As a mother, corporate and founder of this blog, I know what it takes to be an entrepreneur. But moving to a new country and starting afresh is another ball game. We are back with our series, The Expat Woman Entrepreneur, and this time we’re talking to Solenn Carnaille, founder of Petit détail, a company that specializes in quality bespoke laces. After all, it’s all in the details!
Meet Solenn Carnaille
Solenn worked for brands like Cartier and communication agencies that gave her an opportunity to work and handle clients like Danone and Unilever but she always wanted to start her own enterprise. “The desire to embark on entrepreneurship had become stronger and stronger. I was missing the inspiration,” she recalls.
Originally from Brittany (Western France), she has now been living in Zurich with her husband for 4 years.
“I run my enterprise, Petit Detail from Zurich while also taking care of my 2-year-old-son,” she says.
How It Started: Petit détail
Till 2017. “My future husband was looking for unique laces, something that would enhance his entire outfit. But he was unsuccessful. This gave way to an idea: to create a brand that offers bespoke, high quality laces that are unique to your outfit and personality,” she says. And just like that, Petit détail was born!
Hits and Misses/The Journey Ahead
Taking an idea and executing it to the tee is all in an entrepreneur’s hands. Solenn began her pursuit to find manufacturers that could bring her vision to life: someone who could make two-toned laces with the tip in a different color than the lace, the idea was a wide range of colors. She placed an order for her samples and wasted no time in learning the skills of working solo.
Learning E-Commerce & Digital Marketing
Solenn learnt the ropes of e-commerce by launching “L’aiguille dans le foin” (the needle in the haystack) in February 2018. It was a drop-shipping online-store where she sold niche decor products (think wooden cameras) as well as lifestyle products like bamboo sunglasses and aprons for micro bakers. “After a year of investing in inventory, testing products, advertising, and e-commerce, I decided to close it on January 31st last year.”
“From creating an online store to using social media and doing all the administrative paperwork, I learnt everything from my first business. All this experience really was the foundations for Petit détail.” says Solenn. The samples were here and it was time to focus on her main idea: Petit détail.
A start-up was born.
After months of hard work and research, Solenn launched Petit détail in October 2018. All laces, waxed or for sneakers, are made in France by a supplier of renowned brands. “Every model has been designed by me (colour, width, length, etc.) and produced on request especially for Petit détail,” she says with pride.
Home to 3 collections of waxed cotton laces & a collection for sneakers laces, they can also customize shoelaces for their customers. The collections include:
the Petit détail Brown, brown waxed laces with 8 different coloured tips
the Petit détail Black, black waxed laces with 8 different coloured tips
the Full coloured, 9 different coloured waxed laces
the Petit détail White, was launched with 6 different coloured tips.
It’s not just laces!
Since Valentine’s Day 2019, she added 3 collections of matching cufflinks, in barrel, knot, and square shape. The cufflinks are made of artificial silk of high quality.
“We hope to target customers that look for unique details to add to their ensemble,” she says.
Working In Switzerland As An Expat Entrepreneur
“I find it quite simple being self-employed with not as much paperwork (let’s say, yet!),” she says.
Advise For Expat Entrepreneurs
When it comes to entrepreneurship, Solenn is all about self-belief and thinking big. An equally important part of the equation is support. “To really believe in yourself and your business, you need a support system (family and friends who can support and advice, or sometimes just listen to you),” she emphasizes.
“I would say accept the bad and celebrate every small victory. Spit it out and learn from your failure and make sure you reward your victory in any small way. Call your best friend, hug your husband or enjoy a lavish dinner, do anything that helps you savor and remember this moment.”
And on that encouraging note, I thank you all for reading this blog. Are you a woman expat entrepreneur with a story to tell, we are looking for you.
If you’ve liked this piece, we’d love to know in the comments section!
Stay tuned for more expat stories, we have a ton lined up!
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