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For Le Chateau founder, business is family affair

For Le Chateau founder, business is family affair

Some say you should never go into business with your family.

But for Herschel Segal, who started the Le Chateau clothing chain and David’s Tea, and his daughter Sarah Segal, who founded Squish Candy, a gourmet gummies company, family and business are a good combination.

At a conference last week ) organized by Futurpreneur Canada, a non-profit organization that helps young people start their own businesses, father and daughter shared experiences and offered advice.

Sarah openly admits she never wanted to go into the family business. “I felt that I would never been taken seriously… that I was getting what I was getting because I was in my family’s business.”

She studied sciences, went to work at a United Nations research centre in Beijing focused on water pollution, and was looking toward a life in academia, when her love of Pu’er tea pulled her back to Canada in 2010.

“It wasn’t planned,” Sarah says of her decision to join her dad in David’s Tea, which Herschel co-founded with his cousin David. “I got in for the right reasons … I got into the tea business because I love tea.”

Even though she stepped away from David’s Tea to launch Squish Candy in 2014, she remains on the board.

“It’s taking your hands off the steering wheel,” she said, noting a new management team is in place at David’s Tea. “It’s a chance to watch a company from a distance at a board level.
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“It’s very frustrating as entrepreneurs, as people who know the business, to see someone else do it. It’s like seeing someone else raise your kids.”

Herschel concedes it’s challenging to join a family business – and Sarah is the only one of his children to enter the retail world.

“A family business—you’re damned if you, you’re damned if you don’t,” he said. “If you make a success, ‘Well, you’re the boss’s kid.’ If you fail, then how could you be so stupid with all that?

“You can’t win,” he said.

Squish has six locations in Canada including inside Hudson’s Bay flagship store on Queen St. Sarah says the company is looking to expand including possibly in suburban Toronto and Vancouver.

Given that businesses have been gravitating to the top-tier upscale malls, it is creating chances for new retailers in smaller malls. “It’s giving people opportunities to get in on short-term deals,” she said.

“I know that’s something as a young business, I’m extremely interested in,” she said, noting landlords are ready to make deals, such a six-month pop lease instead of a 10-year agreement.

“A mall spot might have been unattainable just a little while ago,” she added.

Sarah is focused on her artisanal candy venture, which has received financial backing from her father, though he remains completely hands off.

“I only offer advice if asked,” said Herschel, who has invested in the candy business along with other ventures. “It’s been tremendous to be able to work with her. I let her do her thing.”

And Sarah believes her father’s secret to success is his willingness to listen others, regardless of age or experience.

“He takes everyone seriously. He’s very open to creative ideas. He doesn’t care who is saying it,” she said.

“He cares about the quality of the idea. So I never felt like he listened to me because I am his daughter. He listens to everyone equally.”

Courtesy : thestar.com



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