My friends Claire and Jo-Ann started this fabulous website.  I think it’s a wonderful idea!



Date founded: February 2009

Startup costs: $75,000

Number of employees: two (both owners)

Number of registered clients: 150

Number of anticipated clients by the end of 2009: 2,000 – – –

1704018So you’re newly married and you want to take your husband’s name. But how do you navigate all the paperwork that’s required to notify the world that you’re no longer a Smith, but a Kelsey?

A new online Vancouver-based company that takes care of all that is getting a growing amount of business from new brides who just don’t need the headache.

“We have about 150 registered users,” JoAnne Stayner, co-founder of I’m A Mrs., said in an interview about her home-based company, which she started in February with business partner Claire Lamont.

“My best friend and I came up with the idea because so many of our friends complained about the process of changing their names. We thought of a cool shower gift, useful, as against tableware.”

According to Stayner, the website makes the process much simpler and saves a lot of time by giving women access to all the necessary forms in a database including government, banks, credit cards, utility companies and mortgage companies. There are two packages offered, one for $29.95 and a more detailed one for $49.95.

Advice is also provided on which government offices to attend and what documents are required to take there.

Clients can choose forms from various department stores and programs such as Aeroplan and Shoppers Optimum.

If there’s a particular form not found on the site, I’m A Mrs. promises to have it available within 48 hours.

“It [the website] downloads all the forms you need,” Stayner said. “It all depends on how connected you are, but [the process] usually takes about five hours.”

She said that although the site is designed for Canadians, she’s getting a lot of interest from new brides in other countries and plans to take on foreign partners in the future. ”

[We’re] launching in South Africa in September and we’ve partnered with someone there who’s responsible for all the forms. We’re looking at the U.K., the U.S. and Australia. “Our goal for this year is 2,000 [clients], which is about two per cent of the market in Canada. I’d like to double that for 2010.”

One of Stayner’s clients is Kirsten MacDonald, a recently married Surrey woman who signed up with I’m A Mrs. in April. “It was extremely convenient,” MacDonald said in an interview. “There’s so much paperwork involved in changing your name. To have a website that has all the information and how and where to contact, it was great. I’ve referred it to a lot of my newly married friends.” MacDonald estimates that she completed everything in about five hours. “It probably saved me weeks.” Stayner, who also does freelance public relations consulting, said her married name is JoAnne Purvis, but she retained Stayner, her maiden name, for business purposes. “It’s like a trade name.”

Stayner said no men have contacted her about changing their names to their wives’ names, but that a growing number of gay people getting married have expressed interest in changing their names to those of their partners — although none have yet followed through. “Providing it’s a marriage, you can use the service.” She’s also getting clients who want to change their names back to their original names after a divorce.

Stayner had a few suggestions for aspiring entrepreneurs. “I definitely think that one of the key things is that things take three times as long as you think they will. “Also, find a trusted partner to work with. Whether it’s finding suppliers or web developers, take the time to find the right people to help you meet your goals. “Chemistry is very important.” © Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun