"1 Woman, 1 Passion" podcasts - Episode#5: Coralie de Fontenay, Co-Founder of LUXIMPACT
Valérie Bokobza: Hello everyone, I'm Valérie Bokobza, Head of Development at Societe Generale Private Banking and I'm delighted to present a new episode of "1 woman, 1 passion". The objective is to share with you the journey of a woman entrepreneur who is moving the lines. Today, I am hosting Coralie de Fontenay. Hello Coralie.
Coralie de Fontenay: Hello Valérie, thank you very much for your invitation.
Valerie Bokobza: You are the co-founder of LUXIMPACT, the mission of which is to create a new luxury, more responsible for society and the environment. After an impressive 20-year career at Richemond, a world leader in luxury goods, you were appointed General Manager of Cartier France. You were in search of meaning and passionate about the evolution of luxury and you decided to support start-ups to promote technology and innovation, always with a common thread: preserving poetry, dreams and emotion. Coralie, how did you make the transition from the management of Cartier to entrepreneurship and the role of business angel(1)?
Coralie de Fontenay: In fact, things happened quite naturally. After 22 exciting years in a large company, I was eager to join new, more innovative and digital ecosystems. I naturally approached the incubator at my school, HEC, at Station F, and the incubator led me to start-ups, and the start-ups led me to the investment fund. All this became my ecosystem. I started out as a coach and advisor, and then very quickly decided to become an investor, to really get involved with the companies of tomorrow. So, concretely, I invested in about ten start-ups, in what is called "Seed" or "Series A", so in very early stage, and each time I chose inspiring projects, incredible entrepreneurs. It's really the founder, the entrepreneur, who does everything. And then, some panels seemed to me very promising. To give you two ideas of the type of company I've invested in, the first one, Place2Swap, is a company co-founded by Estefania Larrañaga and Lucie Soulard, two extraordinary women, and they created the first circular economy platform(2)? The second one, the company Heuritech, was founded by Tony Pinville; it screens on social networks everything that happens, it analyzes the trends thanks to this, all is done via artificial intelligence. So, it has been a real quest for identity for me, extremely resourcing and energizing. And it's really amazing to know what makes sense and what makes us happy.
Valérie Bokobza: How do you concretely relaunch historical jewelry houses in the luxury sector with LUXIMPACT, by bringing innovation and impact?
Coralie de Fontenay: I founded LUXIMPACT with two extraordinary persons, Sandrine De Laage and Frédéric De Narp, and all three of us are driven by this vision of reinventing luxury jewelry by creating social and environmental impact. So, in concrete terms, LUXIMPACT is a holding company that animates brands and we are reviving historic jewelry houses, turning them resolutely towards the 21st century. We are also what you might call a "start-up studio", but the start-ups are 200 years old, they are in the biggest museums in the world... In fact, we bring human and financial capital and we really get involved, operationally, behind the start-ups. And to give you an idea, the first house that we relaunched, in June 2021, was the Vever house. What is absolutely crazy is that we did it with the seventh generation of the name, Camille Vever and Damien Vever. It is a sublime house, champion of Art Nouveau, that we are relaunching with the idea of a new luxury. It has the status of a “entreprise à mission” (company with a mission)(3), which really shows our objective, our desire to create a social and environmental impact. It celebrates the best of human genius, the best of all worlds. In short, we have a fantastic artistic director, Sandrine De Laage, we are produced in the most beautiful workshops in Paris and we celebrate the best of human genius through either the use of a wonderful enamel “plique-à-jour”(4) placed by “Meilleure Ouvrière de France” (Best Worker of France) Sandrine Tessier, but also, the use of diamonds called "synthetic", laboratory diamonds, which are real diamonds, certified, and that preserve people and the planet. In 2022, LUXIMPACT will relaunch two other historic houses, one of which will be based on a circular concept.
Valérie Bokobza: What really drives you today? Is it the transformation of the luxury sector or the protection of the planet?
Coralie de Fontenay: In fact, they go together. The luxury of tomorrow will be much freer, more creative, magical, inspiring, but with a new posture, a new commitment, for people and for the planet. When I think about it, for me, the ultimate goal is people. Because for me, this planet must really welcome the new generations. And when I think of my career, I think of the people I have met, the paths we have travelled together, the emotions we have shared and the values we have defended.
Valérie Bokobza: What advice do you wish someone had given you earlier in your career?
Coralie de Fontenay: I would like to say that, in my opinion, there will not be many more careers like mine! 22 years with the same company is a long time, even if they were absolutely incredible, very enriching, obviously Cartier is a great school. I made great professional friendships there. It also allowed me to reconcile my personal life - I have three wonderful children and a wonderful husband! - and professional life. In fact, the advice that I would have liked to have and that seems to me quite right today is to have a hyper open and hyper curious attitude. I believe that today, a professional life is made of multiple facets, so I would advise you to enrich yourself, to want to take many different positions: be a coach, manager, administrator, club president, member of associations... It is very rich, it creates much more hybrid daily lives, where you receive, where you give, and which leave much more room for singularity. In fact, to conclude, my best advice is to try to find out who you are, and not, which is sometimes the problem in a large group, who they want you to be. So it's a real quest for identity, for meaning, in fine.
Valérie Bokobza: Thank you very much Coralie for these exchanges.
Coralie de Fontenay: Thank you very much Valérie and thank you very much to Societe Generale Private Banking.
Valérie Bokobza: For the listeners, I'll see you again for the next episode of "1 woman, 1 passion". Bye!
(1) A "business angel" is a person who decides to invest part of his financial assets in innovative companies with high potential (Source: https://bpifrance-creation.fr/encyclopedie/financements/recours-a-investisseurs/business-angels)
(2) The circular economy is about producing goods and services in a sustainable way by limiting the consumption and waste of resources and the production of waste. It is about moving from a throwaway society to a more circular economic model. (Source: Ministry of Ecological Transition - https://www.ecologie.gouv.fr/leconomie-circulaire )
(3) The “Loi Pacte” (Pacte Act) allows a company to declare its purpose through several social and environmental objectives. (Source: https://www.economie.gouv.fr/cedef/societe-mission)
(4) The technique of the “plique-à-jour” consists in drawing a pattern thanks to an openwork metal structure, in which a thin layer of enamel is deposited.
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