Hello, my name is Marie-Line, I am the co-owner of LMF props with my partner Dereck, and here is the story of how we started this beautiful project together. Running a small business is definitely hard work, but I hope this will inspire others to keep pushing towards their personal goals and dreams.
Both originally from Quebec, we actually met back in 2015 on the West coast of Canada. Dereck had been spinning fire for many years, and I had a small circus background but was just starting my flow journey. We fell in love, and eventually made our way back to Montreal. We ordered materials to build fire props for ourselves, and since Dereck had been spinning for years with pretty much any kind of prop available out there, he had a clear idea of what he did and didn’t like. Our first props were fire monkey fist poi with Technora tethers and our original handmade Hexaknobs, as well as fire staffs. There wasn’t any flow shop back then in Quebec, and when we brought those to our local fire jams, they were passed around and friends started to ask for custom orders. So we did, and after a few weeks we started receiving e-mails from people we didn’t even know that have tried our props, that loved them and wanted to order. This is when we decided to open our Etsy shop, back in February 2016 and settled for a name, “Les Marchands de Feu” (it’s french, and translates to “The Fire Merchants”), or “LMF props” for short.
We were making custom props, creating new products and prototyping/testing like crazy (we are perfectionists and never feel like “good” is enough), while taking random work contracts on the side here and there as I was studying. We ended up buying a bus that we packed with props and materials and quit our appartment. We spent months living on the road, hitting festivals and passing props around for testing, and then left to perform in Costa Rica, selling props along the way. While we were there, we kept thinking about new prop ideas, and we just knew we had to come back if we wanted to dive into LMF fully.
We headed back to Quebec, completely broke but motivated to find a new space where we could create and give our project a real chance. We set foot in Trois-Rivieres, a small town where rent was cheaper than Montreal, and art and entrepreneurship encouraged. We enrolled in a small program that helped us barely survive during the first year, as we were expanding our product line. 2017 marked a turning point; the program helped us create a business plan, further our skills set with studies (such as welding and 3D modelling) and gave us time to create new products and test them to the fullest with the help of local artists that jumped in without hesitation. I made our website that year to improve our customers experience (Etsy isn’t made for having as many customization options as we do). We were working day and night, starving, but learning so much daily and driven by our unshakable vision. We used our bus to attend our first festivals as vendors that summer, and our new products were a hit; we became the most referred prop company in the province.
In 2018 we won two entrepreneurship prices in our area, I can’t express how proud we felt after all the hard work we’ve put in! We took a loan to buy all the amazing materials we had selected (after months and months of testing and comparing), and since we were strained by huge minimal orders for each of them, we had to move a bit further again, so we would have more room to store our new inventory and set up a decent work space. We spent the whole year improving the website, our props, adding new customization options, designing new pieces and organising TriFlow Fest, the first flow fest in the province.
The past years have been a challenge with the global pandemic; it felt so weird losing the human contact we were used to have through local jams, events and festivals, and only existing through our online store. Fortunately, we have received amazing support and feedback from you all, which had brightened this whole experience.
Having outgrown our previous location again, we got to move to a new space this summer (2022), and are working on turning an entire garage into our dream workshop. In the next months, I’ll be working on updating the website with all the new products we have (with the move and garage flip this year, we got a little behind and lots of stuff have been secretly sitting in boxes), and refreshing photos so everything is up to date.
To this day, we are still a small team of 2, driven by the same passion that started this whole project. We wish to thank all our loyal customers and friends that have been cheering for us since the beginning and welcome to all the new ones! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to learn more about us, it’s been amazing seeing you pass the good word around, recommending our products warmly. We take great pride being part of this amazing flow family, you rock.
One thing is certain, no matter how this company grows and evolves, we will always stand by our business principles to aim for the highest quality, always testing and improving our products; that’s what we do!