Executive Profile

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The Moxie Story

written by Marissa McTasney

Book cover One day my son, Carter was sleeping in his car seat and I was drinking my Tim Horton’s coffee and couldn’t believe how beautiful he was and I was thinking about all of the things I wanted to teach him.  I grabbed my notebook and started writing.  I ended up writing a childrens book, titled With Love and it covered the very simple philosophies I wanted to teach my children.  Dream Big, Think the Impossible and Love Passionately.  With that, I realized it was time to embrace my own philosophies and live the example.

The hunt for my thing began. Carter turned one and a half and Francesca was on her way. So what was next? We re-mortgaged.  My husband moved into a new position and at this time my Mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer that looked severe.  Thank God, she was misdiagnosed but we didn’t know this for months.

Marissa McTasneyDespite the financial hardships, we were happy and life was peaceful. Francesca’s arrival inspired me to complete my book.  It took a year from beginning to end to paint the drawings but the rewards were very fulfilling.  I thought this was a fantastic gift it was for my children.

I wrote it, rendered the drawings and an angel who was an art director helped with the final touches before we could self publish.  Then I started to read it myself and realized that with my second maternity coming to an end, I did not want to return to my corporate day job.  The money worries would go away but would be replaced with the constant concerns for my children’s daycare and I knew I would miss them too much. 

Then it was up to me to dream big and think the impossible.  I already love passionately so I had that one in the bag.

I had read an article about a course for women in construction, I hung onto it and now that I was finished having babies I found it.  The course was starting in a couple of months.  The course is called the Women in Skilled Trades and is sponsored by the Ontario Women’s Directorate and the school I went to was the Burlington Center for Skilled Trades.  My Mom moved in and took care of the kids for five months while I hauled myself from Whitby to Burlington every day to learn how to build a house.  This … was my thing.

On the first day of school, we were given a voucher for a pair of boots.  Half of the women in the course had to buy men’s boots because of availability for women.  I asked the sales manager “Where were the pink boots?” she responded  “I get asked all the time.” 

Now, the hunt for the pink construction boot had begun, firstly on a whim and then in earnest and developed into a complete line of work wear for women.

Online research, focus groups and plain and simple pounding the pavement provided me with the information I needed to see how viable this was going to be for mass distribution.  Everything pointed me in the right direction. 

We re-mortgaged a second time and trusted this was the right thing to do.

I finished the “in class” portion of my course and started my business, Tomboy Trades.  I painted a local salon and a few homes and was happy with the balance of family life and work.  The merchandise line kept increasing and the concept developed into four colours and we were able outfit a woman in everything but the jeans.

It was time to show this concept to retailers.  I had applied for a job at a Home Depot Store six or seven months earlier thinking it would be nice part-time work.  Last June, I had also met and been inspired by Annette Verschuren, the President of Home Depot at a luncheon where she presented for the Women of Influence luncheons.  I am a Home Depot loyal customer and advocate so naturally this is my retailer of choice.

I knew the day that I was going to deliver my pink bucket to Annette, pink work boots, pink hard hat, pink safety glasses, t-shirt, cupcakes and flowers.  I didn’t know when or what Annette’s schedule was but was determined to deliver my business.

On this day my only contact at Home Depot, Nick Cowling, the Senior Communications Director was out of the office.  Still determined, I prayed and set-off on my mission to deliver as promised, even if only a promise to myself.

After a wrong turn I drove down to the back entrance to Home Depot leading me to the shipping and receiving area.  To my utter amazement, Nick was standing outside as if he was waiting for my arrival.

He admired my products and promised to hand them to Annette for a KABOOM build to be held at Lawrence Heights two days later. 

I emailed Nick advising that I could quickly deliver the right size if the ones in my gift basket didn’t fit Annette.  Instead, Nick emailed back on his blackberry.  They fit, they are comfortable, Annette loves them and the media is here and they love them too.  In addition, please get a pair for the CEO, Bob Nardelli, as he wanted to buy a pair for his wife as soon as possible

Some call it luck, and although I wouldn’t discount that … I call it fate.

A month later I pitched my concepts to the Buyers and Executive at Home Depot and now Tomboy Trades is available through Home Depot’s online division.

The rest is only the beginning of a long and exciting journey through life.

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