Fashion, Take-off
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DUNE PAYOT – YOGA SEARCHER

From the famous Cours Florent acting school to a consulting firm, Dune tried her hand at several fields to find her professional path. In 2014, her father created the brand Yoga Searcher and at the ripe age of 25, Dune wound up in charge of the apparel collection and shops.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up between Hossegor and Biarritz. My father had cofounded the surfing brand Rip Curl, and my mother worked in fashion and decoration.

As a little girl, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to be a veterinarian, I’ve always lived around animals and I had a passion for horse back riding.

Did your dream come true?

Not really! After graduating from high school, I went to Paris to attend acting school at the Cours Florent. I did a year of intensive theatre training. I loved it but it was stressful. I was leading an artist’s life while all my friends were in college.

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So you changed directions, then?

Yes, I decided to go into Business. Not out of passion, but because it was a field which offered many different options and the opportunity to study abroad.

Where did you study abroad?

I was lucky enough to do my first internship at Rip Curl in Australia for 3 months. Then, I studied in the UK near Manchester.

What did you do when you graduated?

I did an internship in advertising at Havas Entertainment in Paris, and then I got hired in one of the agencies of the group.

Did you stay there long?

No, it was a short experience. I was in a department with methods that didn’t work for me, so after 3 months, I quit and went to Argentina to learn Spanish.

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What happened when you came back from Argentina?

I got a Master’s degree from the ESSEC and studied in Singapore for 6 months. Then, I did my final internship at Emnos, a consulting firm in Paris, which specializes in the analysis of consumer data.

“I would have loved to be a student for a long time and try out all kinds of jobs.”

You certainly did a variety of things!

Yes, it’s strange, I would have loved to be a student for a long time and try out all kinds of jobs in all kinds of fields. I sometimes wake up in the morning and imagine myself as a doctor or lawyer…

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So how did you go from a consulting firm to Yoga Searcher?

By accident. My father started the brand with a friend, Bénédicte. They saw how popular Yoga was and they opened a yoga retreat center in Hossegor with a small apparel collection that they sold on site. That’s when they asked me to represent the brand in Paris.

Were you already practicing yoga at the time?

When I started with the brand, not at all. But from the start, I dove head first into it. You can’t talk about yoga after just 2 classes.

“I was nervous about going door to door and being told no to my face.”

Did you have a natural sense of sales?

Not at all. I’ve always been afraid of “no”. I was nervous about going door to door and getting told no to my face, especially when it’s your own brand and it feels like it’s you they’re saying no to. But you get used to it in the end.

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What do you do now at Yoga Searcher?

I work with Sandrine, our designer. She is in charge of the creative side: collections, decorating the shops and yoga studios. I manage stocks, set prices, find shops, negotiate leases, recruit employees… So we make a good team.

You do a lot of things. How do you manage your time?

It’s busy, but interestingly enough, I don’t feel as if I’m in over my head. I can manage my time freely, which is quite nice!

“I’m very lucky to have someone who has succeeded by my side.”

What’s it like to work with your father?

I’m very lucky to have someone who has succeeded by my side. I always need reassurance, so when I have an important decision to make, I ask his opinion.

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Is he the one who encouraged you to go into business?

Yes, totally, because I was quite happy as an employee. I was the perfect employee, I loved being part of a team and I had no problem following orders… I didn’t plan on going into business for myself, I thought I was too young to be an entrepreneur, that I needed more experience.

You don’t regret it?

No, I’m having a great time, I get to discover all kinds of things. There’s the freedom of organization, and when your product succeeds, it’s a personal success. I don’t think I’d be able to go back to working in a company now.

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What would you say was your first real success?

I’ll always remember it. It was in June, I’d gotten a voicemail from Galeries Lafayette. They were looking to round off their sports collection with a small yoga brand. I was thrilled.

How did the meeting go?

We got an appointment the week after and the person who met with us had liked the collection so much herself that she’d bought some products directly.

Are you still in the Galeries Lafayette?

Yes, and we are even the only yoga brand now.

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Aside from Galeries Lafayette, where can we find Yoga Searcher?

In our concept stores, at our retreat centers, online at Place des Tendances and Zalando since last July.

In your short life as an entrepreneur, have you made any mistakes?

I’m learning as I go, so yes, in the beginning I made a lot of mistakes. The first time I had to do a bill, I got the tax rate wrong… and I also made a huge mistake in stock management that could have been a disaster. It’s the type of mistake you don’t make twice…

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What do you like most in your job?

The opportunity to dab into a little of everything and to meet young entrepreneurs who all have amazingly interesting ideas and with whom we can collaborate. I love that!

What can we wish you for the future?

I’d like to succeed in creating a real “world” around Yoga Searcher and to see the brand become a reference of well-being in the world.

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Yoga Searcher: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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Interview: Stéphanie Godin and Morgane Vasseur

Images: Laura Laakso

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