ForESTIME: practical fashion for self-esteem
We met Caroline Forest, a 1992 graduate of IÉSEG and founder of ForESTIME, a brand of functional clothing specially designed for seniors. Discover this company and its founder through this interview.
Caroline, can you introduce us to ForESTIME?
ForESTIME is a brand of modern, elegant, chic and practical clothes, designed for seniors, to keep the pleasure of getting dressed at any age. The brand was born in December 2019. The clothes of the collection are easy to put on and close thanks to a system of magnets. I design, for each model, two different versions: a first version without buttons, closed by magnets, for people who are starting to lose their autonomy or who simply want to get dressed more quickly. This allows people suffering from arthritis, arthrosis or even sight problems to continue to dress independently. The second version of the model aims to facilitate the dressing of a dependent person, by a caregiver. In this case, the closure is located in the back to avoid painful manipulations and to facilitate dressing for the caregiver.
The particularity of ForESTIME is based on three pillars:
– Combining elegance and practicality: elegance is achieved through the choice of beautiful materials and timeless collections, and practicality through the magnetic closure that saves a lot of time.
– To be an inclusive brand: ForESTIME does not exclude seniors, on the contrary: the clothes have been thought with and by them and designed on a senior morphology. They are also presented by senior models, which is rare.
– Being Made in France: the pieces are made in a workshop in Roubaix. This workshop helps people who are far from employment to get back to work. This allows ForESTIME to have a real social and societal impact, as well as a positive impact on the environment because we reduce the CO2 emissions caused by transportation.
How did you get the idea to launch this project and why?
I was very marked by the last stage of life of my grandparents who, by losing part of their autonomy, lost part of their dignity. Everyone has to grow old one day, and this will be accompanied by a transformation of our bodies but also by a loss of accuracy of our gestures, until perhaps even becoming dependent.
The meeting with a director of an EHPAD was decisive: she told me how difficult it was for her residents and their families to find clothes that were easy to put on and elegant; all they could find to wear were old clothes that did not match their style. From my point of view, when you see your parents or grandparents, you want them to continue to be as they were: elegant, dressed as they liked to be, each with their own style. I decided to use my skills acquired during my years in the textile industry for seniors.
My desire to be an entrepreneur stems from the fact that I wanted to give more meaning to my career. After 25 years of experience in textile distribution, I wanted to get out of the “political” business world to give more meaning and create a project that would touch people. I also wanted to challenge myself because entrepreneurship is a real challenge, and to continue learning because obviously, in entrepreneurship, you learn every day!
Why the name “ForESTIME”?
One of the missions of the brand is to help people keep their dignity and self-esteem. Hence the name “ForESTIME” (for self-esteem).
Your company has been incubated at IÉSEG, how does it help you?
I am still at the very beginning of the collaboration but the idea is to help me on some aspects, to give me a vision and a perspective for the development of ForESTIME. It will also help me to prepare a fundraising campaign. The Incubator also allows us to meet other entrepreneurs: we share and exchange a lot, it’s a great asset.
How is ForESTIME doing today?
The beginnings were not easy because the original idea was to go to senior residences and EHPADs to present the proposed models directly to seniors and bring the pleasure of shopping directly to the person. Unfortunately, this was not possible during two years due to Covid, which slowed down the development of the company. Now that the residences have finally reopened, I can go and meet my potential customers all over France. This allows me to promote the brand and to be in direct contact with customers. On the other hand, we also sell our products on the website: here we target seniors who may be digital friendly but also families of caregivers who buy for their loved ones.
Today, we have development projects, in particular the development of new products: by expanding the already existing collection for women and by completing the offer with a “men’s” collection, starting with shirts. In terms of commercial development, we are going to set up a network of sales representatives in residences throughout France in order to make the brand known to the largest possible number of people.
Did your studies at IÉSEG help you to become an entrepreneur today?
IÉSEG offers an excellent generalist base, very complete: marketing, finance, accounting, auditing… When you start your entrepreneurial project, you find yourself alone, so you have to know how to act in all fields. I would say that IÉSEG provides a very good basis for launching your project. On the other hand, the School, through its teaching, teaches us to be open to others, to be curious and to adapt to different situations and environments.
Do you have any advice for future entrepreneurs?
Above all, you have to open up, meet people, and not stay alone. You have to talk about your project, do network interviews and join incubators like the one at IÉSEG. This allows you to meet other entrepreneurs, who are not always at the same stage of development as you are, and to share your experiences, which is very important.