If juggling a law career and a family with two children isn’t enough, try throwing part-time business owner of a successful dress shop into the mix. In 2006, Deb Viccars, along with her business partner and friend Catherine Staveley, launched Frocks Modern Bridesmaids, a bridal boutique in Kitsilano, Vancouver targeting those ladies on the edge of the spotlight.
"We opened it not knowing what it would become, because a lot of people said to us, 'Bridesmaids? You can't just open a store for bridesmaids!' But we thought, there's one bride but there can be four, five, six or more bridesmaids. It's probably equal dollars in terms of what people spend, and it’s a market that hasn’t really been tapped into.”
The thought of owning her own business always intrigued Viccars, especially during her time as a corporate lawyer with Edwards Kenny & Bray where she provided legal advice to both small and large businesses.
“I worked with talented lawyers and had great clients who were doing all kinds of really interesting things, and after a while I started thinking 'I really want to do THAT'. I worked with people who were just starting companies and I worked with multi-national companies, so the exposure was fantastic."
As it turned out, Viccars didn't have to choose between her legal training and her dream of starting her own business. Despite the success of Frocks, she has no intention of leaving her current position as a Senior Policy Analyst at Work Safe BC. "I really like the job. The people I work with are dedicated, bright and hardworking and I enjoy being busy. Frocks offers a creative outlet that I can enjoy outside my regular work hours, when I’m not running around a playground with our kids.”
Thankfully for Viccars, her legal training prepared her well for all the trials and tribulations associated with owning a burgeoning young business.
“We have a lawyer who takes care of our annual filings, franchise arrangements, and any legal issues, but I appreciate my legal background because I can foresee legal challenges or potential pitfalls before they arise.”
Juggling multiple interests is nothing new to Viccars. During her time at UBC Law School, she also worked part-time in the Moot Court Registry and at Earl’s Restaurant as well as volunteering in her “free time”. Despite her hectic schedule, she says she ‘thoroughly enjoyed her time at law school’; making life-long friends and gaining exposure to areas of law she never realized she would later call upon.’
For someone with a career, a side business, and two small children, Viccars is remarkably energetic and positive, giving off the vibe of someone ready for the next big adventure, an attitude she attributes to her "fail fast" philosophy. "Somebody told us once, early on, that if you're going to try something new, fail fast. We continue to follow that philosophy. If you're going to try something new, there's no point in trying to guess how it's going to go. Try it, and if it doesn't work, cut your losses and move on."
So far, there is no indication of failure for Frocks. In January 2009, they opened a store in Calgary in response to the large number of customers who would fly to Vancouver just to try on their dresses. With the prospect of opening new stores in Edmonton and Saskatchewan, the duo is now franchising the brand.