When a number of Canadian retail brands are filing for bankruptcy, Quebec-based Tristan is holding its own. Fortin, who took over as president of the family company from her father Gilles Fortin in 2017, is helping a new generation discover its wares.
The vertically run business — about 30 per cent of its items are made at Tristan’s two factories east of Montreal — operates more than 40 locations in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta.
“We know we have a product that has a place in the market. We know that trends come and go, but style remains. During difficult times, we invested in our style, in the quality of our product, in sustainable fashion,” Fortin says.
How Concordia set her on the path to success
“It got me ready for the real world. Among other things, I learned the true value of diversity, collaboration and innovation. I worked fulltime during my degree, so I learned valuable organization skills and how to be as efficient as possible. These skills still shape my day-to-day work life.”
Biggest career challenge
“The years following the 2008 financial crisis left a significant mark on the retail industry. We had to make major changes to our internal structure and transform our company into an agile organization. One important lesson I learned was that you can’t go forward if you keep pulling back. At one point after the crisis, it was time to move on, to take risks and turn our vision into reality.”
Best career advice received
“It is OK to make mistakes. If you don’t try anything different or new, you won’t get anything different. The status quo is rarely a solution. Just make sure your hits are bigger than your misses.”