Casual Wear Extraordinaire
Growing up in The Pas, Jerome Conaty didn’t always have easy access to popular fashion items in his hometown, so he is making sure that today’s generation can easily avoid that challenge.
Conaty owns and operates funkythreadz.com, a retail store offering family clothing and footwear, accessories, lifestyle products and services as cool as his growing clientele will find anywhere.
“We have a wide array of products, everything from skateboards, The North Face outerwear, high-end streetwear brands, athletic clothing and shoes,” said Conaty. “My interest in clothing started in grade school. Then, I noticed that I didn’t have those nice Nikes and Reeboks like some other kids did. I wanted to have – and sell – all the cool stuff that I saw on TV and in movies, things you just couldn’t find up north.”
Conaty pursued his dream, attending university on a scholarship to learn more about launching a business. He saved money from his job at the local mill, while also conducting market research, formulating a business plan and securing start-up funding.
“I got rejected by quite a few bankers before I found one who believed in the process,” said Conaty. “We used the Cedar Lake Community Futures program to get some information on writing business plans and effective questionnaires for market research. Once the funding was in place, we were fortunate to be one of the first to use the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI), one we have used twice, the second time when we made the move to purchase a building downtown.”
Funkythreadz has earned a following not only in The Pas, but also beyond the community, thanks in part to the company’s presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.
“Our main customers are from home, but we have become a regional hub store,” says Conaty. “We have customers from Thompson, Cross Lake, Norway House, Snow Lake, Pukatawagan, Grand Rapids, Cormorant, Moose Lake, Flin Flon and Easterville. We have shipped products all across the prairies, Canada and even the world.”
Conaty said creating a competitive business in northern Manitoba is definitely feasible for those who persevere. His company is able to compete with huge sportswear chains and Internet sales, so he knows there is great potential for other business development in the community.
“Choosing this location for my business was all about living and working in my own community,” said Conaty. “Family and friends are here, the cost of living is better than in other places, and the natural beauty of the region just can’t be beat.”