XXIV - 2015

Ariane Zagury of Rue Madame made the leap from investment banker to fashion entrepreneur


PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 November, 2015, 3:12pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 November, 2015, 3:12pm

Sometimes life leads you to do things that you've never dreamed of. Take Ariane Zagury, an investment banker who ended up in the fashion business as the founder of retailer Rue Madame. 

"It's all about timing," she says of her unexpected career switch. "I didn't have any idea of becoming an entrepreneur, it just happened to me because it was the right time, the right location and apparently the right person."

Zagury moved to Hong Kong in 2008, and was surprised by the lack of direction in women's fashion. What was happening in Europe with the luxury market was not available in Hong Kong. She saw an opportunity and opened her first Rue Madame concept store in 2010. 

Later, she opened mono-brand stores for French labels such as American Vintage, Maje, Sandro and Claudie Pierlot. Rue Madame recently expanded to Singapore and is going online at the end of the year.

Zagury says: "With fashion, it's something you feel. You need to get something that is becoming hot, and it's very important to understand when it is going to become less hot. This you learn by experience - how many seasons one thing can last. You also need to listen to your gut."

Having a small firm makes Zagury more flexible. "When opening a store, timing is important, but the right decision is even more so. I would rather wait six months more and have a better location than just do something because we have set the time and decision. On that front, being a small company and entrepreneur is key, because I don't have a board telling me that I have to do it now. I prefer to do it right."

Zagury believes business time needs to be quick and short. "The first thing is to remove the layers and complication and to try to make everything smooth. A waste of time is a waste of people and money. It's a waste of the market, because if you don't get into a market in time, you lose it. However, getting into a market too early can also be dangerous."

When it comes to personal time, especially with family, it's about slowing the pace. "Everything has to be quite different - getting rid of your mobile, laptop, computer. You do your best, and I remind myself to focus on priorities - first are my kids, after that is work and after that my husband. One of the rituals we have every night is we do a little prayer, and recently we came back from holidays and became big fans of massage. So every night both of them are fighting for me to do a massage; this is a new evening ritual for them."

She advises fellow entrepreneurs: "Don't be scared of making mistakes. I'm a big believer in making mistakes - that's how you learn." EN

Roger Dubuis
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"I just turned 35 [and] this is my birthday gift. I really appreciate that it is one of the only brands that is made [completely] in Geneva. It's big but not too big; I like it for day and evening - it's very versatile. It's timeless, and my kids will be able to wear it."