When Laure Lebrun became a mum she made the decision to step back from her career working in Ready to Wear and Accessories for Louis Vuitton and follow her husband to London.
But her passion for style and her desire to start her own business didn’t abate, and today designs and manufactures accessories for mums and children for her company Petiotes. She tells us her story.
What’s your career background?
I studied economics in Paris Dauphine university, and did a masters in fashion and textiles marketing. I worked then 10 years at Louis Vuitton in the Ready to Wear and Accessories departments.
How did your career change once you became a mum?
The rhythm of fashion collections became really hard to conciliate with a family and baby life. It was time to stand back and make choices in my priorities. It was the perfect time to follow my husband’s change of work to London.
When and why did you decide to start Petiotes?
I always wanted to run my small own business. When I had my second child, I started to feel that I wanted to do something more.
I have always been quite manual, and always loved working with fabrics and colours. So I started to sew a few bags and cushions and that’s the way Petiotes started.
What is Petiotes?
We are offer a wide range of accessories for little ones and their mums. Most of our products are customisable, registered designs or simply essentials that you will not find anywhere else.
We sell everything from personalised cushions and to picnic blankets, to stroller bags, health book covers and many other products.
What skills, experience or contacts from your career have been useful in starting your business?
Being able to multitask is the first skill you need to have, whatever your career has been. I also used my manufacturers’ contacts to get the best materials.
I thought my business experience would help too, but funnily enough I found that it’s easier to structure a company that’s not your own!
Who is your ideal customer?
The Duchess of Cambridge! I think she would find our products useful and unique.
What’s your marketing strategy?
My next step is to structure our activity. Most of the products are produced by me, and it’s getting to the stage were I’m now ready to outsource and to manufacture bigger quantities.
In terms of communication, a professional PR would help us to grow our audience of mums, and a sales agent would help to develop our distribution network.
Where would you like to see Petiotes in five years’ time?
I’d love to see our products in department stores.
Who inspires you?
I’m inspired by the men around me. My dad, my husband and my brother are all strong willed with entrepreneurial personalities.
How do you balance your work around your children?
It’s sometimes tricky as I work from home. So I try to stick to the rules that school time is work time, and after school time is kids time. It’s easier to say than to follow, but that’s the principle I try to work to at least!
What tips do you have for other aspiring business mums?
On the one hand starting a business is a fantastic experience for mums as you can be your own boss and manage your time in a way that fits in with your life. But on the other hand, it takes time and a lot of work if you want to make your small business grow. Doing a one shot product, sale or event is easy, but keeping your project going is another story.
So you need to be prepared to put in the effort, and be in it for the long haul. It’s an amazing adventure, but very demanding.
You can browse and buy Laure’s designs on her website.