INTERVIEW | CEO & Founder, Émer – Celine Ventalon: My products are crafted for women’s special days - NỮ DOANH NHÂN - BusinessWoman Magazine

INTERVIEW | CEO & Founder, Émer – Celine Ventalon: My products are crafted for women’s special days

The business narrative of Celine Ventalon commences with a father’s affection for his daughter. Fueled by the commitment to bring comfort to women, this entrepreneur has introduced a new solution for the most sensitive days of Vietnamese women and their unique experiences.

Every start-up business idea comes with a unique story, embodying the ideology of its founder. In the realm of women’s exclusive and lifestyle products, ideas range from traditional to bold, and for Celine Ventalon, a pioneering businesswoman in the Vietnamese lingerie industry, the focus is on disruptive innovations. Unlike traditional lingerie, her brand Émer is breaking barriers by concentrating on underpants designs, specifically “period panties.” These innovative products carry the mission of providing maximum comfort tailored to the distinctive lifestyle of women.

INTERVIEW CEO Founder Emer Celine Ventalon startup

A start-up dedicated to women’s interests

Dear Ms. Celine Ventalon, do you envision that your Vietnam-based start-up, centering on the unique market of “period underwear” will successfully establish itself in the market? This innovative concept adds a refreshing perspective to the field of lingerieTop of Form.

In reality, this type of product has gained significant popularity in Western countries. In this regard, I owe gratitude to my father, who is also involved in the fashion industry and specializes in women’s menstrual hygiene products. He introduced me to this product and encouraged me to personally experience it. Like any new introduction, I initially had some doubts, but I soon marveled at its effective performance. Simultaneously, I recognized its potential to revolutionize feminine hygiene habits into a more convenient and comfortable experience.

Having resided and worked in Vietnam for an extended period, I selected it as the initial market for my product. The country is rapidly advancing with a youthful population eager to embrace innovations. With products offering health benefits and facilitating a modern lifestyle like ours, I see no reason why Vietnamese women would not embrace it. While it may take time for a newly launched product to reach its target customer segment and gain their trust, I am prepared to take the risk for the well-being of Vietnamese women. I firmly believe that the product will soon garner the recognition it deserves and secure a solid position in the market, as it has in numerous other countries.

INTERVIEW CEO Founder Emer Celine Ventalon startup

Running a successful business demands more than just faith, passion, and dedication to your product; patience is equally crucial.”

Adopting a gradual and methodical approach, how has your startup initiated its early stages of development?

The decision to introduce this product to the Vietnamese market was a swift one, fueled by the conviction I gained from my initial experience back in 2018. However, translating this plan into reality proved to be a lengthy process. To establish a closer connection with Vietnamese consumers, I opted to co-found a company with a Vietnamese friend. Regrettably, the early development stage spanning 2020-2021 took longer than anticipated. This delay was attributed partly to my unfamiliarity with the market and its consumers and partly to the disruptive impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. In response to this setback, we judiciously utilized the time to conduct more comprehensive market research and meticulously select our factories and production plants. As of this year, we have made substantial strides, with a burgeoning customer base, 90% of which comprises Vietnamese consumers – a promising indication of our progress. From what you’ve shared, the “period underwear” product originated in countries with temperate, pleasant climates. When it comes to tropical countries with a hot and humid climate such as Vietnam, did you make any adjustments to the product so that it fits better?

This is particularly crucial in the lingerie industry, where products have direct contact with the skin. In regions with cooler climates, women can comfortably use the same product both day and night, featuring a full-size absorbent pad, without concerns about heat and dampness. However, this European production standard isn’t universally applicable to tropical countries with hot and humid conditions year-round. We prioritize this distinction during the product design and manufacturing process, aiming to prevent bacteria proliferation and ensure consumer health. After gathering insights from end-user experiences, we’ve developed two distinct designs for day and night use, maintaining the original fabric content and other optimal materials for lingerie products. Tailored to the Vietnamese climate and women’s lifestyle, the day-time variant incorporates a narrower absorbent pad for enhanced breathability, while the night-time variant offers extended coverage and protection, ensuring cleanliness and hygiene throughout the night.

Could Celine Ventalon provide further details on the range of period panties that Émer is currently offering?

Despite being a relatively new concept in the market, Émer has successfully developed an extensive range of period panties. Our collection caters to diverse needs, offering options for typical body shapes, high-waisted styles to conceal period bloating, as well as aesthetically pleasing designs featuring lace patterns or G-string designs. We’ve even ventured into adding menstrual swimwear, providing a comprehensive selection for our customers.

This accomplishment sets Émer apart in the period panties industry, and we take pride in our diverse product offerings. The wide array of designs not only addresses the practical aspects of menstrual days, ensuring satisfactory absorbency, but also adds a fashionable element. This approach fosters a sense of belonging for our customers, making their exploration of this new lingerie concept more comfortable.

Our commitment goes beyond functionality. In addition to providing comfort during menstrual days, our products prioritize fashion, body positivity, and confidence. We understand the importance of feeling good about oneself, even during days of bodily discomfort.

Furthermore, unlike traditional menstrual pads that require changing every 2-3 hours to prevent bacterial proliferation, Émer products, crafted from antibacterial fabric materials, guarantee no adverse effects on health for up to 8-12 hours, depending on menstrual flow. This ensures convenience and peace of mind for our users, allowing them to confidently navigate their day without constant interruptions.

What marketing strategies have Celine Ventalon implemented to enhance customers’ understanding and confidence in your products?

I am well aware that launching a new brand, especially one with a novel product line, poses significant challenges. Consequently, we have implemented a diverse range of methods to bring our product closer to potential customers, including both women and men who can gain a better understanding of their significant others through our innovative product. Throughout this journey, we have been fortunate to receive support from our business partners, impressed and convinced by our product, which has greatly expedited its launch in Vietnam, thereby accelerating our progress in accessing the market.

To delve into specifics, our marketing strategies primarily follow both Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and Business-to-Business (B2B) approaches. On the B2C front, we engage directly with individual customers through social networking channels, marketplaces and the company’s website. On the B2B side, we collaborate with supermarkets to maximize product visibility on shelves, participate in trade fairs, events, and community activities. Additionally, we forge partnerships with universities, hospitals, and international clinics to organize consulting programs, aiming to enhance consumer awareness regarding the benefits of our product. These indirect approaches play a crucial role in exposing our product to potential customers and providing them with a comprehensive understanding of its value.

In addition, we also have some promotional campaigns, such as the recent collaboration with Miss Thao Nhi Le, and upcoming partnerships with famous Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs). We have also participated in Season 6 of Shark Tank Vietnam, leaving a significant mark. Notably, our brand recently received the Gold Rank for “Number 1 Brand in Vietnam” in the healthcare category for women and girls, awarded by the Asia Enterprises R&D Center. At the same time, we are implementing plans to collaborate with airlines to bring our products to female flight attendants, ground staff, and other women who greatly benefit from convenient hygiene products that offer optimal effectiveness during travel.

Emphasizing and confirming the quality of our product is a critical aspect, and the Oeko-Tex non-toxic fabric certificate serves as a reliable guarantee of safety for any healthcare facility partnering with us. Instead of waiting for customers to seek us out, we are actively reaching out to them, bringing our product closer and creating more opportunities for ourselves. With a solid foundation of understanding and trust, I am confident that customers will not only come to us but also choose to stay.

As a French businesswoman, does Celine Ventalon have plans to introduce your brand to the French market? Additionally, what strategies do you employ for expanding globally?

No, I do not intend to introduce our product to France, given its already established popularity across European countries. My strategy involves expanding into other Asian regions, such as Vietnam, ASEAN, and East Asian countries, where the concept of menstrual underwear is still relatively unfamiliar to women. Following this approach, Émer is currently accessible in Malaysia, Singapore, and exclusively through Amazon, in the US. Our upcoming destinations include Thailand, Cambodia, and the Middle East.

INTERVIEW CEO Founder Emer Celine Ventalon startup

An essential quality for a start-up owner is composure – a trait that determines their ability to perceive and effectively navigate difficult situations.”

As a self-made businesswoman, what qualities does Celine Ventalon believe are essential for establishing and running a sustainable business?

I have experienced both failure and success in my youth, gaining valuable career lessons along the way. It’s become clear to me that running a successful business demands more than just faith, passion, and dedication to your product; patience is equally crucial. A start-up owner must acknowledge that certain aspects cannot be rushed and require time to mature.

Moreover, a budding start-up necessitates various external factors such as capital, expert knowledge, and human resources. This poses a challenging dilemma, particularly when expanding the business. I consider myself someone who dares to think and act, understanding my strengths and weaknesses. Nevertheless, I must concede that business challenges often arise unexpectedly and can significantly impact finances, marketing, and sales. Therefore, an essential quality for a start-up owner is composure – a trait that determines their ability to perceive and effectively navigate difficult situations.

Each woman is a distinct version of herself

As a fellow businesswoman, what is your perspective on the career development of modern-day women compared to the previous generation?

Undoubtedly, contemporary women are characterized by their independence, competence, confidence, and a fearless approach to challenges. Each woman is a unique embodiment of herself, and this individuality, coupled with their resilient spirit in the face of adversity, distinguishes them even further. Modern women display a remarkable fearlessness toward failure, opting to learn from these experiences and confront both their weaknesses and strengths.

Especially noteworthy are the young women of today, who embody aspiring learners always eager to embrace novelties. These positive changes are not confined to Vietnam alone but are witnessed in numerous places around the world. The evolution of the modern women’s generation is marked by these empowering attributes, shaping a dynamic and resilient global community.

As a Western woman living and working in Vietnam, has Celine Ventalon discovered any similarities with East Asian women in terms of lifestyle and work experiences?

We share many common traits, particularly in our appreciation for beauty, the desire to present ourselves neatly, and the importance of personal style. However, Vietnamese women stand out for their dynamic and forward-thinking nature. In my observation, while Western women might sometimes let emotions guide them in various situations, Vietnamese women tend to exhibit greater patience and composure.

Having spent time here, I have gained profound insights into their way of life, thinking, and how they navigate diverse circumstances. Vietnamese women are well-positioned to become global citizens, facilitated by the ease of international travel that opens up more opportunities for them to pursue their dreams. I hold the belief that they will attain even greater success and make significant strides in catching up with the international women community, especially in terms of career development.

INTERVIEW CEO Founder Emer Celine Ventalon startup

“Each woman is a unique embodiment of herself, and this individuality, coupled with their resilient spirit in the face of adversity, distinguishes them even further.”

What advice would Celine Ventalon offer to young women to enhance their confidence in both personal and career development?

The foundational element for everyone, I believe, is knowledge. Following that, a clear goal and unwavering determination are essential. Another crucial factor for young individuals is cultivating self-love, appreciating the uniqueness within oneself. It involves maintaining self-respect and extending that regard to those around you. Confront challenges with courage, as hardships often conceal opportunities, revealing amazing discoveries when you muster the strength to overcome them. Even in moments of defeat, valuable lessons can be learned, paving the way for future success, echoing a popular saying in Vietnam: “Failure is the mother of success.”

Finding a sense of belonging in Vietnam

What prompted your decision to live and establish a business here in Vietnam?

Upon my initial arrival in Vietnam in 2010, Celine Ventalon had no plans to make it my permanent residence. However, as time passed, the lifestyle here, marked by simple pleasures like leisurely strolls and enjoying local eateries, began to resonate with me. While I have visited several other Southeast Asian countries where everything was satisfactory, the idea of settling down for an extended period never occurred to me until Vietnam. Here, my children and I have found a sense of belonging, a feeling of being more than just guests but embraced as family members. Vietnam has become our second homeland, a place where we find happiness and contentment in our daily lives, leaving little room for nostalgic sentiments.

Are you concerned about maintaining a balance between work and life? Has Celine Ventalon successfully achieved such equilibrium?

I firmly believe that achieving a balance is a universal goal that everyone aspires to reach. Personally, as a single mother raising three children while simultaneously managing a start-up business with numerous responsibilities, I am actively working towards finding that delicate equilibrium between work and life. Even on weekends, my commitment to work persists, and my thoughts are often consumed by business matters. Consequently, my children have expressed concerns about the reduced time we spend together compared to the past. Striking a balance remains a significant challenge for me, but with each passing day, I am confident that I am making progress towards achieving it.

Since entering the business realm, has there been a shift in your mindset or lifestyle?

Establishing Émer marked a transformative chapter in my life. Prior to this venture, Celine Ventalon led a straightforward corporate existence-commute to the office and fulfill work responsibilities. However, facing a series of challenges, I found myself starting anew from the ground up. Now, as the founder of Émer, each day demands my utmost dedication to keep the business thriving. Émer has evolved into an integral aspect of my life, prompting significant changes in my perspective. I aspire to be a model of perseverance for my children, emphasizing the notion that worthwhile achievements require continuous effort. I consistently impart the lesson that nothing truly valuable comes effortlessly, and without focus, these goals remain out of reach.

Thank you for sharing!

INTERVIEW CEO Founder Emer Celine Ventalon startup
Three words to describe your personality?
Tenacity – Competence – Vision
Does Celine Ventalon believe that your business is on the right track?
Absolutely, I’m confident that Émer is on the right track. While there’s always room for growth and improvement, which keeps us driven, we have made significant progress in our journey so far. With our ambitious goals and a clear vision for the future, I am optimistic about reaching new milestones and achieving greater successes this year. 
Having lived in Vietnam for an extended period, which Vietnamese dish do you love most?
Although I may not be a culinary expert, I appreciate good food, and my preferred Vietnamese dish is “bún thịt nướng” (rice vermicelli with skewered grilled pork).

Exclusive interview released on BusinessWoman Magazine No.146_2024 | Content Director: JENNI VÕ | Creative Director: HIEPLEDUC | Editor: J.V, HIDA | Translated by HÒA TÔN | Photo: THẠC TRƯỜNG GIANG | Makeup: DUY VĂN

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