In this episode, Emery Jacquillat shares with us the essential ingredients of tomorrow's company. It has audacity, values and a mission: to have a positive impact on the world. "Tomorrow's company will either be committed or it won't be". It was this conviction that led Emery to take over Camif and, starting with a blank sheet of paper, to write a new raison d'être for it.
The guest of the Corporate Culture podcast
Emery Jacquillat graduated from HEC in 1993. Two years later, he created his first company: "Matelsom", "the first company in the world to sell bedding remotely".
In October 2008, he learns of the receivership of Camif. He headed to Niort to take over the company. In 2013, he raises funds from Citizn Capital, a social impact fund created by Laurence Méhaignerie.
In 2015, Camif was awarded the B Corp label. In 2018, Emery Jacquillat co-created the community of mission-based companies. The objective: to promote the mission-based company as a business model for the 21st century. In 2021, he was named Knight of the National Order of Merit.
The company manager, a leader who creates links
The link is at the heart of Emery Jacquillat's speech. It all began in 2009 when he took over Camif. He is convinced that to relaunch this brand with strong values, everything must be reinvented. "I put at the heart of the project a positive impact model: for the territory first and to reinvent something different" he explains.
His vision is based on the values of sustainable development, local production, jobs in France and know-how. One challenge remains: including his employees in the project. "The corporate culture is marked by the values of the leader, but it must be shared by everyone, and for that to happen, it must be lived" he says. In 2010, he welcomed an artist in residence for three months: Anne-Laure Maison. One day, she decided to symbolize the exchanges with pink stripes on the floor: each time an employee moves to discuss with a colleague, she marks it.
A strong collective experience for Emery Jacquillat: "themain role of the leader is to create links: what brings us together is to create a project that speaks to us, with a mission, and to live it". But this is no easy task: many of his employees have been with Camif for many years. They have experienced a pyramidal culture and have difficulty adhering to its vision of a liberated company. Creating a corporate culture and uniting his teams behind the same vision "takes time " but for Emery Jacquillat "it gives spectacular results".
The mission to give meaning back to business
When he took over the Camif, Emery Jacquillat decided to do the opposite of what the large-scale distribution does: "for 20 years, they have been looking further away, cheaper, elsewhere. We will do closer. It's going to be more expensive but it's going to be of better quality, and we're going to show why it's interesting to do local". He is firmly convinced thatanother model of society is possible, a society that is lucid about environmental issues, full of common sense and that supports employment in the territories.
In 2017, after two years of reflection, Emery Jacquillat and his teams formulated the company's purpose. "It costs time, but as soon as we start on the path, the path begins to transform us," he recounts. An experience that fascinates him and that pushes him to commit to co-creating the community of companies with a mission.
Its objective: to reconcile positive impact and economic performance, in France, Europe and even internationally. He defends a new model that places the mission as a "compass"."There is no other possible future. We must build a capitalism that contributes to building the world of tomorrow.
Emery Jacquillat is convinced that this mission allows the company to differentiate itself, attract talent, raise funds and attract loyal and committed customers.
"Corporate culture is the beating heart of the company: it is lived. The founding myth, the value (audacity, agility, attention) and the mission, which is at the heart: why are we together? What are we for? Why do we get up in the morning? What do we have to contribute to? And then there is the ambition..." he summarizes.
One ambition: to change the world
The vision carried by Emery Jacquillat and his collaborators is perpetuated in the statutes and motivates each of the company's decisions. For the entrepreneur, it takes audacity to "give up certain things with which we are no longer aligned".
First feat of arms five years ago: the Camif website closed during Black Friday. This commercial event of occasional sales generates large profits for the brands, but feeds an over-consumerist logic far from the values defended by Camif. "In the short term it's not good for sales, but in the long term, it hasn't prevented us from making 50% growth since 2017." For the past five years, instead of Black Friday, the company opens its doors to those who want to and offers to participate in workshops.
"We are not going to change the world with lukewarm water" explains Emery Jacquillat. Camif takes its mission to heart and regularly invests in raising awareness of environmental, social and societal issues. Each year, it organizes a "Camifathon" (a workshop to design new products) and a "Tour de France du Made in France". These events bring together employees, customers, shareholders and suppliers. Camif's ambition is to recreate links in an impersonal society and to give meaning to consumption. It contributes to change the models of society to change the world.