Morgane Sézalory, Founder of Sézane, is next in our Women Who Win series...
You may not know the name Morgane Sézalory just yet, but the chances are you have her creations hanging in your wardrobe.
She is of course the woman behind Parisian fashion brand, Sézane.
Serving up seasonal collections and chic monthly capsules, the online French brand is high quality but affordable – a millennial favourite, with celebrities, influencers and even royals queuing up to get their hands on the designs.
But what about the woman behind the brand?
Features Editor Jenny Proudfoot sat down with Morgane Sézalory to find out more about the fashion brand’s birth and to talk super powers, business advice and mantras.
Take me back to the beginning of Sézane…
After high school I decided to take a year off to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I wasn’t really obsessed with fashion but I was obsessed by aesthetics, art, compositions and vintage. My sister left to live in London, leaving three bags of vintage pieces. I was looking for treasures for myself on eBay and I decided to start selling her pieces for pocket money… I didn’t think it would be the beginning of my professional life. It was working so well that I decided to launch my own website « Les Composantes » to be totally free to design a nice site, put up nice pictures, sell vintage pieces and also my first designs. After a few years I realised that I was ready to focus solely on my own designs… And this is how Sézane started.
How has the pandemic changed your business?
We’re lucky that we are a brand born online because we were able to keep running Sézane and Octobre Editions throughout the year. We had to close all our stores back in March, and we also had to stop the Sézane Tour – we wanted to do a European and US tour of pop-ups, which we had started with Madrid and Austin, Texas, but a few days after the opening in March, we had to close and stop the project. We thought that we could start again later in the year, and we then decided to continue it online. I think it’s important to be able to reinvent yourself during these times.
It was also a time to help and to give back as much as we could. We started Les Dénichés for our French customers, a page on our website dedicated to the addresses in Paris, and other cities like Lyon, Marseille, etc to highlight them and give them some visibility during the lockdown. It includes restaurants, book stores, flower shops, who were closed but did click & collect, special deliveries etc. We also sold books from Ici Librairie, which was just next to our offices directly on Sézane to help them! Our team started to work from home and my living room turned into a Studio, with all the samples arriving there – my daughters were so happy to have all those clothes at home!
What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
The bravest thing I have ever done was deciding to trust myself to start this crazy adventure. I am so happy I took this decision!
What has been your biggest challenge?
Sézane has grown a lot through the years, and we have had to stay focused on what was important when we first started and to maintain the same values today. To keep this close proximity with our ever-growing community, the new ones and the ones who have been following us since the beginning. To have the same love, savoir-faire and quality in our pieces, but while always reinventing ourselves.
Have you ever felt discriminated against as a female founder?
I’m lucky to say I haven’t. I think it’s because I have always been well surrounded and supported.
What is the best advice you’ve received?
‘Always give back’, and it’s something I’ve stuck to all my life thanks to my parents. You have to stay true to yourself, to your values, and to give back when you can. It’s a necessity, today more than ever. I started Demain – our solidarity program – three years ago because I knew that not everyone starts with the same chances in life. And even the smallest thing can make a difference.
How can you achieve the right work/ personal life balance?
As I said, I have the chance to be well surrounded by my family. The good thing this lockdown has brought is that I get to spend more time with my two daughters. I always valued my family before my work, and I’m always looking forward to spending any free time with them.
How can we all ask for more?
We have a proverb in France, ‘Qui ne tente rien, n’a rien’ [nothing ventured, nothing gained], and I think it says it all.
What is your superpower?
I’m not a superwoman at all. I try to do the best for my family and for my brand but like all of them, I’m not blameless. I think my superpower is knowing how to surround myself well, to love deeply, to always share and to be able to count on an incredible work team every day.
What has been your proudest moment?
When I opened l’Appartement, the first Parisian store. It was crazy because I was just passing in front of this local space and then it was available. I did a visit and it was exactly what I wanted. We even had a part for our offices, back when Sézane was only composed of a few people (some of them are still in this crazy adventure, after all these years!). When we opened, it was exactly like I imagined it, a cosy apartment where you can try our products on, but also just take your time, walk around and take a coffee.
How do you celebrate success?
A good dinner with my friends and family, a long and cosy table, with flowers and candles, my vintage-found plates and Italian food.
What will you never compromise on in business?
I will never compromise on the quality or the community. I’m so thankful for this strong community, following me for years, I alway have them in mind when I imagine the collections, the projects, the surprises. And the quality – I want to create pieces that you keep, and that are passed down over generations.
What is the biggest mistake you’ve made?
I’m convinced that mistakes are there to help and guide us, they allow us to bounce back. I’ve experienced a lot of failures and mistakes… we live with it and we move forward.
What is your mantra?
‘The only limits are defined by our own imagination.’
What would you want to change for women?
I want women to have as many opportunities as men. They own their futures!
Visit the Sézane website to browse Morgane’s dreamy collections and find out more about the brand.