The French-American Dream: Making it in the U.S.A.
Keenobby’s founder and #bosslady, Mylène Chambru, talks all things entrepreneurship at the French-American Chamber of Commerce panel: “Making it in the U.S.A.” When Mylène traded her Parisian apartment for a Brooklyn brownstone, she dared to try her luck by building a brand of passionate makers.
You launched Keenobby in New York. How did you get your start and why did you choose here?
Six years ago my husband was relocated to New York and I followed him here. When I arrived I accepted that I had to give up what I knew and start from scratch. I’m an entrepreneur at heart and always dreamt of building something of my own, but I had yet to find my calling. In France we are often taught to be afraid of failure so you become very risk-adversed. Americans are taught to embrace failure. In Silicon Valley failure is considered a rite of passage to success. In New York I dared to try my luck and started Keenobby. The city inspired me to the point that I believed my dream could come true.
“I dared to try my luck and started Keenobby. The city inspired me to the point that I believed my dream could come true.”
What are some cultural differences you see in the United States versus France?
It is amazing to see how people get together in New York. I’ve observed that New Yorkers want to learn from each other and get creative together. It’s funny to see how New Yorkers plan and fill their weekends with as many activities as possible. There’s really an appetite for trying new things, discovering new horizons and making new connections. In France, people generally stick to their tight-knit group of friends and will only try something new after their friend tries it first. The intense sense of curiosity that is part of New York culture is the perfect environment for Keenobby to grow. We focus on finding individuals with a passionate savoir-faire that can be shared with the community. Passion became the universal language of Keenobby.
“We focus on finding individuals with a passionate savoir-faire that can be shared with the community.”
What are the challenges of working in New York?
It’s as challenging as it is motivating. New York is dynamic, exciting and it truly never sleeps. This energy pushes you to achieve your goals. In New York I feel that anything is possible. The challenge is that everyone else believes that they too can make it; so we are constantly forced to be better, more creative, and one step ahead of everyone else. It becomes a jungle. To succeed you have to strive and fight on a daily basis. Otherwise you’ll get erased from the radar.
“In New York I feel that anything is possible.”
What advice do you have to become successful in New York?
As a foreigner, as a woman and as a mom who had no network in New York– I faced many obstacles. To be successful in this new environment, I strived to immerse myself in the American culture. I wanted to understand how they talk, what makes them laugh, what plans they have on the weekends and how they build connections with one another. To launch Keenobby, I had to truly understand the consumer by making myself feel that I was a native New Yorker. My advice to succeed in NY: think, breathe and live like a New Yorker!
“My advice to succeed in NY: think, breathe and live like a New Yorker!”
Thanks to all panelists for sharing their stories and thank you FACC for hosting. To become part of the Keenobby community join us this fall at one of our Experiences. For more pictures and to continue following Keenobby’s story, make sure to follow us!
Written by Sophie Nelson