. But in a smaller place like Nelson, the demand was there. 
Back at the College, Joelle hadn’t even planned on entering VentureQuest until she talked to Corrina Deck at a thrift shop on campus that Corrina was organizing. Corrina, the student social entrepreneur-in-residence at the College, told Joelle she had to enter her mobile consignment concept into VentureQuest. 

“It was a winning idea from the start,” says Corrina.

As for the inspiration for Joelle’s idea, it goes beyond her childhood memory. When Joelle was teaching English in South Korea, every few months, she’d get together with a group of girls for a clothing swap. “It brought these women from all over the world together,” says Joelle.

Joelle also chose the spelling “Laine” in Memory Laine for her late mother, Barbara Elaine Taylor, who passed away in 2015. “She grew up on a farm in Southern Ontario, she was the second eldest of five girls,” says Joelle of her mother. “My whole life, my family has been very resourceful. We call it the Taylor girl side of the family.” 

There’s no doubt her mother would be proud.

Posted on February 20, 2018
Story by Julie-Anne Cleyn

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