Marissa McTasney is the president and CEO of Moxie Trades – a company she built that designs and produces industrial work boots and safety shoes for women.
When and why did you first start thinking about exporting as part of your business?
Since the very beginning. I began my research into the market before I got into business and many of the statistics were from Industry Canada and U.S. Data and Statistics. I knew the market potential before selling one work boot.
Is there a specific story/anecdote from your company’s history that you would consider a critical moment for your export journey?
When I lost Zellers and Walmart, I knew that I needed more mass merchants in order to have a sustainable business. With only one major retailer in Canada with more than 400 stores, my company would be vulnerable without the U.S. market.
What is the biggest difference between selling in Canada and selling in another country? How did you adapt to that difference?
The U.S. is very brand focused and entrepreneurial. They are also not used to dealing with a woman-owned business. The hardest part is travelling across the U.S. in a car with a shoe bag. It is not an easy gig and can be very gruelling, long, and lonely days. I am a salesperson first.
How has exporting changed the way you market/sell your products/services in Canada?
Exporting into the U.S. has provided me with a higher profile with my Canadian customers. I believe they feel safer and that my business is no longer vulnerable. They have confidence that I’m now “in the shoe business.” Moxie Trades is now a household brand, a leader in women’s safety footwear, and an established company.
What have you learned from exporting that has benefitted your sales/operations in Canada?
Always sell. Take orders from any software systems, with any phone call, paper airplane, or napkin. Be versatile but always get the order.
Can you share the best lesson learned from a difficult exporting experience?
Know your duties and exchange rates, especially these days with gas prices and exchange rates fluctuating. Don’t commit to pricing beyond three to six months.
When it comes to exports, what do you know now that you wish you knew when you started exporting?
I wish I started from day one.
What is the #1 thing new SMEs need to know about exporting and trade?
It’s not that hard. If you test your market and know your opportunity, go for it.
What is one characteristic that you believe every exporter should possess?
Patience and tenacity.