As you know, March 8th is International Women’s Day. And we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to speak with you on this special day! This is why I wanted to meet you and ask you some questions about yourself.
Can you take us through your exciting journey?
I was born in Brazil, and throughout my younger years, I had the chance to visit a number of destinations around the globe. In 1998, I landed in Montréal to pursue my studies in economy and finance at McGill. Once I earned my diploma, my student visa was no longer valid and I had to return to France while I awaited my permanent residency. I took advantage of my time there to create my business plan, find investors and earn my diplomas in French pastry, crepe and chocolate making. In my spare time, I also worked in a creperie to expand my knowledge of the restaurant industry.
Ten months later, diploma and permanent residency in hand, I returned to Montréal to launch Juliette & Chocolat. The very first Juliette & Chocolat opened its doors on July 1st, 2003. The first year was certainly the most decisive one. I was at the restaurant 7 days a week to make sure that the guest experience and the products offered were nothing short of exceptional. Over time, I began delegating some of my tasks to my faithful Red Hats. And I’m so glad I did, because one day, I threw out my back while walking my dog. I was completely immobile and bedridden for 4 months. That’s not easy when you’re used to doing everything on your own! Well, life has a funny way of working out… Thanks to this leave of absence, I finally learned to let go, and a short time later I opened my second restaurant on Laurier, and just months later, the first production facility (a mandatory investment for growth). Fifteen years later, we now have 8 locations (with a 9th currently underway and set to open in 2 months!), a 10,000 ft2production facility, several television programs, but most importantly, an incredible and dedicated team of over 250 Red Hats who work with us and support us throughout this growth.
You might be wondering, what about my personal life in all this? In addition to growing my business, I found the time to get married and have 5 adorable children who keep me busy when I’m not working on the company!
How do you manage to juggle everything you have to do?
Like everyone else, I just do my best! I have a very high tolerance to stress and I don’t need much sleep, so that allows me to squeeze more working hours into my day. Plus, I love what I do both at work and at home, so when it’s time to work, I’m happy to get down to it, and when it’s time to stop and take care of my children, I enjoy every moment of it.
I also have little rituals that help me stay as organized as possible: I plan my week out on Sunday so that there are no surprises, each night I plan out the following day with clear and precise actions so that I know exactly what to do when I start my day, I tidy up as I go along, to avoid messes piling up, and most importantly, when I need to breathe or take a break, I relax completely and without any guilt.
Do your children love chocolate as much as you do?
Well, the apple certainly doesn’t fall far from the tree! Our children love chocolate, but they’re generally more interested in pastries and candies. At our house, a meal isn’t complete without dessert. Plus, they’re our first taste testers!
As a woman, what are your resolutions this year?
Each year, I try not to make too many resolutions, so that I am able to stick to my commitments. This year, my goal is to be grateful for how fortunate I am each day. Every night, I take some time to think back on my day and highlight the good things that happened.
How about your resolutions as a female entrepreneur?
This year, my goal for Juliette & Chocolat is to focus on the happiness of my Red Hats and to involve them more in our brand development. And, of course, I want to continue to grow Juliette & Chocolat!
What message would you like to give to all the women who read this?
As women, we often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to succeed, we compare ourselves a lot to others, and we don’t trust in ourselves. We are often told to find a balance between our work, family, social life, love, and personal needs, and I think that by trying too hard to find this balance, we end up putting TOO MUCH pressure on ourselves. Feeling some pressure to perform can be good, but too much of it can become toxic. Yes, we have to learn how to balance all the areas of our lives that are important to us, but we have to understand that it’s not always possible to do EVERYTHING every day, every month, or even every year. There are times when we don’t get home on time to see our children, and this does not mean that we are bad mothers. Sometimes, we won’t have time to see our friends or our partners, and this does not mean that we are bad friends or bad spouses. And sometimes, family comes before work, and this doesn’t mean you’re neglecting your career. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and learn to let go from time to time, without guilt and without regret. Success is not the result of what you do in a day or in a year. It is measured over our entire lifetime, so give yourself time to breathe and find your personal balance at your own pace.
Any closing words?
I often say that the key to success is being well surrounded. We are social beings, we are not meant to live alone. I wouldn’t have been able to build a company like Juliette & Chocolat without my team and thanks to my husband and my network of friends who help out when needed, I was also able to raise a family. Surround yourself with the right people, and the rest will fall into place!
My top 3 faves from the online store:
- The customized apron (Because we all have a great cook in our lives)
- Chocolate puffed rice salami with wooden board (Because it’s just so French!)
- Our fantastic brownie collection (Because I can never choose…)
And if I had to choose a 4th product, it would be the fleur de sel brownie mix… because it’s the perfect family activity!
Thank you so much, Juliette, for taking the time to speak with us today with that busy schedule of yours! We wish you nothing but happiness and success this year!