Home > Delhi > Female Entrepreneur: Caroline Joire – Founder of AGALINE

Female Entrepreneur: Caroline Joire – Founder of AGALINE

Agaline-Paris-LogoI am a French citizen who came to Indian five years back. I have done business studies and I have always known I would eventually create my own company.

I first came to India for an internship in Delhi with a consulting company helping other French companies to develop their businesses in India. Then I went back to France to finish my studies and came back to work in Mumbai, where I was working with a company importing luxury furniture. In the meantime, the Agaline project was growing in my mind and I came back to Delhi in May 2014 to concentrate on Agaline 100%.

I’ve always loved to travel. I got the chance to travel a lot with my family when I was young, and thus could not stay in France for too long. India caught me more than any other country because it makes me happy, then angry, then happy, then exhausted. There is no country like India to feel deeply alive!

Tell us about Agaline

I have launched a lingerie and nightwear brand called Agaline with my partner, Agathe. We both have been living in India for several years and we could not find any lingerie here – as good as the brands we found in Europe – so we decided to launch our own brand. We really wanted to fulfil a need and a demand that is growing. Our brand is made for women in India looking for comfortable and pretty lingerie – with a French touch. As we are two French ladies, we believe wearing good lingerie is extremely important for many reasons: improving your confidence, it’s more comfortable, and any women deserve beautiful things even if they are not to be shown. We are the first designer lingerie brand, with a Couture aspect for women with high standards.

We provide a complete range of nightwear: pyjama pants, shorts, t-shirts and tanktops, nightdresses and babydolls and robes as well as different styles of lingerie: corbeille bra, triangle bras, bandeau bras.

We get all the patterns and grading made in France for a perfect fitting, and all our laces also come from France, mostly from the famous region of Calais.

These laces have been used by the most famous lingerie brands in the world for their beautiful designs and their great quality. Dresses worn by the actresses in the movie ‘The Great Gatsby’ come from France. Georges Clooney’s new wife just got married in a full French lace dress! There are many examples proving the quality and beauty of the laces from France. We choose to use them in our lingerie pieces because they bring a glamour that no other lace can provide to a piece of clothing, and their quality is such that it enables women to keep their favourite bras and panties for longer.

Moreover, most of our fabrics come from France and Italy, as well as the numerous accessories used in the bras.

Finally, Agathe, my partner and designer of Agaline, has done her studies in one of the most famous design schools in Paris (l’Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne) from where many well-known designers have come from, and it is definitely shown is her creations!

India caught me more than any other country because it makes me happy, then angry, then happy, then exhausted. There is no country like India to feel deeply alive!

Who is your target consumer?

Our prior target is a woman from 20 to 40 years old, looking for new offer in lingerie and nightwear. We were surprised to hear that a lot of Indian women actually buy their lingerie abroad as the selection is limited here. A lot of women who are going to get married are also very interested in our products for their trousseau.

We organise lingerie showers and parties for these women: bachelorette or for mehendi – all women get together and make the bride’s trousseau, and the bride can also gift a piece to her girlfriends. It is a fun and very special moment for the ladies who can also share tips about married life and help the bride through such an important moment of her life.

Then we have the expat community who are used to good quality bras and are looking for them here – without being able to find them – so until now that have had to buy mostly when they go abroad.

Why did you set up the company?

I personally have always wanted to open my own company. Having done business studies, it was kind of a must-do. I like doing things on my own, as I want them to be. I am very strict with myself and have set up difficult objectives to reach the level of success I expect for myself.

Moreover, I had always wished to go into a more creative field if I opened my company. I didn’t know much about garments and fashion before starting Agaline, and I am learning a lot thanks to this new adventure – it motivates me every day to go further.

Agathe, on the other hand, was a little less interested in building her company. When we met five years ago, I already talked to her about launching our label together, but she was not as motivated as I was. A few years later, she called me and said: ‘Let’s do it! But let’s not do a common garment brand, let’s take a real challenge.” Lingerie was the best challenge then and a real response to women’s demand for a new offer in lingerie.

What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?

First of all, production of lingerie in India is a task. We came across some people who said they had the skills to do lingerie and saw that finally they couldn’t reach the level of quality we expected. That lost us time and money – especially when they were not recognising their mistakes.

Quality control is also quite a job here. As Agathe and I are perfectionists, it is very difficult for us to accept small mistakes that probably only we see – and make our suppliers realise that it is not okay for us to get an imperfect piece.

Then, starting a company on your own when you are two women, quite young, and foreign is not such an easy task. Even if we were able to go through all the administrative steps and finally open our company, it was not easy every day. Being the two of us was a real help as we were supporting each other as a team, that helps a lot. When one of us is down, the other lifts her up. It works pretty well as of now.

Finally, I have to say that we are very lucky to have a lot of help from friends here and in France. People around us are very excited about our project and are helping us for numerous things. We will always be grateful for that.

To never give up. There will be bad days, horrible days, and great days too. So just wait and work for better days.

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

Being able to launch our first nightwear collection, and see the very good response for it!

We were struggling to produce our lingerie and were wondering if we should launch the nightwear at all. We did launch it and we are glad that we did!

Now please ask me this question again in a few months, I will be able to give you more stories as we have a lot of good things coming up very soon!

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

To be honest, I don’t have one big inspiration but many small ones who helped me building my own project. They would be all the small entrepreneurs in fashion that I know, and met mostly in India. They all have believed in their project and talent and I usually say to myself: they did it, let us do it too! Most of them have started small and became a reference in their industry; I hope we will have the same success with Agaline.

How do you balance your work life and home life?

As of now there is mostly work life and less home life. We still try to go out and meet people because it is important for our brand and for our social life, but we are in the launching phase of Agaline and thus work long hours. We try to have one day off during the week to just think about something else and do our regular activities but it is difficult sometimes. We know that one day it will get better when the company will be settled and then we will enjoy more free time.

What advice do you have for women starting out on their own?

To never give up. There will be bad days, horrible days, and great days too. So just wait and work for better days. Then not to listen to negative comments: take note of what is said, take it into account, but don’t let anyone doubt your project or your ability to do it. Usually people who criticise or put you down never did anything on their own.

Finally do not under estimate the work that has to be done and prepare your project – especially your budget. Do not rush into things too much, take time to stop and think before making any decision.

Can you recommend any organisations or networking groups that have particularly helped you on your journey?

I could recommend Agathe’s sister Aloise who helped us for our internal organisation and to see good aspects and not so good aspects of our project. Then we got a lot of great help from the French Community. We have a group of French entrepreneurs and we help each other in many ways. I believe finding a group like this helps a lot, especially at the beginning. For foreigners: try to find out if your Embassy can help, ours is very active and helps us a lot.

If you could ask for one thing to help propel your business what would it be?

I would like to grow my network, especially along Indian women. I would like to know what they are looking for from their lingerie and nightwear, and how we can better answer their demands. I am actually looking for a women networking group, and I am always searching for events to meet new people and especially women entrepreneurs – if WeAreTheCity India comes to Delhi I would love to help organise an event like this.

What does the future hold for you?

Hopefully great success. We are launching our first lingerie collection soon and a second collection in nightwear. We are also looking to export and wish to expand Agaline to other cities in India (Mumbai soon for sure) and then other countries.

To know where to find Agaline’s nightwear and lingerie collection, contact us at [email protected]

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