What does it feel like to start a family business?

Les Greven, tailor from father to son

For 14 years, Jean-Marie Greven and Sébastien jointly organized a dual fashion brand in Liège. Sebastian: “When I was young, I sometimes visited my dad at the tailor’s where he worked before opening his own shop. Back then, I wasn’t much interested in men’s fashion, but when I felt the need to build a brand. To help me my father so I joined him very quickly I fell in love with the profession now I am in charge of the tailor-made department if only my father sent me basic., I think I have managed to professionalize this service. He doesn’t speak much. Dad. All I learned was watching him. He’s 50 years old by trade. So he knows what he’s talking about. “

Jean Marie: “We rarely have the opportunity to stop to take advantage of our success. The job requires us to be in action all the time. We completely renovated our first store and opened a ladies’ boutique, just opposite All of this takes all of our energy.In times of stress, we are not safe in one or the other tension.When we are tired or under pressure, it is harder to communicate.C Here it can go wrong. “ Sebastian: “Ten years ago, when I came back from my first salon, I wanted to change everything in the store. It was a mistake. You can, as I do, bring a touch of modernity to the purchases or the layout. of spaces, but when I did not renounce the DNA of the brand.Since I joined my father, clients have become younger.In the past, even though Dad was very elegant, the thirty-year-old wanted to treat themselves in a costume are reluctant to push the store door. It’s not like that anymore. “ Jean Marie: “When we spend six days in seven together, we are certainly not tempted to share, in addition, all our moments of freedom …” Sebastian: “I thought so for a long time until, recently, I realized that it is needed to experience real moments of relaxation with the family. Our relationship should not be solely centered on work.”

Any advice for a successful family business?

“Even though working as a family is scary, you have to try at least. When you’re lucky enough to take advantage of a well -run business, it’s stupid to throw everything away without even trying the adventure.”


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Fadi and Antoine Sfeir, wine from son to father

You’ve got to a perfect start: we’ve released our Cabernet de Papa!, Fady and Antoine Sfeir tell us when we contact them. For two years, this father and son led the start-up Pif à Papa. The concept? Offers organic, biodynamic and natural wines made in Courbevoie, five minutes from La Défense business district in Paris. We always have a close relationship, says Antoine, 29 years old. Enthusiastic in the world of wine since internship at a business school, the young man first worked as a wine merchant and importer in Champagne, Australia and Spain. Pif à Papa is anything but a conventional business; behold, the son passed on the passion of wine to his father.

Unlike most liquor companies, with us, subsidiary delivery is reversed, said Anthony. The idea of ​​collaboration began to emerge when Fady, commercial director of business software, read his son’s dissertation. It focuses on wine production in the city and on the history of wine in the French capital. I thought it was great and I told my son that one day we would make an urban winery together, said Fady. The young sixty-one object then made a 180-degree turn to begin training in oenology and join his son on the adventure. As a result, today, Pif à Papa produces 12 different wines a year, specifically offered in a monthly box to subscribers. Le Rouge du Neveu, Le Chardonnay des Cousins, Le Rosé de Mamie … All cuvée are linked to the family universe. The key to their teamwork? We are very complementary and we value each other a lot. We learned a lot from each other, said the duo.

To those who want to start with their father

Fady advised to choose your father properly (he laughs). More seriously, it requires a lot of thought before. We have to make sure that we can work well together. Because it can also lead to cataclysm …


Arnaud Wittmann and Sacha, a legacy of luxury

At 24, Alexandre (known as Sacha) just joined his father, owner of Maison De Greef in Brussels. Arnaud: When I entered the house, thirty years ago, I was immediately thrown into the deep end without being asked what I wanted to do and what I wanted to achieve. For my children, I see differently. I want them to be fully accomplished by following the route that seems most logical to them. And if, as was the case for Sacha, they wanted to join the company, why not. What I don’t like is that Sacha is reluctant to come with us, then tell herself at 40 that she wasted her life. Right now, he finishes his course while working in the store about three days a week. Since my brother left four years ago, I have had to manage everything on my own. I have less time to devote to creation and that frustrates me so much. So I am fully aware of the importance of finding your way.

Sasha: I did three years of communication, then I started studying audiovisual. Unlike my sister who, like dad, is rather creative, I don’t see myself designing jewelry. My role is more commercial. We have also started producing digital content, such as videos. What fascinates me in this profession is that education is permanent. Both in terms of watches and jewelry, washing my father’s shoulders, but also with the watch makers, was incredibly interesting.

Arnaud: I immediately felt that Sacha was made for sale; more of me being a bit introvert by nature. The brands of watches we distribute set the bar very high in terms of requirements. So sure to know that Sacha can, eventually this aspect of things is governed. I never thought I would be harder on him than my other colleagues. Some of our loyal customers – whose children are as old as Sacha – are delighted to see her in the store. For them, it is a sign of confidence. Proof that our house relies on transmission. His presence creates a new dynamic.

Sasha: It’s common for a customer entering the store to tell me “You’re a Wittmann!” In our family, we don’t take it very seriously. The products we sell are linked to the concept of dreams.

Any advice for reconciling business and blood ties?

Understand everyone’s ability and potential. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of a collaborator, your family member or not, and letting him or her into a position that suits him or her, helps to avoid many failures.


Four generations of Nihoul

125 years, four generations. The Nihoul house is an institution in Brussels that is very famous for its sweet teeth. The first store opened its doors in 1897, on rue Neuve. After a few moves – past the pastry shop in the Bailli district and Avenue Louise – the family brand has a workshop -boutique in a mansion located on the Chaussée de Vleurgat. Pascal and Philippe, the sons of Christian Nihoul, gained “full power” three years ago. Each brother has a defined role: Pascal deals with production and Philippe with management. Although their name dictates that they take over the reins of this historic company, the two brothers have to fight to take their place and show the previous generation – made up of Christian, their father, Édouard, their uncle and Anne-Marie, their aunt. .repentant – that they were ready to take the torch.

We had to go through a putsch (laughs). Our father retired about three years ago, but he still has a place in the company as a consultant. We always ask his opinion. Our uncle is very attached to pastry, he always asks us about sales, Philip explained. Since they arrived at the head of the company, the brothers have introduced several changes: they installed a counter area in the workshop and even tested new delivery platforms, while maintaining traditional address values. Above all, my father passed on to us the importance of respecting products, caring for customers and offering them the best. These remain our values.

To work as a family, you need to …

Learn how to open the eyes of those around you when things are not going well!


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