au coeur de l'entreprise Reinventing a kitsch piece from our wardrobe

Ah, the wolf sweater. Both unloved and very trendy, it has undoubtedly experienced a resurgence in recent years. It is in a simple, refined, versatile and timeless style that offers it to us, available in several garments and accessories.


First entrepreneur

Unlike many companies that were born from the desire of creators to make a living from their art, it was the entrepreneurial side that was the driving force behind Olivier Gauthier, the company's founder. The dream of one day having his own business has been with him for a long time. A desire that he is less and less sure of realizing, as he advances in his academic career.

“After a DEC in entrepreneurship and a bachelor's degree in business management, I was in the process of doing my master's degree and I could see that I was going towards a career that was more professional than entrepreneurial. So I left what I qualify as my end-of-studies project, without knowing exactly what it would be. I wanted to do some kind of internship, to apply some of the things I had learned while I still had time. The goal was not necessarily to make it last. »

Nine years later, the company is now more alive than ever.

Josée and Olivier in the Atelier-boutique Josée Gagnon

But why wolf sweaters? The flash comes from an evening when Olivier is having a drink with his cousin and his brother-in-law who are passing through Trois-Rivières, where he is then living. One of the two men wears a wolf sweater. "Everyone thought it was funny and I was like ' ah, that's what I want to do! I'm going to sell wolf sweaters . At that time, it was more of a trip than anything else. The goal was to have a website to resell online. A place with a lot of choice and where it would not be expensive. »

It is by researching the suppliers and what is available on the market that he realizes that it does not correspond to what he wants. The underside of the very unethical industry makes him disillusioned. He does buy a few sweaters made of organic cotton in the United States, but finding nothing made in Quebec, he pushes his steps further. Rather than looking for resale-ready clothes, he begins to explore buying fabric, commissioning original designs from an illustrator, and looking at eco-friendly options in screen printing. “A wolf sweater is often seen as something kitsch , and the idea of ​​bringing it to a slightly more upscale line, made in Quebec, was out of place and I found it interesting. »

A meeting that changes everything

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As he had predicted, Olivier was quickly hired at the end of his studies and moved to Lévis to take up an interesting position at Desjardins. The start of is at this time slowed down. The real kickoff of the company takes place in 2013, with the meeting of the one who will become his partner in business as in life, Josée Gagnon. “When I met Josée, I told her about the project, and since she was sewing, we thought we could combine that together. This is where the little wolf that characterizes us was born, softer in its design than the traditional wolf, and where other elements were added to the range. »

The clothes are now made directly by the company and the models offered are becoming more elaborate. If for some working with his or her spouse is a challenge, for Olivier, everything is done very harmoniously. “We each have our responsibilities, we agree on the vision. At the beginning of each year, we make a strategic plan for the coming year. This is why we do not deviate from our vision and our values, we remember them all the time and we make our decisions accordingly. »

Constant growth


In 2013, Olivier and Josée found premises near their house in Lévis to house a workshop and an office. As the place has a beautiful shop window with a storefront, the idea of ​​also integrating a boutique there naturally takes hold. Thus in 2014, the Atelier-boutique Josée Gagnon was born and added to the activities of . Their creations are on sale there, as well as other Quebec products from several companies that share the same values.

In order to carry out their projects, Olivier and Josée alternately take a sabbatical year from their full-time jobs, then in 2016 Olivier takes the plunge and resigns from his position to devote himself solely to their activities. Building on its success, the company now hires four employees, both for the store and for production. They also do business with work integration classes for making cards, labels and cutting fabric.

Ethical and affordable

Facebook credit evolves in a relatively untapped niche, located somewhere between designers and big production. It's still high-end since it's made in Quebec and we don't skimp on quality, but “our goal is to have products that are fairly simple, fairly basic , and that it's accessible. » How do we get there? “We save development costs by using the same patterns, by buying a large quantity of fabric of the same color, we develop ways of doing things so that it is not too expensive for the customer in the end. A kind of hybrid between production and bespoke. The consumer can thus afford clothes in keeping with his values, which will not go out of fashion at the turn of the next season, and this, without emptying his wallet!

Unity is strength

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Thanks to their shop, the two entrepreneurs meet several other craftsmen and new collaborations are born. “We wanted to diversify our products, but we realized that we didn't have all the expertise, and we didn't have the time to do everything ourselves either. So they approach certain artisans to ask them to create products specifically for The company now offers creations by Hugo Didier , Blanc Soja candles , maps and illustrations by Marie-Ève ​​Arpin , macramé by NovaMercury, Lilipop earrings , soap by Savonnerie des Diligences and, recently, cups of Ratté creations!. “Having accessories in addition to clothes helps to enter other shops too, shops that don't sell a lot of clothes, for example. The creations are currently available in about thirty points of sale across Quebec.

June 1 , moving day!


To meet the new challenges that await it and meet the growing demand, the store is moving on June 1 to a more spacious space, still in Lévis. The current premises will be kept for the workshop, thereby doubling its surface area. “We will have to manage the growth of our productivity. Being bigger will mean investing more time, wondering if we are hiring more, if we are training internally, or if we are turning to outsourcing. It is often a critical moment for an SME, when growth arrives. For Olivier, the new store will above all be a way of getting closer to people, of having more direct contact with customers. Other collaborations have also been initiated, in particular for the production of fruit bags, bulk bags and make-up remover pads, in order to get involved from an ecological and environmental point of view which is also close to their hearts.

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The least we can say is that the wolf sweater is here to stay and we bet we will hear it howling at the moon of Lévis for a long time to come, ready to integrate into our wardrobe!

To find out more about the company, visit its product page!

Reviewed by Marie-Pascale

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