From idea to success, the path of entrepreneurship is filled with challenges. To understand and draw inspiration from the experiences of others, HEC Stories conversed with alumni who excel in business in various fields. After Graffi Rathamohan (H.11), co-founder of PNY, and Ning Li (H.06), the founder of Typology, here are some insights from Juliette Lailler (H.16), the co-founder of the natural cosmetics brand Krème.


1. Building Your Idea

You need to about it extensively, make mistakes, and correct them. Krème was not built in a day. There are two of us on this adventure, Marie Belile and me. Our profiles are complementary. I came from the cosmetics industry, and she was an engineer in aerospace. Two poles apart! Marie brought a completely fresh, consumer perspective, which was invaluable.


2. Building a Business Model 

We were in complete bootstrap mode, entirely self-financed. This compelled us to think about the business model bearing in mind we had to be profitable from day one. Initially, Krème was a digital brand relying on a community engaged on social media. Then, we shifted towards a hybrid business model: half digital, half retail in pharmacies.


3. Leveraging Your Campus Years


Dare! Go through the window when the door won’t open, take nothing for granted, and above all, work hard, aim for excellence! These are the values that HEC instilled in me. I had the opportunity to travel a lot abroad thanks to the school. Between Australia, Hong Kong, and Beijing, international exchanges opened my eyes to cultural diversities, which we incorporate into our product strategy


4. The Importance of the Testing Phase 

It is vital! Initially, Krème grew with a test and learn approach. Multiple surveys allowed us to iterate the product, leading to us discarding the first artistic direction of the range. We launched the brand through crowdfunding on Ulule in 2020. A love for customer service and understanding our buyers has always been our priority. We now understand that innovation can be found in simplicity, and we make it a point of honor!


5. Managing Failures

What lesson do we draw from it? A lot of humility. Fortunately, we have not experienced significant failures so far. Krème is developing extremely well. However, it doesn’t always happen on the timeline we desire. We have learned to get used to the fact that everything doesn’t go as planned in real life. In school, we tend to put everything in Excel sheets and achieve very nice linear growth. But in real life, sometimes it goes very fast, not everything is written beforehand, it will be irregular, very fast, a bit slower – that’s the challenge!


6. Knowing How to Grow 

We are fortunate to be able to self-finance Krème’s development despite rapid growth. We cherish this freedom, providing absolute independence in our choices, especially ethical ones, and the ability to give teams all the latitude they need to react quickly. We now sell one unit of our best-selling collagen cream every two minutes in France, and 500 partner pharmacies have already joined us. This is just the beginning of a beautiful adventure.


7. Collaboration

We were hosted by the HEC incubator at Station F in our early days. The school’s ecosystem nourished us with the insights of numerous experts who still accompany us today, especially in digital. Today, we engage in many collaborations – an excellent way to get closer to the big names of the French start-up economy  -and spread our influence.


Bonus: Advice for Young Entrepreneurs 

I would tell them to go for it, to avoid having regrets. There is always a possibility that it will work! You need to have a go-getter attitude but maintain great humility. I don’t believe in the sustainability of businesses that are purely opportunistic. For me, loving your product is key. Be your number 1 customer. We expect the headquarters team and ourselves to practice sales because there is no better reality than having to sell your product on the field : do it from the start ! Know how to alternate quick intuitive decisions and stepping back on certain topics. In short, juggle and go for it!

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