Anne-Marie Chagnon creating jewelry

Anne-Marie Chagnon: Doing business in gold... and pewter, glass, and leather!

Summary

Business: Anne-Marie Chagnon inc.

Number of employees: 30

Region: Montréal

Program: Women Entrepreneurship Strategy

The financial assistance granted has enabled: Anne-Marie Chagnon inc. to implement a marketing strategy for its creative jewelry in the United States, Japan, Australia, and Europe.
 

Since 1995, Anne-Marie Chagnon has been inventing, fashioning and sculpting jewelry for women. Her exclusive pieces—in pewter, glass, and leather—are made by hand in her Montréal studio. The reputation of this jeweler, trained at the Université du Québec à Montréal’s École des arts visuels et médiatiques, extends well beyond our borders. The business has a presence in 19 countries, including the United States, Japan, France, Lebanon, and England. Let’s meet her.


How does your business stand out from the competition?

A.-M. C: I create two original collections every year. Diversity is my trademark. All my exclusive models are made on request, which enables stores to offer a wide array of items. Each point of sale can thus have an inventory adapted to its clientele’s tastes. This way of producing through a continuous flow makes it possible to reduce the need for cash and the risk of loss from unsold inventory. The key to lasting in this market is creative inspiration. When we present our jewelry in a salon, designers and stylists are surprised by its originality.

Spoon with melted pewter
Pewter, a malleable metal, can be used to create high-quality jewelry

What are you most proud of on your journey?

A.-M. C: I am very proud to have made it to where I am today and for having developed my skills as a businesswoman, even if I did not study in this field. I am also very happy to be surrounded by good people. I can count on a big team—people who specialize in information technology, people who work on assembling pieces in the studio, and also experienced people who hold key positions in the business. This enables us to avoid many pitfalls.

I am also very pleased to have remained faithful to my artistic approach, even if it has not always been simple. We could be tempted to give in to current trends to increase our sales. Since I have never wanted to compromise in this way, I have no regrets.


What are the main obstacles you have encountered along the way?

A.-M. C: Sometimes a collection does not work. However, behind every difficulty, there is an opportunity to learn, an opportunity to tidy things up, to review and improve how we do things. When sales drop, we become more efficient, more on the case, more aware of how each dollar is invested.

If I had to redo things, I would seek out my brother David sooner. His arrival enabled me to concentrate on my multi disciplinary artistic approach and on research, and on ensuring our organization is able to showcase Quebec know how sustainably around the world.

An experienced manager, David Chagnon holds a Master’s in Business Administration. He was a Strategy and Business Development Executive at Bombardier before joining the Anne-Marie Chagnon (AMC) team in 2009.

What impact has the pandemic had on your business?

A.-M. C: Before the pandemic, 80% of our sales were done through a network of 500 independent retailers spread across all ten Canadian provinces, some 40 U.S. states, Japan, and a few other countries. The health measures and uncertainty caused considerable upheaval for our retailers’ operations. Confinement also affected our clientele’s purchasing behaviour, with lower demand for fashion accessories.

Anne-Marie Chagnon’s studio is immaculate and sunny
Anne-Marie Chagnon’s luminous studio in Montréal’s Mile-End neighbourhood

We succeeded in meeting our clientele’s needs through our online store and our presence on online marketplace platforms such as Simons’ Fabrique 1840 and London-based Wolf & Badger. We are now focused on our most valuable allies, our retailers, as they resume their operations, with more distance training and digital marketing tools to support them in their own work to adapt to the post-pandemic hybrid market.
 

Where do you see your business in five years?

A.-M. C: It will be a business on a human scale defined by its artistic, laid-back culture, where the manufacturing process occurs in a single sunny studio at the heart of one of the most multicultural neighbourhoods in Quebec, Mile-End. We want to overcome the labour shortage challenge by bringing together a professional team that is open, diverse and composed of passionate people working to serve our clientele well and to showcase Quebec know-how around the world, with the desire to prove that sustainable fashion and local manufacturing can rhyme with international success.

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