Entrepreneur Cecile Reinaud has grown maternity fashion label Séraphine into a top brand with global sales of £20 million. She explains why trusting your instinct is crucial when recruiting.

Hiring the right people to help your startup grow is a business fundamental.

However, many entrepreneurs get it wrong by focusing too much on candidates’ CVs rather than going with their gut feeling.

Cecile Reinaud believes it is important to trust your instincts – and she should know. The French-born designer is the CEO and founder of Séraphine, the UK’s first line of fashionable maternity wear.

Cecile Reinaud - Compelo
Séraphine founder and CEO Cecile Reinaud. Image©Séraphine.


What started 15 years ago as a one-woman company now sells £20 million worth of garments in 30 countries.

The label went global when Kate Middleton wore a Séraphine dress for the first official family portrait with Prince George. Hollywood royalty including Angelina Jolie, Kate Winslet, Anne Hathaway, Halle Berry and Marion Cotillard are also fans.

Look beyond the CV

Seraphine employs 100 people − and successful recruitment has been crucial to the company’s success.

“When recruiting don’t look so much at the CV but really get under the skin of the people you’re interviewing,” Reinaud tells BBC News’s CEO Secrets.

“I’ve really learnt that don’t just look at the piece of paper and the CV and the experience. You want to really look at the person. Some people have a less perfect CV, but will be better for your company.”

Cecile Reinaud: trust yourself and your staff

Furthermore, Reinaud believes that investment in human capital also means going with your gut instinct when recruiting new employees. However, as she admits, trusting staff with key responsibilities isn’t always easy.

Séraphine - Compelo


“It’s very hard for a new entrepreneur to take on new people and to give them the trust so that they can start looking after parts of your own business,” she says.

“Many times I have felt that I’ve failed and I didn’t sense that person correctly.”

Create a ‘yes’ culture

In addition to being the go-to label for celebrity mums, Séraphine has stores in the UK, Dubai, Hong Kong and the US. In 2015, the company received the coveted Queen’s Award for Enterprise.

Reinaud has spent 15 years refining Séraphine’s own brand identity. Entrepreneurs must listen to new ideas, but staying true to their original, overriding vision for the brand is also crucial.

As such, employees from larger labels may not always be the best fit.

Séraphine - Compelo


“At times I have recruited people from much bigger brands and I found that they were really difficult to adapt – ‘we can’t do this, we can’t do that’ − and I think that when you are an entrepreneur you have to have a culture which is a ‘yes’ culture,” she says.

In conclusion, Reinaud advises entrepreneurs to really take the time to look beyond candidates’ immediate experience.

“Look at their true skills rather than what is written on their CV,” she says.

Read the latest recruitment and business leadership news and opinion in Chief Executive Officer.

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