Today I am very happy to interview Madeleine Ably, the designer of the new fashion brand Sixsoeurs. This 38 years-old Parisian designer is also the mother of three children : a 18 years-old girl, a 7 year old boy and a 5 year-old girl. As you can imagine, her days are rather dense and varied … She tells us here the genesis of her project, what she enjoys in it and how she manages to reconcile daily work and family life …
How did you get the idea to create Sixsoeurs?
It’s all about childhood and family … It all began in Normandy, when I was a child. My mother had dexterous fingers and was permanently in a creative process : she made lampshades, wedding dresses, sofas … Soon, I started sewing with her and, as a teenager, I started making bags. In our family, recycling was almost a way of life : we used to bargain-hunt a lot and to pass clothes from one sister to the other.
Before launching Sixsoeurs, I used to work as a production manager for television. When the firm closed, I thought it was an opportunity to start my own business, an idea that had kept running through my head for a long time. This also coincided with the birth of my son.
Between that and the birth of my youngest daughter, Violette, I gradually started my business that really took shape after my third baby was born. It was as if I had given birth to two children at the same time! The beginning was hard: I had no nanny at all before Violette turned 18 months … so, I took her with me everywhere and worked with her at my side.
At first, our activity was mostly second-hand selling, then ‘Sixsoeurs Ateliers’ bags design became more and more important. Finally, last April, I launched a fashion line that already works fine!
Could you describe a typical workday?
It is very dense because I manage everything alone : the administrative part, the commercial one, communication, photo shooting … and of course, design!
I work from home, or when I sew, from the family home in Normandy. I start at 8.30 am because it is my partner who takes the kids to school. I take them back sat 4.30 pm , I rework a bit, then I take a break from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. I often get back to work in the evenings and weekends. When I’m not working, I enjoy doing many things like going out at night with my friends … I am constantly in motion 😉
For my children, I have no nanny but my family and my sisters (who are numerous 😉 ) are of great help!
What do you especially enjoy in this activity?
It’s hard for me to imagine my life differently! I find it very exciting to start from scratch and build a business. I do everything from A to Z … It’s a real challenge! It is also fulfilling to create something that comes from yourself, who looks like yourself … It’s a small famille business (eg, they are my sisters which models during photo shoots I realize).
Sometimes it can be hard, of course, especially when you want to produce in France, but but that seems worthwhile!
What do you less enjoy or what would you like to change in your current business?
I am often overwhelmed, I do everything in a hurry … I’d love to be better organized, … I work in this direction;)
What are your plans for the future ?
Getting more and more business and have a wider audience … and, why not, find a business partner…
What advice would you give to a mother who would want to set up her business?
- First, do not rush, think carefully before launching your project …
- Before launching, test the idea to your family and to a wider range of people
- Be well surrounded and know who you choose as a business partner. You need a person with whom you’re compatible
- Don’t want too much at the beginning : start working from home, without much expense …
Thank you very much to Madeleine for this interview! You can find her lovely fashion and accessories creations on Sixsoeurs website.
See you next Monday to talk about red currants …
Have a wonderful week,