Regular readers will know that I’m a huge fan of the French kidswear boutique Melijoe.com, so it’s a treat to interview its founder Nathalie Genty for the latest instalment of Wonderful Women.
Natalie founded Melijoe in 2007 but – in her own words – is ‘first and foremost a mother’ to her five children with whom she lives with in Paris.
An innovator in the world of tech, Melijoe has grown to be one of Europe’s leading childrenswear boutiques, specialising in designer and high-end clothing stocking labels such as Stella McCartney, Sonia Rykiel, Karl Lagerfeld Kids and Kenzo kids.
They have recently launched two new labels to the site: Jean Bourget and Gabriel Et Valentin.
Describe a typical day for you.
I wake up at 6.45am.
I get ready in 15 minutes flat whilst my youngest daughter Mahaut gently awakens in her cot which is still in my bedroom.
Then she and I prepare three small bottles of chocolate milk while my daughters Melie and Néva join us in the living room. We live in a loft so the kitchen doubles up as a dining room which opens up into the living room.
Mahaut delivers the bottles of chocolate milk to the girls. This has become a very important ritual for everyone involved!
We have a children’s TV show called Les Zouzous playing in the background.
While everyone is enjoying their chocolate milk, I can prepare the breakfast table for 6!
The boys join us and Nicholas, my husband, will dial in via Skype from London where he works. It’s freshly squeezed organic orange juice all-round, wholemeal bread with jam and butter or Nutella and a cup of tea for me.
The boys are old enough to walk to school by themselves which is only 5 minutes away.
I take the girls to kindergarten – increasingly with Mahaut in tow, who insists on coming along too – before I bring her back home to her nanny.
The kindergarten is a few hundred metres from my home and my office is located between the two.
After work, depending on what time I finish, there’s either everything or nothing to do.
Whatever the case, I always return home in 100% mum mode. No smartphone or TV for me until the children are in bed.
Once all the children are settled – I’ve never had any trouble putting them to bed – I catch up on work or I surf the Internet for décor sites, or hunt for a country house in the Vexin region of France, where we are seriously thinking about buying a weekend home. I do the grocery shopping or else I just turn in for the night.
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
It has to be my family, of whom I’m immensely proud and who are a constant source of joy and inspiration to me.
And my business of course. There weren’t many women working in tech when I got started and I am proud to have created Melijoe.com from my little apartment in Paris!
What’s in your handbag?
My smartphone and headphones, My Hydra beauty nutrition for lips, Neutrogena, Chanel blusher. My trusted Moleskin notebook for jotting down any ideas that spring to mind.
What are your ambitions in life?
My ambition is to keep offering the best selection of children’s fashion and to being a little more magic to the digital experience.
I am constantly working hard to develop ever more international, hybrid and agile platforms to present new brands and services for parents who love fashion.
What advice would you give your pre-baby self, that you now know?
With kids you can’t say ‘stop’ or hit the pause button or cut out the sound and sleep through things in the morning. They constantly require you to re-arrange your day and leave a mess everywhere they go too! So you just have to stay zen, let them be and pick everything up when they have gone to bed. So I would say don’t allow yourself to get too frustrated if things don’t always go as planned!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Personally, I hope to continue to have a happy and healthy family and to find the right balance with Melijoe.
Professionally, for Melijoe, our plan is to continue offering the best selection of children’s fashion and present it in a directional and inspiring way. We want to keep bringing more and more magic to the digital experience!
What advice would you give an up and coming entrepreneur?
You need to be passionate! I think that passion matters over and above anything else. I can only speak for myself but I never set about launching a business just for the sake of it. I love fashion and children’s fashion has a little something extra emotionally. It’s cuter and I find it very touching. I love the products, the trends and the fabrics. With 5 children, I also know what I’m talking about!
Finally, happiness is…
Buy my bestselling book in paperback or audio
My debut book is my guide to surviving and thriving at work and at home and offers insight into how to create a digital business or return to work with confidence.
Mumboss: The Honest Mum's Guide to Surviving and Thriving at Work and at Home (UK 2nd Edition)