Success stories can seem just as fantastical as the fairy tales you (may have) loved growing up: Bold career woman finds herself in the right place at the right time, and poof, her
fairy godmother mentor snaps her fingers, transforming our hero into an overnight success who brings home a 7-figure salary, jet-sets the world spreading her you-can-have-it-all gospel, all while looking awesome and Instagramming the whole thing. Umm...really? Why do we so rarely hear the other side of the story — the false starts, the waves of doubt, the failures, and the fuck-ups? Those late-night worries and, occasionally, breakthroughs that are so relatable to the rest of us?
Introducing Self-Made, Refinery29's newest column spotlighting the real stories that fuelled success — the wins, the fails, and the curveballs —proving there's no one path to getting what you want.
As a photographer, illustrator, entrepreneur, and fashion blogger, Garance Doré epitomises the modern, self-made woman. The French phenom has collaborated on campaigns with some of the most recognisable names in the luxury space, including Chloé, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade, Net-a-Porter, and many more. She was a street style pioneer, snapping photos of stylish Parisians all the way back in 2007 — long before Instagram was even a thing. In fact, social media was still in its infancy; the term “influencer” had yet to be coined. In 2010, Interview magazine called her “possibly the fashion world’s most closely followed blogger.”
Looking back now, it's amazing that she achieved so much and garnered such acclaim in the influencer space nearly a decade ago, way ahead of the zeitgeist shift that inevitably followed. Perhaps it’s fitting, then, that her most recent collaboration is with the beloved skincare line La Mer. The campaign positions La Mer as a pioneer in a different arena: the way we view and discuss ageing. Its goal is to embrace generational aging and encourage women to feel more confident as their skin matures over time.
Refinery29 talked with Garance Doré about how she was able to embark on a self-made journey, what aspects of her career have influenced other aspiring entrepreneurs, and the one lesson she’s continually working to master.
What is the definition of being self-made?
To me, it comes down to not letting society define you. It’s about finding and defining who you want to be. Whether you want to be working like crazy, idle, be married, or not... That’s being self-made.
What quality do you possess that has made you a good candidate for self-making your destiny?
To me, it’s definitely my insatiable need for freedom. It gives me the courage to challenge myself and makes me run away from the too well-traveled roads.
Tell us a lesson you keep trying to learn — that you hope to eventually master, in business or otherwise?
Mindfulness. Staying focused on what matters for me. In this very loud world, we tend to forget that what makes our neighbour happy won’t necessarily fulfil us. To observe and examine, and stay connected to who I truly am.
What aspect of your path has been the most motivational to other young women coming up through the ranks?
It’s different for each and every one of them, and that’s the good part! Some tell me it’s my creativity, others talk about my freedom, some about the innovator part. Being an entrepreneur is very fascinating for a lot of women. But I am always careful to tell them there is not just one road to fulfilment and happiness.
Being self-made means committing to self-care, too — to manage the process as well as all the unexpected pivots that come with it. How do you fuel and refresh yourself when shit really starts to get hard?
Time off. Meditation. Having fun — dancing a lot. Family. Self-care. Massages. Jumping in the ocean. Making sure to feel healthy and in my beauty. Hanging out with my dog. Anything that connects me to what life is really about, in other words.
What’s your Self-Made Mantra, no matter where you might be in the process?
Be yourself. This is the easiest, yet the most challenging thing to do.
What are some unexpected challenges of running your own business?
Running a business is all sorts of difficult. Making success for more than 13 years takes a lot. You need to be able to challenge yourself, deal with the failures, not fall asleep over your successes, stay current but stay authentic. The challenges of longevity are definitely the ones we never think about when we launch — they come very unexpected!
Why did you choose to work with La Mer? How were you first introduced to the brand?
I have known La Mer forever and used it as well. I’ve always wanted the best for my skin, since I was a teenager, I knew it made the most sense to be very proactive with it because my actions would impact its future.
What’s your skincare regimen?
I like simple, achievable rituals. Clean, regenerate, hydrate. I work in fashion and beauty, so obviously I have tried, and still try a lot of new products and lotions — and what I have found is that I always come back to my favourites.
The new Regenerating Serum is special because of the effect it has in terms of rejuvenation - I don’t wear a lot of makeup, so I need my skin to feel really good, plump. With the serum I feel like it’s taken care of.
Tell us about the campaign which celebrates generational ageing. Why is age inclusivity so important to you?
Because I think all women need to relax and I want to help spread the word that with a little bit of intention and care, we can look and feel better as we age! I want to be part of this generation of women who are proud of who they are and who feel free to enjoy and live fully, with no regrets, each chapter of their life.
Answer this: If I didn’t pursue this career path, I would be…
So so so so so many things. But probably a spa critic! Ahah!