Joe Mimran on What it Takes to Succeed as an Entrepreneur

Style icon Joe Mimran has no intentions of slowing down. The creator of the Alfred Sung, Joe Fresh and Club Monaco brands, and designer of Staples Canada’s newest product line Gry Mattr, gets up every day driven to succeed and stay relevant.  

He is many things – a designer, investment guru and the mind behind many visionary brands – but above all he is a passionate entrepreneur.

The qualities of an entrepreneur

When asked about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, Mimran lists many qualities. First and foremost, an entrepreneur must have passion and “truly believe in what they are doing,” he says.

Anyone considering business ventures must also inherently be a risk taker. “A lot of people aren’t comfortable taking risks,” he says. “You have to be honest with yourself.”

In addition to obviously knowing their product or service well, entrepreneurs must be adaptable and flexible to handle obstacles that come their way.

“You’ve got to pivot. You’ve got to be able to rethink the strategy… and come up with a solution,” Mimran says. The world is constantly in flux and entrepreneurs need to be nimble thinkers who can adjust to change.

But most importantly, he says, they must be tenacious. “The notion of tenacity as an entrepreneur is most important,” he stresses.

Where does one get all these qualities? Mimran says some of them can be learned, and many are shaped by life experiences, including adversity. “Some of these life experiences fuel you.”

Mimran is empathetic to the struggle, but also finds value in it. “That climb up the hill is just as fun as the view from the top – maybe more fun.”

He is also very hopeful about the future for entrepreneurship. “It’s a very dynamic marketplace for entrepreneurs.”

With the rise of the digital world, your venture can quickly have international coverage and it’s so easy to be inspired. “You used to have to get on a plane to be inspired,” he says. “All of that has been sped up. … The zeitgeist is just a click away. And that is what is accelerating trends.”

The observer of trends and human nature

It doesn’t take long to see that Mimran is a student of human nature and a sociological explorer. He even studied sociology in university, in addition to fine arts and then rounded out his education with a Bachelor of Commerce degree before becoming a chartered accountant (knowing that financial acumen was paramount to any businessperson). It is that interest in and understanding of people that has made him so successful in spotting and capitalizing on upcoming trends.

He sees a lot of new trends emerging in the food industry, from healthy snacks to plant-based proteins and nutraceuticals.

Mimran is optimistic about the future. He sees people striving to make the world a better place, even through such simple things as shopping behaviours, with younger generations being more environmentally conscious and keen on reusing and recycling. While he has been ahead of many trends, the fashion icon concedes one trend he did not see coming was apparel rentals.

“I would never have thought people would rent clothes!” he says.

About the importance of brands

Any entrepreneur hoping to launch a new venture must recognize the importance of branding in products and services. Mimran is a specialist in brand building.

First and foremost, brand comes from personality, he says. “It’s got to come from a real place … and everything you do has to be consistent.”

That consistency needs to come through in all aspects of your business, whether it’s the product or the packaging, the communications or the people.

“You have to treat that brand with the respect it deserves … in every single activity,” he says. “People don’t understand the intensity it takes and the commitment it takes to build a brand.” That intensity is what “gives the brand voice,” he says.

On Staples and Gry Mattr

One of Mimran’s latest ventures is his most recent collaboration with Staples Canada, a new collection of office products and accessories called Gry Mattr that will be available exclusively at Staples in October.

“I had not worked on office products,” says Mimran when asked why he was inspired to work with Staples, which is repositioning itself from an office supply warehouse to the working and learning company. The business opportunist saw an opportunity to “bring a level of taste and positioning” to that market.

The collaboration also aligned with his interest in the modern trend where people “work where they live and live where they work.” To him, it’s important “to surround yourself with products that resonate.”

“You always want to be inspired by your environment,” he says.

He follows that same approach in his own workspaces, with different offices designed in different styles for different functions. The one he uses when working on his venture capital business, Gibraltar& Company, has a quiet atmosphere and features favourite art pieces and high-end furniture.

“I always want to be surrounded by objects that look good and feel good,” he says. “The environment and objects really impact us – more than people realize.”

On creativity and connection

Mimran’s passion for his work is undeniable – “this restlessness to always be creating” –  is what fuels him.

“I feel the best when I’m going… full bore and when I’m working on exciting projects.”

He also gets energy and inspiration from people, where there is a constant flow of ideas. “There’s something about the interaction with people that drives me,” he says.

Mimran mentions the importance of mentorship frequently. He advises all entrepreneurs to find people along that way who can act as a sounding board for your ideas, point out possible blind spots and offer tips on what they’ve learned along their journey.

The most important thing, though, is to act on your ideas, he says. “My advice: Start. Do it. Take the first step. It’s amazing what it can lead to.”

By Staples Canada

October 13, 2019