Meet budding female entrepreneur Kamden Monplaisir who built her new founded empire from the ground up. As founder and director of The Esther Academy and co-founder, director and designer of Bleau Ltd, we sat down Kamden to uncover why she’s championing sisterhood in aid of supporting, inspiring and nurturing the women of tomorrow.
Hey Kamden, how is your day so far?
My day is going great thank you, always a reason to smile and give thanks for my life.
Can you take us through the journey of how you got to where you are today?
We may be here all day so I’ll give you the “quick” version. I grew up in a single parent household in East London; a pretty amazing and unique childhood but also experienced extremely tough times. I went from times of living a luxurious life to living in hostels, hence why I said unique. I think both ends of the spectrums where the perfect ingredients to make me part of who I am today. The good gave me glimpses of how great life can be and the bad showed me where I know I needed to stay far away from.
Fast forward to the late teens I gave my life to Jesus Christ where I was able to find a foundation of faith, courage and a belonging. I then went off to Uni studying International Finance, numbers and equations get me going. After my degree, I secured a full-time job working in Procurement for the UK’s biggest luxury fashion retailer. This was an amazing job which I stayed in for 5 years but along my career journey, my creativity and need to be fulfilled took over. I quit my job and began to walk in faith. Rewind a bit, a year after starting my career I founded The Esther Academy and then fast forward again to 2017 Bleau was born. That’s me in a nutshell.
How did you arrive at the point of wanting to launch Bleau?
Myself and my business partner have always had a passion for swimwear. But being based in the UK we struggled to find pieces of swimwear that complimented us the way we wanted it to. We are also both frequent flyers and often travel around the world so it was necessary to find the right swimwear. We decided to bite the bullet and create BLEAU.
So you are the co-founder of this swimwear brand, what were the first steps you took to launch?
Once finalising our vision for the brand we began to design pieces that we thought would work and started the process of elimination to get the collection ready. Thankfully having a background in business and finance already, setting up the company wasn’t so difficult. We then gathered our networks collectively and pushed the brand.
When it came to finding a co-founding partner, what qualities do you think they needed to possess?
Someone with as much gusto as me, courage and zero fear to make the impossible, possible. I looked for someone who was driven, motivated and ambitious as well as having experience in the business. The best part was finding the similarities but making sure we had differences to benefit the business, we call each other ‘ying’ and ‘yang’.
What research did you do prior to launching Bleau?
We looked into research on the current UK swim market, we researched fabric and manufacturers thoroughly and also put together evaluations for women in UK to see if our product was needed.
Was there anything unusual about your findings? For example demographics or audience?
We discovered what we knew already to be honest; that there aren’t enough UK swimwear brands for young sassy women.
Since launching Bleau, where can you identify the strengths and weaknesses?
My organisation skills have definitely become a huge strength that BLEAU has brought out of me, that and also creativity and design. For weaknesses, I would say sometimes underestimating timeframes and over planning.
How are you currently competing with the likes of other similar brands out there on the market at the moment?
Looking at other brands on the market genuinely gives me the motivation to work harder. There is definitely enough room in the market for us all so we see brands as inspiration as well as healthy competition.
What social media tools did you currently use to build the Bleau brand?
Instagram and Facebook work wonders for us.
Can you tell us a winning moment for you with Bleau so far?
Our biggest win so far was opening for Caribbean Fashion week in Jamaica last year. Definitely, a life-changing moment that I will always remember. That and Ashanti wearing BLEAU on holiday; we grew up listening to Ashanti so that was amazing.
What are you still learning about in business?
EVERYTHING! Haha, no but seriously, I’ve never had any real help with business so every day I’m learning, there’s always something I’ve not covered before.
You have also launched The Ester Company, which is designed to Support, Inspire and Nurture the women of tomorrow, how do you feel you are doing this?
Currently, at TEA we run a mentorship program where our students receive constant support and guidance. Over the past few years, we have also put on seminars, workshops, summer schools and events to inspire the youth.
How do you feel you are also spreading the awareness of The Ester Company ethos?
Constant networking and interaction with schools help us do this. We also use social media and good ol’ word of mouth, there’s nothing like community support.
Did you have a mentor whilst launching Bleau, and if so, what was the most significant piece of advice you learned along the way?
Yes, I still have a mentor to this day. She’s amazing! She constantly pushes me to strive for me, get rid of procrastination and to break every limitation.
Why do you think mentors can benefit new start-up founders?
It’s so easy to get disheartened, distracted or simply fall into procrastination. A mentor can push you to carry on and also support you in areas where you are lacking.
What are your goals for the next 12 months and how are you striving to achieve them?
I have so many, but a few would be to see the visible progression in both BLEAU and TEA, to release some new projects that I can’t yet say and grow and develop myself as a person.
Lastly, what areas are you looking at to continue the growth for Bleau?
We will be starting new partnerships, recruiting some staff and starting our wholesale journey.
Instagram: @theestheracademy @kamdenmonplaisir @bleau.online