In August 2013 Amanda Penner began making leather moccasins as baby gifts for friends, using leftover scraps from leather wallets her husband Jeff made for the groomsmen at their wedding. After making a few pairs of slippers Amanda started receiving orders. Using social media to get the word out and testing the product on family and friends, the Penners realized they had a viable business and named it Minimoc – modern moccasins for small feet.
“Minimoc moccasins are soft soled footwear that come in a variety of styles for babies and toddlers. Friends and family were impressed with the style and quality,” Amanda says.
Less than two years later the Penners have more than 100 retailers selling Minimoc Moccasins, and have grown from selling 100 pairs of moccasins a month to thousands via their website. Last September the business moved from their home to a 2,000 square foot warehouse in Abbotsford. They have plenty of room to cut leather, sew moccasins and ship orders to a customer base that includes Hong Kong, Greece and Ireland. With six full time employees and four part timers, Minimoc continues to expand, hiring two employees every three months.
Jeff and Amanda have been meeting more young families since becoming parents. Their son Remy wears Minimoc Moccasins and the Penners have also introduced a clothing line.
The Minimoc brand focusses on quality and ethically sourced materials. The Penners only work with suppliers who have relationships with reputable tanneries that treat their workers well.
Jeff says the couple has always had a desire to do something entrepreneurial. “I learned to do websites after having a number of failed online blogs,” Jeff explains. “With Amanda’s creativity everything fell into place. The couple also has another company on the back burner.”
What advice do they have for other would be entrepreneurs? “Just do it! If you’re not sure get over the fear of can I or can’t I,” says Jeff. But he also advises against taking on too much too soon.
“Don’t jump in and get a big loan and use all your investment and resources. Start slow, use social media and be involved in the community with like-minded people.”