HUIT JUIN Maison: From Generalists to Specialists

04 November 2016 by National Bank

During the early stages of their business producing and selling table linens, Marie-Andrée and Laurence Mackrous, assumed that they would share all responsibilities. However, a mentoring meeting made them realize the advantages of splitting roles...

Two Generalists in the Beginning

HUIT JUIN maison delivered its first table cloths and placemats this past August. This delivery of table linens designed in Quebec but produced in India, is the product of two years of work by the entrepreneur team.

"In the beginning, Laurence was in Montreal, I was in Quebec, and we both had children, so we told ourselves that we could fill each other's role and take over for one another when needed," recalls Marie-Andrée.

This approach worked well for them during the first months when all the work revolved around starting the business. Then the disadvantages became apparent. "The costs increased: we would have had to stock twice as much, have two warehouses (one in Quebec and another in Montreal) ... It wasn't realistic, considering our financial means."

Not to mention that their professional paths and education was drawing them in different directions. "I studied marketing and worked at an advertising agency for 10 years, while Laurence studied fashion marketing and worked in the retail business," explains the oldest of the two, who considers herself to be a leader and extroverted, whereas her younger sister is an observer and more reserved.

The "Aha!" Moment

It was during a group mentoring meeting that Marie-Andrée Mackrous had the revelation that transformed the distribution of tasks between the two business partners: "Our mentor, Jo Lanoë, explained to us that there are three components to be shared between associates: the past (accounts to be settled, performance indicators), the present (deliveries, stock management, customer service) and the future (marketing, communications, media relations, business development)."

The co-founder of HUIT JUIN maison immediately recognized her strengths and that of her sister’s: "Laurence is primarily in the present, while I'm in the future. We divide the past." Seeing this structure legitimized by her mentor reassured her, before leading her to apply this model to their operations.

Two Complementary Specialists

"Once we clarified the division of tasks between us, a large portion of stress melted away, continues Marie-Andrée. We were no longer trying to do everything in twos, but instead with each person assigned their own responsibilities."

In addition to being more economical, this division of work allowed the two sister’s business to fully profit from their respective strengths and to continue to develop those strengths. "You can't be the best at everything. I think we get more out of uniting two complementary specialists rather than two generalists. This is going to enable us to go further," foresees the manager of HUIT JUIN maison's future.

Joint Decisions

Even though they divide most daily tasks, the two associates continue to consult one another before making important decisions. "We established a rule: never make a decision that same day," explains Marie-Andrée Mackrous.

Communicating well in key moments is another bit of advice that the HUIT JUIN maison co-founder would give to anyone starting out in business, especially those partnering with someone close to them. "You have to listen to the little voice inside, have good discussions with associates, and put everything on paper in order to be confident and happy with your decisions ", believes this entrepreneur. Along with her sister, they feel they can "conquer the world... at their own pace".

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