Arnaud – co-founder of Merci Maman – was recently interviewed by notonthehighstreet.com for the launch of their Father’s Day campaign and shared his thoughts on what it is like to be a father of four and an entrepreneur. Arnaud quit his job in the City a year ago to join Merci Maman, the company his wife set up 7 years ago. And what a year it’s been since he joined the team: one of our necklaces has been spotted on the Duchess of Cambridge, we’ve been on French television and won a competition to have a pop-up store in House of Fraser!
You can read his inspirational interview below.
What inspired you to join your wife’s business?
From day one, I knew Merci Maman would be a success. Not only because I liked the products, but because it was the right fit for Beatrice. To run a small business you need good craft skills, as well as strong business acumen and the diligence to dispatch quality products very quickly.
Beatrice was worried that being together 24/7 would put a strain on our relationship, but actually, we complement each other extremely well – the whole process has been very natural.
What advice would you give a father thinking of starting his own small business?
Lots of people dream of becoming entrepreneurs but never get around to doing it. I didn’t want to regret not having tried. It takes a leap of faith, but there are lots of opportunities – especially online – to develop a business with limited resources and to test it before investing heavily in time and money. Notonthehighstreet.com is a great way to leverage online opportunities and get a fantastic reach. Just go for it!
Do you have a good work-life balance?
I used to work in banking, and one of the reasons behind my career change was to spend more time with the kids. Being my own boss with a business located only five minutes from my home, means I have the opportunity to do the school runs and come home early for supper – as long as I’m prepared to work into the evenings. It’s also been great to spend more time with my wife. Next step – find some time to exercise. Wishful thinking? Hopefully not!
What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kids?
Good question! I would say that entrepreneurship teaches you about hard work, which is something my wife and I value highly. We want our children to take this on-board, and we teach them to take nothing for granted.
Do your kids play an active part in Merci Maman?
With their mother and father thinking about Merci Maman 24/7, I am afraid to say that they have been a little brainwashed. They’ve attended some Christmas school fairs with us, but they are too young at the moment to play a central role. Let’s catch up on that in 10 or 15 years.
What are the best products on the Merci Maman storefront right now for fathers?
The Personalised Open Disc Bracelet is one of our best sellers. We engrave messages, names of children and GPS coordinates – sometimes customers ask us to leave the front side blank, with a secret message engraved on the reverse.
What has been Merci Maman’s crowning moment?
Kate Middleton, The Duchess of Cambridge, was spotted wearing one of our necklaces, which created a huge media buzz and huge demand for the product all around the world. We had to focus on production, getting stock in and recruiting to cope. It was very demanding but extremely exciting!
Tell us more about your home.
We’re based in Fulham in South West London, and live with our four beautiful children. We love it because it’s not too far from central London, but still benefits from parks and a lovely path along the river. We live in a very old house, which we renovated ourselves. We’ve decorated it with a mix of modern eye-catching frames and black and white pictures. It’s a family home bursting with life.
What are your ambitions for Merci Maman in the future?
We are first and foremost a family business, close to our customers, products and employees. We want to maintain that approach. That having been said, we have tripled in size and hope our growth will continue. We want to focus on two critical points: (1) customer satisfaction driven by innovation, quality, fast deliveries, and customer service and (2) the development of our employees.
The worldwide media buzz around the necklace the Duchess of Cambridge was spotted wearing has opened many doors, and we are currently working on plans for international expansion.
Shop Merci Maman’s products at www.mercimamanboutique.com.