ModeCity is a 3 day event held from 8th July to the 10th July 2017 in Paris, France. More than a tradeshow, ModeCity is an event where human interaction is at ...
Hi everyone, I am Jean-Christophe Bonis, we are on Interfilière.
We are here with Anémone, we are going to talk about feminine entrepreneurship, how women are men's future.
Let's talk numbers.
We, my sister and I, Caroline and Anémone, are two entrepreneurs, we created a bathing suit and underwear brand almost 9 months ago.
But it's a family thing: my father and grandfather, going back 3 or 4 generations were lingerie manufacturers.
at the time, they were called corsetmakers and hosiers. We caught the bug late, meaning we took on the mantle in 2007-2008.
After we each had our own professional experience, which were unrelated to the profession but still prove useful nonetheless.
My sister did marketing studies and I studied audiovisual and communication.
However, we didn't deal with the original product directly. We got our pure product from our memories and family legacy.
I think we've always wanted to do something ourselves, we both have this desire to start our own business even if we've only known employment before.
That was visceral.
Give me a company overview. So what is it today? Ranges of swimwear, lingerie?
We didn't start with lingerie, it was too complicated so we started with swimwear,
seven years ago, as between Eres and Banana Moon there were opportunities for small brands.
For people in this niche, ect....
With a new approach, more fashion oriented.
Today, in 2017, nearly 10 years later, how many people are you?
We'll celebrate our tenth birthday next year. We are 6.
Are you happy?
We are really happy, it's going really well but it's very painful.
It's a type of pain that drives you forward. It's painful period.
You get shit thrown in your face constantly. Let's just describe things the way they are. Why is it painful?
It'sfunny because people are always awed and it's super great, but you just want to tell them: " then do it yourself!".
People aren't aware how costly freedom is.
And they don't realize the amount of working hours, ect.
I am an entrepreneur like you.
At the same time, even though this freedom is costly, I would do it all again tomorow.
And especially with my sister, we have this kind of determination, we strive to push Albertine as far as it can go, we want to go there and we will.
And what's weird, but people in the business know this as well, is that even when a company like ours is doing well,
and it's our case, that at any moment, everything doesn't come crashing down but you can loose everything from one day to the next.
Because there is this sucess milestone of being able to supply the stocks, tools...
Have you reached this milestone?
We are in it's midst, I think it's going to go well because we've built a true brand with a DNA, a story, an artistic direction.
And I think it's going to appeal to people, that flaws have become qualities, meaning that we are a small company but people are liking small businesses more and more.
I'd like to hear about people who've managed to reach a milestone where you have more employees, you have a better salary and you are company director, and you don't need money from a big firm or investor.
It still would be awesome if an investor came tomorow and told us it was awesome, we'll inject this much because we love what you guys are doing.
You're biggest failure?
The thing that you just failed from A to Z.
I think our biggest fail was succumbing to greed with Amazon during a fair.
And I'm boycotting Amazon now, I don't buy anything from Amazon anymore.
Why? It's a really interesting debate.
Because when you are a small brand and are at a fair, and god knows how expensive it is for a brand to be at a fair,
and a vendor from Amazon comes over and tells you "I'm going to take some for...", and I don't remember how much it was but it was a significant sale,
and we had stars in our eyes and everything, and you know that on fairs like these, things are bought one year in advance,
So I'm wrong, she bought things in 2012, and we were in 2011, and when she came back in 2012, she was buying for 2013,
we realized our collection was on sale. You have to understand that for bething suits, to be on sale in July makes no sense whatsoever.
If we are one sale in July, then we never sale at the true price.
In general, swimwear brands never do summer sales, they'll maybe do a sale from one season to the next.
And it wasn't reduced by 10, 20 or 30%, it was pure Amazon, that's all.
And that was really harsh for us because we had to explain this to all our other retail sellers, to whom we had said "no sales",
and this was followed by rather violent mail conversations because you're dealing with a huge machine that tells you they don"t discuss prices via email,
otherwise they'll be sending their lawyers. So that was a big fail, but it ended in an okay manner because we managed to make things right,
but it could have had a worse impact because clients that had been with us for a long time could have said but....
Two questions: as a woman, do you feel that some things were more difficult or easier because of it?
Easier, it might be more inherent because we work in the swimwear industry, fashion and all that, without stereotypes, we do speak to women after all.
So that does help us. What is harder is to be a mother, I'm a mother of two,
and it's time consuming. My partner is behind me 400%, he is himself a self-employed.
And your kids? Do they understand ?
My kids understand, they love it.
Are they proud of their mom?
I think so. It's an awesome kind of freedom because it's my choice and it's dear to me. I want to see my children grow up, so if I want to finish at 5pm, I'll finish at 5pm.
Your sister is the same?
And my sister is the same, and that can really be a problem. Because in a world that is super responsive, super fast and really competitive,
the fashion factor, the small company factor, the investor factor were everything goes on in Paris and I am outside of Paris,
but I don't want to live in Paris and if I want to finish my day at 5pm, I'll finish at 5pm.
I don't close shop, I think about it all the time, I discuss it with my sister, it's a family thing, I discuss it with my husband, at dinner and everything,
we never stop, we aren't employed, but at some point I still want to have a life.
Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
What do you envision?
That's very complicated.
I know, that's why I ask.
I think that's hard as well, managing your own company and having the necessary hindsight, and having enough time for hindsight in order to have a vision.
That's why there are people like me in this job. Do you have a transmission scheme for your children?
Because it's a family story, are you in the mindset of selling and that's it?
It's not about selling it and not looking back. But I think that there is this entrepreneur side that appeals to me and my sister, and I don't think we see each other doing that for the next 60 years.
Or at least not in this manner, but things are going to evolve. I'm not saying that I want to inflate like crazy the company's value, sell it and go live on the other side of the world,
but I'm not telling you that I want to pass it on to my kids. So there is some kind of mix between the two.