How did Kate Middleton stay so stylish during her pregnancies? Well, she has Cécile Reinaud to thank in part for that. Reinaud, who previously worked in advertising, always dreamed of starting her own business, and while working at J. Walter Thompson, she noticed a gap in the market: Women struggled to find stylish maternity wear.
Our Fairygodboss of the Week opened Séraphine in 2002, and today, it's the leading international maternity retailer, with stores in London, Paris, New York, Hong Kong, and Dubai. Reinaud advises other aspiring entrepreneurs to trust their instincts—for her, that certainly paid off!
Cécile Reinaud, Fairygodboss of the Week
Founder and CEO, Séraphine
Tell us a little about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
I actually started my career working in advertising at big agencies including Ogilvy & Mather and J. Walter Thompson. I loved my job, but my dream had always been to set up my own company. It was while working at JWT that I hit upon the idea for Séraphine.
I watched my pregnant friends and colleagues struggle to find stylish maternity clothes— especially pieces smart enough to wear to work—and I spotted a gap in the market. I took a trip to the States to do some market research, which confirmed my belief in the idea. Then I took the plunge, quit my job and started my new life as an entrepreneur. I haven’t looked back since!
That was back in 2002. Since then, Séraphine has grown from strength to strength and is now a leading international maternity retailer. Known for dressing all the pregnant celebrities and royals, Séraphine was the preferred maternity brand of the Duchess of Cambridge through all three of her pregnancies. Today I lead an international team of over 80 people and we have flagship Séraphine stores in London, Paris, New York, Hong Kong, and Dubai.
What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
Séraphine has given me so many proud moments over the years. Winning the Queen’s Award in 2015 was a fantastic achievement. But I think my most proud moment would have to be when the Duchess of Cambridge chose our Fuchsia Knotted Maternity Dress for the first official pictures with Prince George.
What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?
When starting your own business you face one challenge after another, and you have to learn very quickly to roll with the punches. One thing that I really struggled with, especially in the early years, was finding the right work-life balance for me. I became pregnant with my oldest, Lorenz just a year after starting Séraphine. I’m a perfectionist by nature, so trying to juggle caring for a newborn while growing my budding business left me feeling like I didn’t have enough time to do anything to the standard I would like.
It took time to realize that it’s okay not to be superwoman. I started making a list every morning of 10 things I wanted to achieve that day, then immediately crossing out the three least important and accepting that they can wait. I aim to feel 100% happy when I have achieved 70% of my daily goals, leaving me more positive energy to spend on my boys and my business.
Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? and Why?
Sally Anne Stevens, the founder of B.—The Communications Agency. Sally Anne and I have worked together for years, and she has been amazing at helping me build my brand through a PR angle. She is a fellow female entrepreneur, who has built a very successful agency, so I always feel like she understands what I am trying to achieve with Séraphine. The positive energy she brings is invaluable.
What do you do when you're not working?
My two sons keep me on my toes at home, but when I do get time to myself, I love to travel—even better if I can combine that with one of my other loves, like yoga or scuba diving. I just recently returned from a yoga retreat in Greece, which was incredibly relaxing—just what I needed.
If you could have dinner with one famous person—dead or alive—who would it be?
Arianna Huffington. I so admire her professional achievements but also her approach to life and finding the right balance.
What is your karaoke song?
"Run the World" by Beyoncé.
What is your favorite movie?
Out of Africa
What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
A book of French poetry.
What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
So many Jimmy Choos!
What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
My best tip for aspiring entrepreneurs is to always trust your instincts. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t take advice, but if you truly believe that what you’re doing is the right thing, you have to be able to have the courage of your convictions and forge ahead regardless.
Why do you love where you work?
One of my favourite things about coming to work every day is spending time with my amazing team. We are 75% women in the office, with over a dozen nationalities represented, so we are a really international bunch. It makes for a fantastically varied perspective on things and of course a lot of fun at work!
Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women - so each week, we celebrate a woman who made a difference in another woman’s career. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? Celebrate her and thank her by nominating her here.