It’s been almost 6 months since I started my internship in Paris. I’ve been think about writing some blog post to record my life in Les Sublimes.
As an Taiwanese exchange student, it was nearly impossible to find an internship in Paris, but I made it! Besides, this job not only gave me many opportunities to see and do many new interesting things I’ve never expected before, it also became a life changing experience which lightened a future for me to explore with passion.
So, let’s begin from here! Nous allons commencer maintenant !
Why I joined this company?
Before I left Taiwan, I was always thinking how I could make this exchange experience different? Make it like a turning point when I look back on my life later on. I didn’t want to travel 20+ countries because I thought I can still do that later in my life. Instead, I wanted to make full use of my exchange student status in HEC Paris, one of the best business schools in France and in Europe. That’s why I made up my mind to find a 6 month internship in Paris. I wanted to stay in Europe a bit longer and see what I could find here.
It was in last winter of 2015, my everyday life at that moment was revising cover letters and my resume, endlessly, and preparing for interviews. I’m not going to detail the extremely intricate process and all the frustration I’d come across, but it was indeed quite difficult. If you’re a non european students who don’t speak perfect French, you would feel me!
One day, when I was upset and worried about if I couldn’t find anything but go back to Taiwan , I found Les Sublimes on the job searching website of HEC. Its lively, vivid tone of the job post distinguished this company from others and caught my attention. After browsing its website, I realised Les Sublimes is a startup in fashion, or precisely a sustainable fashion brand based on Paris.
Fashion industry was new to me, but from the job description I could know the work I had to do wouldn’t be too unfamiliar for me because I had already had some internship experiences about digital marketing, PR and e-commerce. Plus, I could see how it’d be like to work in a startup in Paris by taking this internship.
Everything seemed quite nice, but not perfect enough, until I saw this picture in Les Sublimes’ website:
OS: This is me!!! I’m Les Sublimes woman.
This was how I decided to send my application! Luckily I got the offer and started the internship in January 2016, and in Paris!
Having been working in this company for almost 6 months, I still feel very motivated when looking at this picture again. In fact, judging from all experiences I’ve got, this company indeed takes this purpose wheel seriously and works very hard on accomplishing all the purpose it’s set up:
- You love beautiful things
“Beautiful wardrobe essentials. Without any compromise.” – Les sublimes’ brand philosophy. Being beautiful and stylish is definitely fundamental for a fashion brand in Paris! I remember that I was so attracted by the tender, simple and elegant styles of its website as well as Instagram when I first saw it, and after I started to work in this company, I realised that all the website designs, coding and edit copy were done by Alexis, co-founder of Les Sublimes. I am still quite impressed by how the touch and styles of the clothes of this company perfectly matches the style of the website!A finance graduate from UBC in Canada, Alexis went to study fashion marketing in Parsons School of Design in New York, and then she started her career as a fashion account executive in luxury fashion industry. She’s worked for many well known fashion brands like Calvin Klein, Micheal Kors and Christian Dior in New York, London and Paris, respectively. Like FMCG, the fashion industry is famous for its fast pace and short product life cycles, especially in a competitive and international city like New York. I believe her expertise was partly credited with those tough challenges and pressures she’d been through in so many different big cities.Besides, this company also recruited talented interns from Parsons school in Paris. This was the first time that I worked with people from design school, and they really had quite different perspectives from people in business schools, as well as more sensitive aesthetic views in terms of visual design!
- You respect People & Planet & You make a difference
The other co-founder Kachen had been a consultant for 7 years in France, most of time in the sustainability domain. I was so happy when I knew she actually came from Taiwan. She spent her childhood in Taiwan, France and Venezuela, and has been living in Paris since 10 years ago when she came to France to study her master in Science Po. It’s quite cool that she looks like an asian, shares my love for Taiwanese food but thinks and talks like a French native.
When working for Les Sublimes, I found this fashion brand did make lots of efforts to reduce the environmental impacts and to increase values for the society. For example, one of my missions was to source all the add-on materials for the apparel manufacturing and packaging accessories, so I needed to discuss the offerings and conditions provided by different companies with Kachen, an expert of sustainable environment development. Through the discussion, I learned a lot and found her insistence on using ecological materials, like trying to reduce single-use packaging as much as possible, ordering biodegradable plastic bags without the glue strips (that damages the environment) on the flap, and selecting ecological partners with international certifications..etc. Moreover, I was also impressed by the “transparent manufacturing” this company achieved, as a fashion brand. For the first French collection, Alexis and Kachen spent almost 6 months to find the French atelier in Renaison which could meet Les Sublimes Responsible Codes of Conduct.
In this 2nd generation family-run business, they offer flexible working hours for their employees that allows many working mama to have a work-family balanced life. From the pictures of Alexis & Kachen’s visit to the atelier, we can see a lot of photos of smiling kids on the wall of the work place, adding the positive and warm atmosphere there.
- You travel the world
The idea of Les Sublimes was born in Alexis and Kachen’s travel in Nepal. At that time, they both quit their jobs and wanted to start their own business. When a sustainability consultant met a fashion professional, and when they saw female knitters in a remote village and Tibetan refugees spinning yarns for weaving with only less than $1 earned for one day, they knew what they should do together.
They cherishes travelling spirits and being worldly, so they named their products after the cities they love, including Paris, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Pokhara, and London, representing different pieces respectively. Also, they are recruiting Les Sublimes Brand Ambassadors from all over the world! (Can I be the Taiwanese one? :p )
The Made in france collection is just the first one. In the long term, Alexis & Kachen plan to develop more partnerships directly with local fabrics-manufacturing small community in different developing countries like India and Mongolia to support their lives and provide more sustainably-made clothes to global citizens.
How Les Sublimes has changed my life
Looking back these days in Les Sublimes, I found I’ve changed a lot, in terms of finding what I want to do and what I should pursue in life. To be honest, the first time I saw the “Respect People and Planet & Make a difference” in the Purpose Wheel, I was thinking “Ok, sounds great, why not?” without being deeply convinced. In fact, before this internship, I was not very interested whenever I saw internship/job opportunity about sustainability, and I used to be one of those girls who often lose control buy a lot of clothes from the high street fast fashion brands. However, during past 1 year after getting 25, after having some internship experiences, I started to think more deeply about “what is the value of me, as a human being?” “For the job I did, what values I had created for the environment and for the society, besides making myself financially independent, developing new products, and marketing products?” I eagerly want to know what can make me feel energised and keep myself motivated every time when I feel tired after having worked consecutively for a whole week? I think many people in my generation also have the same questions in their minds.
I appreciated very much all the experiences I’ve got during this internship, because they kind of opened a gate to a direction where I can contribute myself to. I think I can find an ultimate goal of life, which I can keep moving towards to achieve, no matter how many frustrating difficulties and challenges I’ll face.
Maybe some people will say, a company like Les Sublimes is not a social enterprise which exists to solve social problems fundamentally. Yes, you’re right. It’s not. It is still selling consumer goods. However, no one can diminish human desires, and fashion industry will exist. Still, as consumers, we can be aware of the fact that every choice we make has a consequence. As employees in a company, we can contribute ourselves to create more better, meaningful choices that benefit the environment and create physical values the society. This should be the mission of every company.
The world is not equal. There are always things we can’t see and feel. That’s why we need empathy and conscious awareness to care. We need more individuals and companies to create positive impacts.