08 Dec Patrizia Angela Casubolo: The Lady Behind The Cochic Brand!
ENTREPRENEURSHIP STORIES BY SUZIE BEAUDOIN
At first glance, with her huge smile and slender figure, you would not have guessed that this woman is a fearless entrepreneur. Well, I am telling you, and you better believe me. Between her strong will and her blue karate belt, there is not much that prevents her from achieving her goals!
It’s that Patrizia is an innovator. Hardly a day goes by without her coming up with the next idea that is ready to be manufactured or patented.
Her playground? You and what you wear!
Over the years, Patrizia has developed the art of transforming everyday fashion accessories into items that not only stand out for their chicness, comfort, and the ingenuity of their design, but also because they magically fix some wardrobe malfunctions. She is a real magician!
Curious to know more?
A Legacy of Resilience
As you might have guessed, this strong taste for transforming things was not born yesterday.
Of Italian and Peruvian origin, from a very young age, in her native Italy, Patrizia already showed her great ability to do things differently, to analyze to see and understand what could be done differently, in a more practical way, look better, feel better.
Patrizia likes to say that this little avant-gardist and go-getter side comes directly from her maternal grandmother, a strong and very independent native Inca woman, who left her village at the age of 20 with her two-year-old baby in back, to begin a new life in Huancayo, the second largest city in Peru after Lima. Although she only spoke the language of her village, Quechua, she was determined to create a new life for herself and her daughter (Patrizia’s mother) by doing the only thing she knew how to do at the time : cook. “My grandmother was courageous, incredibly strong, an entrepreneur who started from nothing” Patrizia tells me. “It’s a part of her story that has always inspired me.”
“I have known places where there was no floor and no roof, and so yes, I especially appreciate the strength and courage of women. I have learned that you can fall a thousand times in your life, but what is important is knowing how to get up. You can’t tie yourself to the material. You must be able to seek joy within yourself. And when you do own something beautiful, you then have the pleasure of sharing it. I think it’s why I have never been afraid to take on a new venture, to lose, get up and start over.”, she explains to me.
With this said, know that Patrizia did not decide to be an entrepreneur as such. It was just for fun that she began to transform things, to undertake. She simply aspired to become a great Mom one day…
Where it all started
When I asked her when her hobby of transforming things brought her to actually start a small business, she told me about that time, when, at the age of 17, she imagined an Alpaca sweater that would bare a totally different design from the ones offered to tourists, and went on to get it created by a local artisan in Peru. Initially it was again just for fun and to offer to a few friends and family members, but given the interest in her sweater, she ended up having a few more done to sell them in a store in Italy. It was for her a beautiful adventure of which she was proud of and amused, but nothing more.
Then, a few years later, at age 20, she enrolled in the Economics and Commerce program at the University of Bergamo in Italy and found an internship in a button factory.
“Life is very funny sometimes, because when I was studying commerce in a university in Italy, my internship was in a button factory! My responsibility was to do a profitability analysis, which allowed me to know in detail all of the production stages”, she tells me.
By working and studying buttons of every shape and under every business facets so closely, she ended up developing a real passion for them. “I bought so many!”, she laughed, “I was having fun transforming the boring and classic look of the pieces of clothing I owned, into stylish and completely unique fashionable ones.”
Through her internship in the R&D department of this manufacture, we can safely say that Patrizia was swimming in happiness, or rather, in buttons! She was far from suspecting, however, that this work experience, this little piece of her work history, would play a key role in her journey years later.
… much later in fact, because following her studies in Italy, she went on to study in Texas in the United States, and thereafter in Canada to complete her MBA at the University of Laval.
One Day Maybe
We are now in 1995, and Patrizia, a fresh graduate from the University of Laval, just accepted a position as an International Affairs Advisor for the Government of Quebec. The role required her to travel a lot and so she often found herself surrounded by dressed up businessmen with whom she had the opportunity to exchange on a little bit of everything and nothing.
In all comradeship, they often liked to complain to the effect that women had many more options than them to increase their daily comfort, both in terms of clothing and amenities in hotels. “It’s simple,” said one of them one day, “we don’t ask much really, if we could only have a little more comfort around our neck, it would make our day!”
Surprised by this comment, she subsequently began to pay a little more attention to this neck collar problem and quickly realized that it was indeed a real one, for businessmen who, with nervousness felt tightness at the collar line, as well as for those who by nature had a wider neck. She thought to herself that there had to be a way to widen that collar with a rubber band or something like that, but that’s it.
Then, one day, her father, who felt the same discomfort at the collar line, put a rubber band and a button in her hand, and said to her “Here, there is surely something to do with that!”. Yes, she said to herself … one day maybe… and she immediately put everything away in a drawer, without looking further into it…
The Button Day
It wasn’t until years later, pregnant with her first child, that Patrizia pulled out of the drawer the button and the little piece of elastic that her father had given her years back in hope that she would start working on a solution to settle the collar issue once for all. That day marks the actual day she began looking into a potential solution.
She did find the idea of using a rubber band quite ingenious. And realised that in reality, it wasn’t only men who needed a “magic button.” The flight attendants she knew would surely appreciate having one too. For them, it was not the shirt collar that needed a bit of expansion, but rather their waistlines which gained volume during the flights. “I myself had this need while traveling and during my pregnancy months,” she recalls.
The more she thought about how to market the idea, the more she saw the challenges. How do you make sure the solution is sustainable? That it’s just the right size with the right elasticity to suit all neck sizes, and at the same time, remains comfortable? Will it stand the test of time? How can I make it a chic and trendy fashion item that everyone could and actually would want to wear?
Convinced that there was a real need, she successfully submitted a “magic button” development project to the SAJE Montreal program and went on to begin a long series of prototypes which culminated, years later, in the filing of a patent on September 13, 2011.
It was also during that same year, in 2011, that she signed her first sales contract and renamed it the “Cochic Extender”. COCHIC was now officially born and shortly after followed by the launch of “Lady COCHIC”, a collection for her.
By now, I’m sure you have guessed that Patrizia wasn’t going to stop there. In a constant spirit of development, she spent the next few years perfecting and testing her products in Italy to confirm and reconfirm their endurance, resistance to stretching, as well as long term wear, among other specifications she was seeking.
She even called on agents from the Service de police de la ville de Montréal (SPVM) to test her COCHIC collar extenders, challenging them to do everything they could possibly can to dislodge the button from its location, trying to make it fall by waving their shirt vigorously and repeatedly, times and again. They never succeeded.
It was only after numerous physical and laboratory tests in Europe and here that Patrizia felt that she had finally found a durable and comfortable solution to the shirt collar feeling too tight, to the waistline that needs more room at times, and for the women jackets and blouses that could use a little more space at the bust line. Mission accomplished!
From Buttons to Fashion Accessories
Now that the collar issue was dealt with, it was time to move on to other projects.
From COCHIC and LADY COCHIC extenders, she quickly took up other issues, such as that tie that just doesn’t want to stay straight and, in its place, designed chic and comfortable suspenders, beautiful cufflinks and bow ties.
Under her “Lady Cochic” brand, she created a collection of colorful silk scarves that transforms a basic outfit to a most striking one in a fraction of time.
From Fashion Accessories to “Stay Healthy”
With the pandemic we are going through, businesses are faced with many challenges and opportunities to offer new products. Like many manufacturers in the fashion industry, Patrizia set out to manufacture reusable antibacterial fabric face masks. But did you seriously think she was going to offer the same characteristics as everyone else? Of course not!
Once again, after several prototypes and numerous tests in laboratories in Italy, Patrizia and her team are extremely proud to present a reusable material masks with very unique antibacterial properties.
COCHIC’s “Stay Healthy” reusable antibacterial face masks exceed the requirements for bacterial filtration efficiency, splash resistance and breathability demanded for fabric masks commonly found on the market. So much so that they could be used medicinally! The last tests to obtain this accreditation are in progress.
What’s even more amazing is that these properties are durable throughout the life of the face masks, even after being washed in water above 40 degrees!
Making her Mark
Through the ingenious fashion accessories they provide, Patrizia and her team have skillfully carved a place in the clothing market, one innovation at a time.
COCHIC’s mission, “that all professionals can experience the joy of comfort and chicness”, and now, in complete safety, is well understood by the market. So much so that it attracted the particular interest of Me Sophie Mongeon and Mr. Gilbert Delorme who joined the COCHIC family as ambassadors.
Me Sophie Mongeon, President of the 1-855-Maîtres et Desroches Mongeon Avocats network, is dedicated woman who works tirelessly to offer the best legal defense to victims of car and work accidents. She is also actively involved in numerous victim advocacy groups, in addition to being a much sought-after speaker and commentator for local broadcasters such as ICI RDI and 91.9 Sports.
Mr. Gilbert Delorme is for his part a seasoned entrepreneur and a sports figure well known to Quebec and American hockey fans. He was our # 27 Habs defender and also played for the Quebec Nordiques, St. Louis Blues, Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguin. Mr. Delorme is also a regular panelist at “L’Antichambre” and commentator on the 91.9 Sports radio channel.
Today, COCHIC has a production force that spans two continents (here in Montreal, and in Europe) and counts among the members of its extended family, extraordinary ambassadors, just as COCHIC as she is.
Many companies who care about the health and well-being of their employees and customers have already adopted the COCHIC masks in their workplaces and on the floor.
In addition, the “Stay Healthy” collection which includes antibacterial face masks, bow ties and pocket squares, is now available in all Moores across Canada. A great pride for the team!
All of this is however only the beginning of the realization of her business plan. We haven’t seen anything yet, that’s for sure!
Patrizia will soon launch across all major stores, a new generation of comfortable apparel and accessories under the new C2 branding.
One thing is certain, it is that COCHIC will always be, like its “magic buttons”, in extension, in continuation, in improvement… this is moreover why Patrizia venerates the “C” of Cochic, which is symbolic of the neck extension and expansion in general… the continual evolution of all of their products and of ourselves.
“When you buy a COCHIC product, you buy passion”, she said. “I hate limits. For me there are no limits. I would even say that I am allergic to limits, like my Inca grandmother was. It’s simple, I go where the passion takes me, after that it’s all fun. And for now, it expresses itself through fashion, and it touches all directions. It’s driven by my heart and instinct, and our will to respect the environment and protect our health. ”
She continues, “My grandmother just turned 100. She never set limits for herself. Despite everything she’s been through, she has always remained positive, happy and a go-getter. She is my hero! And, when I look at Cochic’s story, I consider it a real miracle. It was born from nothing more than passion and pleasure. I feel really lucky. ”
Daymond John said “Do nothing that you are not absolutely obsessed with and would do for free”. Patrizia rather likes to say “Do nothing that you are not passionate about and would do for free”. Passion is definitely an important value for her, a value that each member of the team shares.
Passion is how she uncovers true enthusiasts for the profession. Whenever she discovers passionate people, students for example, she does everything she can to attract them and retain them by offering them the role they dreamed of. She is always ready to open the door to all those who would like to do an internship, to contribute to the success of COCHIC by bringing their own passion to it. Notice to interested parties! 😉
Why Join TEC Canada ?
Because when you’re at the head of a fast-moving business, with always multiple projects underway, it’s great and necessary to be able to get different points of view to help you make the best decisions, quickly.
“There is so much to do. I want to do so much. I need to think fast, to act fast. I have to take care of my people and my business while taking care of myself. Sometimes that’s a lot.”, Patrizia tells me.
“With my wonderful team which continues to grow, two new great COCHIC ambassadors, I want to be at my best. They are counting on me. I count on them. We are a family. This is particularly important to me. Maybe it’s due to my Italian roots!” she added.
True. Passionate. Innovative. Bold. Resilient. In every way, Patrizia is very COCHIC.
I believe her without a shadow of a doubt when she whispers to me that we haven’t seen anything yet … and I can’t wait to find out what she’s still hides under her sleeve!
You would like to learn more about Cochic?