Driven by curiosity and humor.
Today, we virtually met our partner Léa. At 25 years old, she created her online business website, focusing on sustainable brands.
Hey Léa, how are you ? Can you describe yourself in 3 words?
I am doing great thanks. I would say : Curious, Epicurean and Humor.
Did you have a good summer? Did you go on vacation? How is your return to Paris?
A great summer that went by too quickly. I went to the south of France (Hyères and Marseille) then to La Rochelle.
It felt great to disconnect (almost) entirely from Calembour because since its creation in November I had not yet had any break. I had the time to really rest, to find inspiration again because by dint of having your head in the handlebars, you exhaust your creativity.
Being back in Paris is great! Full of energy and projects to start the end of the year. A friend will join me in the Calembour adventure, a new chapter will be written.
We are delighted to collaborate with you. I particularly liked the name: Calembour. Can you tell us a little more about it?
Calembour means a word play based on the similarity of sound in a double meaning sentence. For example, “words make the cries vain”.
I chose the name Calembour ( Pun in english) for 2 main reasons: for its duality and for its humor.
First, its duality (the words don’t have the same meaning if you read it or if you pronounce it orally) because I wanted to create a place where pleasure meets reason, where the products are stylish but at the same time eco-friendly, a place where you can find what you need but without getting too exhausted.
Secondly, its funny (a pun is meant to make you smile), I find it easier to get a message across if it is said with humor. I love to laugh and make people laugh, and I imagined a communication based on it.
Tell us a little about yourself. What is your background?
I went to business school right out of college and had the chance to travel the world. I lived 6 months in New York, 6 months in Chile and 3 months in Amsterdam. I started my professional career in small designer brands where I alternated between marketing and product development. Then I finished a year of work experience at Monoprix in women’s textile purchasing. It was this mix of experiences that made me want to start my own project.
What is your motivation? What are your inspirations?
What I am interested in on a daily basis is learning and discovering. I am a very curious person and I draw my inspiration from everything around me: in the street, on the internet, in the subway, in restaurants, in stores. This is really the main thread of my project: discovering new creators, new ways of working, new encounters, new skills… This is what is most exciting when you start an entrepreneurial venture. You’re always learning new things about so many different topics, it’s so exciting.
What’s your solution to sluggishness? Your space of serenity, mental or physical?
When I feel that my day is going to be complicated I go for a run in the morning. Seeing the Louvre and those beautiful Parisian monuments makes me feel good. When I’m feeling down, I center myself by doing an activity that makes me feel good, like going to the cinema. I go alone, I love the cinema, it gives me energy.
What is life like for a young entrepreneur?
A lot of freedom and busy days. t’s so different to work for yourself than for someone else.
You are free to organize yourself as you want, to take days off if you want and to work on weekends or in the middle of the night. You don’t have to answer to anyone and honestly, once you get the hang of it, I think it’s hard to go back. Very busy days as I said, especially when you are alone behind a project like me. There are so many things to do, so many different missions, so much strategy and operations to do that the days go by very quickly.
At 25 years old, you started your own business. How did you get the idea to start up on your own? How do you organize yourself? But where to start ? Did you get any help (financial/mentoring) ?
So, two years ago, after several months of travel in Asia, I came back to France with the idea of becoming a buyer for brands. I love the idea of finding tasty pieces of clothing that will delight the customers the most. But life decided otherwise and the very day I had my job interview, the french president announced containment measure. I was 25 years old, I had time and motivation, I was not going to stay idle and I decided to start an online business.
So I attended trainings for young entrepreneurs with courses on management and finance aspects, the basics of growth hacking.
You are a young woman entrepreneur, do you think that being a woman has or could be a barrier in what you do?
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start an online business?
It’s pretty hard to get into the online business to be honest.
There is so much competition that you are drowned in a sea of similar sites. I would say that you have to try to differentiate yourself, to iterate over and over again to find different ways to make yourself visible.
Creating a strong and original customer experience is essential for people to remember a site.
It takes time, but don’t get discouraged because it’s worth it.
What are your feeling about your generation ?
I feel that young people are willing to work for a job with purpose. Climate change is coming is like a huge meteorite in above our head and that change our life perception. We need to enjoy and take care of wellbeing. Our job is not our main focus but is part of a balanced life. With the Covid crisis, more people a going to live in the countryside and have direct access to nature.
How do you envision the universe of fashion and interior design in 10 years?
I see a return to meaningful consumerism. It’s starting shyly, but with everything that’s going on in terms of global warming, this trend will amplify.
Making new things out of old, finding local manufacturers, using eco-responsible materials, this will become a general trend, whereas for the moment it is more of a niche consumption.
What changes could be made?
Currently? Make consumers aware that paying the same price for a T-shirt as for a sandwich is absolutely not normal. It revolts me every time I hear someone say “30€-40€ for a t-shirt is too expensive” when it is a fair price for all stakeholders. Fast fashion multinationals (Pretty little things, Zara, H&M) have clearly spoiled our relationship to clothes and fashion. States should fine them for the way they produce and treat their stakeholders (the little hands usually hiding in very poor countries without control). But for the moment, apart from greenwashing, things are not moving that much. You just have to watch the last report on Arte to understand (“the underbelly of fast fashion”).
There is still no green label for design objects as it is the case for clothes or food. Are they a good solution for you?
Yes, they are.
And it’s relatively easier to set up than for a garment. In a garment, the production chain is much more complex: the place where the material is harvested and how it is harvested, then the weaving, then the manufacturing, then the dyeing, then the assembly. A single pair of jeans can have traveled around the world, so a label is almost essential to be able to trace its journey and its ecological footprint.
For a design object, it’s usually easier to trace the material and the manufacturing so what are we waiting for?
I really like the way the site is done, with a lot of humor and cultural references. Where does this inspiration come from?
Thank you! I am a very curious person. I am interested in everything, I love pop culture and all forms of art (books, music, movies, fashion, design). I challenge myself to discover something new every day so obviously it shows in Calembour.
We are really happy to collaborate with talented and motivated creative people like Léa and we wish her all the best in the accomplishment of her projects.
More of Calembour, check her beautiful online shop!