Colour Me Pretty Boutique is a women’s clothing boutique in Fort McMurray that was founded by CEO Julie Fudge in February 2015. We sat down with Julie to learn more about her business, what made her start it, and the impact it’s making on the city of Fort McMurray.
GITL: Tell us about your business
JF: Colour Me Pretty is a business that I started almost as a “whoops”! It was never intended to be what it is has turned into today. After the birth of my children I made the decision not to go back to work, choosing instead to put my family first. I had been climbing the career ladder as a Registered Nurse, but after having my children my perspective changed, and first and foremost I wanted to be a hands-on mom. I struggled with the change. I had worked hard for 10 years to get to where I was in my career, spent many years studying, and had taken out and paid back student loans to get there, and now I was giving it all up!
On top of that, I was feeling a lot of pressure from society to act a certain way and look a certain way, all while being a good mom. But I wasn’t feeling that way. The truth was, I was uncomfortable in my own skin. I realized that if I was feeling this way, there were probably many more women feeling the same way. Thus, Colour Me Pretty was born, with a primary product of printed, colourful, comfortable leggings, as these were trending at the time.
Colour Me Pretty started very small, and was based out of my house. It was just myself. I carried a small selection of women’s clothing, making sure the fabrics were perfect blends of rayon, polyesters and spandex—a combination that petite women, larger women, and everyone in between can wear comfortably, and, most importantly, feel good about themselves.
GITL: How did you come up with the name Colour Me Pretty?
JF: When I first started the business, I had no idea that I would have a storefront. It was intended to be a small venture out of my house that would allow me to do something for me, but also be a mom. The name came from me wanting to give other women the message that how you present yourself to the world, whether you feel like it or not, will ultimately be how you feel about yourself. You are what you colour yourself, and you can colour yourself pretty!
GITL: When did you make to move to a storefront?
JF: I was after about 2.5 years of working out of my home. I had to work really hard to get to that point, with lots of social media activity and trade shows, but eventually I was able to expand into the community and opened a store in downtown Fort Mac. Again, it was just me to start with, but as we got busier, I was able to hire staff to work alongside me.
GITL: How would you describe CMP?
JF: We are a women’s clothing boutique that caters to women from sizes small to 3XL so women of all sizes feel pretty and accepted. That’s what we physically do. However, what we are best known for is what we represent—moms, business women, just everyday women who are making a difference. We are leading by example and showing people “Hey, you can do this. You can balance life and work”.
GITL: What are your top sellers or you hot lines?
JF: It’s always changing. We keep our finger on the pulse in terms of what is trending as we have become known as a trend setter. However, no matter what the current trend it is, we sell clothing that is comfortable, non-restrictive, and pretty.
GITL: Tell us about what CMP is doing in the community in Fort Mac to make a difference?
JF: There was a time during this venture that I was feeling really down on myself, and struggling with all the pressures that were on me. My best friend looked at me and said “Julie, you have to stop. You are worthy, you’re doing great, you’re a great mom, you’re a great business owner, you’re making an impact, you’re beautiful as you are, your daughters are looking up to you. Stop being so hard on yourself.” I realized from that moment that I had to do something to help other women out there who were feeling this exact same way—lacking the self confidence in their own beauty. So we started the Be Pretty Campaign, designed to shift one’s focus on outward beauty into what is truly important—that it’s OK to be you.
The goal of my business wasn’t to make me a millionaire. It was to make an impact in the city, which we have achieved with the Be Pretty Campaign. We invested in the women of Fort McMurray with no expected return. We just wanted to takes nominations for deserving women, and give one local woman the chance to be pampered for the month she was selected. We now get hundreds and hundred of nominations, which just goes to show how many people there are who feel this way, needing the validation that “it’s OK, you’re doing good”.
GITL: Where do you see things going for CMP?
JF: We have so many goals but we are realistic. We want to expand but at the same time we want to grow at a pace we can keep up with. We are online and ship Canada-wide, however, with 2 small children, remembering that my reason for doing this was so that I could be a mom first, storefront expansions will have to wait until my children are a little older.
GITL: What advice or tips do you have for other boutique owners or entrepreneurs in Canada?
JF: My advice would be to find balance. Realize that, yes, your business is very important and your dedication to it will ultimately yield the success you want, but know you are not just your business. Don’t be so invested in the business that you can’t see outside the box. That is what has led to my success, thinking and being family first. My customers know this and I am not ashamed of it. I am showing my kids what hard work looks like, than a nurse can run a successful business, and that’s what keeps me focused and driven. I guarantee it will be a rollercoaster journey, but if you feel this is where you are meant to be, go ahead and do it. Keep your roles and your goals in life aligned with your values and passion you have a magic formula.
Many entrepreneurs set themselves up for failure by starting a business and thinking it’s all going to be wonderful and fun like it iss at the start, but in reality, it’s not. Your passion for the business comes and goes, but you have to get up every day and make the choice to keep doing what you need to do to keep that passion alive.