La vie en rose

Saturday, November 08, 2008

OK, so i've been a little slack about updating my blog. seriously, a lot has gone on in 2008.

1) i moved back to the US (for the 3rd time). leaving france was sad, but i know i'll go back. i miss sitting by the seine, reading a book in park, people watching at cafes - i miss it all really, but a chapter has closed so that a new one can begin.

2) i graduated!!! IMBA Class of 2008!! i finished my last semester at USC and officially have an international MBA... sounds much cooler that it actually is, but given the current economy i'm sure it will be an asset.

3) i got a job!! l'oreal wanted me so much in paris that they decided to help me out with getting a job in NYC! i'm currently working on the matrix brand - they make biolage shampoo if you're not familiar with them. work can be stressful at times, but i love it!

4) i moved to NYC! (obviously, since i'm working in NYC.) it's not paris, but it's pretty cool. i haven't taken any weekend trips bc i've been exploring this great city! it's huge and uber diverse. you can walk 10 blocks and be in a completely different neighborhood with it's own unique feel. not to mention, the shopping and food are fabulous!

so that's it for now. i promise i'll update more frequently. thanks for reading!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Ce n'est qu'un au revoir...

Where to begin! A lot has happened since my last post. Yesterday was my last day at L'Oreal in Paris and today was my last exam. This is my last weekend in France, and everything is really starting to hit me.

When I came back to France this year, I knew that it would only be for a short time and that this would be the last time I live in France. I consciously made the decision to appreciate every moment, every glass of wine, every market, every pigeon, every metro ride. I have been given many extraordinary opportunities in my life. This year in France was my opportunity to enjoy life, learn about myself and savour my accomplishments. Since January, I have achieved the bilingual level on the French language exam, taken MBA level classes in French, received remarkably high grades in my French MBA classes, got an internship at L'Oreal, was able to see ALL of my close French friends once again, and now practically have a job offer from L'Oreal New York!!! How much better could this get!?

Although I am ecstatic about returning home to see my family and finish my MBA, I can't help but feel a bit nostalgic. A chapter of my life is closing in order to begin a new one. A large part of the last 9 years of my life has taken place in France. I've met the most amazing people who have become my best friends in the world, and those friendships will last a lifetime. At the same time, I've also learned a great deal about myself... I became a "grown-up"! The evolution towards the independent, organized, prissy and professional woman that I am today happened in France.

As I spend the next two days figuring out how to fit everything I own into 2 suitcases, I'm planning to take it easy, sit back and enjoy the view. The many breathtaking views in Paris, and the view as I look forward to my next adventures. A few of my friends are pretty sure that I'll be back in France since this is the THIRD time I've left the country "indefinitely", who knows - maybe they're right!

Time for new adventures! Ce n'est qu'un au revoir.....

Friday, June 01, 2007

First month at L'Oreal

I have to turn in an executive summary about my internship, and since I have no time to write a blog entry, you get to read the paper! Enjoy!

With operations in over 130 countries, L’Oréal is the largest beauty and cosmetics company in the world. After starting in the hair-color industry in 1909, L’Oréal branched out into other beauty products and now markets over 500 brands in the cosmetics industry. Its brands are organized by the company’s four target markets, thus constituting L’Oréal’s organizational structure: mass market, professional, luxury and active. The newest brand in the Professional Products division is Mizani: high-end hair products for African and mixed heritage hair distributed uniquely in luxury salons. In the first year of its launch outside of the U.S., the brand is differentiating itself from its competition by focusing on ethnicity instead of hair type. The primary challenges for the Mizani brand are creating awareness around the special needs of African hair as well as emphasizing the need for a high-end product in a market comprised essentially of low to mid-ranged products. As the Assistant Product Manager for the Mizani brand, I am responsible for many different aspects of brand marketing including advertising, event planning and B2B customer relations.

One of the main objectives for the Mizani brand is to expand its presence in luxury salons for African and mixed-heritage hair. The challenge associated with this objective is the lack of luxury salons in the market. To boost the brand’s exposure, the marketing strategy is centered on emphasizing the professional, luxury products available in order to push the demand for high-end hair care. In order to increase customer awareness of the availability of professional products for African hair care, I am currently developing brochures to be distributed to salon owners, consumer leaflets on product information as well as advertisements published in high-end fashion magazines geared towards our target market.
To further its establishment as a new, strong competitor amongst other high-end hair care brands, Mizani is also planning to host a stand at two upcoming exhibitions: Boucles d’Ebène and le Mondial Coiffure Beauté. The annual Boucles d’Ebène fair takes place in June and showcases African beauty in France. This will be Mizani’s first year as an exhibitor at this fair that shares the same target market. Also an annual event, le Mondial Coiffure Beauté occurs in September and is the largest worldwide tradeshow in the hair care industry. These two events will help create brand awareness and image while establishing Mizani’s position as the leader in high-end hair care for African hair. I am currently coordinating our presence at these events with internal and external contacts to design and create the stand while focusing on our marketing strategy.

While expanding its presence, Mizani is also committed to growing its existing business by cultivating current relationships with its partner salons. This month, we launched the new “Assistance Client Mizani” service in order to better serve current customers. As the representative for “Assistance Client Mizani”, I notify partner salons regularly about new product launches and any special offers by telephone and through mailings. In return, the partner salons have a personal contact at Mizani should they have any product oriented questions or be unable to reach their sales representative. In the first month, this service has received positive reviews from the salons.
My position as Assistant Product Manager at L’Oréal has already exposed me to many different facets of brand and product marketing. As part of a team of three people in the Mizani marketing department, my responsibilities are increasing exponentially as I become more familiar with the company and the brand. Overcoming the challenges associated with introducing a new, high-end brand and product line into a niche market is proving to be a very enriching marketing experience. This position is providing me with fundamental marketing and business skills that will be essential during my future career.

Friday, May 04, 2007

April 2007

A lot has happened since my last post.... busy, busy, busy!

For starters, I'm finished with school! School in France is completely different than in the US. There isn't much participation in class, mainly the professor lecturing and everyone taking notes. There are no required reading materials either - you must be in class to take notes because you never know what will be on the exam. Yes, I said THE exam - there is only one exam at the end of the course and that's your final grade. I'll come back to this.

Shaun and Dave came to Paris mid-March and we had a great time. I took them on the typical Parisian tourist walk through Paris. We concluded their trip with champagne at the Eiffel Tower.

I also had a field trip to the French Supreme Court with my International Organizations class. My professor is a very accomplished lawyer in France and in the EU, so he gave us the grand tour. We were even allowed to sit in on as many court cases as we wanted. There are many courtrooms, and each one has a different purpose: minor offenses, terrorism/crimes against the state, violent crimes, etc. While I enjoyed sitting in on the terrorism case against a member of the ETA, the most memorable was the one where a guy killed his boyfriend the night before with a machete... now, my French is pretty good, but this was so far fetched that I had to ask a French girl beside me to make sure that I correctly understood.... yes, he killed his boyfriend with a machete and chopped him into several pieces.

Shortly after that, Lawrence came to France. It was such a great visit! He'd already been to Paris before, so we didn't have to do the whole tourist thing. We had a great time just wandering around, sitting at cafes and just relaxing. One day, we took the boat tour of Paris. I haven't done it in years, so it was good to see everything from the river. I took Lawrence to see my office at L'Oreal and I even got him to go to the Longchamp store with me! Don't worry, I didn't buy anything :-)
After he left, I had a week of vacation which I spent hanging out in Paris with the French Trackers. We hung out in parks and on the Seine reading books and even went to a couple movies. At the end of the vacation, I went to Madrid to catch up with the Global trackers. That was a GREAT trip! In addition to hanging out in Madrid, I got to know several of my classmates that I didn't really have a chance to hang out with in Columbia. The highlight was definitely our excursion to the weekly bullfight. Six poor bulls were slaughtered. It was a great experience, something you should do once in life.... but not twice. :-)
When I got back from Madrid, I cleaned up and got ready for my guests. A group of Global Trackers came to Paris for a vacation before starting their internships. Luckily, I didn't have classes Monday-Wednesday, so I was able to hang out with them: Lawrence, Tonisha, Paco, Lourdes, Nicole and Matt. We did the typical Parisian tour as well as a bit of shopping. I had 4 people staying at my tiny apartment, and we were surprisingly comfortable. We had dinner at my place one night, and we also did Champagne night at the Eiffel Tower. The last night of their visit, I promised myself that I would stay in and not have a late night since I had my Cultural Management exam the next day. Surprise, surprise... I didn't get home till around midnight. Lawrence stayed up to help me study a bit, then he passed out as usual. After less than 3 hours of sleep, Tonisha and Nicole got up at 5am to leave... then Matt got up to pack his bags... needless to say, I didn't catch anymore zzzzz's. I said good bye to Lawrence and went to school to get in some last minute cramming. The exam was good and bad. As I said before, exams in France are not like they are in the US. After a semester of classes, my entire grade came down to answering one question - yes, I said ONE QUESTION!! I'm so glad Lawrence helped me the night before because that's exactly what the question was on. I wrote 3 pages and started to fall asleep, so I wrapped it up and went home.

All in all, a very tiring end to a GREAT month! I'm gonna miss everyone next fall, I'm sure. I'll definitely try to update my blog more often to keep you guys posted. Thanks for reading!!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Je suis debordee!!

I've been so busy the past few weeks! Who would have guessed that the 4-month vacation would take so much out of me!

I'm finally out of language training thanks to a French teacher who told the director that my french is too good for French classes. So now I'm enrolled in the ESCP-EAP and am taking 12 credit hours. The classes are really interesting - I'm learning so much! We don't really have homework, just projects, papers and exams at the end.

Also, I finally have an internship!! After turning down 2 offers, I've accepted a marketing position with L'Oreal in their Professional Products division launching the Mizani brand in Europe - I can't wait! In the beginning I wanted a finance position, but marketing with L'Oreal is probably one of the best internships out there! Apparently, it's pretty difficult to even get an interview with them, so I feel very honored. It is a 6-month position which means that I'll be in Paris until the end of the year.

By the way, I'm 29 years old now!! woohoo! I guess that means it's my last year in my 20's... I'm so lucky to be able to spend it in France. I celebrated my birthday with a night out with the french trackers that begun with the cheap-champagne drink-a-thon. We went to the Fifth Bar up the street, and from what I'm told, we shut the place down! Then we went to dinner on the weekend when Tara came in from Spain. It was great to see her and catch up in the imbas around the globe. It's also very comforting to chill with someone you click with.

Dawson is in town from Germany this weekend and he's leaving in the morning. I haven't really been able to hang out during the day since i have my 2 10-page papers to write this week. i do, however, make time to hang out at night (yes, i do have priorities), which generally includes a 4am walk home trying to figure out who's sleeping at my place and who's going to find their way home on the night bus or by foot.

Shaun and David will arrive in Paris on Tuesday, so I must finish my papers before then. I'll post pictures as soon as I find a camera cable.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

January 2007

One month into my stay in Paris, I finally received an internship offer! However, the position is in Rwanda, and I'd rather stay in Paris for a while, especially since it's been difficult getting settled in. After the career fair here in Paris, I have a couple interviews scheduled with other companies, so for the moment I'm not too worried about finding an internship by May.

Imbas at the Career Fair in Paris

Also in January, the Imbas went on a field trip to brussels to visit the European parlement. We had presentations and tours scheduled in the morning then we were free in the afternoon after lunch at an Italian restaurant. RastaRick showed us around the old part of Brussels where we bought chocolates, drank belgian beer and ate waffles. All in all, a good visit.

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My Apartment

Now that i'm settled in my apartment and we've already had a few "soirees", here are a few photos of my little place:

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Sorry for the delay....

So now that i'm all settled in my little apartment, here are a few pics:

One month into my stay in Paris, I finally received an internship offer! However, the position is in Rwanda, and I'd rather stay in Paris for a while, especially since it's been difficult getting settled in. I have interviews scheduled with other companies, so for the moment I'm not too worried about finding an internship by May.

Last week, the imbas went on a field trip to brussels to visit the European parlement. We had presentations and tours scheduled in the morning then we were free in the afternoon after lunch at an Italian restaurant. RastaRick showed us around the old part of Brussels where we bought chocolates, drank belgian beer and ate waffles. All in all, a good visit.

This weekend, I went to Clermont (again) for a farewell party. I arrived Friday night and had dinner with a couple friends. I spoke more french in Friday night than in the past MONTH since my arrival in this country! My friends agree that I need to find some frenchies to hang with in Paris so that I can speak French. It's really frustrating to be fluent in a language but forget certain words in the middle of a conversation. Saturday night i went to Fred's farewell party and hung out with all my old friends.... until 6am. Today, my head is reminding me that i'm not 20 years old anymore and it takes more than a day to recover from such debauchery. I had a blast, so it was totally worth it!

In other news, all of the imbas have moved out of the residence fondly known as "hell". We all have toilets with a door and our own personal shower! To some, this may be considered a luxury.... however, to others its a necessity. Classes are going ok at the moment. I'm not really learning any french, but the subjects are interesting. Plus I get to correct Josh when he says stuff in French like ''i'm doing my lover" instead of "i'm doing my MBA". :-)

Josh doing a little dance, cleaning up champagne!