My story is not inspired by an adventurous trip taken to Africa or any other part of the Developing World. Nor was building an ethical clothing company a dream I would have ever fathomed. No, mine actually started over thirty years ago in Dakar, Senegal. Mine, is inspired by my mother. She was the last child of a family of nine from a suburb outside of Dakar, called Rufisque, where my grandmother was the first mid wife in the whole city. The unorthodoxy of the environment in which my mother was raised, with having a mother as an active participant in the working society back in the 1930’s in Africa, exposed her early on to what was then the unusual and almost taboo notion that women had an irrevocable right to be educated.
The embodiment of that belief is made evident with her finishing her studies of Pharmacy in France and an emphasis throughout my childhood of the importance of education for my brother Franck and my two sisters: Isabelle is now a lawyer in Paris and Beatrice just finished a Master’s in Public Health in London – all of this conspicuously traceable to my grandmother in Rufisque.
Young girls in developing nations have not been given the attention they highly deserve in education. Yet they have the undeniable power to help uplift their communities out of poverty through education and the earning power it will generate.
In addition to education, one of my mother’s other love was for fashion – introducing us to it at an early age – often times requesting my assistance with her getting dressed to glamorous soirees and galas. My interest for fashion quickly grew especially with the surrounding of a city that drew a great amount of its cultural inspiration from Europe, especially Paris due to the colonization.
The inherently poor socio-economic nature that characterized Senegal compelled my mother to confine her children to the trifecta of being a “lawyer, banker or doctor,” favoring “pragmatism” over “creativity.” Due to the strong reverence and allegiance for her, combined with the abundance of “ego” that that future career could “afford” me, I found myself spending ten years between Investment banking and Private banking with a one year stint at UCLA Anderson Business School; All throughout trying to tame any conspicuously ardent desire to let “creativity” finally flourish. Recapturing my life now means immersing it into two passions of mine which are philanthropy and fashion, and that is exactly what this next endeavor is trying to achieve - hence the birth of Le Dessein in the fast growing field of socially responsible companies.
Founder & C.E.O