This past year has made us see our city and its communities with different eyes. Now it’s time to rediscover it on a bike! To celebrate Summer 2021, Opus honours these communities by presenting a series of interviews that celebrate Montreal entrepreneurship, the strength of urban life and its inspiring people. Discover how Bon Vivant shop was born in this interview with its founder, Jean-Mat.

What role does biking play in your lifestyle?

Cycling is an important part of my life. I’ve always done lots of sports, and for the past five years cycling has been my favourite. I plan my schedule around my daily outings and my weekend getaways revolve around going to places where I like to ride.

 Which neighbourhood resonates most with you and why?

I don’t really have a favourite. I lived in the Plateau Mont-Royal/Mile-End for more than 10 years, and I really liked it. For the past four years I’ve been living in Saint-Henri, so now I’ve developed closer ties with the southwest area. I feel it’s become more dynamic and interesting over the past few years.

 What do you like most about urban living?

The easy access to shops and specialty businesses, such as restaurants, cafes or bike shops. There’s something for everyone, and you get to meet interesting people who share your passions and values.

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What role do you want to play in your community?

I’ve always been active in my community. I was fortunate to have a boutique in Plateau Mont-Royal for seven years, which enabled me to meet lots of people with whom I’ve stayed in touch. I participated in their events and they helped out in mine. The same thing is happening right here in Montreal’s southwest. I’m currently working with other local business owners on videos for Bon Vivant, which highlight local artists and businesses.

 Which community issue concerns you most?

The survival of local retailers. As a business owner, I understand their struggle to survive and I strongly believe that local businesses play a critical role in our community. They enable people to come together and bond.

How did you come up with the idea for Bon Vivant?

Simply from my knowledge and experienced after so many years in the clothing industry. I felt that I could offer a higher quality, locally made product at a very reasonable price. A Japanese contact gave me access to quality fabrics for our first collections, which helped me  stand out from other brands.

What does this achievement mean to you?

It represents the freedom to be creative on every level.

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What do you think is the strength of Bon Vivant Shop?

Our strength remains the same. Source the best fair-trade fabrics in Japan and Portugal, and manufacture everything locally in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada. The fit of our clothes also plays a big role in our success. Plus, we’re always looking to improve the details, until every piece is just about perfect.

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What’s your biggest source of inspiration and motivation as an entrepreneur?

Companies like Patagonia are very inspiring, specifically the story of founder Yvon Chouinard. But I’m also inspired by art, music and even sports. When I see someone succeed in a way that touches me — whether it’s a victory by a favourite cyclist or a new album by a favourite artist — it motivates and pushes me further in my journey.

How do you see the future of Bon Vivant Shop?

I’d like to grow my team and offer a wider variety of clothing — maybe even for cycling!

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What’s your hope for the future of urban life?

That we strike a good balance between cyclists and drivers, keeping in mind that officials don’t always consult local businesses when planning neighbourhood redevelopment. I believe Montreal has made tremendous progress, and I hope that we’ll continue to listen to our communities.

How did you feel when Opus approached you to offer its platform?

I know the Opus brand pretty well and have always appreciated its focus on urban life and diversity. I’m proud to be associated with a bike brand — especially one that’s local.

Name a #chasethatsmile moment in your daily life?

A ride on Mount Royal before work.

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As part of his commitment to his community, Jean-Mat will donate his Opus participant’s fees to a cause that’s close to his heart!

Which organization did you decide to support and why?

Eden Reforestation Project : edenprojects.org

I simply want to support this organization because it gives back to a cause I care about: nature. They have already replanted more than 500 million trees.

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