In the first part of the interview, you discovered Harriet's commitments and fights against discrimination against women at work. You will now learn about the steps that led her to work for the environment, at the pace of her professional experiences, as well as the advice she would have to give to future entrepreneurs.
A growing interest in agri-food and the environment
Alongside her studies at ESSEC, Harriet found a job at Cojean (a high-end fast food chain), through the business school's junior company. She quickly became involved in the management of the company's subsidiary in the United Kingdom, and enjoyed working within a small group of 30 employees. The advantage is that she truly sees the impact of her work, and that she has direct access to decision-making members, which allows her to give weight to her ideas.
This professional experience at Cojean made her think about how to reconcile agro-food and ecology. Indeed, the company is committed to offering recyclable packaging, organic products and high traceability. It was there that she began to consider new projects with Ludovic Rachou, co-founder of the energizing chewing gum company OneGum.
The birth of Bonsai
Ludovic and Harriet have known each other for over 10 years. One of her first friends when she arrived in Paris, Ludovic helped her integrate into this whirlwind city. As soon as they met in 2009, he was already talking to her about entrepreneurship and teeming with ideas. If Harriet does not yet plan on this path, she switches when she learns that chewing gum contains polymers, that is to say plastic particles.
A big consumer of chewing gum, she begins to think about more ecological alternatives, highlighting the fact that in the past, people used the sap of a tree, the sapodilla tree, to chew it. Ludovic, then in the process of developing and marketing energizing sports confectionery, did some research and ended up finding a supplier of natural gum. He then offers Harriet to become his partner and work with him on this project. Bonsai was born!
Become a semi-entrepreneur
Over time, Ludovic begins to think about new entrepreneurial projects. Harriet therefore finds herself completely in charge not only of Bonsai, but also of the operational management of Ludovic's first company, OneGum.
Harriet thus considers herself a semi-entrepreneur because she now manages the start-up but did not have to take care of the initial steps such as finding suppliers of raw materials, or even shareholders.
She quickly learned all the jargon necessary for entrepreneurs in the food industry: let us quote the DN or “digital distribution”, ie the percentage of stores where the product is present; the PCB or "by how many" evoking the number of product units per package, etc.
Some tips for embarking on the adventure of entrepreneurship:
- For Harriet, it is necessary to “seize the opportunities of life”. Sometimes, opportunities present themselves to us without us being there at the origin, or inspiring encounters can make us change our path. You have to be open to anything new, and not tell yourself that you won't be able to do it. You have to dare and not hesitate to help people without necessarily expecting something in return.
- Choose your shareholders well: if they give good advice and have experience in the field, that's better! Do not hesitate to consult them often, they will appreciate giving advice and bringing their stone to the building.
- It is sometimes important to take the time to be bored. During the lockdown, past the rush of the first few weeks, Harriet made sure to finish her work early, and instead of turning on the TV, she chose to do nothing. She was free to reflect, to empty herself. The one did him a world of good to let his thoughts wander. According to her, it is often in these moments that the best ideas come to us, because we see things with new eyes.
Let's finish with a little anecdote to highlight another aspect of Harriet's personality: she is very competitive. Especially to herself! When she has something in mind, she doesn't let go. For example, when she started running again, she couldn't stop thinking about it, and was so excited about going for a run the next day that she couldn't sleep at all. night !
So believe in yourself, listen to yourself, and luck will smile on you!
The Bonsai team