“Please be too good for me, and if you’re not too good for me, work too hard for me.”
Those are the words Marc Lessard, aka Master Bougaricci, said to his new design team as he hired his first full time employees to work for his edgy fashion line, Bougaricci.
The successful business owner had quite of bit of insight to share about setting up a business, going against the grain and being authentic.
See what he said in Part 1 of our interview.
A litte background on Lessard and what he does:
After working in construction for twenty years, the French-Quebec designer started his own line of men’s clothing. Instead of taking his edgy clothing to Montreal, where the edgy brand could have struck a chord with the Plateau people living in one of the most popular cities in Canada, Bougaricci decided to stay in Valleyfield and bring attention to both his clothing and his home city.
For more info, check out our review on the Bougaricci brand.
Don’t Let Your Industry Confine You
For someone so dedicated to his fashion line, Master Bougaricci, ironically thinks the fashion industry is ridiculous.
“I’m not into magazines, fashion shows or catwalks. I find it very stupid,” admitted Lessard.
“For me clothing is artistic, but I don’t need any rules. Traditional designers make too many rules, telling people what to wear every season and asking people to follow certain trends.”
For Lessard it’s about creating a line of clothing that doesn’t limit people to a season or trend.
“I will always hate burgundy,” the designer said, “and it’s ridiculous that everyone is buying f*cking burgundy this year. It’s ugly!”
“Black, white, blue, green, red, those colors have always been beautiful and will always be,” and those are the only colors you’ll see in Lessard’s line of clothing.
For him, it’s not about setting trends or following the masses, it’s about creating something new, that people will like, and staying true to his beliefs and style.
Lessard proves that you don’t have to like the social constructs of the industry you’re in, as long as you have passion and vision, and the determination to change it, you can stay true to yourself in an industry riddled with insincerity, and make a real impact.
Never Limit Yourself
“I have this disease where I think I know how things work,” admitted Lessard. “I’m an open minded person but I’ve always been like that.”
Even with no fashion training, Lessard was motivated to make the best clothing possible. And he’s doing pretty well, selling inventory almost faster than he can make it.
“I’ve never made a purse in my life, but I have total confidence that I can make the best purse in history,” he said of possible future projects.
“I’m willing to learn from people that are better than me, I’m not scared or intimidated, I want to surround myself only with people who are better than me in what they’re doing.”
Kanye West as an Artist
Since Bougaricci as a brand is about not giving a f*ck what people expect of you, I wanted to hear what Lessard thought of Kanye West and his new clothing line.
“I like the guy, he’s just too much,” said the designer. “He’s like a chocolate cookie with chocolate on it and another layer of chocolate, he’s too much. I mean he’s running for f*cking president in 2020, the guy is nuts!”
“But what he’s doing in fashion, I’m not interested, he’s going to be doing the same thing everybody else is doing, in Italy and Paris and New York and Spain. He’s following the wave, he’s not creating the wave.”
But Lessard gave respect to artists, like Kanye, who want to try their hand at a different art.
“I think all the artists, whatever disciple, can do whatever they want in art. I do music the same way I design clothing, which is the same way I was building high-class showers. It’s an artistic way of being.”
“Kanye is an true artist, but I have no time for him,” he finished.
Why Hometown is Important
In order to make waves in the fashion instead of getting swallowed up by them, Lessard found that the key to standing out and gaining a following was to be loyal to his hometown.
“People think others will laugh at them if they say they love their small town, but f*ck that. I hate the city. If I want Russian food on a Tuesday night I can’t have it here, but who cares.”
“For me, Valleyfield is everything.”
Technically speaking, Valleyfield is an island town, 45 minutes outside of one of Canada’s biggest cities, Montreal, Quebec. There are about 40,000 people who live there, and there are no malls or big brand shopping opportunities, beyond the new Bougaricci store, that is.
“Of course I would sell more in Montreal,” Lessard said, “but I would be so stuck with my costs to run the business. If you can spend less money on things other than your clothing, do it. I would have worked out of a shitty garage, I just wanted the best fabric and to focus all my money and energy making the best clothes possible.”
It’s not just about saving money on rent.
“Being in my hometown gives me the opportunity to raise my kids where I was raised,” he said.
“I’ve been to wicked places, but all I remember from when I was young was playing with my buddies in my hometown, and I wanted to give that to my kids,” he explained.
“For me, in business, local is international,” said Lessard.
“I have to be the king of my hometown before I can be the king of the world,” Master Bougaricci said, “I want to be remembered in my town. I want a statue in my town.
And it’s going well so far. Even the mayor is calling me Master.”
The name Bougaricci
With even the mayor of Valleyfield calling him Master Bougaricci, I had to ask, where the name comes from and what it meant.
“It’s an inside joke between friends,” he said, explaining that, “it pretty much means Mo-fo.”
But just because it’s a slang swear word doesn’t mean the name and brand doesn’t hold extra significance.
“I call myself Master Bougaricci and have a crown on my logo because I want to be the best.”
He doesn’t want to just try his best, Lessard wants to be the best, and most people with ambition so strong it’s painful feel the same.
Because if you don’t have aspirations to be the best when you start a business, why even bother starting? Aiming for second means you’ll fall even shorter than you imagine. It’s only when you truly believe you can be the best that you actually will be.
Master Bougaricci Makes Mistakes
Being the best doesn’t mean being perfect. In business there is no perfection and fashion is the same.
“All the designs come from a mistake,” said Lessard. “But I believe in luck, and that things happen for a reason, so I just roll with it.”
One example he gave was his signature stitching, with all his shirts showing the seams on the outside, rather than hidden away on the inside.
“I just didn’t flip my shirt inside out after pinning it on the mannequin” he admitted, “but I’ll never throw away one of my mistakes. I take that mistake and make it look good. I’m a lazy workaholic.”
And that’s exactly what he does with all his clothes. Stitching may not be what you’re used to seeing in fashion, but it’s now an integral part of the Bougaricci line, as something that makes his clothing remarkable.
What’s Coming up for Bougaricci?
The line has come a long way from just men’s t-shirts and hats.
“I met with the Montreal representative from Levi’s jeans to take their classic trucker jacket and bring it to another level,” said Lessard, “with leather, fur and everything.”
And it looks like a collaboration may be in the works, as a way for Levi’s to support Quebec-made clothing.
“I made one jacket so far,” admitted Lessard, “and while I was making it in my shop it sold.”
So there’s no fear the jacket won’t sell, it’s just about getting them out in stores.
Another idea Master Bougaricci has is to release his women’s clothing line, like now.
“At first I wanted to wait two or three years before doing a women’s clothing line,” said the Master, “but I had to do it now because everyone was yelling at me. Women wanted my clothes too!”
In less than a year, with the financial help and encouragement from his partner, Marc Lessard was able to launch his brand and surpass all his goals.
When the two partners first discussed the idea of Bougaricci, Lessard said he “started to promise things, saying I’ll do this, this, this, and that.”
“Everything I promised has already happened in the first 8 months. Everything.”
So the logical next step is to set bigger and more ambitious goals.
“I’m working on a reality show,” said the entrepreneur. “I want to show people that we have everything here in Quebec. I want to show the world what we have all these wicked beautiful places that people should travel to, filled with local business owners worth knowing about.”
And why does he want to showcase other local businesses? Because growing awareness around art and entrepreneurship in Quebec and Canada is just as important to the business owner as growing Bougaricci the brand.
“I want to prove to people that you’re allowed to dream, and prove to people you can do whatever you want to do,” he said of his show, which has already garnered interest from major stations in Quebec.
“In art, we are so powerful. The world needs us, people need us,” said the visionary, and I believe him.
Start Your Own Movement
It’s clear that Lessard is driven, and not just personally, he’s determined to motivate others around him to follow their passion, just as he did.
“Being the ninth out of ten kids, and having a twin brother,” definitely made Lessard strive to stand out and to leave his mark on society.
So what’s the secret recipe to success? From a man who launched one successful business after the other, staying true to his beliefs and growing recognition for his community as fast as he gained fans to his brand, the answer is simple.
“Its all about self esteem,” Master Bougaricci said. “My confidence is 20 out of 10.”
For Lessard, he is not waiting or hoping for success, success inevitable.