MEET AXELLE, THE PERSON BEHIND OUR CARRY ALL LAPTOP BAG
In 2018 Axelle became Lies’ first intern and she was immediately thrown into the challenges of starting a new brand. She participated in everything. From arranging photoshoots and visiting factories in Portugal to helping build a financial plan. Very quickly Axelle and Lies became friends, which made the intern/boss relationship vanish rapidly.
Two years after the internship, Axelle made it to Junior Brand manager at Nestlé. A job she started in the midst of the Corona Crisis, while also aspiring a career as a personal trainer. Evenings and weekends are packed with trainings, coaching sessions and extra courses to help her gain the needed knowledge and certifications.
Both Axelle and Lies are go-getters. Once an idea is created, nobody can stop them. But their plan of action isn’t exactly the same. Lies is the chaotic ‘just do it and we’ll see where we get’ type of person while Axelle is more the planning mastermind. Luckily this combination merged perfectly.
Looking back at their six month period of always seeing each other, we decided to have a one on one interview. Bringing up old memories, comparing their working style and talking about the new Axelle bag.
Both of you were rookies when you met each other, Lies a rookie in running her own business and Axelle came fresh out of school. How did you experience this period?
Axelle: What I appreciated the most is the fact that we had to discover everything from scratch and could experience this process together. We both worked very differently but somehow we applied the same trial-and-error strategy.
It was such a rich experience for me. As an intern I was allowed to give a lot of input and Lies really appreciated my opinion. Often, I even forgot that I was an intern because Lies involved me in literally everything. This all made the internship so colourful, interesting and full of energy. Not one day was the same, which I really enjoyed ;)
Lies: There was a lot of trial and error to be honest, which made working together very special. We always came up with crazy ideas together. Luckily, I am surrounded with a lot of good coaches who knew what plans were best to turn down.
You are both very driven in what you do, but have a completely different working style, which asset would you like to take from each other?
Axelle: Lies is very talented, making it hard to pick one ;) But in this case it has to be her intuitive vision. Lies lets her creativity and intuition guide her, while I tend to make more facts-based decisions. And I feel this is also the strength behind her brand; her can-do mentality and intuitive mindset and vision. Being less pragmatic and more intuitive is definitely something I wish to apply more to my own life.
Lies: Axelle is a very structured person and I would love to have some of that work ethic. My routine is often all over the place. Since we are a small label, I’m involved in lots of things and constantly switching tasks. I love this diversity but on the other hand having a better routine and focus would come in handy. I’m always working on three different things at the same time, while Axelle can really focus on one job specifically.
What is your favourite memory from your time together at Lies Mertens?
Axelle: This is definitely our trip to Porto. From discovering the leather factory, visiting the Museum Casa de Serralves to cooking Belgian meatballs with Lies and her investor Bart; this weekend had everything you could imagine. If I take a trip down to memory lane and bump into the Porto experience, a smile instantly appears on my face.
Lies: The office was often a very fun place with hilarious moments, which I really enjoyed. We had a lot of fun brainstorming about upcoming campaigns and a very big event that never really happened. It all started when we visited an old mansion together and imagined turning every room into its own universe. I still love the idea, but it was completely unrealistic to do this as a start-up. Ideas like this keep our creative dreams fueled.
How did the AXELLE bag come to life?
Axelle: I always adored that Lies names her bags after people close to her. I think this is really powerful and it makes her brand real and human. And I have to admit that secretly I always dreamed of being part of her collection. During my last week as an intern, we were at the seaside for a store visit. Lies told me that an Axelle bag was in the making. I couldn't have imagined a better way to end the internship.
Like most of Lies' bags, the idea for the bag originated from a specific need. I’m from Leuven and during the internship I needed to travel on a daily-basis by bike and train to Antwerp. As I needed to bring all my work essentials (laptop, phone etc) and my many meal prep containers, it was quite the struggle to pack everything in one handbag. So I ended up using three different bags everyday. The Axelle bag would have been a gift from heaven. With its laptop compartment, lots of space and a long strap to carry it in different ways it’s the ideal travel handbag.
Lies: Axelle loved the Eline bag, but she wanted a model that was easy to cycle with as well. At first, I was thinking on adding a long strap to the Eline, but this didn’t really feel right. So when the idea and design of this new bag came to mind, it just had to be named after Axelle. She was exactly the person I imagined wearing this bag.