Welcome to our new Founder Stories series, where we’ll be sitting down with inspiring and influential women to dive into their entrepreneurial journey and discuss all things business (and wellness). This week, we’ve had the pleasure of talking with Marion Rabate, the founder of couture-leisurewear brand Ernest Leoty.
FLAURA: What would you say inspired you to start Ernest Leoty?
Marion: I always loved sports and wellness. I was working in finance and started doing a lot of yoga. I was unable to find any clothes that I liked (that was in 2015). Everything was too garish, very bright, with a lot of logos or mesh… not something I wanted to wear. So, I had the idea of building a yoga / athleisure brand inspired by ready to wear, incorporating Parisian style and tailoring into a technical product made from performance fabrics.
I think we are truly style first, and our style is quite differentiated, inspired by brands like The Row or Khaite. Muted colour palettes, architectural lines. Also, we work with fashion patternmakers, who perfect necklines and fit, whilst also working with sports garment techs and factories, which means that our product is both aesthetic and performance ready. Finally, all our product is made ethically in Europe (in the sports industry, a lot of brands manufacture in Asia) using as much as possible recycled fabrics.
F: How has the journey been since you started?
M: It has definitely been an incredible journey so far! From when I started by myself, calling factories with no idea how to make it work, to when I started working with some expert freelancers from Rapha, who introduced me to their network, to my first employee, to our press launch and the incredible reception we got on that day (we got calls from Matches, Selfridges and Carbon38 who wanted to stock us)… to all the ups and downs since then : working capital issues, press covers, delayed factory deliveries, COVID (the thing which no one could have predicted!), the incredible reception of our IG lives, and an amazing team today…Entrepreneurship is definitely a journey! What I love is that you learn every day and improve things day by day.
F: What are the best and worst parts of being an entreprenuer?
M: The best part is definitely the freedom to do whatever you think makes sense for the company, with limited need to “justify” your decisions. The worst part is the need to constantly push and push, otherwise no one will do it for you. But maybe that comes from working in a small company now.
F: What’s the most rewarding part of your day now?
M: The best part today is seeing all the positive feedback we are getting from our customers, and the fact that my initial vision translated into a concrete product which “works” in the market today. Also, I really love seeing how my team is as inspired as I am, and seeing other people (whether the team, wholesale buyers, content creators, photographers, advisors) take the vision in their own minds and push for it.
F: What advice would you give to other women looking to start their own business?
M: Definitely to launch something you are really passionate about – because you will end up working a lot, and it shouldn’t feel like work, it should be something you really enjoy doing. That’s the entire point! The second advice is not to try and reinvent or learn everything yourself, but if at all possible surround yourself with experts who will do things much better than you.
Top 5 Daily Wellness Habits
- I try and meditate every day. I use an app called Insight Timer and it helps me go to sleep also.
- As much as possible, incorporate walking into your routine. For example, I started walking to work (pre lockdown).
- Get rid of negative people. Only surround yourself with people you truly appreciate.
- Foodwise – try and be balanced. That doesn’t mean a strict diet, but eat in moderation (the French way!).
- Enjoy yourself and remember the small pleasures in life.