Women In Small Business: Meet The Female Entrepreneur Running A Startup While Raising Her Baby
Female entrepreneur Pauletta Zimmermann used the expertise she gained at business school to launch a luxury startup while raising her one-year-old baby
Pauletta Zimmermann is one of a growing number of female entrepreneurs who are launching and leading their own businesses.
When Pauletta launched Pijouletta, her luxury jewellery startup, she joined the swelling ranks of women in small business—globally women now represent one in three high growth and innovation-led entrepreneurs.
Launching Pijouletta was the culmination of an almost decade-long journey for Pauletta that began at business school in France, and saw her move from her native Hong Kong to both Lille and London.
She feels studying at business school played a key role in her journey.
Leaving Hong Kong to study at business school in France
Pauletta's first experience of business came after she enrolled in a bachelor’s degree in business at Hong Kong Shue Yan University, where she decided to major in marketing.
“I chose marketing because it really fits with my personality and my character,” she explains.
Pauletta performed well in her studies. Securing top grades landed her a unique opportunity in 2012 to move to France on an academic excellence scholarship and study a master's degree.
Seizing the opportunity, she decided to continue her path with a degree in marketing management. She chose EDHEC Business School as one of the top-ranked institutions in the country.
“At that time they’d recently renovated with a big new campus and that was important as it meant they had the resources to nurture students,” she explains.
EDHEC’s MSc in Marketing Management offered a broad marketing curriculum with specializations in luxury and fashion which sparked Pauletta’s interest.
“The program at EDHEC really fit with who I am,” she adds.
What’s it like to study a top-ranked MSc in Marketing Management?
EDHEC's marketing MSc combines a focus on key marketing topics such as branding, communication, and market intelligence, with core business skills.
The school takes a practical approach to learning, with a large emphasis on case studies. This helped Pauletta gain confidence as she developed her business acumen.
“They taught us case studies to really bring all of us into the scenario so that it wasn’t just you doing homework or learning from a textbook,” she explains. “That’s the real experience that helps you feel like you’re learning.”
At EDHEC, faculty focus on developing your soft skills. Group projects require students to work on their communication and teamwork, while Pauletta improved her public speaking skills by delivering presentations in-class.
An institution with an entrepreneurial culture, EDHEC has strong ties with the startup incubator Station F in Paris, alongside other EDHEC incubators in Lille and Nice which support more than 50 startups every year.
This ensures the school incorporates a large focus on entrepreneurial skills by emphasising creativity, perseverance, and agile thinking. That's true across all EDHEC degrees, which includes an MSc in Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
Students looking to gain entrepreneurial experience can access coaching and mentoring sessions with expert entrepreneurs. This year the school also launched a Centre for Responsible Entrepreneurship to help train budding entrepreneurs to have a positive impact on society.
Pauletta found the program's various networking and guest speaker events were a highlight of her experience. She took part in sessions hosted by CEOs and directors from a range of industries which helped boost her knowledge and gain valuable connections.
“My first job after graduation was actually an opportunity I got from one of the guest speakers,” she explains.
Launching a new career after EDHEC
Pauletta met the CEO of The Kase Worldwide, a mobile retail firm, during an EDHEC networking session. They offered her the opportunity of an internship in the company’s office in Paris.
She leapt at the chance: “I’m very grateful to EDHEC because of this. I got to meet the CEO and he gave me my very first job and it’s a job that I worked in for seven years.”
At The Kase Worldwide, Pauletta spent two years working in the company’s Paris headquarters before she was offered the opportunity to take on an intrapreneurial role, heading up a new office back home in Hong Kong.
As project manager, Pauletta was required to establish a new office and hire a team. It was a big step forward in her career, she says.
“I wasn’t given much instruction to do the work, I was just told to deliver,” she says. “I was able to do the job because I was so well trained at EDHEC.”
Becoming an entrepreneur while raising a baby
Pauletta spent several years leading her office in Hong Kong. But things changed in 2020 when the Covid pandemic hit and she found herself trapped in London during a business trip when Hong Kong closed its borders.
Newly engaged, she was planning her wedding at the time. At a pivotal time in her life, the pandemic inspired her to follow a new path.
“I started to put more effort into organizing my wedding. At that time I was looking for wedding jewellery and I couldn’t find any that I liked at an affordable price. I started to think maybe I should go make some myself.”
Pauletta decided to quit her job and in 2020 she launched Pijouletta in London. She began selling earrings, necklaces, and bracelets at an affordable price.
Two years since taking a leap of faith to become an entrepreneur, Pauletta now has multiple collections supplying brides-to-be across England and Europe.
In that time she's led the business alone, covering all areas from marketing to sales and only occasionally using freelancers when necessary.
She’s done all of this while raising her one-year-old baby.
“I gave birth last year and that means it’s maybe even harder for you as a woman to run a business,” she explains. "It's really not easy at all, I can only work when the nanny is here, or when my baby is in the nursery. So you really have to organize your time well.
“It’s very self motivating because it’s your own business, so if you don’t make something happen then nothing will happen.”
Despite it all, Pauletta feels her journey so far has been good preparation for her new career path. Launching the office in Hong Kong provided valuable experience, while EDHEC supplied the launchpad for her career, she says.
“I think it’s EDHEC’s whole approach. The courses you study, the atmosphere, the people you meet, the entrepreneurial culture, and the way they nurture you. The way they taught me to think makes me who I am today.”