Hello, my name is Marie-Line, I am the co-owner of this small business with my partner Dereck, and I’d love to share our story with you and what brought us here, to this beautiful project that is “LMF props”. I hope this will inspire others to keep pushing towards their personal goals; just know whatever you set your mind on, if you are powered by the right reasons, you can achieve anything.
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 clicked and continued our journey together, we ended up making our way back to Montreal after some time and found a place to stay. Dereck had been living on the road for 5 years, and I had closed my previous business just before leaving, we were starting back to zero. We decided to order materials to build fire props for ourselves, since Dereck had been spinning for years with pretty much any kind of prop available out there, he had pretty good ideas about what he did and didn’t want, and the things he wanted to correct. Our first props were fire monkey fist poi (a classic) with Technora tethers and our original handmade Hexaknobs, and 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 knew 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” (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 work contracts on the side here and there as I was studying. We decided having to pay a rent was too time/energy consuming, bought a bus, packed it with props and materials and left. We spent all summer on the road, hitting festivals and passing props around, but at some point we realised we would need an address if we wanted to dive in LMF fully. We made it back to Montreal to figure our lives out and reflect on what we wanted to do and how (that was the real question). We left to perform in Costa Rica and while we were there everything just fell into place. We were travelling, but constantly thinking about what we left, what new prop ideas we wanted to build, and we just knew we had to come back.
We made our way back to Quebec, completely broke but fuelled with creativity and super focused, and decided to set foot in Trois-Rivieres, a smaller town where rent was cheaper than Montreal, and art and entrepreneurship encouraged. We found a small program that would help us survive (barely) 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 the time to create new products and test them to the fullest with the help of local artists that jumped in without hesitation. I learned how to make a website on my own (still learning today) and created product pages where all our customization options would be offered, in order to make props that would fit their owner’s needs and preferences. 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 borrowed the money necessary to buy all the amazing materials we selected (after months and months of testing and comparing), we were strained by huge minimal orders for each one of them, so we moved a bit further away (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.
For 2019, we are working on refreshing our product pages, adding new props and working on our summer itinerary; we are hoping to attend a few festivals on the west coast in June, back where it all started 4 years ago. To this day, we are still a small team of 2, working almost 7 days/7, driven by the same passion that started this whole project. Thank you to all our loyal customers and friends that have been supporting 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 and how big the team gets (one day we’ll be more than two hopefully), we will always stand by our business principles to aim for the highest quality, always testing and improving our products; that’s how we roll.