For a long time I have been a huge fan of a certain female entrepreneur story which inspires me a lot, the business lady, Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin.
She was the one who invented the riddling rack (gradual turning of the bottles to the upright position), which allowed the dégorgement (elimination) of the wine yeast and deposit remains in a purification process of the beverage, resulting in the champagne the way it is known nowadays. She expanded her businesses all over the world and invented a system of profit distribution among her employees – in the 19th century. The Clicquot widow set a new meaning to the expression “businesswoman”.
Each time the European aristocracy of the 19th century wanted to toast with the purest bubbly champagne they asked for “la veuve” (the widow). It was not necessary to say anything more. Everybody knew that the lady they were talking about was a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, the only fizzy drink which was crystalline at the time, the right touch of sweetness, whose bubbles formed a delicate crown when reached the edge of the glass. She was the first great international businesswoman, in charge of turning sparkling wine in the symbol of a luxury drink.
She was a hard-working woman, many times a temerarious one, who has turned a small family company into a 275-hectare-empire of the best vineyards in the Champagne area.
When she was 27 years old and had a 6-year-old daughter, she did at time the only thing a widow could do: took over the business. The father and the father-in-law gave her moral and financial support on condition of taking a friend of the family as a partner, the wealthy vineyard producer called Alexandre Jérôme Fourneau. Aceitou.
In less than two years, she would make everyone also bend to her technical talent by inventing the remuage, a process used to this day in order to improve the quality of the champagne by eliminating the remains that make it cloudy, and by that, reduced the time and costs of production. For almost a decade, that discovery was kept a secret due to the respect she had from people and a share in the profit of the company given to the employees in key positions. Barbe-Nicole died in July 29th, 1866 at the age of 89 in her castle in Boursault, Marne Valley. At the time, 750 thousand bottles of Veuve Clicquot were sold around the world. She has made her husband François’ and even her father’s dreams come true: all the women in the family carried a noble title- her sisters through marriage; and herself because she was, as the writer Prosper Mérimée said, “The uncrowned queen of Reims”.
Being a woman and an entrepreneur means it is necessary to have audacity, bravery, persistency and a good amount of movement and innovation in business, therefore we have to reinvent every day the world we are building.
We need to get ahead of the other (competition), be determined and precise in our actions and let the intelligence lead our lives
A toast to Female Entrepreneurship!