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Mabel's Labels


Julie Cole, Julie Ellis Cole, Cynthia Esp, and Tricia MumbyAs a parent (of three at the time – now six!), Julie Cole, BA '95 was frustrated with the quantities of kids’ supplies that left her house and never returned. Whether she left behind kids gear at play group, daycare or a friend's house, the loss of the toys and supplies prompted her to discuss a possible solution with three others in her family. Together, they created the idea of Mabel's Labels—a stylish, kid-proof, personalized label making business which puts an end to children's lost belongings.

The Mabel's Labels team is more than just a family business, it is also a partnership between four former Federation of Students staff. Mabel's Labels was founded by Julie, her sister-in-law, Julie Ellis Cole, BA '95, her sister Cynthia Esp, BA '95, and her now aunt, Tricia Mumby, a former Waterloo student, who was also a Waterloo staff member. Between them, they now share thirteen kids.

While they were on campus together, the group was heavily involved in the Federation of Students and campus-life activities. While Julie Cole was studying English, she was also a village don, drove the Student Affairs Van, volunteered at several student-support organizations and was an elected Feds executive - Vice President, University Affairs in 1994-1995. She then went to New York City where she earned her Masters in 1997 from New York University (NYU), while using her University of Waterloo residence skills to manage the student housing program. She then moved to Australia where she studied law at the University of Melbourne. After working as a lawyer, Julie co-founded Mabel’s Labels.

The other Julie in the Cole family, Julie Ellis, also was a village don, a member of Student Council and the Feds Board of Directors. She worked on Feds elections and policy development issues and regularly performed in shows of the former Department of Dance. After uWaterloo, she began working at the Royal Bank as a Financial Planner and when she co-founded Mabel's Labels, took on leadership of finances.

Cynthia Esp, sister to Julie and sister-in-law to Julie Ellis, was also a village don and the supervisor of the Student Affairs Van in the former Campus Centre (now the Student Life Centre). Cynthia left uWaterloo for teachers college in London, England where she studied and taught for several years. She met her husband there and now lives in Canada where she co-founded the company while teaching part time.

Tricia Mumby, friend and now Julie and Cynthia's aunt, worked on various Feds programs, including the launch of the Off-Campus Don's program. During school, she worked part time at University of Waterloo Graphics which she went on to manage.

The foursome sold Mabel’s Labels for $12M at the beginning of 2016 to CCL Industries under their Avery North America Division. Tricia Mumby has stayed on to act as General Manager and Julie Cole is the Senior VP of Public Relations. Cynthia Esp and Julie Ellis have moved on from the company.

Mabel's Labels sells stylish, personalized labels for all the stuff kids lose! They are durable, waterproof, laundry-safe and microwave safe – essential kid-proof! Mabel’s Labels can be found on toys, water bottles, clothing, shoes, lunch gear, school supplies, camp gear and so much more. They are a leader in the marketplace and continue to focus on product development. To learn more visit

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