Jennifer Ger, 32
Suzie Chemel, 32
Co-founders, Foxy Originals
A walk around the buzzing factory in north Toronto where Foxy Originals designs and manufactures its trendy jewelry makes it hard to imagine that the company began with Ger and Chemel threading beads in their dorm room. But that was almost 13 years ago, after the two women discovered their shared passion for jewelry design while hitching a ride to the Ivey School of Business during their first month of classes. By their third year, the pair won a CIBC student entrepreneur award. By the fourth, they had split the undergrad curriculum to take classes that would give them complementary skills, and crafted a business plan. Upon graduation, they turned down job offers to launch Foxy’s first metal collection. They set themselves the goal to earn as much as they would have had they taken the offers.
They succeeded, and have yet to take on debt to advance their company. Their popular pieces are now sold in 700 retail stores in North America (including Shopper’s Drug Mart beauty boutiques) and are worn by a long list of celebrities. Several case studies, including one detailing Foxy’s expansion into the U.S. that ran in Harvard Business Review, have introduced the company to business students around the world. “We’ve had e-mails from as far away as Dublin, from MBA students who want to know what we decided to do [about dilemmas outlined in the case studies],” says Ger.
Unlike many of its competitors, Foxy has kept manufacturing in Canada so the partners can oversee production and have control over quality. “It also reduces the number of pieces that are knocked off in China, which is already a problem,” says Chemel. Ger and Chemel are now working to expand their design partnerships—the company has already produced custom pieces and whole lines for Nike, Umbra and Mattel’s Barbie toys, among others.
On partnership: “We would never have been driven to move as quickly or taken as many risks if it wasn’t for our partnership,” says Chemel. “Making decisions without a cheerleader is tough.”