Maison Maes was established as a business in 2020 and has been Butterfly Mark certified since May 2022. The Paris-based brand is taking a new approach to leather goods, exploring the use of innovative bio-based materials and combining it with the legacy of French craftsmanship. For their first collection in cactus-based vegan leather, they already managed to reduce by more than 60% the average carbon footprint of handbags and are always searching for new innovative materials they could use across their value chain that could reduce further their environmental impact. We recently caught up with the co-founders, Romain Boubert and Geraldine Saquy, to find out what they think makes a successful business leader as well as as well their learnings and advice for aspiring leaders.
What makes a great – or successful – leader?
We believe great leaders inspire with their passion and energy, and also foster open communication within their teams. The first important thing for us if you want to be a good leader is to be passionate. You must show others what you believe in and rally them with your positive energy. Especially when things are a bit harder, then you must be able to show your team that you are here for them and to remind them of the vision you all share. The second important thing for us is to encourage open communication and to make sure that anyone can have sincere discussions and exchange ideas and opinions freely. You must be able to share positive or negative information with your team, show people they can express any diverging opinions without any hard feelings, and explain the reasons behind any decisions you make. We believe this is how successful leaders create long-lasting trust.
What are your personal strengths as leaders?
We started Maison Maes because we share the same vision, and we are both equally passionate about what we are doing today and where we want to take the brand. We believe anyone we work with, whether internally or among our business partners, can really feel the passion that is driving us every day. We also complement each other well. We have two very different personalities, but our decision process is very smooth. Although we approach things in our own personal way, we end up being totally aligned. When one of us is convinced of something, the other one will challenge him or her to make sure we are going in the right direction. When one of us is faced with a new challenge and is getting a bit discouraged or overwhelmed, the other one is there to assist and cheer him or her up. This is a big “plus”, especially when you are building a new brand.
What is the toughest lesson you learned?
Things do not come easy; you have to be resilient and keep believing in yourself and in your ideas. When you bring new ideas that can shake up the established order, some will welcome you as innovators, but most will be sceptical. Do not let them discourage you. It is a tough journey and only the most determined will prevail. You must prepare yourself to face many difficulties along the way, to fall down and get back on your feet many times, to have to adjust and to adapt to an environment that is constantly evolving.
And the most rewarding?
In the end you meet tonnes of extraordinary people along the way. It is not so much about being successful or building a business, it is about getting to know these people and building meaningful relationships that go beyond your brand. Even if you fail, in the end you will be richer as a person thanks to the people you met, it is a fantastic human adventure.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring leader?
Always remain open to others. You might be a genius and get it all figured out by yourself but most of the time you will have to rely on others and should always be looking for their opinion. It is crucial to be open and hear their point of view, especially if they disagree with what you are doing. It will challenge your beliefs and push you to overcome the many obstacles you will face.
Why should people be positive about the future?
Because more and more people now have a sense of urgency and are convinced we must make swift changes. Most people are staying positive, not falling into despair, thinking it is too late and we are all doomed. There is an incredible wave of optimism that together we will change things and that we can innovate for the better. New leaders, new brands and new companies are emerging with ideas, and it is very exciting to see what the future holds.
LEARN MORE ABOUT MAISON MAES’ BUTTERFLY MARK CERTIFICATION