Welcome to our ‘Conversation Starter’ series, that aims to introduce you to more business owners around you, and to help get to know each other better.
Through these questions, we want to learn more about you. Not just your challenges and what you’ve experienced along your entrepreneurial journey, but the person that you are, beyond your business…about what makes you, you!
We realize that work does not always define us and things may not be what they seem. Often, we tend to work with people we know and trust. Most work partnerships fail because people hold back and don’t openly speak about what they want, and think.
As business owners, we have to show up and make ourselves known, if we want our business to grow. For some people, it is easy. For others, the idea of networking and social gatherings is not something they look forward to. In a world where people ask you right away, ‘What do you do’, what if it were more about who you are and what your story is?
How fun would it be to first encounter people without knowing what they do? Just meeting them and finding out what you may have in common and what you can learn from each other. Work and business opportunities could come second, naturally.
Here are a series of icebreaker questions answered by the people that inspire us. We believe the answers to these questions can help start conversations in a different way.
1. As business owners, we’re constantly networking and meeting new people. Let’s say you’ve just met someone for the first time. What’s the first thing you’d like to know about them?
I’ve been living outside my own country for the last 18 years, so I tend to ask people I meet how long they’ve been living here. It is an easy way to engage in conversation, always a good way to share tips on a city, and to discover possible common interests.
2. We know you’re super busy – as all business owners are, no doubt – but when you’ve had the time to squeeze in some TV-watching, what’s the last thing you watched? What made you choose that particular show?
I watched a fantastic 3-part documentary on Bill Gates* on Netflix.
*Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates
3. Before you decided to go solo and be your own boss, you must’ve worked for someone else. What advice would you give your previous manager?
Don’t forget to delegate…you can multitask but you can’t do everything, so get help from outside – it’s also a way to support other entrepreneurs!
4. A koala bear jumps in through your window, and he’s looking at you. Why is he here? And what does he say to you?
Oops! That’s a strange question…Strange for strange, he would bring me a gin and tonic. This would mean the end of a crazy week, time to relax!
5. A resume can only tell you so much about someone. Often, the most interesting things about that person can’t be learned from those pages. What do you think is the most interesting thing about you, that your resume wouldn’t tell us?
My capacity to balance my personal life with my professional one. Taking care of my twins (Prune & Mathis, 18 years old) has always been my priority in parallel with KeenBags. And it has worked!
6. What gets you out of bed every morning? What is it that excites you, or is meaningful to you?
I have implemented a new morning routine since early 2020: Waking up at 6.30am, on my yoga mat for a 30-minute session, then shower (ending with cold water), dressing up and sitting on the sofa for a 20-30 minute reading time! No mobile, only my tea and my book.
7. We’ve all got different talents and skills. It’s what makes us unique. What do you think you’re amazing at? And what are the things you’re not-quite-the-best at?
I’m creative and voluntary. On the other hand, I’m quite bad with figures; calculating quickly is a nightmare!!
8. Building a great team takes time. It’s not easy to find the right fit – like, the people who share the same work values, have the same vision for your business and have a sense of humor. If you were granted a wish to hire any 5 people – people you know, celebrities…anyone – whom would you bring into your team?
Michelle Obama and Emma Watson for their perfect women empowerment and inspiration; Philippe Etchebest, a famous French Top Chef and former rugby player for creating amazing dishes and for his self-surpassing capacity, Georges Clooney for being so handsome to look at and his sense of engagement, Jean-Paul Gaultier, the one and only fashion precursor, his talent, his knowledge and sense of humour.
9. If you woke up one morning and found yourself on a deserted island, which three things would you want to have with you? Why?
My husband, a Wi-Fi connection and paracetamol. For the rest, I can manage!
10. Inspiration can come from anywhere…a picture, a bike ride, the lyrics of a song, a pet, or even a gorgeous sunset. But people have the power to inspire us like none other! There is always someone we look up to, someone we admire. Who has inspired you in your life, and in what way?
My dad is my daily inspiration! Calm, focussed, zen, with positive energy in any situation, always moving forward, and being thankful!
I also have 3 friends that have built their own company from scratch and today run amazing businesses, with an amazing positive spirit and energy that has always guided me. Mathilde (WithMySands), Juliette (Capsule by Juliette) & Helene (Stylodeco), this is for you!
11. What’s your spirit animal? If you haven’t ever given it a thought, the time is right now!
Sorry to admit that I’m not too much animal-compliant…let’s say a dog then!
12. What characteristics do you admire the most in a person?
His/her positive energy, and having the courage, once having failed, to start all over again…
13. Is there something that you’ve always wanted to do but were afraid to try? What’s stopping you from doing it?
I’ve always dreamt of opening an art gallery! I guess, today I realise that I would need such vast knowledge and a network in that field that it stops me from starting it.
14. We’ve all been impressed by someone’s skills and wished we could have them too! If you could have a new skill at the snap of your fingers, what would it be?
Singing! Having the talent to sing in tune. Jumping on a stage, grabbing a microphone and singing with a band!
15. What’s your idea of a perfect day?
My morning sport, my reading, my family safe and sound with some shared messages or pictures. A huge session of effective work, and some time for me: a spa, a lunch or a long call with my girlfriends.
About Carinne Abou-Huguet
I’m a French designer currently settled in Spain. Prior to this, I have lived in Singapore for 2 years, and in Dubai, for 14 years before that. I started KeenBags in Dubai in 2011. My brand offers contemporary fashion accessories with a French touch.
At KeenBags we love to turn traditional fabrics into durable fashion accessories. With a true passion for travel, I have always brought traditional fabrics from the countries I have visited and lived in. These delicate textures and fabrics give a touch of modernity to our weekend tote bags and pouches. Our bags are very resistant and easy to clean. You can also easily pack them in a travel suitcase!
Now that you know a little more about Carinne Abou-Huguet online, you could make things more interesting by connecting offline!
You could contact Carinne here: