Mom and Entrepreneur: Portraits of 3 Connected and Committed Women

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Promoting female empowerment, Olistic the Label celebrates Mother’s Day by giving a voice to 3 connected women who manage to combine a fulfilling family life with a successful entrepreneurial career.

Noella Coursaris Musunka is a model and philanthropist. Noella founded Malaika in 2007, an association promoting women’s education in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Florence Raja is an entrepreneur and founder of Ethical Era, a platform uniting technology and sustainability. Florence’s impressive career has taken her through the world of ballet, politics and business development. 

Isabel Encinias is a committed jewelry designer. After her career in fashion she founded her luxury company TEJEN. Her creations evoke precious totems inspired by her passion for travel and craftsmanship. Her jewelry collections are made of precious stones of ethical origin and use Fairmined certified gold, a responsible label guaranteeing an artisanal mining origin.

Olistic the Label takes a look back on the journey of these influential women, their vision of luxury for tomorrow and their secrets to balance their personal life with a commitment for a better world.   

Noella Coursaris Musunka founder of Malaika by BARTEK SZMIGULSKI

Noella Coursaris Musunka

Founder MALAIKA, mother of JJ & Cara

Noella, how have you felt through the last few weeks? What will be their impact on fashion? 

Sustainability has been my priority for some time but this crisis has strengthened my beliefs. We don’t need loads of new things and need to move away from fast fashion. I will continue to favor renting rather than buying. We all need to hold brands accountable for where and how our clothes are made.

From modeling to philanthropy, what has been the common link in your journey?

I have been afforded many opportunities through the education I received as a child. My mother sacrificed a lot to make it happen. That was the key to everything so I am determined to work to ensure that girls can be provided with such an important human right.

What is your secret to balancing your entrepreneurial activities with motherhood? 

It is important that female entrepreneurs don’t feel like they have to choose. My two children join in and make friends at Malaika. This helps them to understand what I do as a philanthropist and feel connected to it. JJ and Cara understand when I need time to work and the impact I have on others.

Do you think women entrepreneurship, especially in the DRC, should be more supported?

Without a doubt! We would all benefit from Africa and its people being empowered to start their own enterprises. African women have so much potential and need to be elevated in business and politics and invited into a global community of women entrepreneurs. Malaika was set up to bring education and health programs to girls in the DRC. 13 years later we provide a free holistic education to 346 girls.

Being a mother and an entrepreneur of the world is a real challenge, how do you find your balance?

I love a relaxing bath and to look after myself. I enjoy being outside in the sun and watching my kids play. Spending time with them is uplifting, they make me smile and focus on the positives. I will also get lost in a book or listen to upbeat music. 

 

Isabel Encinias, founder of TEJEN mother of Joaquim, Tiago and Ajna.

Isabel Encinias

Founder of TEJEN & mother of Joaquim, Tiago & Ajna

Isabel, you have 3 children, what do you think is the secret to balancing entrepreneurship and motherhood? 

It’s a big but doable struggle. My children have told me how much they admire and respect my choices to be an entrepreneur and my ability to support everyone by myself. It can be exhausting and scary but it’s the most gratifying adventure ever. Even the failures and mistakes allow you to grow as a mother and as a business person. In a way, it’s all interrelated.

How to preserve craftsmanship in the current crisis?

The most important thing is to not give up neither to succumb to negativity. We need to continue to believe and work hard because, at the end of the day, we can make a huge difference in the lives of our artisans.  We have the luxury of being small businesses that can make decisions for ourselves. Small sustainability-based brands are the pioneers that the major luxury groups are looking at today.

How did you come to create a conscious jewelry brand?

My partner and I we were both sickened by the amount of waste in fashion. Later I was introduced to pure artisan craftsmanship, social impact, and sustainability. It opened my eyes and changed my world. When TEJEN started, there was no doubt that we would strive to be ethical, sustainable and limit our ecological impact.

Daring to be an entrepreneur and being a mother is a real challenge, how do you find your balance? 

I generally wake up a bit anxious, so the first thing I do is meditate for twenty minutes, then I take my dog for a long walk all around Montmartre and if I’m in the country we walk in the forest. It completely changes my mindset.

Florence, founder of Ethical Era mother of Rien, Alexander and Natasha

Florence Raja

Founder Ethical Era, mother of Rien, Alexander & Natasha

Will the crisis we are going through have an impact on luxury? 

Luxury isn’t a physical thing; it’s a feeling that we need to distil in our daily life, the last few weeks made it clear. Fashion is transformative but it doesn’t require the act of purchasing huge volumes to have that magical feeling of expression of identity and inner beauty. I feel more radiant in high-quality pieces loved for a long time with special memories attached.

What do you think is the secret to balancing entrepreneurship and motherhood? 

Women are certainly capable of being both mothers and entrepreneur. However, the way society is structured means it is almost impossible. The way women are meant to work like they have no children and parent like they have no work doesn’t stack up. This is how I ended up being an entrepreneur to manage my time and be more present for Rien, Alexander and Natasha. It is easier to pretend it is ok because acknowledging the truth means acknowledging life wasn’t as promise when we were told girls can do and be anything. Admitting this will help change the situation.

Do you think women entrepreneurship should be more encouraged?

There is a huge funding gap for female startups. This is sad because women run businesses are more profitable and less risk orientated. I have met young women who are aspirational, motivated and hardworking; there isn’t a lack of female entrepreneurs. They are driven to succeed and we need to make sure that nothing stands in their way. But women should not need to be superwomen. I am however blessed to be surrounded by many mothers and businesswoman who have overcome all of these odds and I will always continue to fight for the women and daughters who are following in our footsteps 

A common resonance with Olistic

These women entrepreneurs and influential women have a vision of luxury that resonates with Olistic the Label fashion definition and are committed, in their own way, to a more sustainable future and the feminization of entrepreneurship. 

Noella’s commitment has been echoed by Camille who, thanks to the support of a sericulture in India, promotes women’s emancipation through crafts in developing regions. Between the founder of Olistic the Label and the creative entrepreneur of TEJEN, there are many similarities such as the timeless elegance of their collections and their choice for a sustainable, rare and precious craftsmanship. Passionate about eco-responsibility, Florence and Camille have found in each other a mirror to their values and their fight for a slow and more human fashion.

The passionate commitment of these mothers and creative businesswomen resonates with Camille Jaillant’s commitment to preserve our planet for our future children.