A DETERMINED, BOLD ENTREPRENEUR WHO IS NOT AFRAID OF going AGAINST THE TIDE TO LIVE A LIFE THAT IS TRUE TO HERSELF
On turning grief into gratitude:
"I lost my best friend when I was 26. I had never really lived through anything traumatic before and it appeared to be a defining moment of my life as an adult. My friend was bipolar and committed suicide. He believed he simply did not have the strength to go through life, even though what terrified him could have actually been solved easily, or at least with the help of close friends. The biggest thing that was lacking in his life was the loving support of his family and the self-confidence only parents can nurture as you are growing up. It made me understand how lucky I was to be raised by parents who told me I had the ability to achieve anything and that I had it in me to create my own life. And so I did. At the age of 27, I quit my job and started my first company."
On standing her ground in an unfamiliar workplace:
"I was completely out of my comfort zone when I started working for this big sports brand. This was a job that thousands of business school graduates would have dreamed of getting. Whereas the other candidates were huge fans of the brand and knew its story to the smallest detail, I was the complete opposite. I was not considered “legitimate” for this role because I did not know the streetwear market and culture well. In fact, I did not wear or particularly like sneakers at all. I considered myself a free-thinker and had no clue what “being corporate” entailed.
I was also a woman working in an environment where men ruled the workplace, whether they were athletes, general managers or employees. So I adapted to the culture, learned about the brand, picked my battles, all to create a situation for myself that I was somewhat comfortable with (even sometimes proud of) and ultimately good for the company. I believe I brought new perspectives to this environment. But I was clearly going against the trend.
"I considered myself a free-thinker and had no clue what being corporate entailed."
My Myers-Briggs test happened to be quite right: I was a “feeling” person and had to follow my instinct to be good at my job. When you want to bring disruption and be a game changer, you need to trust your guts, even if it means walking alone. It is not always comfortable, but this experience taught me how to listen to my instincts. Personally, if I am creating something new, it is a sign that I am good at my job."
"When you want to bring disruption and BE A game CHANGER, you NEED TO TRUST YOUR GUTS EVEN IF IT MEANS WALKING ALONE."
ON OWNING HER IDENTITY:
"Being in a world where image and personal branding are key (hello Instagram!), I find it very hard to expose myself. I think it is very French to be self-critical: learning how to brand ourselves is not something we learn to do here. I like sharing what I create, but not who I am as a person. As I’m getting older, I feel more and more comfortable speaking in public, as well as owning and sharing my opinions. I still find it very difficult to face a camera without making a face that’s not mine! With Alison Beckner, the co-founder of Inside/Out, a platform for female empowerment through sports and wellness, we asked two different photographers to shoot our portraits. And still, we have not managed to look like ourselves in any of these pictures. I guess it is all about letting go!"
ON FINDING MENTAL AND PHYSICAL STRENGTH IN RENEWING HER PASSION WITH RIDING:
"My biggest fall was a physical one. Seven years ago, I fell off a horse and broke my leg. I did not find the strength to get back on the saddle right away. The next semester, I chose not to sign up to my usual weekly classes and just like that, I put an end to my passion after 25 years.
Then, I got married. I had a son. And little by little, without realizing it, I stopped practicing any kind of sport. Then I took a new job, in a company where the management and behaviors were very aggressive and violent. I was experiencing doubts, a lack of self-confidence, while managing crises with my team that was bursting into tears several times a week and frequently missing meetings. I did not really know how to help them on top of all my other work. I only had 15 minutes left at the end of the day to spend time with my 1 year old son. It was only then when I realized that along with my loss of passion and sports, I also lost my mental strength.
So I bought a 30-hour package of spinning classes. After the first 10 classes, I started to regain self-confidence. After 20 classes, I decided to quit my toxic job. And after 30 classes, I decided to work as an independent again and created Inside/Out with Alison Beckner. It’s only in these last six months that I have found myself again and that my passion for horseback riding came back. Riding horses is my therapy, my sport, my secret garden, and my best source of energy. And when I fall now, I always get back on the saddle."
"Riding horses is my therapy, my sport, my secret garden, and my best source of energy. And when I fall now, I always get back on the saddle."
ON BEING SELFISH:
"There were times when I thought that my job was more important than my family. I
was self-absorbed by the life I was starting. I was 25 and I forgot to call my grandfather for his birthday. Two days after, he passed away and I realized that sadly I had lost my last chance to talk to him. I felt so ashamed, so immature, and so selfish. I have never fully forgiven myself about it. Since then, it has always been a reminder to be present for others."
"I learned to trust women and to share my deepest secrets and fears with them. I found that they could understand me, help me, AND that I could count on them.
On the power of women:
"Women are your best allies. The girlfriends of my teenage years were not necessarily the best friends one would dream of having (they would go out with the men I was in love with, slept with my boyfriends, and they were never the best listeners when I needed them for support). But they say that you get the friends you deserve!
Though, in the end, I did build my identity through tough, bold women, I spent a great number of years avoiding them. I was a tom boy and spent all my time with boys, thinking I was protected from the toxic, untruthful and envious behaviors of women.
It is only years later, when I finally learned to accept who I was, that I rediscovered women. I made peace with my mother at that time, finally accepting that we had more in common than I ever admitted to. I chose better girlfriends: friends who would push me, challenge me, truly know me. I learned to trust women and to share my deepest secrets and fears with them. And I discovered that they could listen, most of the time better than men. I found that they could understand me, help me, and that I could count on them. I realized that they could empower me like no man could."
"I REALIZED THAT They could empower me like no man could."
On her fears:
"Dying and diseases are the only two things that really scare me in life. I fear them for my friends, my family and for myself. The day you realize that you need your parents in your life even throughout adulthood, you also realize that you want to be there for your own child as long as possible."