The Journey: From Finance To Fashion!
From Chartered Auditor with a passion for numbers to an entrepreneur with a love for dresses. Robine used to be part of the 24/7 rat race leaving her limited room for creativity, so she decided to quit her finance job and follow her dream.
What made you decide to quit your job?
As a Financial Manager in the Merger & Acquisition world, I used to be in touch with entrepreneurs on a daily basis. I loved hearing them speak about their own product with so much passion and pride and it made me realise that I want that too! I’ve asked myself a million times what my product should be, but I ended up with the same answer every single time: dresses!
You did it! But now, where do you start?
I started by writing down my ideas and I can tell you, I had plenty! I did some drawing of what I felt would be the perfect dress and spent nights and weekends fine-tuning my plans. Luckily, I have a financial background so I could take care of all business aspects myself. Being totally new to this, I signed up for a course on how to start your own label. It taught me to prioritise and showed me the downfalls of the business. This course has guided me through the entire process of founding a fashion brand.
After that, I started networking. I think I drank at least a hundred cups of coffee with contacts that could potentially facilitate my business, such as pattern makers, suppliers, web developers and more. I realised we have so much talent in the Netherlands, so I decided to keep my brand Dutch, with a little French allure. I attended a few big national and international fairs & ateliers to get inspired. I went all-in to discover women’s most common frustrations in finding a perfect dress and gathered as much feedback as I could on my designs and fits. Step by step Rouxbien started to get bigger. Two months after quitting my finance job I found out I was pregnant! But I felt great and worked on Rouxbien until the very day I gave birth. What can I say, this has just given me so much energy.
Have you always had a passion for fashion?
As a child, I was obsessed with dresses. I was always wearing a dress, no matter the occasion. Whether it was tree climbing with my brothers or Christmas Eve, trousers did not stand a chance. With this deeply rooted passion for dresses, starting my own label was pretty much inevitable.
Surrounded by grey suits, I was always on the look-out for a more stylish uniform, a dress obviously, I could also wear on the weekend. I can tell you: mission impossible. To me the perfect dress would have to be comfortable, flattering, stylish, machine washable ánd suitable for both work and leisure. I had no other option than to design my own and save all other women from the endless and exhausting dress hunting.
I actually have another passion, which is France. I simply love French style, cuisine and lifestyle. That’s why I decided to combine this with the label by attaching a French name to it.
How did your friends & family respond to your career switch?
My husband has been my number one fan from the start. With his incredibly positive attitude he has played such a supportive role in founding Rouxbien. I’m so grateful for this, I owe him big-time!
At some point I gathered my family and friends for a lovely home-cooked French dinner. After the main course I gave a presentation about my findings. So many women facing the problem of not knowing how to dress for work and where to find their ultimate dress. Then I revealed my solution: Rouxbien. Some of them were a bit sceptical about trading my finance job for this adventure, but they were very impressed by my perseverance and ideas. Along the way, I really involved all of them in the process. During our Christmas dinner we voted for colours the zippers should be, we had fittings to define the perfect silhouette and we had so much fun doing it! My passion did not go unnoticed and they could no longer imagine me doing anything else.
How would you describe your style?
I would say representative and fashion conscious with a nod to French elegance, but also a little bit edgy. I like to surprise with some cheeky details and cool accents. I prefer plain fabrics over print. I’d rather catch the eye with a popping lipstick or nail polish. Of course my outfit needs to be comfortable and machine washable.
I have so many dreams and ambitions. My goal is to have Rouxbien become a fundamental brand for working women. To be their go-to brand for a smart and casual look. I really aim to stay focused on what the customer wants and optimise my collection accordingly. I do plan to launch new colours and styles and also some limited editions. And what do you think about skirts and jackets? The sky is the limit and I just can’t wait!