2018 IW Winners

Young Entrepreneur of the Year - Timmins

Alicia Pirie

Alicia Pirie

Alicia Pirie considers herself an accidental entrepreneur.

Educated in psychology and human resources, and with a confirmed acceptance at a U.S. teacher’s college, Pirie was on track to a professional career when life intervened. A temporary plan to return home to Timmins in 2006 to save money for school led to meeting her future husband, which led to marriage and children, and, unexpectedly, opening her own business.

“I never thought it would be me,” Pirie said. “It’s hard to think of myself as an entrepreneur because it wasn’t something I went to school for and I didn’t study it, and I never thought I would have a baby store, of all things.”

Yet, today Pirie is the sole proprietor of Chic Baby & Kids, a successful online and storefront marketplace offering pregnancy, baby and toddler items serving moms and children in Timmins and the surrounding area.

It all started in Pirie’s basement, where she fashioned homemade headbands as a fun, creative outlet while on maternity leave with her first child. Becoming a mother had given her a different perspective on her life’s goals and she realized she was ready to make a career change.

“(Child protection) was a very tough job and something I didn’t want to do now that I was a mom,” Pirie said. “It was in my field, in psychology, in social work, but I didn’t want to do it anymore.”

She was successful in applying for a one-year provincial self-employment grant, which allowed her to set up an e-commerce website, and by 2014, her online store sales were bustling.

But it was hectic. With a 15-month-old daughter and another child on the way, she was still making her own items, ordering in other items, running an Etsy store, and serving customers from her home. She decided the time was right to expand into a bricks-and-mortar space and found a storefront in South Porcupine, just east of Timmins, with no lease commitments and affordable rent.

Since then, she’s relocated to a downtown Timmins location and added activities programming to her repertoire – moms and kids can now participate in baby-wearing dance, music or art classes right in her store. It’s proven so popular she holds 15 classes a week, which routinely fill up.

Pirie believes enhancing customer service by adding value to her products and services provides a shopping experience that can’t be replicated online and is crucial to encouraging more people to shop locally.

“In a small community like Timmins, with so many businesses closing lately, I think people realize that supporting and shopping local is more important than ever right now, because otherwise, we’re not going to have anything,” Pirie said.

As she closes in on five years in business, Pirie is no less busy. When she’s not working in the store, researching new products or filling out paperwork, she’s fielding customer inquiries and managing the website.

That frenetic, daily hustle never ends, but it’s a pace she’s grown to appreciate – accident or not.

“It’s been a really long journey, but a really great journey, and I can’t say that I wouldn’t do it again, because I love it.”