Entrepreneur crafts intimate apparel line that encourages inclusion and personal expression

Futurpreneur and RBC Future Launch are supporting the next generation of entrepreneurs through funding and mentoring

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When Murielle Bien-Aimé goes shopping for clothes, she goes straight to the men’s department. The Montreal artist has never felt comfortable in women’s styles, so they are often skimpy, impractical or ill-fitting.

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“I’ve always worn masculine, androgynous underwear, and basically men’s underwear,” says Bien-Aimé. “What’s interesting about men’s underwear is that it’s fundamentally based on comfort rather than aesthetics. I’ve heard from so many women who say they wear their boyfriend or husband’s briefs because they’re so comfortable.”

A creative thinker who knew she was not the only one who found a day in women’s underwear unbearable, Bien-Aimé decided to do something about it. she founded KOMANDŌ, a clothing company that makes stylish, eco-friendly men’s underwear for anyone who identifies as a woman. She proudly calls KOMANDŌ female boxers “Foxers.”

The clothing line is about much more than comfort. KOMANDŌ underwear is designed to empower people to express themselves fully, to be free to be who they are. Seeing the widespread lack of representation in fashion for diverse groups, including members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies, Bien-Aimé makes the underwear (as well as a gender-neutral streetwear line) with a spirit of inclusivity.

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“We speak to people’s identities,” says Bien-Aimé. “We speak with self-acceptance.”

Although Bien-Aimé is confident in KOMANDŌ’s mission, as a newcomer to the business world, she felt intimidated by the tactical side of starting a new venture. For help, she turned to RBC Future Launch partner Futurpreneur, the only national non-profit organization that provides funding, mentoring and support to aspiring business owners between the ages of 18 and 39. of young Canadians for over twenty years.

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Through Futurpreneur, Bien-Aimé participated in the series of free digital workshops Rock my business. The series teaches people about testing the viability of their business, developing a solid business plan, understanding cash flow and more.

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Futurpreneur Rock My Business’ three-part series began in 2017 and is funded by the RBC Foundation to support Launch of RBC Future, the bank’s 10-year, $500-million commitment to empower Canadian youth for the jobs of tomorrow. From July 2020, the series, including business coaching from Futurpreneur’s Entrepreneurs in Residence, has the skills, confidence and knowledge needed to develop a business plan that is ready to launch and the knowledge of over 8,000 potential business leaders.

Futurpreneur provides funding as well as one-on-one mentoring with established entrepreneurs. Rock My Business takes an in-depth look at components such as business plans, cash flow statements and marketing, working with entrepreneurs in all different sectors, from technology to construction to restaurants and beyond. RBC employees with expertise in the field mentor young entrepreneurs in the Rock My Cash Flow workshops, part of the Rock My Business series.

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Bien-Aimé recently won an award RBC Rock My Business Startup Award. Presented by RBC and Futurpreneur, the award is presented each year to diverse, young, aspiring entrepreneurs from across Canada, helping them start their businesses.

Each of the eight recipients receives a $10,000 award, and the funds can be used for anything from developing a website to ordering supplies, activating a marketing plan or purchasing inventory – whatever they need for their venture take it to the next level.

Through the program, there are five Youth Entrepreneur Awards (for people aged 18 to 29); New Black Entrepreneur Award (18 to 39); One award for New Indigenous Entrepreneurs (18 to 39); and one New Entrepreneur Award (30 to 39).

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As Futurpreneur’s chief experience officer, Charles Finley helps ensure budding entrepreneurs get the expertise and tools they need at a critical stage in their business.

“Our mission is to help young entrepreneurs across Canada start and succeed in their own business, and our support comes very early in their journey,” says Finley. “Our entrepreneurs are usually putting together their idea or setting up their business.”

Some simply have a concept that needs polishing or fine-tuning; Rock My Business helps them at these earliest stages as well.

“The workshops focus on core business skills: how to write a marketing plan, how to get your finances together and how to run your operation,” says Finley. “That’s what we know, and we give that knowledge to our entrepreneurs. It’s like a bootcamp to learn every aspect of being an entrepreneur.”

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Finley notes that the awards are the result of the kind of stories that could inspire other young entrepreneurs to one day start their own business. “This is an opportunity to say: Here’s someone like you who started their entrepreneurial journey with just an idea,” says Finley.

For Bien-Aimé KOMANDŌ, the support from Rock My Business and the award itself are extremely valuable. She is putting the money towards marketing and production, and the latter is particularly important to her because she is not interested in mass production.

“Rock My Business allows you to immerse yourself in your business and helps build the structure for everything you’ll be doing in the next few years,” says Bien-Aimé. “You get information in a tangible way.”

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“The award speeds things up,” she says. “I’m focused and I’m determined, but this has put a pep in my step.”

The workshop series takes place every other month, with the next one starting on November 7, 2022. Aspiring entrepreneurs can mix and match workshop dates by choosing to attend three workshops in a row as a bootcamp or spaced out to better suit his schedule. Participants who attend the Rock My Business Plan and Rock My Business Cashflow workshops may be eligible for the next Futurpreneur round of the RBC Rock My Business Start-up Awards in 2023. Learn more and register here: https://www. futurpreneur.ca /ga/microsites/rock-my-business.

This story was created by Content worksPostmedia’s commercial content department, on behalf of RBC Future Launch.

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