Hello everyone!

I’m back again after a few very busy days with lots to tell you and a ton of inspiration to share since these articles are very near and dear to me more than ever and I’m sure you’ll like them! Today we’re continuing business weeks with a big piece, you could even call it an investigation, that takes shape as an interview of several wonderful ladies! Do you remember the video Mai and I made about intuition for Estée Lauder last June? If you don’t, go ahead and refresh your memory here. The brand asked me to what themes I’ve wanted to cover on the blog recently and I told them about how I wanted to put several female business owners in the spotlight. From the very start we knew we wanted to work together again! It’s a hot topic and it also plays a part in the brand’s history, thanks to the famous founder, Madame Lauder. I’d like to introduce you to several ladies that inspire me, that you might not know yet but deserve to become well known! I say ‘several’ because I’d like to keep a few under wraps for upcoming articles in the ‘good people’ column! All these women are more or less inspiration for Make My Lemonade.

It’s kind of funny since I see these ladies often, I follow them on social media, some of them have become my friends yet while interviewing them I keep learning about them. I think they’re full of ambition and courage. They’ve earned my admiration and prove to me time and time again that your dreams can come true if you work hard enough and believe.

Here’s a short video, the full length version will be available tomorrow. Check out the interviews of these first four gals: Clémentine, Elissa, Insaf and Chloé. Take a seat, you’ll have lots to read since they have a lot to say!

CLÉMENTINE LEVY

Founder of Peonies Café and Flowers, 81 rue du faubourg Saint Denis 75010 Paris

I came to know Clémentine, a mysterious brunette, thanks to Pauline Darley’s fashion photos, then on tv when she was a host on a major French TV channel. Then I heard her dj at parties. She surprised and moved me when she came out with her book to help France Alzheimer. Anyways, she’s always fascinated me, this woman is everywhere and never tires out, she reinvents herself and surprises everyone every time. One day, I heard about her new Peonies project, a hybrid coffee shop, where you can buy bouquets of wild flowers. What a good idea to put two lovely, comforting ideas together. Plus, it’s right next to our studio! I’m thrilled to have met this talented lady!

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

Well, I lived in Caen, Normandie, the French town where I was born, until I was 20 years old. I studied performance arts and cultural mediation: I wanted to be a fashion and cultural journalist. Since I was five, I’ve told my parents that I’d go live in Paris whatever the price.

I was accepted to the Sorbonne Nouvelle in the Communication department to finish up my bachelor’s degree. I stayed another year for my Master’s, but I soon had to start working to pay rent. I took on internship after internship: at Express Styles, at Rue du Mail and at a multi brand store (Cancan) that unfortunately went out of business but remains one of my favorite memories as a student.

I quickly realized that fashion journalism wasn’t my thing, and I didn’t care for communication in that field anyways…

While interning, I did some modeling jobs, but in 2011/2012, things really took off. I got gig after gig, so I stopped interning and devoted myself to modeling, the thing I really liked. It gave me freedom. Then I met my partner who would dj from time to time in a club in Paris. I liked this scene but I wasn’t sure it was for me So I started to mix with him, as a twosome, and then I got started and was called on the dj for fashion and beauty events…

It was a breath of fresh air from modeling, although I did continue doing it. I really liked getting to plan out my days however I liked. This freedom allowed me to work on a completely new project for a year – a coloring book to earn money for France Alzheimer. The publishing house ‘Cherche Midi’ believed in me from the start. I spent six months contacting 45 artists to participate. It was a real challenge for me since people were counting on me, and I didn’t want to disappoint the people I was doing it all for: my family (the book is a hommage to my grandmother who passed away because of the disease).

What made you decide to start working for yourself? When did you know that it was the right time?

I think that the coloring book helped me realize that I could do something else besides pose for pictures and dance behind turntables… starting, creating something from A to Z and being proud of it. It was exhilarating when my business angel told me “I have a place, but I don’t have any ideas: would you like to work together?” I thought it over for maybe… two and a half seconds!

How do you keep from procrastinating some days?

These days I have lots to do since the shop’s opening day is near, but it’s true that over the past six months I’ve had nothing to do except wait for answers from the bank, the town hall, etc…

I had a lot of freedom while freelancing, but I suddenly started feeling guilty whenever I wasn’t working for Peonies. I was like a caged animal, it was driving my boyfriend, Ludo, crazy, who had gone through the same thing himself (opening Justes in December 2015). He would tell me “chill out, you’ve done everything you could today so take a break”.

Hyperactivity is genetic; my mom can’t sit still for five minutes without doing something. I’m the same way.

How do you foresee motherhood being your own boss?

I had a good experience after freelancing for several years: I learned how to take care of myself, to think of myself.

And even as a young business owner, deep down I still have this survival instinct that is to say to myself “ok, you now have responsibilities but it isn’t a reason to let yourself, your romantic life, your personal life, your friends, go”.

I haven’t changed my mind about being a mother: I want to have kids (we’ll start with one) when I’m around 30 (so two years from now).

I’ll do everything possible until then to make my boutique work, I’ll give it all I’ve got, so that I can peacefully live my future life as a mother. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. It’s like everything else, you have to stop asking questions and move along: our baby will be here when the time is right, when it’ll have decided.

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

I have an accountant, which is essential.

It’s very difficult to find a good accountant, someone you can trust, who knows all the laws, the codes, the rules. I handle everything else from day to day, alone most of the time, but I don’t hesitate to ask for advice when in doubt (from professionals who’ve worked in the food industry for years, from my partner who also manages a place…)

Marie, the manager of Maison Bastille in the 11th arrondissement, gave me some advice. Do the 5 day CCI training program: it’s five busy days full of information. You meet lawyers, accountants, professionals in the field that are there to help you above all avoid failure. I highly suggest it! Today, the most complicated thing for me to do is to juggle my other jobs since I haven’t stopped modeling or mixing. It’s hard for me to refuse some work because they fall right on the first days of my job, I can’t abandon ship so soon…

Do you now regret starting your business?

Not for the moment haha! I’ve had crazy days, soon I’ll have hours worse than when I was a student, but it’s so exhilarating… when I run into people that have sent me their encouragements, I’m so motivated, it’s so good to see people that believe in you and encourage you.

People often tell me “how courageous you are, I couldn’t do that!”, but why not? Not being able to and not wanting to are two different things. I know so many friends that are incredibly talented, that have a thousand good ideas, but who won’t take the leap. I’d love to have a magic wand to give them the courage to start their business, it’s such a waste to let it go. I often say: who cares what people think? If you’re convinced, you’ll be convincing!

ELISSA REGNIER-VIGOUROUX

Co-founder of Noo Underwear

I met Elissa at the same time as her associate, Anaïs, who you’ll meet tomorrow, when we came up with the “baigneuses” (“bathers”) swimsuit collection together. She inspires me and pushes me to do my best. She has this energy that makes me want to move mountains. She always listens to my ideas, gives the best advice, and asks the right questions: those that make you think! A young mother and business owner, she’s proved to me that you can succeed if you are motivated and organized. I feel like we’ve always had a little voice inside of us that pushes us to do our own thing one day… Our businesses started around the same time, they grew quickly, which gives us lots to talk about. We encourage each other and talk about our daily challenges, so we don’t take things too personally and have a fresh perspective on different problems! You’ll love her!

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

I have a pretty basic background. I grew up near Toulouse. After getting my high school diploma with a specialization in science, I did three years of prep school at HEC and then I went to business school in Nantes. During my studies, I was lucky enough to live in three countries (England, Canada, and Spain) and I specialized in cultural industries and multimedia. I then started my career working for five years at big media corporations (Le Monde and Marie Claire) before starting my own business.

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

Both of my parents work for themselves, which made me want to do the same. I loved working in a business, but to tell the truth, I knew from the very start that it wouldn’t work out as a long term thing. Once the excitement wore off, I quickly got bored. I was constantly thinking about business ideas, I always had a thousand different ones. Then one weekend, when I was really getting tired of it all, and I thought it was more and more difficult to go down this path that wasn’t mine, I made a decision. To me it seemed obvious, I decided to get started, without knowing what I wanted to do next, but I knew deep down that it was time, it was like an instinct. On Monday I told my boss that I was quitting. Several weeks later, I met Anaïs and the Noo adventure started.

How do you fight against procrastination?

When you work for yourself, obligations happen every day. The days where the luxury of having nothing to do no longer exist. During the weekend, the real question is: how do I take a real break without being connected 24/7? I’ve learned to welcome the “down” times that often come after intense periods of work, and take advantage of them to refresh myself.

During busy times, I handle priorities as they come without stacking them up so I don’t get even more stressed.

How do you foresee motherhood, being your own boss?

It’s what motivates me! When I’m tired, I think of my son. I want to prove to him that anything is possible for those that work hard. I got started for him, I’d like him to be proud of what I’ve accomplished.

On the hand, everything is even more important and the pressure is even greater as a mother because the decisions concerning our business affect his future in some way. Of course it’d be more reassuring financially if I had a nine to five job with paid vacations and sick days…

But in the end, from a practical point of vue, you can’t put a price on the freedom you get from working for yourself! Even if I have to work a lot, knowing that I can leave if my son has a problem without having to justify my absence to anyone is a luxury I am so grateful for.

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

Anaïs has artistic training, having a general business school education, the jobs are comfortably shared. She’s in charge of creation, design, and production, I’m in charge of communication and the brand’s commercial and financial strategy. Additional tasked are shared between the two of us, and as for the more “technical” aspects, we’ve surrounded ourselves with experts (accountants, lawyers, etc…) that help us daily.

Do you now regret starting your business?

Not for a second! Sometimes it’s extremely difficult and there are discouraging times, but once you’ve gotten a taste of what it’s like, you know that no matter what happens, you can’t give it up!

“Pride in one’s appearance is as important as pride in one’s intelligence”, Estée Lauder. What does this mean to you?

My oriental background has always pushed me to take care of myself and stay beautiful. My family’s culture taught me to stay ambitious. I think these are the two pillars of my success. We must work as a woman, building on what we like about ourselves, on every level, because no one else can do it for us. Taking care of yourself is, in my eyes, connected physically and intellectually. These two things go together, the love shared with us pushes us to become better people, pushes ourselves to do better. To be a more beautiful person, in every sense.

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

A magical potion to stop time in the blink of an eye, to spend with the ones I love…

INSAF AOUADI

nutritionist and magician www.moimoietmoi.com

I first heard of Insaf on Delphine Desneige’s website, who is better known as Deedee. She offers amazing treatments with a revolutionary machine, gives clever nutritional advice, and above all is a great life coach, as I found out when going to see her! Having an appointment with her was like a breath of fresh air. This year, I’ve gotten back into cooking, taking time for me. I felt like I had started to neglect my body and mind while working on Make My Lemonade, while in the end, it’s my mind that makes my projects and my daily life work. Insaf positively motivated me and showed me that I’m in a relationship with my body too and I owe it kindness and it will give me good things in return! Even if daily life gets me down and sometimes it’s difficult to take out precious time for myself, I’ve developed good habits in case I feel overwhelmed, slow down to speed up! Thank you for this, Insaf. I recommend you go see her, she’ll shake things up but I promise it’s for your own good!

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

I was born in Romilly sur Seine where I had a happy childhood. I started a beauty institute that a sold after 7 years to start a new business focused on weight loss, nutrition and sophrology. I constantly need to reinvent myself because I’m overflowing with ideas and I love new challenges. I started to gain weight when I was 20 because I wasn’t comfortable with my body. Five years and 30 kilograms later… it clicked!

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

I met an amazing woman, a nutritionist that gave me the keys to success. I started to eat better, workout, and take care of myself. I felt better inside and out and my self confidence improved. As I lost weight, I gained motivation! I became a warrior! That’s what inspired me to start my own business and help others that had the same problems as myself.

How do you fight against procrastination?

That’s not like me, I don’t have time to procrastinate! I’ve become hyperactive!

How do you foresee motherhood being your own boss?

Motherhood has forced me to become better organized in order to save time (working near home for example) and to sort my priorities. I have a wonderful little boy, Andréa, who’s 3 years old and with whom I try to spend as much quality time as possible. I plan my hours so that I can pick him up every day after school. I spend at least 2 hours with him, playing, laughing. I then hand him off to a babysitter to get back to work.

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

I have an accountant and I handle the rest. I learn as I go, I ask for advice and everything is going well.

Do you now regret starting your business?

Not even for a second! It’s not easy all the time since you can only count on yourself, but it’s made me a fighter!

“Never ‘just run out for a few minutes’ without looking your best. That’s is not vanity – it’s self-liking. Your face is always on display”. Estée Lauder. What does this mean to you?

I work in a field that helps men and women feel better about themselves, I must give off a positive self-image of myself. I don’t like to let myself go!

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

I’m always running around, I never have much time, so I’d love to invent a magical, multi purpose balm. It would bring energy to the face and body. It would smell good like jasmine, which reminds me of my grandmother’s flower garden in Tunisia.


CHLOÉ BLONDEL

Chloé and I share a group, almost an arrondissement of common friends. To me, Chloé is a dreamer with her feet on the ground. In 2014 she started La Pièce, one of the first of it’s kind, an escape room in Paris, it’s a real life game. The idea is simple: you have an hour to solve puzzles in order to escape from the room that Chloé locks you in. Chloé has succeeded despite the problems that may come up when you run your own business and will open her second room beginning next year, still at 3 rue de Metz, in a new world full of puzzles that’ll blow your mind! I love talking with Chloé because she’s so honest, she’s not afraid to talk about her weaknesses, which makes her even more human which makes me want to talk about less productive times because things happen then too!

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

I’ve gone down a winding path since I graduated from high school with a specialization in literature. I received a DEUG Lettres Classiques education (I wanted to be an ancient Greek teacher), I missed Sciences-Po, and then I went to a cultural management school in Paris where I got a Masters degree. I didn’t want to totally get started in a working routine so I left for a year at a university in New Zealand where I took lots of fun classes (screenwriting, Maori classes, etc).

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

I was bored with my work. I was in charge of audio-visual production (mostly making Arte documentaries) and even if it was really interesting, after six years I had gotten as far as I could go. I left to work in a different production agency for a year and at the end of the documentary that I was working on, I took a break to think about what I wanted to do. I had always wanted to start my own business so I jumped at the opportunity. I spent a little bit of time thinking about what kind of business I wanted to have since I had lots of ideas (that are more or less crazy).

How do you fight against procrastination?

I have a hard time. Most of the time I don’t fight it. I think that’s just my way of working. I can procrastinate for hours and then all of a sudden do what I have to and get it done quickly.

Otherwise, my technique that works well is working next to people.

The big problem right now is that I’m alone so no one is there to look over my shoulder and watch what I’m doing. Since I’m my own boss, I don’t owe anyone anything except to myself so it’s difficult to keep goals in mind. Currently I’m working half-days with friends, either in their stores, offices, or in a café, etc. It motivates me. Or when I talk about my problems at work to my friends and they give me advice. The next time I see them, they check up on what we talked about and I kind of feel obligated to accomplish something so I have something to tell them. This way, I have lots of mini-coaches.

How do you foresee motherhood being your own boss?

I understand the question but I wonder if we would ask a man the same one. Besides the pregnancy phase that’s relatively short, the rest is pretty equal between a man and woman.

If it happens one day, I think that I’d look at it like a new thing to work into my business life and that everything would go well. I’m not really worried about this question. Of course, it is more complicated when you’re a boss to go on maternity leave but I think that I’m lucky to be able to move around my work hours.

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

Basically, everything that I don’t know how to do, I have someone else do it. It’s not that I couldn’t learn how to do it but often these things are rather specific and are done way better by someone else. For example, I have an amazing accountant that takes care of my paperwork and my pay stubs.

And I’m lucky enough to have a great associate that handles multiple businesses so when I have questions he’s always there to help (especially with administrative paperwork).

Do you now regret starting your business?

No way! It’s a freedom! One day I made the choice, and I knew that that choice would come with a lot of negative aspects but I made the decision, it wasn’t forced on me. So I’m happy, even if I don’t earn a good living (yet), and I’m working a lot and I don’t have a lot of vacation time 🙂

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

I have two magical/impossible products in mind:

-a spray to give you a healthy glow. It would help you catch up on sleepless nights and would kind of depuff (depuff?) your eyes. I always look like a balloon in the morning.

-a cream to enhance my freckles without going out in the sun. Because I love freckles but mine only show up after a month at the beach so now that I can’t go on vacation any more, I miss them.

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Thank you and see you tomorrow to meet Anais, Maeva and Pénélope! Photos and videos by the talented Olitax! Check out Estée Lauder on www.esteelauder.fr

Translated by Whitney Bolin