Women Who Inspire Us || Mathilde Ricaud
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born in France in a little harbour town called La Rochelle. Growing up I was passionate about all kinds of outdoor activities- especially horse riding, sailing and hiking. I have always been stunned by nice interior designs and loved trying things out myself like home decorations and sketching. Maybe I was influenced by my dad who works in construction? Maybe it came from fashion? I’m not sure!
When I was old enough, I moved to Bordeaux where I lived for 4 years, during which time I completed a degree in Marketing - I thought it could be a good opportunity to practice my passion for design in business. I wasn't sure about who I wanted to become but I knew I wanted to travel - I had already spent most of my savings visiting Europe.
The free bird that I was, I decided to stop school and move to London in order to learn better English. I started interning in a PR agency but didn't really like it. Luckily I ended up finding the best job ever as visual merchandiser for a British based cold water surfing brand called Finisterre. I loved this job - it taught me a lot and gave me a new passion for surfing.
Two years later, under the pressure of family, I sadly moved back to France to complete my Master’s degree. This definitely opened even more doors to "abroad" and once I was finally free from school I packed my stuff and booked tickets to travel all around Asia. My end game was to finish in Australia where I would stay on a working holiday visa.
When I arrived in Bali I was enchanted and tried to make the most of my time here. I learned the language and went on as many trips as I could all around Indonesia. And then I met Sylvain. I found love and fell in love with the country. Everything took a big turn as I cancelled my visa to OZ, found a job, and settled in to a life here. I am now happier than ever, working for a cruise ship between Bali and the Komodo islands, and living with my partner in life, in crime and in business!
What’s your favourite thing about living in Bali? What do you miss the most about home?
It's now been over two years and I have developed what I like to call a love-hate relationship with Bali -and I think it's what I like the most! Let me explain: I'm a person who gets bored very quickly, and Bali fulfills my needs - some days I feel like the luckiest person ever, and some days living here is way more challenging than what I thought it would be. I never get bored, I never really get sad and I learn about myself every day. Bali pushes me to be the best version of myself at all times.
I miss my friends and family indeed, but internet makes it so much easier to stay in touch. However, the internet does not bring me cheese, wine or bread!
How do you like to start your day?
A big bowl of coco pops, 10 minutes of Yoga, a sunrise surf session and chop chop, get to work!
What is at the top of your bucket list? What has been the best thing you’ve crossed off it?
Snowboarding in Japan, sailing in New Caledonia and Diving in Tahiti! The best thing crossed off so far is probably fighting my fear of depths with diving which is something I love to do and which is part of my job now.
What’s your favourite way to spend down time?
I have a hard time slowing things down. I'm always working on several projects and I cannot say no to someone who needs help, so I don’t have much free time. But when I do I like to spend it with Sylvain doing absolutely nothing- watching Netflix, cooking, sleeping. We do not get to spend so much time together because both of our jobs are quite intense. There are many things we love to do together - fishing, surfing, diving - and we somehow manage to do these things on a monthly basis.
How did the idea for Laut surf bags come about? Can you tell us a bit about the brand + the process?
LAUT is a funny story. Sylvain came home one day after he had bought some pandan in order to make a surf bag for himself. I got excited about the project and couldn't keep myself from getting involved giving him design tips to make the bag look nice. He found Pak Budi (our production manager) driving around in Canggu, and he did really well with the bag. Sylvain and I already wanted to start a small business together (we had tried making a few things before) and loved the idea of the surf bags made out of pandan. We thought about the name and a real concept and LAUT was Born. Sylvain takes care of suppliers & production, and I do product design, branding, and marketing. We love the idea of using natural materials for the bags and we're now working on a new version - 100% natural/recycled. To be continued...
What has starting your own business taught you?
So many things! If I had to put it in a nutshell: Perseverance, Patience, Cohesion. Starting your own business is a real challenge, starting your own business is a foreign country is even more challenging. Starting your own business with your partner is beyond hard!
What advice do you have for other young entrepreneurs?
Perseverance would apply to starting any business: nothing is easy, never give up ;)
Patience would apply to starting a business abroad because of language barrier, rules & regulations and cultural differences: you need to keep calm and move ahead at the local pace. Take it step by step even if it's (too) slow for you.
Cohesion would apply to anyone one going into business with someone they personally know: it's tricky because you lose objectivity. It’s difficult to balance personal and professional lives, but I am convinced it's also a strength. You just need to find a way to make it work.
Sylvain and I have common tasks that require us to work together, but we also bring our own strengths and have our own areas of expertise where, after discussion, we can make the final decision independently of each other. This gives us balance.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
That's a very good question, may I answer it on my death bed? Just joking!
I remember this American business teacher at school who said that "Whoever you are, how good you are at doing your job, how famous you are, you'll be nothing without love in your life".
What are you grateful for today?
Once again, so many things. I guess I'm just feeling lucky to have the opportunity to discover other parts of the world. I am grateful for the education I received and that I have now the power of making a difference.
*All photos courtesy of Mathilde + Sylvain
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