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From Legacy to Innovation: The Transformation Journey of Concept C

Maude Lambert and Marie-Christine Martel, in an insightful interview with CanadianSME Small Business Magazine, traced the remarkable evolution of Chatelaine Salon, founded in 1969 by Maude’s mother, into the innovative Concept C. Following her mother’s passing in 2008, Maude, driven by her entrepreneurial spirit and forward-thinking approach, transformed the salon into a thriving online and physical retail entity. The rebranding to Concept C in 2018 marked the beginning of an era of expansion, with the first branch opening in Trois-Rivières in 2019 and the headquarters moving to Quebec City in 2023 to better meet customer demand. Their strategic focus on being accomplices in their clients’ lives, ensuring every moment is one of confidence and comfort, has been pivotal. Leveraging TikTok, Concept C has embraced authenticity to build brand awareness and connect with a new clientele, emphasizing personalized service and respect for customers’ budgets. Celebrating Francophonie and fostering a sense of community remain central to their identity as they explore future opportunities, including product line expansions and enhancing the web experience through a new loyalty program and other innovations.

Concept C initially started back in 1969, with the creation of Chatelaine Salon, opened by co-owner Maude’s mother, which she took on in 2009, rebranding and moving location as Concept Chatelaine, no located in downtown Victoriaville. Maude, Pascal and MC launch Concept C’s website in November 2018, expanding to a branch in Trois-Rivieres, with our business growing even more rapidly during the pandemic. We finally get to open our Salon Concept C in Trois-Rivieres in February 2021 and move operations to a bigger space in October 2022 to meet our growing demand. Most recently, our newest branch opened in Quebec City with plans on expanding further!

Can you take us through the journey of transforming Chatelaine Salon from its inception in 1969 by Maude’s mother to the rebranded and expansion of Concept C? How did your business vision and mission evolve with this transition and subsequent expansions, especially with the opening of new branches including the recent one in Quebec City?

Maude’s mother passed away in 2008 from cancer. It was after this that Maude decided to take over the salon and bring it to another level. Being an entrepreneur at heart as well as forward-thinking, the idea of launching online appealed to her.

From Legacy to Innovation: The Transformation Journey of Concept C
Image Courtesy: Concept C

In November 2018, with her partner Pascal and her friend Maude, the Concept was relaunched under the name Concept C. The office is located above the salon, and the inventory is in the basement (we ship from a 12 X 8 room.). As it became too small, we decided to open our first branch in Trois-Rivières in 2019. The shipping will also be located there in the backstore. The pandemic hits, and the website explodes. Sales quadruple and propel Concept C forward at full speed.

For the first time, the team takes a step back to do strategic planning. Our vision, mission, and values are now defined.

We want to be accomplices so that every moment of life becomes a moment where I feel confident and comfortable in my own skin.

We want to make our clients’ lives easier in their quest to always find the best hair products and advice tailored to their needs in one place.

From honesty to respect, through rigor, and above all humor, this is what we want Concept C to project.

It is with this strategy that we decide to establish our headquarters and shipping center in the beautiful city of Quebec in October 2023.

We are now able to accelerate the process and respond effectively to demand. From day 1, we knew that we wanted to open our next branch in Quebec. People love online shopping, but nothing compares to be able to come and experience it. Testing irons and products, smelling the scents. By answering our missions, our second branch opened its doors in July 2023.

TikTok has emerged as a powerful platform for brand building and community engagement. How does Concept C utilize TikTok to raise brand awareness and what impact has your content creation strategy had on the business? How do you maintain authenticity while reaching a wide audience on such a dynamic platform?

Authenticity has always been what sets us apart on social media. TikTok is a platform that demands even more authenticity. Real things are said, and there’s no beating around the bush! We are creators of our own company, and we are not paid to talk about products. We genuinely speak about what we want and like. We enjoy being free birds.

Being on TikTok is a must for a business, and it has allowed us to renew ourselves, step out of our comfort zone, and reach a new clientele.

Engaging with your audience on social media platforms, particularly TikTok, has been a significant part of your strategy. What has been your experience with consumers and your community on these platforms? 

Advising and conversing with our customers has always been at the core of our priorities. We wanted our customers to receive the same personalized service as they would in-store.

We tackle the most sensitive subject head-on: money. We have a desire to respect everyone’s budget and ensure they purchase what is necessary for their kit. That’s why we create content like ‘Petite vs. Grosse Sacoche’ and ‘Dupes’

This allows us to be closer to them and better meet their needs and requests. We see the impact during events at our branches; they come in large numbers and are happy to meet us!

From Legacy to Innovation: The Transformation Journey of Concept C
Image Courtesy: Concept C

With the importance of Francophonie Month highlighted in your content creation, how do you approach celebrating this community through your business and social media channels? What does creating content for the Francophone community mean to you and how has it shaped Concept C’s identity?

We are Francophones, for us it was essential to create a strong sense of community and belonging in Quebec before breaking into the English-speaking market. These are our roots and we are proud of them.

Reflecting on your journey and the lessons learned, what future opportunities do you see for Concept C? Additionally, with the upcoming launch of your loyalty program, how do you envision enhancing customer experience and engagement? Are there any other innovations or expansions on the horizon?

For us, there are no limits. We have always aimed high. A Concept C product line? New branches? We are considering all possibilities.

In addition to the loyalty program, we are working to optimize the web experience so that it is as simple, fast, and efficient as possible. Whether it’s for navigation, returns, or customer service.

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