Seven Questions for James Quinn, Founder of J’s Flies
We recently had the opportunity to talk with James Quinn, whose venture J’s Flies has exploded in the New Brunswick media over the past year. James, one of our first Liftoff Capital entrepreneurs, won our 2018 Young Entrepreneur Award.
His company is a fishing enthusiast’s dream come true – selling tailor-made artisan-quality fishing flies for any species. James has a steady hand, a natural talent at fly-tying, and a contagious love for the outdoors. Hidden behind all that is very sharp business acumen, not always so well honed in those still attending high-school.
We asked him seven questions:
Q: How old were you when you decided to start J’s Flies?
A: I was in sixth grade when I was first given the opportunity to learn to make flies. It was an optional after-school activity that I thought would be great. I loved fishing and always loved trying new things. I continued to make flies from that point on and, at first, I sold them to my uncle’s friends. It grew from there. In 2017 I gave my business the name of J's Flies.
Q: Were you always interested in running a business? What drew you to that business in particular?
A: I thought for a very long time that I was going to go to forestry school and become a forest ranger. Then I realized that fishing in N.B. and the Maritimes is a large market and my small fly tying thing could become a much bigger opportunity. My love of fishing and the outdoors drew me to this business idea.
Q: If you suddenly found yourself with a large investment deal, how would you grow J’s Flies?
A: I would start by building a proper website, creating a marketing budget and employing local fellow fly-tyers when needed.
Q: How has your Liftoff Capital Experience been so far?
A: My Liftoff Capital experience has been amazing; it has opened my eyes to the opportunities in Saint John and the market for flies in the Maritimes, as well as the niche for custom and unique flies for people that are going on trips/ starting to fish for new species out of their comfort zone.
Q: If we could change anything we’re doing at Liftoff Capital to make it better for you, what would you like to see us do?
A: There isn't much to change with Liftoff Capital. However, something that I think would be great would be a mentor option. Some people don't want investment - just advice.
Q: How did you learn to fly-tying?
A: I learned to tie flies from a man by the name of Bob York. He taught the after school program. I saw the opportunity to try something new and took it. At the end of the course Bob could tell I had a passion for making flies. Mr. York gifted me a starter kit of materials. For my birthday I was given a proper vice from my parents and that is when the dream began to materialize. Like I said, at first I made flies for my uncle and his friends. Then, I began selling flies to my own friends. I took a one year break when my uncle was no longer available to mentor me. I started back up again as the result of an interesting order given to me by one of my mother’s friends. I saw an opportunity to make money and do something that I am passionate about at the same time.
Q: What’s the biggest fish you’ve ever caught?
A: The biggest fish I ever caught was a striped bass I caught it at Oak Point during a falling tide this year . Sadly, it was not on a fly fishing set up but it was still a fish of a lifetime. You can see a photo on my Instagram.