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16 March 2020
Portraits

Our incredible life paths : Célia Favre (TBS 2018)

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Passionate about cosmetics and ecology, Célia has created Umaï : A natural cosmetics brand. She tells us about the big jump she made into the world of entrepreneurship with a project that transcends her and which "resonates her values at 300%"

 

Can you say a few words about yourself ? 

Why did you choose Toulouse and TBS ?

I discovered Toulouse for the first time during my oral entrance exams and I have to admit that I fell in love with the pink city (like many people!). Its rosy-coloured bricks, quality of life, gastronomy and ideal location between the sea and the mountains made me feel at home straight away. What immediately appealed to me at TBS was the family atmosphere in the school, the approachableness of the professors and students, the energy of student life. It was obvious that I wasn't going to be bored here !

What about your studies at TBS ? 

In 2014 I began the L3 programme after two years in preparatory classes. I very quickly felt the high energy coming from the community life, I had the feeling that anything was possible. 

It didn't take me long to fully invest in the life of the school. In the first year, I signed up as secretary in the Bureau of sustainable development (B3D) and I helped organise ANNED. I also listed for the BDEX. During my M1 year, I carried out my first traineeship in the cosmetics sector, in Graine de Pastel in Toulouse, as Assistant Product Manager and at the same time I was involved in the BDEX (Ridermeister) and B3D. I chose my major in Marketing before doing my longterm internship at Yves Rocher in Paris, still as Product Manager, but this time specifically for hair products. Still as passionate as ever about the world of beauty and hair care, I then went to Sydney as a trainee at Marie-France Group to work on communication and content creation.

On my return, and for my last year, I decided to chose E-business, E-marketing, E-commerce. It was a pertinent choice considering the implications of the digital sector within company strategy today. At the beginning of 2018, I left on a 6 month exchange programme at the University of Corvinus in Budapest, Hungary, where I continued to follow courses on themes such as digital and sustainable development. I finished these 4 magnificent years of study with an internship in Marketing in the foodtech sector in Paris with the start-up, Epicery.

Have you any stories to share with us ? (student associations, projects, lecturers…)

My 4 years at TBS were full of adventure and emotions and I have many lasting memories, in particular, the incredible time during the BDEX campaign : we brought snow to the place de l’Europe to do ski jumping on a massive airbag ! It was amazing, everyone thought we were mad and it took a massive amount of organising, but we left our mark ! 

Another mad adventure I experienced thanks to TBS, was the first edition of Into The Ride, the hitchhike race across Europe in order to help children with cancer who were supported by the CheerUp association.  It was the first time I hitchhiked with a budget of 1€ a day. It was a complete adrenaline high which, moreover, I wanted to repeat ! This summer I went from Paris to Budapest hitchhiking with a friend from the school. We wanted to go to Hungary but also minimise our carbon footprint and take advantage of the trip to meet people whose paths we would never have crossed in "normal life".

 

Who are you today ?

What were your main objectives and motivation when you started work after your degree ?

To be honest, at the end of my final year traineeship, I was at a dead end. I thought alot about what I wanted to do with my life. I really wanted to make thing happen, to have maximum impact through my work. I couldn't envisage a career working 10 hours a day which didnt match my very committed personal life. I also needed to surpass myself and push myself, but I wasn't sure how.

What are you doing today ?

Today, it's just over a year that I finished my studies and that I threw myself full-time into developing my own company, Umaï. I launched this make of natural and environmently friendly cosmetics in order to prove that it is possible to design products that are as nice to use as they are good for the planet. Our first product is a solid shampoo which is totally zero waste, made from local ingredients.

Why did you choose this career path, this project?

I have always been attracted to the cosmetics and daily hygiene product sectors while being committed to the environment. I really wanted to make my contribution and to get up every morning to do something that gives me the chance to make change. Today, over and above being a company that develops cosmetic products, Umaï is above all a means of starting change for consumers and industries in the sector. 

What was the point when you knew this was the right career for you ?

At the end of my studies, I hadn't at all imagined myself launching an entrepreneurship. I didn't believe I had the experience or the shoulders to do so, I hadn't studied entrepreneurship at all. However, by the end of my last trainsheeship, I felt that I'd lost a great deal of motivation for a position in a company. I started to realise that I needed more than just a job, that I needed a project that transcended me, resonating my values at 300% and that would give me a good dose of adrenaline every day. And then, by chance I met my business partners and we started working on the project. Straight away I was very excited and passionate about it, and I started really looking forward to Mondays again : It was at that moment that I realised that I was going to feel fullfilled in entrepreneurship. 

How did you get to where you are today in your career (the major steps) ? 

I started this entrepreneurship adventure straight after my studies and at the same time as my final traineeship.

How did your studies help you reaching your personal and / or professional situation ? 

My various internships were a considerable help and still are today in everyday life. Having developed cosmetic products in small and large companies, and having already created contents for a brand, and more generally, all the missions I was given in all the internships have often helped me stay on track with what I wanted to do for Umaï. I also think that the E-business, E-marketing, E-commerce options gave me many keys to succeed in the digital sector, in particular, with the crowdfunding campaign on Ulule, but also today to managing an online business. 

I believe that everything I experienced abroad really gave me a sense of adventure, took me out of my comfort zone, boosted my self confidence and taught me to dare : essential qualities when we make the choice of entrepreneurship. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time ?

To be totally honest, I haven't got a clue and I think that is fine ! Two years ago,  I didn't imagine for one minute I would be where I am today and in fact I think its great not to plan out the future because I prefer to let myself in for surprises. I might just as well still be with Umaï, if my heart leads me to raising goats in the Alps while starting business in hand-made icecreams (yes, I love icecream) in the Basque country. The only thing I know is that Umaï is my first entrepreneurship adventure but it is surely not the last. I never thought I'd say that one day, but now that I have tasted the adrenaline in entrepreneurship, I can't imagine living without it ! 

 

How do you position yourself with the Alumni network ?

How did the Alumni network help you ?

When I launched Umaï, many (many) old school friends from my year gave me a great deal of support, by contributing to our crowdfunding campaign, by being the first to buy our solid shampoo, by massively relaying our message. It was an enormous boost for us. We may not have realised it at the time, but we meet a huge amount of people during our studies. What is even better, many TBS graduates discoverd my project via LinkedIN and also supported me and sent me messages of encouragement to help me in their own way !  

How would you recommend using the network ?

It was during the campaign that I realised the strength of the TBS network and I chose to re-invest in it by supporting the Alumni association by becoming a volunteer in the Paris Chapter. Become a volunteer, participate in events, go out and meet Alumni who share the same interests. Thanks to the directory, meet up because you never know what might happen or where a coffee might take you!

What advice would you give to TBS Alumni, whether students or graduates ?

We are at our best when we do what we love. That might sound obvious, nevertheless, when we embark on the rush of everyday life, we may stop listening to our heart. We only have one life and it goes by quickly, so take time out, to think about what really makes your heart beat, and dare to do it ! Moreover, if it is something that makes sense, and helps our planet and its inhabitants, lets be honest, its even better. Break down the barriers you put up for yourselves, because most of the time, they are just in our heads. 

Finally, are you willing for Alumni to contact you directly, if they are interested in your career path ?

With pleasure ! I love meeting new people and I happen to really like early morning breakfast meetings, as they help me get up early (I am not an early riser) to start the day full of positive energy !



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