Meet Brigitte - VP of Business Development & Marketing at TheOccurrence

Located in Haliburton, Ontario, TheOccurrence is a Canadian owned and operated jigsaw puzzle manufacturing company. Their products are designed, cut, and boxed in Ontario – no manufacturing ‘partners’ outside of Canada for them. TheOccurrence’s work is informed and inspired by their passion for Canadian geology, geography, and our collective cultural history.

What made you choose your career path?

Because of my film and television background, I was the product. I knew how to produce me as the product and  to pivot when I needed to. So when I had my two girls, and I had to make the choice, do I go back into that industry or do we start this puzzle company? I felt really proud of the fact that I looked at that and went, you know what, I can do that, for sure. I love puzzles. I love what we make. I love that it’s Canadian images, and that it’s a Canadian company. I can manufacture that, I can sell that, and I can make that happen. So that was the choice. And for the first time I’m running a company and it’s super empowering, fun, and phenomenally hard at the same time. I’m really, really enjoying this.

What are the biggest barriers you have faced and how did you overcome them or are overcoming them?

As a company based in a small rural community, it’s very difficult to find manufacturing space. There’s just not a lot of it around. Sometimes there’s retail space on highways, but that commercial retail space is just exorbitant. So that’s one of the barriers and the other barrier that we didn’t take into consideration before launching our company was shipping. We pay more to have products shipped to us, whether it’s paper or cardboard or inks, and then conversely, we have to pay more when we’re shipping to our customers.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I would tell her to be braver. Don’t disregard that little intuition in your gut, that says, I really want to do this thing. And find a mentor. If you can’t be brave, then find somebody who’s doing the thing that you think you want to do and become friends with them or ask them if they can mentor you. And be brave about it. Don’t be shy because people want to help. Oftentimes I find that they’re really honored that you would ask.

Why would you encourage young women to enter careers in manufacturing?

I would encourage young women to enter manufacturing because it’s awesome, empowering, and exciting. It’s so unlike the traditional norms that we think of for rules for women. Oftentimes, manufacturing will take you to places you had no idea you would end up. And there’s lots of room for growth and a whole new world of opportunities. It’s so important to open yourself up to career opportunities in the trades.