In March, French Bloom celebrates women.
As a female-founded company, led by Constance Jablonski and Maggie Frerejean-Taittinger, French Bloom is committed to supporting women by pledging to donate to the non-profit organization, LeadHers. LeadHers' mission is to create a community between generations to share knowledge and valuable advice for the next generation of female leaders. On the occasion of March 8th, the two co-founders of French Bloom answer our questions about their entrepreneurial journey to date, as well as their inspiring vision on this International Women's Day.
Let’s dive right in. What does International Women's Day mean to you?
MFT: It's a moment to recognize that women have had to shatter glass ceilings to be where we are today and while that generation has gone, they paved the way for the future generations of women to step out and succeed. It's about realizing that there is still work to be done. A pay gap, inequal access to investments, issues such as reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women.
CJ: To me, women's day is important to simply keep in mind that women rights are never permanently settled. As Simone Veil once said, one political, economic or religious crisis will be enough to challenge women's rights again and again.
Are there any women that you look-up to or inspire you as business owner?
MFT: I admire greatly another 'Maggie', Margareth Henriquez, CEO of French luxury glassmaker Baccarat, and former President and CEO of Champagne Krug, one of the world's finest and most iconic Champagne houses. Maggie is the definition of a trailblazer; she’s the first Latin American to run a French Champagne house, and she’s one of just a handful of women who have reached similar positions in the wine and spirits industry. What’s more, she brought Champagne Krug into the 21st century with inspiring leadership which successfully positioned the Maison as one of the world's best.
CJ: I'm a huge fan of Clara Gaymard, who had so many different lives. She worked in politics, as a business entrepreneur, as an essayist, was the CEO of GE for many years, and later co-founded RAISE, an investment fund. I went to see her film a podcast where she opened up about her career but what impressed me the most was to learn about her personal life as a mum of 9 children.
French Bloom has been launched now for 18 months, what is your vision of entrepreneurship?
CJ: Entrepreneurship to me is a team work effort, I would never be able to start a completely new project on my own. It's about finding the right people that have the same beliefs but have different qualities just so they can complete each other.
Entrepreneurial journey can be tough sometimes, how do you stay motivated?
MFT: I've always believed in the past that I had 'entrepreneurial' qualities that I've leveraged in my other careers, First running an NGO and then managing the International Development for the Michelin Guide. But it's a game changer when it's your own project, you suddenly access this limitless source of energy and passion. That being said, it's extremely important to strive for balance, and as new moms, we're both learning how to manage the different roles we have. For me, learning to say no has been an integral part of that journey. No to unnecessary tasks that don't bring me closer to my goals, no to events or engagements that don't bring joy or serve a purpose. Constance and I also encourage each other to prioritize self-care, as hard as it can sometimes be. Having French Bloom available at some of our favorite restaurants and hotels also helps enormously, because it takes the pressure off of having to drink something alcoholic when we're at business dinners or out with friends. I always say, abstaining from alcohol gives me extra hours in the day! It's extremely empowering.
CJ: I stay motivated thanks to the people I work with, and this is again why to me entrepreneurship is always about the perfect team. It's impossible to remain fully motivated all the time and when times are tough, I know I can count on my colleagues and co-founder. I also keep asking myself the "why" I do things. When you lose focus, simply reminder yourself about your goals and intentions, which help to get back on track.
What were your biggest fears/challenges when you've launched French Bloom?
CJ: Our biggest fear was that the French market, which is where we launched our product first in October 2021, wouldn't understand the concept of dealcolised wine. It was a complete new category two years ago and we really took a bet on changing French habits.
What made each other the perfect business partner for you?
MFT: There are a lot of parallels in how Constance is a friend and how she is a business partner. She's always been someone who shows up, she's extremely reliable, and knowing that, it was easier for me to trust her to run and manage the business together. She is creative, extremely ethical, and generally a ton of fun to be around and work with.
CJ: Maggie worked in fashion like me before being at the Michelin Guide and that definitely helps that she can understand my work and crazy schedules. As I said before she is the most hard-working person I have ever met, and I know I'm learning twice as fast thanks to her.
From modeling to alcohol-free sparkling wine business owner, there is a huge shift. What advice would you give to the young generation who are thinking about their career?
CJ: I would tell them that anything is possible if you work hard for it, practice makes perfect and it's really a gift to be able to learn new things at different stages of our lives. The only barriers we have are the ones with create for ourselves, be patient, do something that sparks joy in you, and never make yourself indispensable for things you really hate doing.
What skill do you recommend entrepreneurs to acquire?
MFT: The single skill that I regularly recommend industry insiders to start focusing on is empathy.
I know, you’re probably thinking can that be worked on? My answer is yes.
Researchers have discovered that far from being an immutable trait, empathy can be developed.
It’s about moving regularly beyond our own world views to try to understand those held by other people.
It’s about acknowledging your own biases, we all have them. And stepping out of your bubble.
Empathy is imperative in the alcohol-free drinks business. I'm speaking regularly with leaders in the hospitality industry, mega event organizers, the travel sector, on why it no longer acceptable to not have alcohol-free options ‘at the same level and experience of fine wines and champagnes' for all guests, not just the majority in the room. And for me, that's about empathy.
During my pregnancy, I understood what it could feel like to be excluded from the weddings, business dinners, and other social gatherings because I was not drinking alcohol. And I strive regularly to put myself in the shoes of a French Bloom customer in the more than 20 countries we are present in, to understand what they are looking for in terms of concept, taste and the entire experience around the brand. I’m proud that with French Bloom, we are helping create more inclusive, and long lasting celebrations.
Many celebrity women have launched their no-low drink business recently such as Katy Perry, Blake Lively, Bella Hadid, and the list goes on… Why do you think women tends to be more present in NoLow sector than men?
CJ: I think Women have to endorse so many roles at once, they have to be perfect mums, friends, daughters, business persons, etc etc… And to me it's impossible to be the best version of yourself in all of these "jobs" if you drink alcohol every day. Also, It is known that women can't digest alcohol at the same rate as men, and if social events are always defined by sharing alcohol with others we have to deprive ourselves of social gatherings if we can't drink. This is why we see more and more women entering nolow space.