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What did programmes did you study, both before and at KEDGE? Were you members of any student associations when you were at KEDGE?
We both received a scientific bac from high school, then attended preparatory courses for entry into the grandes écoles before being accepted into the KEDGE’s Grande Ecole Programme.
Stella: I was General Secretary of the Student Bureau in 2011/12 where I was in charge of ensuring the association was running well from an operational point of view, such as planning work schedules, organising and following-up on behind-the-counter tasks, managing team meetings, managing projects related to the association, performing administrative tasks, and managing the recruitment and integration of applicants to the association. The variety of tasks, and the relationship between the operational side with the analysis and management side, are all skills that I later found in the retail sector.
Audrey: I was the Communication Manager of the Clepsydre association and a singer in “The Musical”, a Musical Comedy put on by the Arts Office. I also tutored a secondary school student from the northern districts of Paris for Massa 13, which is a project of Unis-Terre, the school's sustainable development association. However, the project I’m most proud of working on is the Yega project, a solidarity project in Cameroon, which we created with other students and which we integrated into Unis-Terre. That project will soon celebrate its 10th anniversary. Every year we take part in the construction and/or renovation of a building related to schooling, as well as the hosting of a village and the cultural exchange between a French team and a Cameroonian team.
Tell us what you did after your studies were finished. What positions have you held? What did you learn in those positions?
Stella: I started my career in retail in 2014, first as Section Manager (Mountain, Running) at Decathlon, then as Sector Sales Manager at Lidl (2015-2019). In 2018, I opened a cocktail bar "Les Petites Saisons" (Paris 18) with Arthur Carrion, who is also an Alumnus of the school. Starting my career in the retail sector had the advantage of my being given responsibilities, even as a young graduate. You learn very quickly to manage priorities and work under pressure. It’s also a sector where you have to multi-task (team management, economic management, operational management).
Audrey: After doing a work-study apprenticeship at IBM, I went to work at the head office of Lidl France in sales development (seasonal products and wine merchant selection) in 2014. After a year and a half, I left to work as an Area Sales Manager in the same regional management division as Stella (in the Oise region). At the beginning of 2018, I left France to set up a French company (technical equipment in the health sector) in West Africa, specifically in Abidjan. At the same time, I was a consultant for a luxury concierge company. I later went to work for the African Development Bank in the Gender, Women, and Civil Society Department, under the direction of Vanessa Moungar. I also carry out production management jobs for Loxodonto Studio, a company that specialises in audio-visuals.
What are you doing today? What gave you the idea and the desire to do what you’re doing today?
Our friendship was formed when we both worked at Lidl - during nights of frenzied stocktaking, shelving, and other tasks. The desire to create something together developed more particularly with the birth of Simon, Stella's son and Audrey's godson.
Baby Sy, a brand dedicated to babies, was born from our desire to offer parents colourful clothing and accessories while maintaining an ethical approach. We develop our business model around three values: Elegance - Diversity - Adventure. Our products are made by hand in Ivory Coast and the styles are elegant and practical. The manufacturing is artisanal and we are responsible in terms of working with our partners and in the choice of raw materials: wax produced in Ivory Coast (100% cotton printed fabric), organic terry cloth, linen, buttons made from coconut shell, etc. An invitation to bring colour to the lives of the babies around you!
What are your development goals for the future?
We would like to gradually grow our market share and range of products initially in the French and Ivorian markets. We envision expanding internationally next. As our company is in both the Ivory Coast and France, our next market will be concentrated on the African continent.
For the moment, we offer a small range of clothing, handmade by craft persons in small series, with a blouse, a romper, and bloomers available in a variety of patterns. We also offer coordinated accessories: changing mats, bath capes, dummy clips, and rattles (discover our complete newborn layettes). We already have several models being tested for our next collection.
As we are both driven by the same social and environmental concerns, we’ve chosen our fabrication workshops carefully in terms of their know-how and respect for working conditions. But to go even further, we’re planning to found our own school and sewing workshop in Ivory Coast to promote women's empowerment in a country where more than 70% of Ivorian women live below the poverty line.
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If you were to give advice to any KEDGE graduate who wants to do something similar, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to "get out of your comfort zone” and accept opportunities that are different from what you had hoped for. One doesn't fail, one learns. Try to work in as many different environments as possible (such as sector and company size).