“I like entrepreneurship because I like challenges and meetings”, confides Marion Lemaire. And challenges have not failed to mark her career as a business creator. If she ceased the activities of her first company, she nevertheless learned from this experience. Enriched by this attempt, it bounced back in 2020 by creating Splice, an online brand of eco-designed Made in France linen clothing for women and men.
Her entrepreneurial story began at the age of 42, after twenty years at Société Générale as director of IT projects. In 2016, she launched her brand of children’s clothing in organic cotton, Naturally Small. “I wanted to carry out an activity that made more sense for me because I was aware of the problems of consumption of our resources, energy waste or the traceability of our products,” explains Marion Lemaire.
# 1. Identify your mistakes
She then started without help or experience in the world of textiles. Its requirements: an organic raw material and French manufacture. Unable to find her organic cotton in France, the designer chooses to source her supplies from Turkey, a nearby country that reduces her carbon footprint. “But the costs were very high because I was buying the fabric already made. The sales prices therefore included the cumulative margins of all intermediaries of the production chain. In addition, Turkish suppliers demanded to order astronomical quantities, ”she says.
Marion Lemaire also draws her models alone. “I wanted too quickly to present a very wide range of ready-to-wear in a niche market, that of children, which did not make it possible to play on production volumes, ”she says. Finally, she entrusts the making to charming French artisan workshops, selected “a little too much to the affect”, she admits. “Finally, with such production costs, my sales prices soared and were no longer suited to the market. Very quickly, she encountered cash flow problems and decided to close the shop.
# 2. To be accompanied
Just before the end of this first entrepreneurial adventure, the designer takes part in an ephemeral operation in Paris, the rue du “Made in France”. There, she met Thomas Huriez, the founder of the 1083 jeans brand, organic or recycled, and a fervent defender of a 100% French textile industry. “Thanks to him, I entered the Made in France ecosystem, a little too late for my first brand, but not for the launch of my second Splice activity of linen tops, an ecological and biodegradable fiber”, emphasizes -she.
Marion Lemaire starts again from zero, surrounded this time. She is passionate about the flax agro-chain, of which France is the world’s leading producer. Supported by the French Industry Forces (FFI), a club of entrepreneurs active in the reindustrialisation of France, it integrates the accelerator which is dedicated to traditional Made in France SMEs.
# 3. Review the manufacturing process
“No question then of repeating my mistakes. I wanted to master the production chain clothing from start to finish, from seed to finished product, ”she explains. The cultivation and scutching of flax is carried out in Normandy. The designer buys her yarn from Safilin, a French company based in Poland but which, under its leadership as well as those of 1083 and the Slip Français, will relocate its spinning mill in Hauts-de-France in June 2022. Marion Lemaire has it knitted and then dyed in Pau. Clothing is finally carried out by workshops recommended by the FFI, which accept the flexibility of orders.
Marion Lemaire centers her collection on a larger adult market and on a small range of models, which allows it to contain patronage costs and inventory. Finally, it relies on a press relations agency specializing in French brands to make itself known because “when you are a digital brand, it’s the jungle”, she assures us.
Its last objective is to bring into the capital the investment fund backed by the FFI, the French Touch Fund. “It would be a long-term partner, a stakeholder in the company’s strategy,” she hopes. Splice aims for a turnover of 150,000 euros in 2021, against 100,000 euros in 2020.