Moxie Trades supplies safety footwear, apparel, and accessories just for women. Moxie Trades CEO and Founder Marissa McTasneyis the model for all the products and she had the idea after her second maternity leave and she decided to pursue a passion. She took a program for women in construction to learn how to build a house and after analyzing the safety-wear market, launched her company.
Before Moxie Trades, women's safety wear was designed for men, with the only difference being they sized down. Marissa took a snapshot of common sense stats, which showed that women were 25% of the workforce but nothing was being designed for them. Moxie Trades addressed this need with footwear designed for women along with apparel and accessories that are cute and stylish.
WEConnect International Network
The first four months of being connected with WEConnect has been amazing, if not easy. Marissa was introduced to WEConnect Canada through her mentor, Anne Day, Founder of Company of Women. While she has known Anne for 6 years and was connected with the program, the turning point in deciding to get certified came when an existing client, Chrysler, asked if she was certified. This was her first business need to become certified and then Marissa began to notice a shift toward diversity and inclusion among clients and potential clients. When Grainger asked her to register as a supplier on their supplier database, there it was – supplier diversity. She learned about the WBENC Conference and Expo in Orlando, Florida in June 2012. It was a short lead time at that point because her catalogue was not ready but Marissa decided to come anyway and take advantage of the opportunity.
The conference resulted in three great leads with Target, Arbill, and Grainger. Work with Arbill and Grainger is 90% there and Grainger represents a very substantial piece of work that could change her business. Although Marissa did not have Moxie's catalogue prepared, she had done her market research and only talked to those companies that had opportunities to sell her product. Moxie Trades was a great find for Grainger because 90% of Grainger's purchasing is in products, not services. This is good news for product-based companies that can target Grainger and good news for service companies who now know they will be dealing with more competition for fewer opportunities with that company.
WBE to WBE Connections
After deciding to become certified, Marissa's confidence in the program grew and she met other women, like Rae Lindsay of Mom's Best Gourmet Foods Canada, who said they were sure that certification grew and changed their businesses. That positivity was evident in the WEConnect International day of programming before the WBENC Conference in June. Connections between the women business owners created a great vibe and she found her peers were really free with the ideas and asking, "Have you thought about this?" At the conference Marissa was considering adding another tier to her business units so she approached well-established businesses from across North America and asked them for advice. Even after the conference, those connections with other WBEs are resulting in referrals and additional points of contact. In fact, Marissa's model is based on partnerships where the other party has a vested interest in the success of her business and vice versa. WEConnect can help her find and vet these connections while also providing opportunities for WBEs who can partner with her. It's win-win.
Patience and Persistence
Marissa certainly came out of the gate running, having made connections with major corporations and opportunities to sell product less than six months after becoming certified. Her preparation in advance of becoming certified, however, was crucial to her success. Moxie Trades was in business six years before joining the WEConnect network and Marissa spent five of those years developing the team, the infrastructure, designing product, and building capacity. "The key is fulfillment. When I go to a meeting now, I just have to show up. My catalogue, price list, and return policy are all developed. The companies involved with WEConnect are blue chip companies and you have to know how to fulfill it if they ask. It's easy to sell an idea; it's hard to bring it to life to fulfill it."
Expectations and Impacts
With the infrastructure of her company in place and several game-changing pieces of business imminent, Marissa looks forward to growing the business while recognizing that the systems and processes she has in place now may need to change with her business as she realizes her goal of selling millions of dollars in product to the United States market, and expands to Australia and Europe in 2014. She expects that the WEConnect network will reduce her time to market from 5 years to 2 years as she expands.
What's your WEConnection?
"If you make the supplier diversity person look good, she will jump through hoops for you." This was Marissa's experience with Grainger's supplier diversity representative, Nancy Connor. Nancy met with Marissa in advance of her meeting with the product manager to make sure she was prepared and ready to go. Marissa brought a great product and also prepped Nancy for a one-on-one meeting on the ins and out of footwear. She could help Nancy with her category buyer by being polished, professional, and ready to go and make it easier for Nancy to be measured on the success of supplier diversity in that category. Having her systems and processes in place gave Nancy and consequently, the buyer confidence that she could handle their business. It is important to remember that even if the supplier diversity person is not a buyer, they are an advocate for WBEs who are navigating corporate supply chains. On the basis of their initial meeting, Nancy scheduled a meeting with the category buyer before Marissa was out of the parking lot.
"My sales representative was skeptical, then amazed. He had been calling on Grainger for three years and after one meeting in Orlando and a follow meeting with Nancy, she was able to put me in front of the right people. Now we are looking at huge opportunity that could significantly change our business... I would have gotten to these opportunities anyway, because I am persistent, but WEConnect really sped up the process."Back to the Success Stories