In part one of two, meet Jennifer Laplaige, the owner of Pür & Simple located in Paradise and hear in her own words her story of struggle and survival
Jennifer Laplaige is pure power in a pair of leggings. This widowed mother of five is the owner of the newest Pür & Simple located in Paradise, and she’s demonstrated she’s not about to back down from any challenge.
DRIVEN TO SUCCEED
A female entrepreneur who has been empowered to succeed, buoyed by the brand’s co-founder, Ritou Maloni – another strong female presence – despite the challenges of the pandemic, the native Newfoundlander has refused to let anything stop her from succeeding personally or professionally.
“COVID kind of pushed a lot of women to certain limits. I mean, working from home and trying to take care of multiple children – keeping them occupied, keeping them educated and trying to keep everyone just going – lots of it did fall on women. Let’s be honest, right?” she began.
Laplaige’s story is tragic and inspirational. While living in France, her 40-year-old husband, Sylvain Laplaige, tragically and suddenly passed away at home.
‘ABSOLUTELY FELL APART’
“When that happened, the kids were still rather young. One was a year and a half. Another was just a few days off his fifth birthday. I had a 13 and a 14-year-old. Well, everything kind of just fell apart. Absolutely fell apart from finances to your hopes and dreams and expectations.”
Her life in France had been “a comfortable one,” she shared. “I was a stay-at-home mom. When everything fell apart I just realized that I had to get up and just start making things work. I’ve developed a certain level of determination. Resilience. It was just, you know, you sink so far to the bottom there’s nowhere left to go but up,” she shared.
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STRONG SUPPORT SYSTEM
Since returning to her Newfoundland roots, things seem as if they have finally fallen into place, mostly thanks to the great support systems she has in place.
“In the last five years, everything I’ve done, I feel like I’ve had so many breaks and so many people just giving me a chance because I never had work experience.” She was living in a foreign country. She didn’t even have a credit rating because she hadn’t lived in this country for 20 years. She never gave up, and the people around her never gave up on her.
“Everything that happened brought me to this point where now I’ve actually opened my own restaurant all by myself. I’ve hired so many women and I’m trying to arrange the schedules to make sure everyone can spend time with family. I tell everyone we are really busy and we all need to work as hard as we can, but there needs to be a certain balance.”
EYES WIDE OPEN
That balance is what drew her to Pür & Simple in the first place, she added.
“That idea of entrepreneurship and a great team, but also at the same time to be able to have a life on the side, because I know very well how fragile your life is. I went into this adventure with my eyes wide open knowing that I’ll be able to get to a place where I’ll be able to leave at four o’clock.”
With some of her best memories sat around a table enjoying meals with family and friends, Laplaige hopes to touch members of her community with the same kind of memorable experiences that she had while growing up and while raising her young family in France.
Laplaige is grateful that the flexibility and support of the Pür & Simple business model allow her to raise and support her family as a single mother, while also giving her the chance to achieve success as a strong female entrepreneur.
Laplaige’s new restaurant opened in Paradise on June 22. The popular breakfast, brunch and lunch destination is a win-win for anyone family-minded.
As a daytime establishment, hours of operation give owners and employees more flexibility to balance family life, enjoy personal pursuits and facilitate childcare, something that is not commonly found in the foodservice industry where long days and evening shifts are typical.
enjoying the experience
“To be able to sit down and enjoy a meal is a pure and simple concept. The whole idea when I lived in France for so long was that you’d sit down and have a coffee. You would never take a coffee cup and go. You would sit down in the bistros and you’d people watch and you’d have a chit chat and really enjoying that experience. And when I came back here, everyone – myself included – would run from one activity to the next and you’d throw chicken nuggets to the back of your car and the kids would eat in their car seats as you’re trying to do everything.”
But, she added wisely, there’s only 24 hours in each day. “How I spend those 24 hours is key. If I want to take one hour and really enjoy the time enjoying fresh, healthy, good food that’s visually appealing, that smells absolutely out of this world, then it goes into the concept where you can sit back and just enjoy it. And that’s what Pür & Simple is all about. I always say, ‘I’m as straight as they come’ and I live pretty simply. My house is pretty basic. I like things just really simple. I don’t do a lot of decorations, but when I do something, it’s simply beautiful. And I was just drawn to everything about the business model.”
We ask about the significance of starting a business at home.
“It was a hard decision to leave France, because that’s where my husband and I had our four children (the eldest was born in NL). That’s all they knew.”