School Run II - A morning story with Clio Hendrickx and her family

In "The School Run" series, we take a peek into the lives of different families, exploring their homes, morning routines, and everyday habits. Today, we sit down with Clio Hendrickx, the oldest sister of the trio behind fashion brand 'Les Soeurs'. Married to Christopher and a loving mother to Charlie and Julian, Clio leads marketing and sales at Les Soeurs. Whether at work or home, she effortlessly guides and nurtures her loved ones, embodying the roles of both caring mother and protective elder sister.Clio, could you please introduce yourself?
I'm Clio, 40, married to Christopher, and mom to Charlie and Julian. My sisters and I run Les Soeurs, a Belgian clothing label, and I'm the eldest sister.

Can you tell us a little more about Les Soeurs?
Les Soeurs originated as a joyful hobby for my siblings and me - three sisters who adored dressing up and were captivated by all things shiny from a young age. Our fascination with fashion deepened as we grew older, eagerly attending Fashion Weeks as we entered adulthood. However, as students, buying designer clothes was financially out of reach for us. Determined to express our style, we decided to channel our creativity and craft our own pieces, drawing inspiration from the world around us. My sisters, Kay and Julie, refined their sewing and jewelry-making skills, and together we began creating our unique designs. Initially crafted for personal enjoyment, our creations soon caught the eye of friends who admired them and expressed interest in owning similar pieces. As word of mouth spread, our little passion project evolved into something much larger.

In the beginning, we hit the road with just a suitcase filled with our clothing and jewelry, eventually expanding from a basic Facebook page to a fully operational online store. In 2014, our debut pop-up shop in Hasselt quickly sold out 75% of our stock within a week, affirming our dedication to Les Soeurs. By 2015, we formalized our business, leading me to resign from my job to focus solely on Les Soeurs. In 2016, our first permanent store opened in Hasselt, followed by Knokke in 2017, where my sister Kay officially joined the team. In 2018, Julie also came on board, coinciding with the opening of our Antwerp store. Today, with a team of approximately 35 members, we run eight stores and distribute our products in 75 multi-brand outlets across Belgium.

That is a significant evolution in a relatively short period.
Yes, but we have grown very naturally, always been driven by customer demand. Every step forward has been a success. So, why wouldn't we take the next one? Our customers have guided us to where we stand today.

Does each sister have their own specific role?
Absolutely. I primarily handle the marketing and sales side of things, as well as the opening of our stores and the long-term strategy. Kay oversees the collections, taking care of the creative and purchasing aspects of our clothing collection. She also manages all the financial aspects. As for my youngest sister, Julie, she's in charge of the creation and purchasing of jewelry and accessories, and all things HR. So, we definitely have distinct departments. Of course, we still rely on each other for advice and second opinions, particularly in understanding how our blend contributes to Les Soeurs' success.
Are all three of you compatible with each other?
Yes, and we've always been like that. People often say they couldn't imagine working with their siblings, but for us, it's natural. Even from a young age, we'd sell things together on the street. We'd clear out the garage, with me handling sales, Kay managing the money, and Julie restocking when needed. That teamwork hasn't changed. We've always been able to communicate very well with each other. We have similar mindsets and interests and we get along well, but don't get me wrong, we can have intense discussions too. However, they often lead to good results. Being three, we have a golden rule: two against one. That's how we make decisions, including for Les Soeurs. If we can't agree, we vote, and the majority wins. This makes decision-making easy, and we don't dwell on disagreements afterward.

Is it challenging for the three of you to distinguish between your work and personal lives?
While professionalism is key within our team, there are instances when work and personal life overlap naturally. Nonetheless, when we're at work, our primary focus remains on Les Soeurs, and we make a conscious effort to center our discussions around business matters. During meals, conversations often turn to our children—updating each other on their activities and coordinating schedules. Conversely, we avoid discussing work during family gatherings and vacations, prioritizing uninterrupted family time. Though striking this balance can be challenging, we are committed to maintaining it.

Could you provide some details about your family life at home?
Our daughter, Charlie, is eight, and our son, Julian, is seven. Our home is vibrant and dynamic, always bustling with activity as we manage our professional responsibilities alongside family duties. Christopher works as the operations director of an installation company, a role requiring a high level of technical expertise. With both of us deeply involved in our work, our family often operates like a small business, with each member playing a crucial role. We prioritize nurturing independence in our children, encouraging them to help with household tasks, prepare breakfast, and dress themselves. In our family, teamwork is essential, and everyone contributes to keeping things running smoothly.Did you both already have your business at the time they were born?
Yes, indeed. However, we also make a conscious effort to set our jobs aside at times. Constant work-related talk wouldn't be enjoyable for the kids. Nevertheless, they've grown up in this environment and are used to it. For example, they often come to play in the warehouse after school. So, our work and family life are intertwined, and it seems to work well for us.

How does your family feel about Les Soeurs?
They really like it. Especially Charlie, my daughter. She's already into fashion and pays attention to her clothes and outfits. She often says, "Mom, you are such fashion girls." She enjoys it. She overhears us discussing various matters related to Les Soeurs, like decisions about collections or photo shoots, and she sometimes offers her opinion or asks why we're doing something a certain way. It’s nice to be able to share that passion with her. Of course, there's another side to it. They might ask, "Will you be away for a whole week again?" or "Do you have to work all day at the Nieuwpoort store on Sunday?" It's a reminder that compromises are necessary in all areas of life. As a mom, there's not always time for every mom duty, and the same goes for Les Soeurs. Sometimes I have to leave work early because I have to pick up my children.And what about your husband?
He's also deeply passionate about his career, just like the husbands of my sisters. All three of our partners are actively engaged, contributing to the company's strategy and helping us navigate through various challenges. We often say they don't have a seat in our business meetings, but they definitely have one at our kitchen table, where we engage in many discussions. They are our primary supporters and sources of inspiration, always offering valuable insights behind the scenes. Fortunately, there's a strong sense of understanding among us, which is crucial. Otherwise, it would be much more challenging.

What is Les Soeurs' ambition? Expansion abroad?
Our guiding vision is centered on the joy of creating beautiful collections within our means. We take pride in crafting apparel and accessories that are both stylish and affordable, instilling a sense of confidence and well-being in those who wear them. Our ultimate goal is to share this happiness with a wider community of women.

Dreaming big for Les Soeurs, our vision is to establish it as a leading Belgian fashion label, not only in Europe but globally. We aim to achieve this through two main strategies: firstly, by opening flagship stores in major European fashion hubs, and secondly, by expanding through wholesale distribution to boutique and multi-brand stores worldwide. To bring this vision to life, we actively participate in trade fairs to showcase our collections and form partnerships. Currently, our label is featured in about fifty boutiques outside Belgium, and we are actively seeking representation through agencies in various countries. Additionally, we're exploring the potential of pop-up stores to boost visibility and brand recognition, following the success of our three-month pop-up in Paris last year and planning another in Amsterdam this fall.

Let's talk house. Where do you live with your family?
We live in Beringen, which is quite remote, far from the bustling cities. Our home is nestled in green surroundings, offering tranquility and seclusion. This deliberate choice allows us to unwind after busy days filled with interactions with our team and clients.

Christopher and I prioritize openness and simplicity. Our living space is intentionally designed with few walls, allowing for easy flow and ample natural light. This layout reflects our family's communicative and transparent nature. As lovers of nature, we incorporate elements like glass to connect indoors with the outdoors. Our minimalist approach emphasizes quality over quantity, ensuring each item serves a purpose without clutter. Maintaining this organized environment is key for mental clarity amidst life's busyness. Similarly, like Les Soeurs, our home features carefully selected design elements that balance functionality with aesthetic appeal.

Which rooms do you spend the most time in as a family?
For our family, the kitchen is the heart of our home. It's our largest space and where we spend the most time together. We all share a love for food—my husband Christopher, myself, and the kids. We enjoy eating well and trying out diverse dishes. Our kids have grown up to be quite independent, often joining me in meal preparation. Whether it's frying eggs or surprising us with breakfast in bed on weekends, they're eager to participate. Of course, there are times when they're simply absorbed in their own activities, like playing on their iPads. But when they're in the mood, they're right there with me, chopping vegetables or helping out with various cooking tasks.Any pets?
We're genuine animal lovers and specifically chose to have feline companions. I personally identify as a "crazy cat lady," having had cats since my childhood, and my daughter Charlie shares the same affection. These cats have been part of our family since they were kittens, and they're dearly cherished by all of us.

Could you guide me through your family's morning routine?
Typically, either my husband or I leave early in the morning, so we take turns managing the morning routine. When I wake up, my first task is feeding the cats to quiet them, then I wake the children. Afterwards, they join me downstairs. Occasionally, they help with breakfast, but usually, I prepare it while they relax with their iPads. I enjoy a moment alone with my Bialetti coffee before making sandwiches and packing their school bags. By then, the kids have usually finished breakfast. We head upstairs, they dress themselves while I prepare. Later, downstairs, they may play a game together, enjoying their strong bond at ages 7 and 8, reminiscent of the closeness I shared with my sisters. It's a joy to witness their camaraderie now, based on shared interests and pursuits.

Once everyone is ready, it's time to put on shoes, grab jackets, and take the school bags. Then, the three of us hop into the car. I usually drop them off at the school gate first, so they're among the first group to arrive, enabling me to make it to "Les Soeurs" on time for my own schedule.
Do the children share hobbies as well, or do they have other activities outside of school?
During playtime, they share similar interests, but their hobbies reveal their individual personalities. Julian embodies the adventurous spirit of a typical boy, enjoying activities like tree climbing and scouting where he can unleash his energy outdoors. In contrast, Charlie seems destined for the stage, displaying a passion for singing, dancing, and acting through her dedication to pursuits such as dance, vocal training, piano, and gymnastics. It's easy to imagine her commanding the spotlight one day.

Interestingly, these talents seem to emerge independently of my husband's and my own interests. While I may have passed on my communication skills and outgoing nature to Charlie, her musical talent appears to have skipped a generation. As for flexibility, it's not a trait we possess; Christopher and I are pretty stiff,we  can't sing, and we have absolutely no skill with instruments.

What activities do you and your husband enjoy outside of work?
Due to my passion for fine food, cooking has evolved into a beloved hobby of mine. When I'm fully engaged in selecting and preparing ingredients, it's an immensely relaxing, almost meditative process. The highlight comes when I share the meal with my family afterward, especially when I receive compliments like, "Mom, you're the best cook." Additionally, I regularly practice Pilates on Friday and Tuesday evenings. This hour-long session helps me unwind from the day's stress and tension, providing a sense of tranquility. Pilates also clears my mind as I concentrate on the movements, leaving me feeling refreshed and energized.

And what about your husband?
He's really into cars. He truly enjoys washing them, no joke, and finds it very satisfying. He also enjoys going for drives alone and sometimes joins rallies. Cars and everything related to them are his main interests. Lately, he's started exercising too, although it's more about working off stress and a little belly than for enjoyment.

Is the children having school bags and lunch boxes from Jeune Premier a deliberate choice?
It's a deliberate decision because, as entrepreneurs at Les Soeurs, we're dedicated to backing other Belgian businesses. Jeune Premier's designs are unique and eye-catching, setting them apart in the market. Their school bags and product range are both original and imaginative. They're also durable, which is essential since kids can be rough with their belongings. Jeune Premier's materials are specifically made to withstand this wear and tear. And, just to add, the kids are big fans of their products too.Do your kids have a preferred Jeune Premier item?
I believe their favorite item is their school bag, as they use it every day. However, each of them has both a classic-style and a sports-style school bag, along with a pencil case. The school bag is the most essential item since it's used daily. However, Charlie, being the creative person she is, also greatly enjoys her pencil case. It's spacious and can hold plenty of markers and colors, which makes her very happy.

And did they choose their prints themselves?
Yes, we intentionally let them make their own choices because they're at an age where they have strong preferences. Julian opted for a blue one, a blue Jeune Premier school bag with a tiger on it. And Charlie selected the coral-red one, sort of a pinkish-orange color, also with a little tiger. It's a reflection of their love for cats that comes through in their school bags, I guess. These bags are a daily staple in our household, accompanying them to and from school each day.

Discover more school runs here.