Posted on Oct. 12, 2021, 7:03 am
“For years, I have found my daily life at L'Oréal very interesting. I was first in charge of sales forecasts and stocks of major brands, before becoming customer service manager and finally logistics manager. I was responsible for streamlining the logistics of luxury perfumes and creams. In short, to ensure that the products are delivered on time, that there is not too much stock, that the distribution is as inexpensive and energy intensive as possible.
After eight years in the company, I began to question the meaning of my professional career. With the birth of our first child and my growing ecological sensitivity, I longed for something else. In 2018, I therefore joined the Axéréal agricultural cooperative as logistics chain manager.
At the same time, we had our second child. We lived at the time in an apartment in the city center of Orleans and we started to feel cramped. We therefore decided to move to Provence, where Clothilde is from, and to move into a house with a garden.
A practical and local drive
In parallel with this relocation project, an idea began to germinate in our heads. Before becoming parents, we liked to walk to bulk grocery stores or to the shops of local producers in the city center. By becoming parents, we were faced with the complexity of doing our shopping in record time, while trying to consume organic, local and seasonal.
Large retailers offered very practical drives, but it was difficult to find their account in terms of eco-responsible products. Why not combine the two? Our idea: to offer a drive with groceries, fresh, household and beauty products by working with local producers, and, as much as possible in organic, with reusable containers.
The cereal cooperative that employed me granted me a conventional termination in 2021. Clothilde, she resigned from Orange. She worked there for nine years, first as a network engineer, then as a developer.
A room in a strategic location
Once we settled in Provence, she started working in an IT service company. This allowed him to have an income and work on our idea at the same time, without spending all his time on it. But his contract ended at the time of the first confinement. Since then, we've both been working full time on our project.
Finding a place took six months. We needed a strategic location on a home-work axis with a lot of traffic. We opted for a technopole in the suburbs of Avignon, about twenty minutes by car from the village where we live. To this were added six months of administrative procedures, to ensure that the building is up to standards.
We took part in training at the CCI and were helped by the Initiative London and Entreprendre networks, which support business creators and buyers. To launch the activity, we dug into our savings, made a bank loan, obtained honorary loans from the networks that had helped us and funding from the Créa-Sol Microfinance Institute.
Our store named Pichotdrive was finally launched in April 2021, eighteen months after our move. Initially, I was the only one to manage the preparation of orders, while Clothilde took care of the site. In September, an intern and a work-study student joined us. For the time being, we are not financially capable of having a full-time employee.
A very engaging activity
This entrepreneurial project requires a significant investment of time. Online orders are made at any time, every day of the week. The site must hold up, and above all, that our stocks are up to date. A real challenge that requires a lot of organization and anticipation. Especially for fresh products, the availability of which changes with the seasons.
For us who have until now worked in large groups, becoming an entrepreneur is a upheaval. Employees in companies, you are responsible for the tasks given to you, but not 100% of the subjects. There, if the site is on the ground for example, we cannot blame our service provider. It is our doing!
Another point not easy to manage morally: the fact that demand fluctuates. Sometimes we have weeks with a lot of orders and new customers, others much quieter, without knowing why.
The start of our activity has been very encouraging. We have customers who buy from us every week since our beginnings, and baskets of more than 100 Pounds. Our main challenge now: to reach new customers to achieve balance.
Potentially new drives
Once we have perpetuated this drive, we would like to get as close as possible to the people. For example, by developing cargo bike delivery because for the moment, this service is only available in Avignon. We are also considering opening other drives. We also want to forge partnerships with local producers and companies, to get supplies more easily.
Finally, even if setting up a business and managing it on a daily basis is quite difficult – especially with two young children, it is an extraordinary adventure that makes us grow at high speed and that we are happy to experience. Whatever happens, we didn't want to live with the regret of not having tried. We fully intend to confirm the burgeoning success of the drive and to continue to change consumption patterns. “
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