#YemziGirl Interview September, Victorine
1. Please describe what you do, where you're from (and your age if you feel comfortable)
V: I am Victorine Sarr a Senegalese woman who has a passion for travel, beauty, tech among other things. I am 33 years old and I spent most of my life outside of my home country and I think it is part of who i am today. I graduated from ISG Paris, a management school and i was lucky enough to work right after that at Apple for 4 years. I also had the opportunity to work for L'oreal specifically on the African continent. Marketer is my profession but after that corporate experience I wanted something different, I wanted to have more impact and challenge the status quo. Thats when i decided to pursue my dream and start my company. I was selected among 500 young African leaders by Former President Barack Obama’s initiative The Mandela Washington Fellowship. That was the boost I needed to branch out and launch LYVV which is a beauty brand for women of color
2. Tell us about the dream you are pursuing...
V: This a first of all a dream of a mentality shift. Across the continent first then the rest of the world. I have always been that girl with the dark skin and even in my own country I was the subject of mockeries. I am too dark - I am not pretty enough – don't event think about make up – you should go lighter to be noticed. Those were words part of my life. Of course at that time it was hurtful and I couldn't figure out yet how to explain to those people that they were wrong. I didn't grow up thinking that I wanted to be an entrepreneur butIi grew up always wanting to be the best person I could be. Starting LYVV for me is therapeutic in a sense because im using the brand as vessel of communication to the entire world that women of color should be represented and well represented. We are using beauty to do it but our mission is very clear.
3. On the LYVV IG page the brand is described as natural fresh chic tell us more,,,
V: Our products are all natural – paraben free – cruelty free – ophthalmologist tested and yet very pigmented. We wanted not only to propose good quality products but also respect the environment while doing so. Right now we have on the market lipstains – lipsticks and lipglosses. We made sure that the colors we picked were very pigmented but also a good mix of neutral and darker colors so that every woman could see herself wearing proudly LYVV. That is why those adjectives were picked to describe our products because that is also who the LYVV woman is.
4. Yo've worked for global companies, what did you learn that informed your business?
V: I learned a lot. Corporate jobs teach you how to work within a team and manage different dynamics and personalities . Also the competencies that you need to run a business. My specialty is marketing but in those companies I had the chance to oversee a lot on top my field such as communication , business development, audit, HR. It is definitely helping me today on a daily basis. Plus, having worked at L'oreal for 3 years it enabled me to travel more in Africa and to see for myself how the beauty market was evolving. It really inspired me to bring a solution to this unfair situation that women of color have been living for decades.
5. What are your 3 tips on creating your own beauty range?
- Study your market well & find a NICHE
- Surround yourself with the right people
- Innovate always
6. As a business woman how do you find time and space to unwind ?
V: It is important to stay healthy because if not you wont have the energy to go though this wild journey being sane. What I do is I allow myself some detox moments whereby i shut my phone off and go to the spa or i practice yoga. It is a great deal for me to just have that alone time to recharge the batteries.
7. When is it best to be in Paris and in Dakar ?
V: In Paris it is definitely autumn the city is already beautiful but at that time the atmosphere changes and it gives a nice touch to the overall look and feel. In Dakar it is between December and March because the weather is pretty good . It's not cold and its not hot and also there is this dynamic vibe to the city because that's when we get most visitors . Everything gets more lively .
8. For you what defines a Yemzi Girl ?
V: I think you can see that throughout the 3 collections there was a lot of versatility and diversity so for me thats what a Yemzi girl is about. She is about her style and it is important to be able to switch it up a bit from time to time.
9. Which products from the LYVV collection would you team with Yemzi pieces?
V: Our products from our lipsticks collection would have fit perfectly with pretty much all the looks of your 1st collection. Lipsticks such as: Dakar, Abidjan, New York, Accra. These have good pigmentation but are also chic and light colours that would have looked beautiful on your pieces across the collection.
10. And finally what is your favourite quote?
V: I believe that formidable things only happen when you are out of your comfort zone. My faborite quote from all time is this one from Heraclitus There is nothing permanent except change