Meet the artisans, discover their expertise, and share their passion.
Taking teething needs to heart.
When Valérie Doran launched Bulle in 2013, she couldn’t have guessed how her life and and the lives of others would be totally transformed. At the time, the entrepreneur worked a job that didn’t meet her creative needs. She spent most of her free time creating jewellery, a childhood passion of hers. “When I had my first child in 2011, I stopped wearing jewellery because my daughter pulled on everything I wore. Necklaces, earrings, even rings. I had to take them off because she would always put them in her mouth,” she explains. Two years later, her family grew with the birth of her son. “I wanted to start wearing jewellery again, things I could wear while holding my baby close,” she says. This is how her project was born.
Valérie started experimenting with different models. “I saw that there was an interest,” she recalls. “There were other mothers out there looking for the same thing.” Then, eureka! “It finally clicked when I noticed what my son was constantly chewing on,” she explains. She saw that he loved chewing one silicone spoon in particular. Inspired, she contacted different suppliers and came up with the idea of a silicone accessories line with the help of her husband. “My goal was to make a necklace for moms that didn’t look like a toy worn around the neck.” The pearl necklaces from her first collections attracted attention immediately. The jewellery was instantly in high demand and loved by women of all different backgrounds who would wear the pieces with pride. “I was completely caught off guard. It all happened so fast,” Valérie says.
With Bulle, she satisfies mothers’ needs with a product that didn’t exist on the market until now.
The designer always wanted to create accessories that were aesthetically pleasing, but more importantly, she wanted to ensure that they were practical and safe. “I’m someone who is very conscious about safety,” Valérie says. In order for her products to be made available in Canada, the United States, and Europe, the entrepreneur made Bulle's products undergo long and laborious laboratory tests at a time when no norms or certifications existed for these innovative products. Over time, more and more baby accessories like pacifier clips and bibs have been added to the line that are as practical as they are easy to clean. Valérie remains loyal to her business’ original vision. “Each product comes with something that can be chewed. These are hyper-practical and multifunctional teething accessories for moms.”
Success was on the horizon and Valérie's business had gotten big that it was at the point of needing to be moved out of her family home. Taking advantage of the momentum, the entrepreneur chose to take the bull by the horns. “I decided to get myself in even more trouble and sign up for Dragon’s Den.” After being on the show in 2015, Danielle Henkel joined Bulle as a business associate. Valérie’s second appearance on the show the following year allowed her to form new partnerships with Sainte-Justine Children’s Hospital, Leucan, and friends at the Foundation du Dr Julien that inspired her to create jewellery and accessories for children who have ADHD, are on the autism spectrum, and who live with anxiety. “We give tools to these foundations,” Valérie explains. Social causes are very important to her and she uses her own voice as well as that of her company to support their mission. Bulle is also involved locally with two organizations in the region that employ people with special needs. Thanks to these associations, youth with disabilities have the responsibility of assembling and packaging the products. “We are very lucky to be able to count on these two wonderful collaborations,” says the designer.
“Everyone knows how rare labour is, so it’s really helpful. Made in Quebec is important, and we wouldn’t necessarily be able to continue what we’re doing without this help. Shopping local really does make a difference in people’s lives.”
Lévis is now home to their 2,700-square-foot workshop, where each accessory is designed before being shipped off to one of the business’ 600 retailers. The founder believes that the success of the business depends on the work of the employees and collaborators who drive the business forward and pursue innovation. Valérie gets her inspiration to create from the life she shares with her three little ones and also from the people who cross her path. “I often use my needs and my clients’ needs as a starting point,” she says. “I love talking to people! I go to all the maternity fairs and markets, and good ideas tend to come from clients who tell us about their experience with the product. It allows us to adjust the product or to make something new.” With a mind for entrepreneurship, the young businesswoman also gives conferences and offers to help young entrepreneurs. “It’s like I caught a disease when I went into business!”