It’s not only the Moxie story, the founder’s story or why a pink work boot exists and thrives, but it is also our story shared with those who have pursued their dreams.
In 2006, I ditched my high heels for work boots. After the birth of my son Carter, I knew that I wanted to teach him about the adventures of life. As he slept for his morning nap, I wrote a book for him titled “With Love.” The philosophy I vowed to teach my children was and remains: “Dream Big, Think The Impossible, Love Passionately and Give Generously”. With the birth of my daughter Frankie, I completed the artwork for the book and self-published this gift to my kids.
While on maternity leave with Frankie, I discovered a program for women in construction and was moved to tears with excitement of the prospects. The Ontario Women’s Directorate sponsored this program at The Centre in Burlington, Ontario. My mom moved in to take care of Carter and Frankie while I drove three hours a day to learn how to build a house. The goal was to launch a construction company largely employed with women in the trades.
On the first day of the program, all of the women in my class ran to the local footwear store to purchase work boots and they had to buy men’s work boots. Curious, I asked Cyndi, the Store Manager: “Do you have any pink work boots?” and my new friend said, “I get asked all the time!”
This would be my “Aha Moment”.
The Pink Work Boot was born that day and what is now known as Moxie Trades came to life. The response to our Pink Women’s Work Boot, better known as ‘Betsy’, was beyond our wildest dreams. I managed to bring 30 pairs of work boots for women to Canada, with the goal of selling them and recovering the money it cost to manufacture and bring them to Canada.
Instead, the pink work boot became the company icon and continues to sell worldwide.
In the earlier days of the business, purchase orders paid for manufacturing goods and receivables sped up cash flow. Despite partnering with “finance guys” who understood money and business, they didn’t understand the heart and soul of a dreamer.
We were blessed very early on by the Canadian media who heard our “David and Goliath” story and shared it with their readers. Our biggest opportunity, however, came when the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) asked me to help audition the millionaires vying to be the newest “dragon” on Dragons’ Den. Dragons’ Den is one of the highest rated Canadian TV shows, and is the Canadian equivalent of “Shark Tank”. That experience landed Moxie Trades with the biggest deal ever made in Dragons’ Den history (at the time)– worldwide. Dragon W.Brett Wilson, Canada’s investor with a heart, was part owner of Moxie Trades until December 2015 when I regained full control of my company.
Brett’s leadership, mentorship and working capital helped Moxie Trades grow into the most recognized brand of safety footwear for Canadian women.
Additionally, Moxie Trades has also partnered with Tender Tootsies — another Canadian company. Through their distribution capabilities, Moxie Trades products are now available in over 500 retailers across North America, with distribution facilities in Ontario, Canada, and Aurora, Missouri. Moreover, Moxie Trades now carries a wide range of products for women who wear work boots, from protective eyewear to work belts.
In 2014, I was honoured by Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women to participate in her Expert Panel focusing on Canadian female entrepreneurs.
In 2016, I was the Fellow for Women Entrepreneurs with StartUp Canada.
In 2017, I founded Women’s March Canada and led 500 women to Washington and was part of a small team of women who organized 34 marches across Canada with 120,000 women marching. I was also one of five coordinators that helped 5,000,000 march globally on January 21, 2017.
While I still build things when I can, as it’s truly my passion and peace, I also speak at events across North America about our Moxie story.
The dream has always included building a place where women could find refuge whether it was for a minute or day. In 2020, our family purchased 50 acres and has built a home from the ground up. We have provided sanctuary for our family and our animals which includes several rescue dogs, a cat, two pigs and is home to Molly the donkey, Hank the horse and a herd of goats. The project has been more difficult than we imagined and like most things, cost twice as much and takes twice as long.
We are a work in progress as we modify our mission and re-establish ourselves in the market in a manner that honours our values.
Moxie is the ability to face fear with spirit and courage.
Find Your MOXIE…We Dare YOU!
This post is also available in: French