“Former marketing executive, I became the leading cheese producer in the 93”

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Avant de produire du fromage, Xavier Hugol-Gential a géré les marques d'hygiène féminine Vania et Nett.

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Posted on Dec 1, 2021 2021 at 12:39Updated Dec 1, 2021 2021 at 13:05

“After a bachelor's degree in economics in Lyon, I entered Sup de Co Reims, which has since become Neoma. Originally from Valence (26), I moved to London for my first internship in a communication agency in 2012. Then I did my final internship at L'Oréal.

In the process, in 2014, I was hired at Johnson & Johnson and I stayed there for seven years. At the start, I was more in charge of marketing for cosmetics, then I evolved as a product manager in dermo-cosmetics for brands like Biafine or Neutrogena. At the end of my first career, I oversaw the Vania and Nett feminine hygiene products.

It was a great school. As a product manager within the scope of London, I had sales objectives to achieve, thanks to different levers: communication supports, advertising, marketing, etc. It was like running a mini-business. The only big difference: we depend on the group strategy established by the hierarchy, so we do not decide on our own. And it can be frustrating.

“I took advantage of a departure plan”

But, the atmosphere was good, the working environment very positive, the management good, I left without any bitterness. I was just at a point in my life where I wanted something else. I then took advantage of a departure plan in February 2021 to start a business.

I wanted to stay concrete. At one point, I wondered about the manufacture of cosmetics. But most of the small boxes that I know don't make it because it's very expensive to produce. Some are even obliged to subcontract.

Cheese is a product that I like. I have a certain affinity with dairy products. I love the idea of ​​starting from a raw material (milk) and being able to transform it into all kinds of things (cheese, butter, cream, etc.). In addition, with craftsmanship, we remain master on board.

My reflection came like a click. One day, I said to myself: ‘But why don't we produce cheese in town?' So I started to educate myself and I said to myself that combining cheese and town was an interesting idea. This maximizes the short circuit logic.

“I was living my best life”

While studying the sector, I realized that it was segmented into two very unbalanced portions: on the one hand the vast majority of industrial producers and on the other hand the artisan farmers, who are the holders of the know-how. And we risk losing it …

Thanks to my favorable starting conditions, I was able to take the necessary time to train myself and build my project, step by step. I went to the National School of the Dairy Industry. Between lessons and internships, it took me three months in total.

I got a little late with the Covid. In total, the process of opening the cheese factory took me a year and a half. But, the preparation phase did not bother me. Really, I was living my best life (laughs).

One day, a forming

I launched an Instagram account: 1jour1fromage. The principle was simple: every day, I tested a different cheese, I tasted it, took a picture of it and described it. Little by little, a community was created around cheese. In the end, I reached 6,700 subscribers!

I gradually gained skills in enhancing cheeses and also in terms of taste. And I finished a finalist in the Coupe de London des fromagers in 2021!

At the same time, I found the premises, did the work and even recruited two people: Regis in the store, who followed me on my Instagram page, and Bastien in charge of production, a former engineer also in retraining.

We opened the cheese factory on October 22, 2021. And the public is there. Milk is bought from producers located less than 100 km from the store in Saint-Ouen. It's a city in flux with a strong industrial past, it seemed relevant to me to set up in 93. And the public is there!

Next cheeses 100% made in 93, on the shelves at Fromaville ... and on the market occasionally.

Next cheeses 100% made in 93, on the shelves at Fromaville … and on the market occasionally.Fromaville

On the under side, to set up the project, I had a personal contribution, which I supplemented with a classic loan from the bank. In addition, through crowdfunding, I raised more than 18,000 Pounds.

Finalist of the English cheese maker cup

Finally, I was a laureate of the Entreprendre 93 Network and I obtained an honor loan [de 15 à 50.000 euros sans intérêt ni garantie, NDLR] which helped me a lot. This competition is a real boost, Michel & Augustin or the Gallia brewery won it. This network also makes it possible to exchange views with entrepreneurs, not to be alone.

Despite everything, I am still officially a job seeker. I'm not worried, it's normal after only a month of opening. I don't think I will get paid for another year.

By then, I hope to be able to pay myself a net salary of around 3,000 Pounds per month. But the real objective remains the long-term growth of Fromaville and its profitability, my remuneration will inevitably result! “

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