This week we are delighted to present a new portrait of an exceptional Woman Entrepreneur. Anaïs Hody is a young Forbes 30 Under 30 French innovator who is just as sweet as her pastries! Her curriculum is quite impressive, a humble leader who is a trailblazer in the box subscription field. We can’t wait for you to discover the co-founder of Le Chef en Box!
A.H.: My name is Anaïs Hody, I am 28 years old, I am a pastry chef and also the co-founder of the first pastry box: Le Chef en Box.
TCT: What’s the story behind LE CHEF EN BOX? Could you also tell us more about the concept?
A.H.: The story started almost 5 years ago… In a complete career turnover in the world of pastry with Cédric Grolet. One day while I was coming back home from work, I saw a Birchbox ad in the underground. And it was at this precise moment that I said to myself “high-end pastry is magic but how can it be transmitted in a fun way? Why is there no pastry box?” Without thinking twice, I called my brother, Julien, already an entrepreneur and founder of the Federation of Young Entrepreneurs in France. I briefly explain him my idea: to create a box where gourmets could receive a recipe sheet, high-end dry ingredients and utensils every month. Julien did not think long before embarking on this adventure with me, we were also joined by Julia our cousin and other associates. Five months later, the business plan, forecasts and society were created. We marketed a few months later (in February 2016). The concept has remained the same and we have widened our range with boxes in partnership with great chefs and large houses (the latest to date with FAUCHON and François Daubinet) as well as with special boxes for retail department such as Monoprix. Then, a year ago we launched our Atelier where we provide pastry lessons in Paris with Anthony, our second pastry chef.
TCT: What were you doing before LE CHEF EN BOX?
A.H.: I was a special education teacher, I took care of children with disabilities and in particular autistic children. Then I started a reconversion in pastry making by passing my CAP with Cédric Grolet then I went to train with Benoit Couvrand and Cyril Lignac thereafter.
TCT: What do you think made you part of the very select Forbes 30 Under30 list?
A.H.: Without a doubt my team! I would never have done anything like this without them and this ranking for me includes my entire team and my associates. We have been working for almost 5 years like crazy on this box and one day the work finally payed off! This ranking is a proof, a proof that nothing is a matter of luck but instead to know how to provoke your chance.
TCT: How did you finance your business when it started?
A.H.: We started with nothing at all, 1300€ and played everything on word of mouth and good communication. We were profitable within 6 months, that’s when we decided to put a little more money in order to develop the business most effectively.
TCT: How long did it take you to set up your business? Could you tell us more about the fundraising, the communication campaign?
A.H.: We had the idea in May 2015 and launched in February 2016 so it was pretty quick, then we left for 6 months to see if the business was going to work. We just brought in people with skills and a large network during our little fundraising campaign. We are now entering the real fundraiser for new projects (moreover we are seeking for our future investors). Regarding communication, I learned it on the fly via social networks, it is a profession of its own right really but I learned it by necessity. We also had a lot of press coverage and TV shows because we were the first one with this concept. Word of mouth was therefore really fast and efficient!
TCT: What is your leitmotiv?
A.H.: IMPOSE YOUR LUCK!
TCT: Do you have a recipe to recommend to our readers?
A.H.: A good strawberry pie, very simple and yet so good! The recipe will soon be on our YouTube channel, by the way.
TCT: What advice would you give someone who wants to start their own business?
A.H.: Get started! If it goes wrong you can always bounce back and you will have acquired new skills! My advice is to surround yourself well, it is essential!
TCT: Finally, how do you think women can be accepted and respected as leaders?
A.H.: So, I’ve seen a lot on this topic… Especially on how “it’s difficult to be a female leader” but by dint of the press contacting me because I’m a woman entrepreneur “it’s great”, I have the impression that it is exactly what creates problems and differences. Pushing so much on how being a female leader is incredible is exactly what creates the idea that it is fantastic. When really, in my opinion, there’s nothing extraordinary about the situation. In my case, it was never never a brake or a difficulty, I imposed myself thanks to my skills and my respect. If I respect a man or a woman in front of me, there is a 90% chance that he or she respects me whether I am a woman or not. A woman can be accepted as long as you have an intelligent interlocutor who do create or emphasize a difference. You know it is like in all areas, unfortunately, there will always be a percentage of unwise people who will not respect you.
Interviewed by Angelina Medar