This week, we are happy to meet Caroline de Benoist, mother of 3 children and former jurist, who has just launched her eponymous jewelry brand. I have known Caroline for a few years and I’m totally in love with her delicate, refined and colorful creations …. just like her. This change of activity, her creative impulse and the beauty of her jewels made me want to know more about this project and share with you this beautiful portrait of a ‘working mum’.
Caroline tells us about the genesis of her project, her new organization and her family life …
How did you get the idea of designing jewels?
I’ve always loved drawing and designing objects as a hobby, because I loved playing with forms and colors. But since I had no design skills, I hesitated for a long time before launching my own brand, I did not feel at ease. I had been working for 15 years in the luxury industry as a juriste on intellectual property issues, which permitted me to be in constant relation with designers and to realize that technical skills were not always necessary to design jewels and objects.
It was during the summer of 2015 when everything took shape thanks to a series of fortuitous meetings : we were on a family vacation in Bali and I was trying to buy some local jewelry (the island is famous for this). A friend advised me a craftsman who made tailor-made jewelry. I brought him some drawings and he made the jewels for me. Back to Paris, friends and colleagues from Hermès were enthusiastic. That’s how the idea of creating my own jewelry brand was born! I was lucky to be supported by relatives, above all my husband.
In January 2016, I asked Hermes for a vacation to launch my business, from the following month of June. During this period, I matured my project: I was feverish because it was as if I were jumping into the unknown!
From June onwards, everything accelerated: the logo, the brand, more design and trips to Bali to discuss with the craftsmen, because I was still working with them. And now, the launch of the site !!
Why choosing to work with craftsmen from Bali?
I am very attached to their philosophy: their welcome, their benevolent listening, their know-how. There, there are entire villages of jewellers! In addition, they have precious stones that can’t found anywhere else, such as opaque pink ruby.
What do you like the most in this new work?
The creative and imaginative part! There are whole days without anything happening, then, suddenly, the idea arises and takes shape.
The other moment I adore, it is when I send my drawings to Bali : it’s so moving that I can weep, like giving birth in a way!
I also like the idea of launching something new : for a year I have accomplished an incredible path, developing my skills in jewelry design …
What do you find most difficult in this activity?
Starting from scratch: learning business, marketing and communication. It’s complicated but, at the same time, so rewarding! I needed, after 15 years in the same business, to learn again.
At one point, it was frightening: I had the website to finalize, the photoshooting, the production, the marketing (with, in particular, problems with customs for certification of silver and gold used) … In short, not easy to manage everything! This is why it is important to be surrounded by skillfull people that you already know!
What is challenging also is the relationnel part : I’m rather shy and I’m always afraid to disturb … I have to force myself to get in touch with people, but it’s essential! Not easy to admit critics, even if they are constructive 😉
Could you describe a typical workday today? What has changed in your family organization?
My days are different from one another, but I always have the same rhythm because I follow my kids schedule : I start working at 8:30 after dropping them off at school and I finish at 5pm (although I continue a little bit after). I usually take my appointments in the morning, and in the afternoon I work at home, in my bubble. No time to organize lunches! This allowed me to rediscover life with the children: after school, we talk about our day, we do the homework … Before I returned home around 7:30 pm, almost for bedtime … It is also an important advantage of this new activity.
What would be the disadvantages of this new activity in your opinion?
The danger is that you never stop! It’s not always that easy to separate family life and work, it takes a lot of self-discipline and organization.
Positively, I did not expect so much support around! Negatively, I find the administrative part sometimes a little bit discouraging!
What advice would you give to someone who would like to start a project like yours?
- To be determined
- Mature your project to believe it and wear it
- Pre-test it with relatives before starting
- Talk a lot about your project and collect opinions from people who work in different fields. Ask for help each time you need
- Be organized
- Work a lot
- Be supported by your family … for moments of doubt 😉
Many thanks to Caroline for this sincere and stimulating interview! You can find her beautiful jewels’ collection now online on her new shop : www.carolinedebenoist.com
See you next Monday to show you a very lovely British kids brand…
Have a wonderful week,