a newly converted entrepreneur and a mother of 3 children
On choosing the internship that led to her first job in Paris:
"A lot of things I’ve done until today were by default. It’s not negative at all, but you know, I didn’t really know what to study, so I studied business and at the end of college in France, you have to do an internship. I got accepted into four internships and I chose the one that was the most appealing to me: working for a French department store in the cosmetics department. It was also the one that paid the best and the one that was closest to my apartment. So I did that.
I think at that point in my life, a lot of roads were open to me and I just chose (...). I really don’t believe there’s one path. Your life is a succession of choices. I’ve always been amazed with people who’ve known what they wanted to do."
"I really don’t believe there’s one path.
Your life is a succession of choices."
On taking a linear path vs. figuring it out as you go:
"I remember being in high school, and these girls knew they wanted to study that topic, or people in marketing who have always wanted to be in marketing, so they studied marketing and they were a brand manager and they’re going up like this (a straight line up). My life is just a series of meeting people, opportunities. And I don’t know the future, I’ve never known the future. I just let life take me. I mean I’m proactive, but I seize opportunities when they come."
On deciding to take a job offer in New York:
"An HR person comes and tells me, “Look, there’s a job in New York. Are you interested?”—and at that point I’m like, “No way, I’ll never go as far as New York. I thought I couldn’t live far away from my parents, which, obviously I did for years. Anyway, it was a job in marketing, in New York. I had never done marketing, so at first I was like, “No way I’m going to do this.” And then I called my mum, who said, “Look: I’m gonna miss you like crazy, but you have to go. I’ll come and see you, you have to go. It’s going to be the experience of your life, go.” So here am I, moving to New York, and actually I stayed there for six years."
On making new friends in a new city:
"I got there (New York), I had maybe, 10 phone numbers, and I met, you know, 10 people. Those 10 people definitely did not become my friends, but it’s like a network. So I meet 10 people, who introduce me to other people, to other people…and it took me, I would say, a good 6 months to make really good friends. I had a very open-minded approach. Whenever I got invited to a place, I would show up to the party not knowing anyone, just having an address, not even walking there with the person who had invited me. So that was my state of mind at the time."
"never say never."
"Every morning, I tell myself, ‘Never say never,’ because, so many times, I’ve said, ‘I can’t do this, I’ll never be able,’ and when the future’s wide open, why close doors? So every morning, I tell myself, ‘Never say never.’ And then in my baby’s room, there’s a little light box and I put words in it, and it says, ‘Live, love, learn’ and I really think that’s my thing in life. Of course I want to live, I couldn’t live without love, and I’m a learner. I love to learn."
On work-family balance and leaving the brand where she worked for 16 years:
"Circumstances are extremely important. I left at the end of a year off, a year of maternity leave. I think it’s really important for me to explain that it’s really hard to have perspective when you’re into a job. I was lucky enough to be able to take one year off, so that’s very French, right—I never did this in the U.S. I had my third child a year ago, and, with my husband, we decided that I was gonna take more than the maternity leave, because my husband was looking for a job, and we wanted him to have time to find a new job, and start, and work like crazy, as you do when you have a new job, and I think our kids needed attention.
Being off for one year made me realize that—well, I saw, obviously, my kids were doing much better, my husband found a new job and had the luxury of having me at home. And I started meeting a lot of mothers who were working, but who were, at 4:30 P.M. or at 6:00, were just outside of school to pick up their kids. And, guess what? What gives you that flexibility? To be your own boss.
And that’s when I started nourishing that idea, that I really couldn’t go back to that corporate world. I couldn’t go back to meetings where I felt useless, I couldn’t go back to not being in charge of my agenda, I couldn’t go back to having a million people validate what I did, and I couldn’t go back to sometimes doing things that I disagreed with."