Souris Mini creates joy from one generation to the next

5 minute read

At the birth of her first daughter in 1987, Annie Bellavance dreamed of dressing her in beautiful, snuggly clothes that would also be long-lasting. But at the time, all she discovered was kid fashions that were either boring or unsuitable for child’s play.

Unable to find what she wanted, Bellavance decided to create her own wardrobe for her child.

“I was altering most of the pieces I’d buy, adding patches, colourful fabric inserts, fancy buttons,” explained the Souris Mini founder and brand manager. “I was trying to bring childlike joy to the clothes they wore.”
A designer works at a table, painting an image. On the table are several other colourful designs.

A passion for quality children’s fashion

The passionate fashion designer was pleased with her work, and so were fellow parents at her daughter’s daycare who noticed and started inquiring if Bellavance could design items for their children.

It didn’t take long for the orders to multiply, inspiring Bellavance to visit other daycares with her collections. She visited a different centre each weekday. Parents wrote down what they would like, adding their own specifications, such as “it must be easy to wash”; “fabric that dries fast”; “patches on the knees and elbows.”

On and on, the special requests continued.

“During those two years, I took note of all those comments. It was a fantastic market study, done right in the field, defining the exact profile of the people to target,” Bellavance said. “I had in my hands a comprehensive picture of the unsatisfied needs and expectations of my future clientele. My niche was defined in black and white.”

Nearly 35 years later, Bellavance continues to inject colour and joy into the lives of children thanks to a brand commitment that puts just as much emphasis on the next generation as it does on the current one.
Annie Bellavance, Founder of Souris Mini.

Opening its doors

In 1989, Bellavance and her husband, Steeve Beaudet, took her fashions out of the daycares and into stores, launching Souris Mini.

At first, the brand’s collections were sold in well-known Quebec retail outlets like Frisco, Clément and Petit Bateau. In 2002, the company opened its first Souris Mini boutique in Québec City. It was an instant hit and led to further growth.

Today, Souris Mini operates 18 stores in Quebec with its collections sold in other retail stores across Canada and the United States. The company also boasts a vibrant ecommerce site, which includes a second-hand re-commerce platform.

Every piece, Bellavance explains, revolves around a companywide commitment to provide customers with clothing that will “live many lives.”

Admittedly, that can be a difficult pursuit when dealing with children’s clothing. Kids aren’t the easiest on their clothes. But Bellavance has put that commitment at the heart of her brand. She trusts her customers come to Souris Mini, in part, because of 3 key traits of the brand: Durability, quality and creativity.

Everything else, Bellavance explains, falls into place when you have those 3 things.
A branded “Souris mini second hand” recycled bag.

Embracing family traditions and giving back to the community

In many Quebec households, Souris Mini is part of family tradition. Those original fashions are still out there. Now adults, the children who used to wear the brand 10, 20, even 30 years ago now dress their own sons and daughters, or nephews and nieces, in these same clothes.

The brand, Bellavance points out, is akin to another family member. In fact, Souris Mini has designed a brand that considers the users of its product almost from day one.

Through its philanthropic program, My First Beanie, the company contributes thousands of free beanies to newborns. To acknowledge this gesture, the new parent or their family is free to make a donation, whereupon 100% of the funds received through this program are committed to the purchase of equipment that improves the care offered to children in the participating hospitals.

Since its inception in 2009, My First Beanie has delivered more than 226,000 beanies to children and raised nearly $1 million.

“Souris Mini loves to be an important part of children’s lives, from school and day camp, to travel and so on. We want to be there for them and their parents,” said Nancy Gagnon, Client Services and In-store Operations Manager.

Bellavance agreed, “It is important to us to let children be children. That’s what Souris Mini stands for – long-lasting fashionable clothes for kids that facilitate joy and play.”

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Creating a community and a new life for kid’s clothes

What would a popular brand be without its own fan club? Check your favourite social media platform. There, you will find accounts and pages dedicated to Souris Mini, where you can exchange snowsuits, babywear, sweaters, skirts or pants because, unsurprisingly, those items haven’t worn out through the years.

While on-mission for the brand, the informal solution wasn’t perfect.

“We love the passion, but we needed to provide a better framework for our customers, protect people from possible fraud and facilitate the reselling-buying process,” Gagnon explained. “We knew we needed our own free re-commerce platform, hosted on our website.
The website for “Souris Mini second hand” says “give a second life to your clothes. Create your store.”

“Souris Mini Second Hand is a safe and collaborative resale platform that connects second-hand sellers and buyers of the beautiful Souris Mini community. This is our goal. We want to create a movement of solidarity and exchange to allow people to make fabulous finds and to recycle for the good of our beautiful planet.”

Nancy Gagnon,

Client Services and In-store Operations Manager,

Souris Mini

On Souris Mini Second Hand, accessed by a single link on the company homepage, buyers purchase knowing their items are official, Gagnon said. The Souris Mini team reviews every ad to identify those that do not comply to Second Hand’s criteria of transparency and respect.

“This marketplace is so secure that the risk of a financial loss or a fraudulent sale is near to none,” she continued.

For sellers, they get the price they want, paid out in the form of a Souris Mini gift card. Souris Mini takes no sales fees from the transaction; in fact, the company offers a 10% bonus of the total amount as thanks for using the platform and contributing to its mission.

“By supporting the fundamental principles of the circular economy, we are taking our social and environmental commitment further. It’s our way of fighting the polluting effect of fast fashion,” Gagnon said.

Key takeaways
  • Many successful businesses start with a creative individual who identifies a gap in the market and develops innovative products to solve that problem.
  • Re-commerce programs create value and drive innovation, bringing retailers one step closer to a fully circular supply chain while driving customer loyalty.

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