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by Aglaé Dancette
January 15, 2019

Who’s behind TownHouse ?

Diane loves creating. That’s why she’s created TOWNHOUSE WORKSHOP. Your virtual space.

She’s just been celebrating her 27th birthday, were you there ? She seems to have grown up fast, with a clear idea in mind : living the way she wants.

Soon you’ll get what her intentions are. One thing at a time. You have a lot in common with her. Let’s have a look at it.

“Look and Read…”

the interview

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

What’s taken you here ? What’s been your path ?

DIANE

My path hasn’t been a straight line, in term of scholar path, if that’s what you mean with path. I applied to a preparatory course at HEC, then I quitted. Then I went to a business school with a marketing specialization.

After two years in that school, I told my parents : « well, that’s cool but I’m getting bored. It’s going in all directions at the same time, finance, management, but nothing I’m too crazy about ». So then I did a gap year to take some time on what I really was interested in : I followed a MBA in luxury marketing at « Sup de Luxe », a school that belongs to Cartier. The classes took part at night, from 7 to 9 pm everyday.

Beside that, I went through some various professionnal experiences. My first one was for Helmut Lang, I was the commercial in charge of the client accounts and the showrooms. It was a little team. Then, I worked for Van Cleef and Arpels in fine jewelry : this was my first experience in this field. It makes me understand that it was a very tailored service, with very special orders and a really accurate sense of the details. It was a very magical and beautiful world and it inspired me a lot.

To get my business school diploma, I had to go abroad. I was looking for an internship and applied as a webmaster. I got selected the next day and then everything happened quickly. I spent almost 2 years living in Miami. I first was the inventory assistant. The team was still pretty small but we were a lot of French people and I was lucky to work near the leaders. I was discovering the issues they had to face and I was witnessing the creation and the development of a concept-store. We were starting to open several shops all around the US. This was a turning point. Then as a parisian intern, I was in charge of the partnership with « Le Bon Marché », a famous shop in Paris : I had to brief the teams with the idea of bringing the parisian vibe in Miami.

The year went on like this, and I went back to Paris with a ton of ideas in mind. I was back with the experience of a different culture and I was noticing the differences between France and the American way. We were a little bit backwards regarding the retail and the customer experience. When I was there, I took the opportunity to discover some conceptual stores with a real experience to offer : like Urban Outfitters, Anthropology or Soho House. In France, some new concepts were appearing too : Broken Arms and Sézane. So I thought, that’s great, things are changing, but something is missing. I wanted to create something but I didn’t really know how. At the same time, the IFM school was starting a new program called « Management & Entrepreneurship ».

I applied and through the year, my idea grew up. Being in touch with 8 other entrepreneurs helped me build something tangible. The first idea I had back then has evolved to become the project as it is today.

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

What do you do when you first wake up ? Do you have any ritual ?

DIANE

I’m not sure I can say it, but you may find out one day ! I wake up turning my phone on. First thing to do : checking my emails and replying to the emergencies. In my family we’re all living apart, my sister is in Singapor and my brother lives in Los Angeles so we live with a time lag. So when I wake up, I can read about my brother’s past night or the day my sister just had. It’s quite funny. Then, I plan the day in my mind, I need to know what will happen. After these three things, I have breakfast, it’s important, even if I skip it sometimes.

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

Where does your love for fashion comes from ?

DIANE

When I was three years old, I was already passionate about wardrobes. I’ve found some pictures of me, picking out an outfit, dressing up. When I now think about it, that was funny to do that at such an early age. So maybe this has always been within me.

What is also certain is the influence of the years I spent around my grandparents store and their workshop in Paris. This surely guided me on my path. About five or six persons were in charge of the creation. When I was little, I spent hours in the workshop, looking at them sewing, adjusting, making linings. It was and still is a real source of inspiration.

My mum also inspired me. When I look at some pictures of her, I can see that she had a very personnal style really early on, so much elegance…She often says to me : « What you’re wearing, I was already wearing it 20 years ago ». I always appreciate her style and her outfits, even if unlike me, she dares wearing colors. She’s one of the reasons why I’m doing what I’m doing today, for sure.

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

What’s your favorite brand ?

DIANE

I love looking at the work behind each detail or seam of a cloth. Every piece reflects some thought and hours of work. I’m fascinated to understand what inspiration leads to a cloth. That’s the basis of the parisian fashion. In term of style, I think that Chloé is a brand that suits me.

To me, it’s the symbol of the romantic parisian woman, the forms are light, alive, flexible, and the colors are soft. I like the contemporaneous and cosmopolitan style. I often mix up some « haute couture » garments with vintage ones. LoveShackFancy is my last crush : it’s an American brand that keeps the tradition of vintage. And the garments are also very romantic, long dresses with ruffles and bohemian style cuts. I need to know the story behind a creation, that’s what makes me feel like traveling through the clothes I buy.

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

What does usually annoy you ?

DIANE

I hate doing nothing. My mind is always pondering on something. And I don’t get people who don’t have any goal to work towards, those who wake up not knowing why. Personnally, I’m always working on something new, ready to launch something.

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

What amazes you ?

DIANE

I’m amazed with people who wake up with a really accurate goal in mind. They have a project and believe in it. I’m amazed with the generation I’m part of : there are so many entrepreneurs trying to launch something, getting more and more specialized. I’m not sure our parents generation could do all this. No matter your age or where you come from, nowadays you can live your life the way you want. Your dreams can come true. It’s really powerful.

Traveling also amazes me. It’s inspiring to be in contact with different cultures, different influences from Asia, America or Europe. For this particular project, I’m really staying aware of what’s also happening elsewhere. I need to know why and how about everything, so everytime I meet someone new, I ask her a lot of questions about her inspirations etc. The more I travel, the more amazed I get.

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

Is there an example of an entrepreneur that you really like ?

DIANE

Every entrepreneur is inspiring because every story is unique. I’m thinking about Sophia Amoruso, the founder of NastyGal and Girlboss, she’s a proper serial entrepreneur. Her route is fascinating : she started at a very young age, she was dealing vintage garments on Ebay first, then on her website NastyGal. And it worked great, almost too well, she coudl barely handle her success because she was coming from the fashion field and had no business skills.

Then she even crashed and lost her company. She bounced back writing a book about her failure, writing a series inspired from her life, and starting off a new website. This is pretty impressive, she crashed and thought : « well, I don’t care because I believe in this and I still have things to do, I’m ready to move forward and show that there is a lot of other women like me ». I reckon her story has inspired hundreds of young women. Now, she’s got a whole communauty suporting her and having her back because she did everything to fight for her dreams.

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

Is there something you never told anyone ?

DIANE

(hesitating)
I love waking up in the morning with my mind full of dreams. That gives me so much energy. I find it great anyway. There’s also something strange that I find funny : I would have loved to live in the 1960’s, maybe because of the style, the cuts and the fashion at that time, everything was more formal. Nowadays, costumers have the power and decide for the brands. There was more respect for the creator and for the brand before. I would have been curious to live back then.

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

What does creativity make you think about ?

DIANE

To me, it’s something between being spontaneaous, some madness and some imagination. Spontaneity because being creative can happen at any time when the artist doesn’t even realise it. A lot of craziness is required as well and of course a lot of fantasy and imagination. There’s never enough of it. Imagination is like a big box of ideas.

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

Is there anyone very talented that you’d like to mention here ?

DIANE

Everyone is talented to me ! I’m thinking about all the persons I’m surrounding by, who give me a hand for my project, who bring a lot of ideas and their personnal baggages. They’re all a good inspiration. You’ll meet them soon in the following interviews. I can’t wait !

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

The people from generation Y need to give meaning to their actions, what do you think about that ?

DIANE

There shouldn’t be room for guesswork. We’re lucky, we’re being helped a lot. There are Business Angels, business incubators, that support us through our projects. Every action has to come from a real passion and an unconditionnal comittment. To give meaning, we have to be convinced about what we do. My passion, my history, help me give meaning and pursue my goals.

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

What’s your motto ?

DIANE

There’s a saying that I love : « Think outside of the box ». It forces you to think differently, to create something new, that doesn’t exist yet. I also like the sentence « make it happen », like when you have an idea, go for it. To me, it’s important to persevere when we have an idea or something in mind. The project I’m working on takes a lot of time but I’m still passionate about it because I believe in it.

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

What’s the place in Paris that representes you the best ?

DIANE

I love La Rive Gauche. I don’t live there but I can walk around there for hours, looking at people walking past. It can sound strange but what I also love is just getting in the places that intrigue me. I just push the doors and behind them, I’m often surprised about the architecture. It’s the perfect neighborhood for good stories. Like mine for example !

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

Where do you go out in Paris ?

DIANE

I like going to Claus for breakfast in Saint-Germain. It’s cozy and there’s good quality food. I recommand it to spend some time with girlfriends or even for a business metting because it’s very quiet. There’s a tearoom I like, it’s called Miss Marple. It’s an idea of France et Martine Cohen, the founders of Bonpoint. It’s also very cozy. I go there for a brunch, on the Sunday morning, and I order some pancakes with big chunks of strawberries and cream. It’s a bit of a hidden place, you have to know it.

For lunch, I like « Le Bar de la Croix-Rouge », in Saint-Germain as well. It’s very typical and parisian, if you like toasts, I often take the salmon one. And the desserts are irresistible, the strudel is awesome. Served hot with cream. From the terrace, you can see the street and the passersby.

I recommand « La Société » too. The customers are really parisian, trendy and cosmopolite.

And then, of course, there is « Le Bon Marché », I can spend hours there. It’s a very holy place for people into fashion : typically parisian and very creative. The fashion there doesn’t look like any other. It’s my style.

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

What’s your lucky charm thing ?

DIANE

My bracelet with charms. It looks like me, always moving, always on the go, it seems to be pondering. It was my mum’s and she gave it to me two years ago. There’s a story for every charm : she was adding a new one after each of her trips. One of them makes me laugh because if you blow on it, there’s « I Love You » appearing. My mum had fun with that one around her boyfriends and I do the same. This bracelet could annoye some people, because it makes some noise and it always stays stuck in jumpers etc. At least, people can hear me when I arrive somewhere, I don’t need to ring a bell ! (laughs)

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

How would you like to be portrayed ?

DIANE

Telling me that I’m creative is the best compliment I can get. So my portrait could be something like : « Diane is like a surprise that you get to know bit by bit ».

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

What are you currently working on ?

DIANE

I’m about to go to Australia and South Corea. I also have a lot of ideas I let you know about on time !

TOWNHOUSE (LÉA)

One last word ?

DIANE

Make your dreams come true ! Nothing is impossible.