Odile DALLA BARBA, But You’re French, eco-responsible clothing. Portrait

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Odile DALLA BARBA has had many careers and professional lives. Experiences that give him a vast look at the reality of the world. It is a trigger event particularly publicized around the world that begins his entrepreneurial adventure. An observation, a desire to propose something new, with the conviction of a significant potential. Citizen of the world attached to freedoms, Odile DALLA BARBA has created an ethical and local brand, made in Bordeaux.

From trade to agri-food, a varied learning process

Odile DALLA BARBA has always lived in the Great South West. She completed a BTS in Commercial Actions, before moving to Aix for four years. She then followed a training in Business School, specializing in International Business. This is an area that has always pleased him, that attracts him enormously. During this period, she discovered the professional world during internships she carried out in Spain and Australia. Two first experiences that confirmed its attraction for the international.

Shirts But You're French
But You’re French offers shirt models that adapt to all morphologies. Photo credit Manon LEPREVOST

Her first entrepreneurial wishes then arrived, and she expressed the desire to create her own business with two friends. But the project did not succeed, for lack of maturity.

Subsequently, Odile DALLA BARBA began her first real professional experiences in the food industry. She works successively with the company Davigel, located in Bordeaux and Pomona, toulouse. An adventure that will last three years, during which she will taste the world of work. After which she decides to set sail, and embark on a new adventure, far from France…

The international parenthesis, the openness to business ideas

Since the beginning of her studies, Odile DALLA BARBA knows that she wants to make an international career. She then decided to leave everything behind in France, and moved to Canada, more precisely to Montreal. She then got a job in the lottery sector, with a printer of lotto tickets and scratch tickets. His work focuses on Latin America, and is in the product marketing sector. It’s an ideal experience, and a job she calls “her dreams.”

Her life in Canada took a new turn, as she founded her family there. But quickly, the distance with the members of his family remained in France weighs on him. She therefore wants to get closer, without returning to France. The idea of entrepreneurship then crossed his mind again, this time in the artistic field. Odile wanted to open an art gallery, her father-in-law being a painter himself. But this idea, as beautiful as it was, turned out to be rather expensive.

Eventually, she landed a job in Ireland, where she moved with her family seven years after arriving in Canada. Driven by the beginnings of the Internet, she then joined the Microsoft group, within the European center. A total career change, which offers him the opportunity to manage international teams and manage global projects. His position allows him to cover the Europe, Middle East and Africa markets. For her, it is the strong symbol of cultural discoveries.

A mediatized accident, the disaster at the origin of But You’re French

But in 2013, his career took a new turn, suddenly. A change that follows a dramatic news relayed around the world: the Rana Plaza accident in Bangladesh. The collapse of a building in which there were workers working in textile workshops. In this type of building, workers produce clothes on behalf of brands distributed all over the world. Brands that at the time, Odile and her family consumed. This news also echoes what Odile describes as modern-day slavery. A delocalized production that makes it possible to pay less for branded clothing.

In the mind of Odile DALLA BARBA, an idea germinated. The importance of ethical textiles, and its absence on the national market. She has always loved clothes, especially shirts. In 2015, she returned to France, and settled with her family in Bordeaux. For a year, she continued to work remotely for Microsoft, but her business idea never left her. Thus, in 2016, she began a sewing and textile training, a know-how already well anchored in her family.

Fabric shirts details
But You’re French shirts are only made with materials made in France. – Photo credit Manon LEPREVOST

Her desire is very clear: she wants to create and develop eco-responsible clothing, with local raw materials. Bio-based materials are therefore essential, and Odile DALLA BARBA then begins her search for suppliers. She then made an observation: most of the skills she was looking for were relocated, and sewing training had almost completely disappeared in France. It will still be able to find suppliers of certified and quality products in France.

But You’re French, national organic production

In creating But You’re French, Odile DALLA BARBA made the choice above all to turn only to French suppliers, who do not relocate their activity. Thus, she begins her activity serenely. The company Amandine Cha, based in Lognes, Seine et Marne, supplies him with the fabrics. These are fully organic GOTS certified fabrics, which meet the expectations of the new company But You’re French. She also surrounds herself with a workshop, C2S, located in the Deux-Sèvres, specialized in the manufacture of shirts. Finally, the buttons are designed in the Lyon region with natural mother-of-pearl by Brochot.

More than a business creation objective, this eco-responsible side is rooted in its philosophy of life. And although its search for suppliers has not been obvious, the company is growing. His first choice is to only sell directly, even if it means reducing his margins. Through this 100% Made in France concept, Odile DALLA BARBA wants to contribute to the circular economy.

A reputation to acquire before really getting started

The idea is there, the suppliers too and the pieces of the puzzle are coming together: But You’re French is starting to fall into place. However, after 20 years outside France, Odile DALLA BARBA no longer knows anyone about Bordeaux. For two years, she undertook networking operations to make herself known. A useful network afterwards, for his company.

These two decades of absence have shown Odile DALLA BARBA a changed face of French business. When he left, France was a country less focused on entrepreneurship, and Bordeaux, a city a little quieter. The entrepreneurial momentum was far from its current intensity.

Today, there is a very strong entrepreneurial will, with many projects with an eco-responsible scope. This trend is well highlighted by associations, supporters and aids to entrepreneurs. For Odile, Bordeaux represents a small French network that is still active. The decision to settle there was also a decision of the heart, to finally get closer to his family.

But You’re French, from networking to sales

The start of sales was particularly long, the concentration of Odile DALLA BARBA being focused initially on contacts. After two years, the company is launched. Thus, But You’re French offers shirts at 145 € for men and 135 € for women. It exists for different models, whose shirt cuts come in several colors and details. And quickly, Odile DALLA BARBA realizes that the craze is there. The desire to buy local attracts consumers, eager to consume less, but to consume better.

She starts by offering her shirts in small markets and salons. And quickly, the opportunity to present his concept in Paris arrives. Parisians are more aware of eco-responsibility, due to population density. And Odile believes that it is much more effective to communicate directly with the customer. This makes it possible to explain to him what organic cotton is, and to provoke a click, if he did not have it yet.

Logo But You're French company
It is a replica of the movie “La Grande Vadrouille” which inspired the brand name “But You’re French”. – Photo credit Manon LEPREVOST

However, she is also launching her online activity, for all the people sensitive to eco-responsibility that she does not have the opportunity to meet. And one day, she is contacted by a man who wants to try on the shirts directly. But none of the cuts correspond to its morphology. He was so motivated to be part of this eco-responsible approach that Odile had a new idea; it was going to create a tailor-made offer. A niche market, at 155 €, no matter the adjustments, for all customers to whom no cut corresponds.

But You’re French, varied profiles but a common expectation

Thus, But You’re French is making its nest in the ecosystem of ethical and eco-responsible textiles. Odile DALLA BARBA participates in trade fairs, where she records at least one sale each time. This craze shows him that consumers are sensitive and ready to consume local… But they are also good ambassadors. From businessmen and women who are constantly on the move, to people who want to dress chic; the brand’s clientele is fairly well distributed. However, it mainly concerns households with higher incomes.

In its operation, Odile has a desire: to satisfy the customer. To this end, it is particularly active on the networks, and regularly intervenes in schools to transmit its message. Arriving before the state of mind relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, she was able to launch her activity through traditional circuits. But like all other sectors, it has also experienced lockdowns, and all their consequences. However, Odile DALLA BARBA continues her fight, promoting eco-responsible and ethical consumption, while offering a quality product.

COVID-19, the new turning point of But You’re French

Faced with the pandemic, But You’re French is also undergoing confinement. Sales are dropping, but Odile has an idea. She wants to offer a parallel product to her shirts, a product that customers need. Among the mandatory barrier gestures in public places, wearing a mask gives him an idea. An idea that allows him to partially compensate for the loss of income on the sale of his shirts during trade shows, in particular.

In fact, passionate about sewing, Odile made her first masks for her loved ones. Quickly, she was contacted to start producing it on a larger scale, which she did.

“From a spontaneous demand, a perennial activity was born.”

This new type of production allows him to reach a new audience, with AFNOR certified masks. It offers a model of breathable mask in organic cotton with elastic; a model with tape adjustable to its size, AFNOR certified; and a mask model with ribbon and three layers, also AFNOR certified. This mask offer is tailor-made, made on demand in order to have no stock or loss. A lucrative secondary offer: But You’re French achieved its 2019 turnover in the first 6 months of 2020.

Odile DALLA BARBA office But You're French
Odile DALLA BARBA wishes to contribute to the awakening of consciences vis-à-vis eco-responsibility. – Photo credit Manon LEPREVOST

Short-term ambitions, the desire to convey this message even more

For some entrepreneurs, especially in this time of uncertainty, the fear of failure is a hindrance. In France, the impression of obligation to succeed dominates, so that the slightest difficulty can be experienced as a failure. And yet, failure is a step forward.

Today, Odile DALLA BARBA has a fierce desire to see the environment, the market, change. She wants to create something positive and is already thinking about short-term projects. Indeed, projecting oneself at the moment is difficult, for lack of knowing how the situation will evolve.

However, Odile DALLA BARBA wishes to develop its offer, by offering a shirt model in recycled fabric (Seaqual) to really enter the circular economy. A fabric made with materials from ocean waste; woven with organic cotton for comfort by working with the French supplier Verne & Clet. An even more virtuous and eco-responsible product, combined with a pre-ordersales system to meet the demand… Instead of creating it, and trying to reduce textile waste.

Finally, But You’re French may well expand its range of products with a less technical offer. For example, it would consist of t-shirts and polo shirts, aimed at a wider audience to raise awareness of eco-responsibility even more. And of course, like the career of Odile DALLA BARBA… Why not consider, even later, offering but You’re French eco-responsible products internationally?

WOMEN’S SHIRTS – The eco-responsible brand 100% organic cotton 100% French made – But You’re French

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