In this series, our collaborator Carolyne Brown meets the Local Talents—flagship stores in the heart of Rockland Centre. These interviews are all about sharing, sincerity and proximity. We invite you to enter their world and discover who they are.
Let’s meet Rim Elias, Founder of RETYCHE
RETYCHE was born in our Elama shop. Recycling is part of our DNA; we were always reworking our customers' coats. So, we asked our customers to bring their handbags. We started showing them in our window display along with our jackets, and they became very popular. We realized that selling handbags had a lot of potentials. So, RETYCHE was born in 2019, somewhat accidentally.
I have a Bachelor's degree in chemistry, but I realized that it wasn't right for me. I went to HEC and then worked in marketing for a multinational company. At the same time, my sister was working at L'Oréal and we used to call each other all the time to tell each other that we felt smothered. We were also involved in several organizations like the OSM, the Red Cross, and Place-des-Arts, which allowed us to build a massive network of contacts and we wanted to build on that. We tried to start so many small companies and small projects, and then we thought that we've always loved fur. That's when we created our first collection.
Our technology and our expertise set us apart. We have a machine to authenticate each bag, it takes pictures of the leather, the logo, the stitching, etc., and we guarantee its authenticity for life. We also have two experienced authenticators on our team, who have been doing this since an early age. As well, we have the most wonderful team in the world. In the beginning there were just the two of us, my sister and I; now we are 13. It's really a team effort, each of our employees feels that RETYCHE is their company and that makes all the difference.
How we recovered during the COVID-19 pandemic. We launched our website in early March 2020... and a few days later the pandemic hit. That was a defining moment because we weren't so sure that it was a good idea. In January of that year, my sister and I decided to stop everything and put all our energy into the website. But now, our online sales are more important than our in-store sales. It was scary, but it was exciting and new! And we were able to discover a new world because of it.
We're lucky to be in an industry that is so timely. I think that all companies that offer sustainable and green products should be highlighted. Because of climate change, we must act and change the way we shop. Right now, I'm wearing a Marie Saint-Pierre jacket that I bought at my shop. I try to only wear second-hand items and I hope my children and the next generations will do the same.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to face in your career as an entrepreneur?
Our biggest challenge is to stay relevant to the latest trends and technologies. Things change so fast, we must adapt quickly to remain relevant.
What is the biggest lesson that business ownership has taught you?
Managing a team: giving them flexibility, making their expertise shine, and simply trusting them. It’s the first time that we do this – we’re learning with them.
Most of our sales come from our handbags. Classic designer silhouettes are our best sellers because they are good investments; they increase in value every year.
To be a bit naive. My sister and I dream big, we believe that one day we will be mentioned in Forbes magazine. There are no limits, you have to be a little naive and not be stopped by your fear of success.
How do you encourage people to purchase second-hand items?
Purchasing second-hand items leave a much greener footprint on the environment. It's also about getting more for your money and getting an original piece that you can't find everywhere.
What is your best-kept secret?
It's not really a secret, but to be positive every day and to surround yourself with positive people.
What could we wish for you in the future?
To shop better, to shop in a green and responsible way - whether it's for ourselves or for someone else. It's really important for our future and our children's future that we change our way of consuming.