We interviewed Fany Pechiodat, founding member and CEO of My Little Paris, one of the most successful websites in France, as part of our feature on fascinating women. In Part 2 of the article, we will introduce Kanako Kuno (Kanako), who illustrates the website.
My Little Paris began in 2008 as a newsletter introducing recommendations of shops and restaurants in Paris. It soon became popular through word of mouth and currently boasts 1.8 million readers. Madame Figaro referred to it as “the website popular among fashionistas.”
At the end of 2011, My Little Paris launched a new service in France and Belgium under the name “My Little Box,” which delivers surprise boxes filled with cosmetics, accessories and magazine under a monthly theme. Over 80,000 people pay for this service. The service came to Japan in 2013, and the number of fans waiting for surprise boxes to be delivered directly from Paris is on the rise.
The company’s office is situated in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, close to the metro station. The office is located beyond a beautiful green patio, and the editorial team, customer services and engineer team sit in their rooms (each with a kitchen) surrounding the common space with a stairwell. The mugs of the staff are playfully illustrated with the owner’s face and placed in the kitchens. Whenever someone new joins the company, a mug is sent to them as a welcome gift. The walls of the office are illustrated by Kanako and create a cheerful working environment. The space is furnished with vintage pieces accompanied by photographs of the staff and messages from users.
For the interview, Pechiodat greeted us at the top floor of the building, where the view of the Sacre-Coeur is spectacular.
Fashion Headline (FH): You have an amazing office. I’d love to work in a place like this.
Pechiodat: I want all the staff at My Little Paris to nurture their creative minds. I believe that we’re not born creative, but rather we become creative as we go along. That’s why I place so much importance on the working environment. The entire staff helped out with the interior of the office, and I picked up some of the vintage items from the flea market.
If it’s relating to creativity, the staff is allowed to purchase any number of books. We also have what we call “creative money,” which can be used to buy say, materials to design something or kitchen tools for cooking. We have an online outlet for expressing our new ideas as well. Many processes are involved in creativity, and I think it’s important to keep ideas organized.
FH: All the departments of your company are gathered in this one building correct?
Pechiodat: All creative aspects of the graphics and editorials relating to My Little Paris are produced in this office. I think it’s necessary to keep everything consolidated in order to create the images that we’ve set.
FH: How did you manage to expand your business? You started off with 3 people and now you have 85. You moved to this building in 2011 and occupied one floor at the time. Now you use up 5 floors.
Pechiodat: I was lucky enough to find the right people. Even now, I’m in search for good talent through my friends and other networks. The people that work here have the same goal, and we’re like one big happy family. Each year, we compile the staff’s memories into a book. I want our company to remain attractive to motivated and skilled persons.
FH: Why did you decide to launch a business focusing on lifestyles?
Before I launched my own business, I worked at Shiseido and handled brands such as Agnes b. and Jean Paul Gaultier. Through my career at Shiseido, I learned about the marketing relating to the beauty industry. I’ve always liked fashion and art, and I love making new discoveries. Most of all, I love Paris. The result of putting all this together was My Little Paris.
FH: Did you imagine your business to become so successful?
Pechiodat: Actually no. The results are beyond my imagination. I started the business because I thought the idea was new, but at the time I knew hardly anything about the Internet. And I had no money. In a way though, my lack of knowledge made me more innovative and see things from a unique perspective. Not understanding the fear was my biggest asset at the time.
FH: You expanded your business to Japan in 2013.
Pechiodat: I’m grateful that our business in Japan is doing well. I knew that many Japanese bloggers were checking our website, and since Kanako is from Japan, I was hopeful. I knew that many Japanese women love Paris, and I saw this firsthand when I visited Japan. When it comes to details and sensibilities, I see many similarities between Japanese and Parisian women.
FH: How do you view Japanese women?
Pechiodat: I see a lot of creativity in Japanese women. I encourage more of them to start their own businesses. They know a lot about fashion and beauty. I expect many of them to become successful entrepreneurs!
FH: Starting a new business is risky, and many Japanese women are shy.
Pechiodat: If the business is related to the Internet, you can hide behind your computer! I’m only joking, but the Internet is a good place to start. It’s full of great opportunities. I want people to have the courage to challenge themselves.
FH: What kind of ambitions do you have for the near future?
Pechiodat: Last year, we started doing business in London. I want to continue to expand globally. My dream is to create “magic moments” for as many people as possible.
FH: Is this illustration on your desk a work of Kanako’s?
Pechiodat: Yes, she gave this to me for my birthday! She drew a picture of the moment we first met. At the time, I was working for a company so I’m wearing a suit. I owe a lot of my success to Kanako.
In Part 2, we will introduce our interview with illustrator Kanako Kuno.
Fany Pechiodat’s Profile:
Founding member and CEO of My Little Paris. In 2008, while she was still working at Shiseido, she created a newsletter in her own time and sent it to 50 of her friends. With a new goal to add emotions and excitement to the cold Internet world, she left Shiseido to start her own business. My Little Paris soon became known as the “most successful buzz marketing website in France.” In 2012, Pechiodat was chosen as one of the leading business women in France.