From humble beginnings of our ancestors writing symbols with a stylus, the flight feathers of geese to fountain pens and nowadays digital pen, this instrument “has been mightier than the sword”.An understated elegance that has been used by royalties to change the course of history, by enlightenment figures who shed light on reason and science, by freedom fighters shaping ideas, by scientists that changed everything through their theories, by musicians that touch the soul the deepest or by a hero soldier that seeks hope and solace by penning “remember that I love you”. A symbol of education, dreams, status, power, hope, affinity, unity, consolation and purpose, a pen channels ideas and feelings to make a difference. Knowing that your words have an impact, protecting and managing your thoughts should not be taken lightly. As it happens to the best of us, our emotional wellbeing can provocatively be ruffled and we lose perspective. To shield our reactions, we need a reminder, a protective gear that makes us examine the voice and the thoughts in our head before taking any action. For some can be a mantra or taking a walk but how about a pen holder. Every time you are about to sign an agreement, write a letter of request, a to-do list or create a vision, a pen holder serving as an amulet, will be a reminder of your intentions, purpose and how it all fits in with the common good.
Speaking of which, an exquisite pen holder, named “New Beginnings” created by Carla Martin, designer and founder of JEANNE.CHAVANY can definitely compliment your style and be effective like a charm. JEANNE.CHAVANY, a French brand of luxury handbags and accessories, specifically designed and produced the leather pen holder in support of Professors Without Borders”, a non-profit organization founded by HRH Princess Tessy de Luxembourg that aims to provide free and accessible education to all students, especially women. JEANNE.CHAVANY champions the philanthropic mission by donating 10% of each purchase of “New Beginnings” to Professors Without Borders.
I had the opportunity to interview Carla Martin, to learn about her creations and how she handles challenges. I invite you to read and explore her leather accessories.
Jupilings: Please tell us your story a.k.a. JEANNE.CHAVANY –
Carla MARTIN: I’ve built my background in the fashion industry working as a purchasing manager for several famous houses. My entire journey has started out of necessity. A few years ago, I needed a new handbag. I was looking for something distinctive, something that would make me stand out, and fit my personality. My husband suggested, as a joke, that if I couldn’t find the right handbag, I should create one. I was hooked on this idea, as I have always been in love with leather. From that moment, I got more interested in leather and started to visit tanneries to learn and understand this noble material while surrounding myself with amazingly skilled artisans to make my ideas and designs come true. Thus Jeanne Chavany was born.
Jupilings: How do you describe yourself-
Carla MARTIN: Drawing a self-portrait description might sound “pretentious”, therefore it would be preferable to mention that I have earned a reputation of being ambitious, passionate, generous, and competitive.
Jupilings: How do you describe your brand-
Carla MARTIN: JEANNE.CHAVANY is a cocktail of passion, integrity, boldness, ethics, innovation, and sustainability. A family-owned business, all products are handmade in our workshop in France. Each piece is made to order, unique in its own way. Customers need to pre-order and join the waiting list, it takes time to create the magic with a wait of 10, up to 18, weeks for a handbag to be made. This is one of our answers to reducing waste, whilst having transparency during production by sharing with customers the steps in the handcrafting process. Mass production does not fit our philosophy.
Here at JEANNE.CHAVANY we believe that creating by hand is more meaningful.
If something is beautiful and fair and made without harming people, that object has a spiritual dimension of dignity and appreciation of the work.
We are a Human Brand built on respect for each other. Our customers, partners, and artisans are our biggest assets.
Jupilings: Please tell us about the philanthropic aspect of JEANNE.CHAVANY –
Carla MARTIN: We all have a sense of social concern to support charities. It is the ethical importance of our social responsibility.
Philanthropy is not only the ‘right thing to do’ but also strengthens company culture. Helping others and giving back to communities is hugely empowering and rewarding.
From the creation of the brand, I injected all my personal values, principals and ethics. As JEANNE CHAVANY caters to contemporary businesswomen, it was obvious for us to support education. Education is the key to becoming an entrepreneur.
And so it made complete sense to team up with NGO Professors Without Borders, which relates directly to the brand’s values, to support education and empowerment in schools.
Professors Without Borders NGO was founded by HRH Princess Tessy de Luxembourg, whose mission is to provide free and equal access to quality education to all students, especially women.
Their vision is to create a global community of academics and professionals who want to share their passion for knowledge with students around the world.
Professors Without Borders aims to bridge the educational divide between countries, as well as between students and their teachers. They aspire to halt the brain drain by bringing teachers in rather than taking students out.
In support of this venture, JEANNE.CHAVANY has designed a pen holder aptly named “New Beginnings”. 10% of each purchase will be donated to support empowerment in schools.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. – Nelson Mandela.
Jupilings: Do you have a daily ritual to help you de-stress-
Carla MARTIN: What creates stress during the day, is that we try hard to find a balance between work, life, and family and this requires discipline and organization.
My daily ritual: I look after my mind through study, after my soul through meditation and prayer, then I focus all my attention on work.
Jupilings: The best piece of advice you have been given-
Carla MARTIN: Time flies by so fast, use it wisely as we do not have a second chance/life.
Jupilings: What challenges did you face when you were starting your business? 3 tips on how to avoid or overcome them-
Carla MARTIN: Starting and creating a business from scratch is an “up and down” journey. I call it a roller-coaster. Beware to those who are afraid of high adrenaline. The challenges are multiple: from finding skilled artisans to the supply chain, sales and production, from marketing to communication … we face challenges every single day. Some are easier to deal with, some are more complicated. And the more difficult it gets, the more I enjoy it as this requires mind-stretching, looking at situations from different perspectives and trying new things. I am a “scientist” who changes the “formula” again and again and again until it works. If it would be easy, it would be too easy.
Jupilings: 3 tips on how to avoid or overcome challenges-
Carla MARTIN: This is a tough question as it depends on so many criteria. Entrepreneurship is not a destination, it’s a long journey and its secret lies in the mindset. It is crucial to continuously push yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and grow from both personal and professional perspectives.
I would say:
- Patience: overnight success does not exist.
- Become the best version of yourself
- Believe in yourself as the way up to the top is a lonely and often painful journey.
Jupilings: How do you motivate yourself-
Carla MARTIN: “Be miserable or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice” Wayne Dyer.
On any journey, there are times of joy that make me feel like I can accomplish anything, which gives me strength and motivation to move forward, but also moments of hesitation, of doubts, of negative feelings and emotions that could easily take over. It’s simply human nature.
Never wait for motivation to get started. So I have created some “strategies” that work well for me:
- Work out for at least one hour. This will give me a lot of energy, good vibes, and endorphins.
- Listen to favourite music
- Reward me with a nice and delicious meal
- Meditate and express my gratitude for what I got.
Jupilings: How do you deal with setbacks-
Carla MARTIN: My way of getting through obstacles firstly is to start by acknowledging that they’re there, to be honest to myself. To put me back on track all I need to do is to remind myself why I started and what lit the fire…I am very fortunate to do what I love and I do it with passion, this simplifies the situation.
Jupilings: Who inspires you and why-
Carla MARTIN: There are so many amazing people out there who do and achieve so much in their lives. I look up to them with admiration as they inspire me so much. People like Melinda Gates, Michelle Obama, Lady Diana, Greta Thunberg, Nelson Mandela, Sheryl Sandberg, Serena Williams … just to name a few. If I had to choose only one name, this person would be Leonardo Da Vinci. He does not only inspire me but fascinates me. I would love to travel back in time to meet this genius and discover the “anatomy” of his creativity …
Jupilings: Tips on building resilience-
Carla MARTIN: There is no magic formula. Just be positive, be optimistic, be kind to yourself. And take action.
Jupilings: What is the issue you want media to talk about most-
Carla MARTIN: Most of the subjects are well covered by media. To answer your question I would say; Education, Education, Education.
“Education is the foundation for our future. It is empowerment to make choices and emboldens the youth to chase their dreams”. Nita Ambani
Jupilings: What is your life motto:
Carla MARTIN: Well, I do not have a motto on which my life should be lived or built around. It is more like a personal philosophy: believe in myself, I am curious about everything in life; also dedicated and very patient, never rush the process of “creation”.