Isabelle & Aude- the ladies of MuMu, two successful career women who have most recently taken the full leap into entrepreneurship in a foreign land. Like many of us, they are continually learning how to navigate the waters of this new life, balancing an accessories brand, family, hobbies, friendships, and self-care. Running a business is no easy task, but Isabelle and Aude have been rewarded with each other- a business partnership that has been based on mutual trust, respect and self-awareness. What I admire most, is their natural inclination to support other women in the entrepreneurial and creative community, taking the initiative to connect and collaborate in Shanghai and beyond.
Now it’s your turn to get to know these ladies more! First, let's meet Isabelle!
Name: Isabelle Lovisi
Current City: Shanghai
Occupation: Founder and Creative Director
How would you describe your style?
I am rock, ethnic, classic, sporty. I can change my style according to my mood, but I am definitely not very girly and too feminine.
How do your cultural roots affect your style?
I am half French and half Italian and have lived in Africa (Cameroon & Gabon). I think my style is a mix of all these influences.
What does being a BagLady mean to you?
BagLady style is totally me- sporty, chic and high quality.
What do you like most about our garments?
The simple and elegant shapes and fabric.
What do you enjoy most about your current life?
Do you have any daily rituals or routines?
A cappuccino after my breakfast in my office. I love this moment, alone at home, it is a moment of quietness.
What would you say to your 18-year-old self?
Go, dare, do, dream. Be curious, discover the world and people. Be open-minded!
What do you love about being an empowered woman?
What would else would you like to do with that power? I would love to transmit this value and mindset to my daughters.
What is it like being parents in a foreign country and what is one thing that you hope your children take away from living in this city?
As a parent you need to be able to adapt yourself to a foreign country and also transmit our own culture to our kids. It is important to give roots to them so they know where they come from. I hope that they learn to be curious and very tolerant. To be conscious that there is not only one way of thinking.
You and Aude both have had successful careers before you started working full-time on MuMu, what motivated you to walk away from it all to build your own business?
I had the feeling it was the perfect time for me to try to turn my passion into a real business. I have always had this entrepreneur mindset and never dared to do it. My last job was super exciting, but I wanted to do something more creative. And actually, Shanghai is the perfect place to try.
How big of a challenge is it to start and run and grow a business in Shanghai? The challenge is big but when you have the faith, the energy, the concept, the will, then anything is possible.
Your accessories are handmade by local craftsmen. What was the process like in choosing such a person and how important is it to employ the local community in the production of your pieces? Do you think this method of production would be sustained as the brand grows? The choice was obvious. I love creating a lot and a big factory was not adapted to me. It is a question of trust, of personality. I love people and I really value loyalty. All my connections are based on long-term relationships. I think I can find a good way to make it sustainable as the brand grows.
Any advice on how to build and maintain an effective partnership?
Find the person who is exactly complementary to you. Trust and communication are important, but most importantly, follow your gut feeling.
What does female friendship mean to you?
I do not really make any difference between female and male friendship. I have always had very close male good friends. But I also have female friends. I believe friendship is essential to me.
What does the expression “self-care” mean to you?
To take care of yourself by trusting yourself and also taking time for yourself.
When you’re down, what lifts you?
Going to the beach when possible or going to the fabric markets.
Compared to 10 years ago, how empowered do you feel?
I really feel much empowered and confident. It is a bit paradoxical, but I feel much more confident now while I am 50 than 10 years ago.
How do you define happiness?
Having all the essential values and things that count the most for me.
Many people say that they have “no regrets” in life. Do you think that’s really true? If you could go back in time, is there anything that you would change about your life?
I would say Yes and no. I believe in fate and if something happens it is for a reason. But I also believe that if you put a lot of effort into something, it helps to happen. I am not sure if I would really change something because changing one thing would have changed all the rest and I love my current life.
What do you consider your greatest achievement to date?
My kids and my job.
What advice do you have for anyone who dreams of starting a business in Shanghai?
Believe in yourself and try. Shanghai is the perfect place for launching a business. It does not mean it is easy but at least it is possible. The city is so energetic, and people are always keen to help you.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
The shortest path is not always the straight line. “Doubt everything but never be surprised by anything”
Do you have any advice for our readers?
Do what you want to do and if you have a project try it now!
Stay tuned for P.T 2, and in the meanwhile, you can find MUMU on Instagram @Maisonmumu
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