How Coco Chanel’s three secrets of success can inspire entrepreneurs »PACA’s economic and political newsletter

Anti-conformity, ability to create network, innovation: these are the elements that guide the trajectory of one’s stance that, as Mademoiselle Chanel, who was originally on the edge of an industry, has shown herself capable of changing it.

As Coco Chanelthe great innovators often also big underdogs. Men and women, who were originally on the edge of an industry, and who, together with their ideas and their resilience, end up changing it. In some cases, it plays the role ofoutsider can be an advantage, as well and especially for budding entrepreneurs.

According to a study published recently in the journal Enterprise and Society from the publishing house of Cambridge University Press, a group of researchers from Bayes Business School in London, Stern School of Business in New York and the University of Bologna discovered that both of these characteristics, which seem detrimental to an individual, are usually accurate. those necessary for the pursuit of exceptional and innovative entrepreneurial results.

To do this, they focus on the specific nature of Coco Chanelone of the most influential successful entrepreneurs of the twentieth century who, despite having no social capital or substantial financial resources, was able to make a huge impact in the business world.

The orphaned designer Coco Chanel grew up in extreme poverty and did not have any real classical education before joining Parisian society. However, the use of materials never used in haute couture has allowed her to build a profitable business in the fashion world that, over 15 years, has grown to work. 2,400 women and build about 62 million euros Every year. A success that continues today. In 2020, despite the pandemic, Maison Chanel invoiced nearly 9 million euros and generated a profit of more than 1.8 million euros.

According to the study, three main factors guide the trend of outsiders of the avant-garde and explain their success, factors that entrepreneurs can learn. In fact, it is often these same qualities that seem to punish outsiders that become the decisive elements of their success:

1) Coco Chanel cultivated her unique perspective and achieved early market recognition while working on the edges of French haute couture, where she was able, drawn from her humble background, to experiment with innovative, radical and non customary ideas, without having to deal with true obedience. pressure from peers and critics. It gave him great creative freedom, including his legendary predilection for black and white, inspired by the colors of the uniforms worn during his orphanage years.

2) Coco Chanel demonstrated a strong ability to cultivate strategic relationships with influential members of Parisian high society in her time. Her ability to network effectively means she is connected to high society people and high profile clients whose artistic orientations match her vision of fashion. These social networks allowed connections across business, in other areas, and with her relationships with artists of the same caliber as Pablo Picasso, which meant that Coco Chanel’s creations also benefited from publicity in through performances in theater, ballet and film.

3) Coco Chanel was able to take advantage to her advantage the turmoil in the social needs and practices of zeitgeist of the period, after the First World War. Due to the shortcomings during the war, women became more receptive to simplicity and functionality than where, which benefited from its products. The First World War had the effect of accelerating the liberation of women, by stimulating the social context that fully embraced Coco Chanel’s sober and sporty style, based on simplicity, functionality and more comfortable materials.

According to Simone Ferrianiprofessor at Bayes Business School and at the University of Bologna and co-author of the study, each of these factors should be a source of optimism for contemporary entrepreneurs, regardless of the possible lack of references, relationships and financial resources:

“With moderate cultural capital and completely devoid of social, economic and symbolic capital, Coco Chanel became the epitome of an outsider when she began her business journey. However, she was able to leave an unparalleled mark. in the history of the fashion industry. This course is a symbol of avant-garde outsiders ”.

“Being free from the pressures and conformism of trade professionals offers unique insights and ideas. For these ideas to have a real impact, outsiders need to build bridges between the this world, and find an understanding audience that will support their efforts. And building bridges requires perseverance. »

The studying From Margins to the Core of Haute Couture: Coco Chanel’s Entrepreneurial Journey was recently published in the journal Enterprise and Society.

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