Montreal Footwear Brand Maguire Is Making Its Mark on New York City
When Myriam and Romy Belzile-Maguire opened bricks-and-mortar shops in Montreal and Toronto for their buzzy footwear brand, Maguire, sales boomed. “Every time we open a physical store, we triple our online sales,” says Romy. This summer, the entrepreneurial sisters opened a 93-square-metre space in NYC’s chic Nolita neighbourhood, hoping to find the same success in the U.S. market.
Founded in 2017, Maguire was the sisters’ response to a dearth of direct-to-consumer options in the footwear industry. After studying design in London, Myriam gained first-hand knowledge of the manufacturing and production process through positions at Benetton and Aldo Group. “I felt like it was a really uneven ecosystem,” she says. “I wanted to create something more fair for everyone: the customer, the brand and also the factories.” To help shoppers better understand where their dollars go, Maguire shares every item’s production costs via an in-store QR code and on its website.
While Myriam oversees the creative side of the business, including product design and factory relationships, Romy leans on her background in project management and marketing communications to support the growing consumer base and find new opportunities for the brand. “We’re always asking: Can we do this differently?” she says. The brand focuses on sustainability with small-batch production and has recently started using dead-stock materials. “We’re even using extra outsoles left behind by a big brand. The factory removes their logo with a laser and replaces it with ours,” says Romy.
The sisters were able to get the new store up and running in about six months with the support of a $300,000 investment from Investissement Québec. The Elizabeth Street location, which is nestled among other buzzy D2C brands such as Mejuri, Sézane and Everlane, is an evolution of Maguire’s customer-acquisition strategy. To be successful, it had to stand out. “We wanted more colour because we noticed a lot of stores in New York are beige, black or white,” says Myriam. Against a backdrop of painted exposed brick, pops of turquoise, blue and green decor create eye-catching nooks primed for social-media snaps.
As with the Canadian Maguire boutiques, there’s a wall-to-wall shoe closet allowing for easy access to every style in every size. Gone is the awkward song and dance of asking a salesperson to fetch a pair, as is exposure to aggressive sales tactics. “Our salespeople are just there to help customers find the right fit,” says Myriam. Today, roughly 55 per cent of sales are online and 45 per cent are in-store.
The sisters see the new outpost as a guide to future growth. “We’re collecting data from our customers—what they like and how they’re shopping,” says Romy. “It’s going to be kind of a lab.”
This article appears in print in the fall 2022 issue of Canadian Business magazine. Buy the issue for $7.99 or better yet, subscribe to the quarterly print magazine for just $20.