Couple leaves corporate jobs and $400K combined income to start Toronto business

If you and your partner made $400,000 together in the Toronto corporate world, would you go above and beyond to start a dream business together?

That’s exactly what Simon Tan and Christine Trinh did when they launched Beeja May.

Tan previously worked in finance at a private equity firm focusing on acquisitions and Trinh worked as a development manager at a real estate investment trust. Tan was working full-time and Trinh was on maternity leave when they began work on Beeja May in 2019.

Before a new career path or even lockdowns would change their lives, they had already braced themselves for a big change: becoming parents and wanting to become parents in a sustainable way.

“I often spent hours preparing to leave the house with our newborn, driving to the thrift store, searching through dozens of shelves and bins with a crying baby in the loft, and then coming home empty-handed,” says Trinh to blogTO.

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“The other alternative was to meet with sellers through online marketplaces, but after getting up a few times, I quickly understood why many well-meaning parents turned to big fast fashion retailers instead.”

Not wanting other parents to face the same dilemmas, Beeja May was born: an online marketplace with all sorts of coveted clothes, accessories, toys and books, all second hand, to help the ravage of fast fashion in the fashion world to slow down clothing for children who grow quickly.

Beeja is a Hindi word meaning seed and May is the month their daughter Charlie was born.

The couple had eventually hoped to take over the business full-time, but the process was accelerated by lockdowns that boosted sales at e-commerce businesses, including hers. Trinh left her full-time job in May 2020, Tan his in June 2020.

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“We didn’t want to look back with regret and wonder what if?” says Trinh.

Their experience as frugal parents has taught them that things need to be picked up quickly, and they find the same effect happens with Beeja May.

“All the pieces we sell are either resold, meaning they are all unique and one of a kind, or they are part of our ‘salvage collection’, which are brand new stock, incomplete or damaged boxed items that we normally only receive limited quantities,” says Trinh.

“If you see a popular Canada Goose bunting in the store you better snag it quick because once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

The Canada Goose fawn clips she is referring to are intended for babies up to two years old and retail for $650.

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“Our lives have changed so much, both positively and negatively,” says Trinh.

“Owning our own business has meant we have had the flexibility to create our own schedule and take time off as needed when our daughter is at home. That means building a startup and going through the financial ups and downs. That companionship was a stark contrast to the bi-weekly paychecks we used to receive.”

You can browse Beeja May’s inventory and order online. If you’re interested in selling with them, you can also arrange a drop-off to hand your items over, or a pickup where they pick them up.

“Our plan is to eventually go to the US and become the go-to place for families to shop sustainably,” says Trinh.

“Our mission was to make slow fashion as fun and convenient as shopping at fast fashion retailers.”

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