Hello everyone!

Thank you for your kind, enthusiastic words yesterday in response to our article on Elissa, Clémentine, Insaf and Chloé! Today we’re moving right along, talking about the last three entrepreneurs! Estée Lauder and I made an agreement to post just one article, but I thought it would be better to do this in two parts to make it last longer. I loved these interviews, getting to know all these women was like a breath of fresh air, a rush of adrenaline!

After the project on Intuition, where I learned about the woman behind Estée Lauder, I tried to learn more about her personality and inspirations! I can only dare to imagine the amount of perseverance this woman must have had to start her cosmetic empire from scratch, in her simple kitchen and uncle’s lab! From her biography I learned that she didn’t give up, she had a precise goal and she met the right people at the right times, but most importantly, she never gave up or lost sight of her goal.

Getting back to my entrepreneurs today, it was difficult to choose who I’d post first or second, so don’t read between the lines, they’re in random order! Here’s the full length video with all the ladies who’ve inspired me! Hugs and kisses, here are Anaïs, Maeva and Pénélope!

ANAIS LAURENT

Co-founder of Noo Underwear

I also met Anaïs when we collaborated on last spring’s bathing suit line, “les baigneuses”, (the bathers). Just like with Elissa, we hit it off from the start. Underneath Anais’s sweet appearance lies the strength to never give up and beat the problems that may come up as an entrepreneur. Anaïs is a designer and takes care of the little details that make all the difference and isn’t afraid to leave the last minute to oversee production, or take care of problems at a factory! As I was saying yesterday, Noo Underwear and Wear Lemonade are about the same age and come out with collections around the same times. It’s always a pleasure to see the new looks the dynamic duo comes up with!

To get a better idea of who you are, could you tell me where you’re from and what your journey has been?

I’m from Valbonne, a little town on the Côte d’Azur, my favorite place to go whenever I need a break. I started studying visual art there, and I lived in Aix, Montréal, Berlin, and last of all, Paris to continue my studies in art and design. I thought I was meant to be a visual art teacher since I loved learning and needed to create.

But since I didn’t want to be like everyone else, why would I get into education?! Encouraged by my partner, an entrepreneur at heart, I got a small job on the side and worked on the idea of NOO: a lingerie brand for men and women, designer and a premium brand, that offers matching outfits and infinite combinations. I worked on the project for two years before meeting my lovely associate, Elissa. Six months after meeting her and the birth of my daughter, NOO was finally born!

What made you want to start your own business? When did you know that it was the right time?

I felt like it was forced on me, but when I think about it, I don’t really know how it happened. What’s crazy is that despite the daily difficulties of owning a business, I can’t imagine doing anything else (okay, besides having real vacations!!). If NOO had to end tomorrow, I have a thousand other ideas in mind. I would have never thought I would be more of an entrepreneur than a designer, even if the two are linked in my opinion.

How do you fight against procrastination?

I rarely have time to procrastinate! My days end at 6pm, they fly by, and since there are only three of us, there are a thousand things to do. These limits force me to do what’s necessary. My designer friend in Montréal who finishes working at 3:30pm so she can take care of her daughter convinced me and keeps me from feeling guilty!! Of course, sometimes I’m not as efficient, and in this case I stop and do something else, or work in the evening.

How do you foresee motherhood, being your own boss?

Maybe I should have asked myself this question before having my daughter, since she was born one month before starting our brand. It was really hard in the beginning to take care of two “babies” that needed me. My priority was of course my daughter, and it scarred me to not be able to give her all my attention that she deserved. She went with me for two and a half months to my meetings, along with my breast pump… If I don’t have any regrets, I know now that I won’t have a second child if I’m not sure of being able to really stop myself.

How do you handle accounting, administrative tasks, works in progress, promoting your work? Do you have help, an accountant, lawyer, or financial director?

We have an accountant, an amazing lawyer, lots of friends that give us advice and help in different fields and the desire to master everything. I think that one of the keys to entrepreneurship is getting your hands dirty before giving jobs to others that are better than you.

Do you now regret starting your business?

Never, and now that I’ve started, I’m never going back! I don’t think of myself as a lingerie designer, I’m an entrepreneur bubbling with ideas, that loves thinking that you can be yourself when you wear NOO underwear.

“The art of inventing beauty transcends class, intellect, age, profession, geography – virtually every cultural and economic barrier”- Estée Lauder. What does this mean to you?

To me, being beautiful is not just a physical attribute, it’s about your attitude, how you carry yourself, your character, even sometimes being insolent, what has nothing to do with the class, culture or place that you come from. What I like about this quote is the idea that inventing beauty is an art. It insinuates that you can pretend to be someone else any time, and that’s a part of us. A woman has multiple aspects, and this complexity makes her beautiful. She doesn’t have to be sexy to be it.

If you were Madame Estée Lauder, and in 2017 you wanted to come out with your “must-have” product, what would it be?

An illuminator to make your eyes brighter!

MAEVA BESSIS

Co-director of the boutique and French design e-shop l’Exception.

To get a better idea of who you are, could you tell me where you’re from and what your journey has been?

I grew up in Montréal, but I don’t have an accent anymore! Then I moved to Paris, with my two sisters and my mother #girlpower… after high school, I went to the ISG business school that offers programs around the world (Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, New York) I studied at three different universities, it was amazing! After graduating, I worked in the digital department at Nina Ricci. It was a great experience but it helped me understand that I wanted to work in a smaller business where things happen quickly! As destiny would have it, I met Régis early in 2013 and the wonderful adventure of L’Exception started for me.

What made you want to start your own business? When did you know that it was the right time?

I joined l’Exception a year after it opened, but I invested myself in it from the very start as if it was my own, thinking of it night and day, living, breathing l’Exception. It paid off because a few years later I became an associate! Deep down, I’m an entrepreneur, I need to give 200% and to be into the project. Sometimes it can be destructive, because I put work in front of a lot of things, but I can’t help it, it’s my baby and as long as it needs me, I’ll be there.

How do you fight against procrastination?

I deeply believe that an idea means nothing if it isn’t done. And doing it depends only on you. I read an article on the brain that said that in less than five seconds, you’ve made the decision to act or not, so every time that I hesitate to do something or other, my subconscious tells me QUICK you only have three seconds to decide and do it! It puts pressure on me and I love it! At the end of a long day and I look at my to do list, being able to cross things off one by one is such a joy, it brings me a kind of satisfaction that I couldn’t live without.

How do you foresee motherhood, being your own boss?

Haha, I’ll admit it, as I’m getting close to 30, the idea has crossed my mind from time to time. However I don’t feel any pressure, since I haven’t found the right guy… After that, I think that it would be difficult to juggle a baby and work, but I know that us women are resourceful, I would be able to do it like many women have before me!

How do you handle accounting, administrative tasks, works in progress, promoting your work? Do you have help, an accountant, lawyer, or financial director?

I’m lucky to have an amazing partner that handles everything I hate like accounting and administrative paperwork, finances… but the many projects we have going on from year to year, I feel like I’m less of a slave to time. One thing helped me a lot: every evening before going to bed, I go over what I’ve done that day and I think about tomorrow while writing my to do list.

I also make weekly/monthly/yearly to do lists in a small notebook. It helps me keep track of what I want to accomplish short, middle, and long term!

Do you now regret starting your business?

Not for a second, even if it’s hard from time to time, you may doubt yourself, ask yourself if you did the right thing… despite it all, I’ll never regret joining in on the adventure. It’s what’s made me the woman that I am today and I’m proud of it!

If you were Madame Estée Lauder, and in 2017 you wanted to come out with your “must-have” product, what would it be?

I’d invent a “well being” line (and non-beauty products) inspired by nature. I’m sure and certain that nature has magical recipes for our bodies, I highly recommend Idress Aberkane’s videos on this topic! I’d like a lotion or lip balm to fight stress, negative thoughts, or a product that makes you laugh, makes my skin touchable… am I crazy? I’m getting carried away, I’ll stop there!

PÉNÉLOPE BAGIEU

I’m not quite sure if I have to introduce Pénélope… she illustrates, draws, and is a comic book author. You may have already seen her comic book “Ma vie est tout à fait fascinante” (“My life is totally fascinating”), that sets her apart from the rest of the comic book world, but maybe you’ve already seen her book, Joséphine. Today, Pénélope works with many clients, brands, magazines, and I think that she has the positive quality of being where you expect her the least! She made me want to go to Finland without seeing a single picture, just with her drawings and little details about her trip and I thought it was just amazing to be able to share a message with just a pencil… the day we met, I got to know her better. She’s in Paris for the release of her amazing book “les culottées” (“the cheeky girls”)! It’s about 15 amazing women that had crazy lives. Pénélope illustrates all the little anecdotes that made their lives extraordinary, you’ve got to read it! The second book will be out in January!

To get a better idea of who you are, could you tell me where you’re from and what your journey has been?

I graduated from high school with a specialisation in ES (economics and social studies) because I wasn’t very good at any other subjects. I just wanted to graduate so that I could what I had wanted to do for the last three years all day long: draw little stories. I barely passed, and afterwards I did a year of art prep school, failed all my entrance exams, except the one for the school where I really wanted to go, the ENSAD (School of Decorative Arts) in Paris. It’s an amazing (and free) school, where you can experiment with lots of different things: painting, video, wood, scenography, print making.

After that I started to work as an illustrator for advertising and books. And then a magazine that I was working for asked me to write a daily comic, and I made up Joséphine for them. Then I wrote a book, then three, and then lots of other comics, and now that’s all that I do. Voilà!

How do you fight against procrastination?

I have an amazing piece of advice: I make a stupid decision off the top of my head that makes me have to do what I said I would. For example, sign a contract for a huge book with a tight deadline, announce that I’m going to publish a comic one week each week for Le Monde, like I did this year… what’s great is that it works for everything in life: signing up one evening (a little bit tipsy) for a marathon for example. After that, you have to do it.

How do you handle accounting, administrative tasks, works in progress, promoting your work? Do you have help, an accountant, lawyer, or financial director?

I delegate task! Everything I can! Honestly, it’s the best investment for someone freelancing, as soon as you can. These are complex jobs and people make living doing them. Mine is to draw, so by having an accountant, an agent, a lawyer… it’s like I have 50% more time to do my real job. (Plus most of the time I don’t understand, so it’s amazing to be able to say “here!” and give a pile of mail to someone.)

Do you now regret starting your business?

Of course not! However, I don’t think it’s for everyone. Besides being self motivated and organised, you have to be comfortable not knowing what’s going to happen next. You really have to take that into account when you ask yourself if you were made to freelance.

I hate it when someone tells me what to do, how to work, in what order, at what time, that sort of thing. I really like being alone. So I’m not really made for working in an office (I tried it for two weeks).

If you were Madame Estée Lauder, and in 2017 you wanted to come out with your “must-have” product, what would it be?

Something that cancels everything negative out in five minutes. A masque, a cream, I don’t know. Something that makes my skin believe that I’ve slept eight hours and that I’ve only had water to drink!

Thank you to all these entrepreneurs and to Olitax for the pictures and videos.

Translated by Whitney Bolin