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International Women’s Day at Letzshop:
Power women in the spotlight
More than a century ago, the first International Women’s Day took place, as the female sex had to fight for their right of equality and emancipation. 100 years later, this is thankfully no longer the case in Luxembourg. However, the fact that women still have to be strong as well as assertive and have to have a thirst for action in everyday life was explained to us by five women from Luxembourg’s retail world. Five strong women who represent five different domains of Letzshop, and who all had to find their own way to become successful in their life.
First we spoke to Daniela Clara Moraru of Languages.lu in Luxembourg City, a Romanian-born entrepreneur who promotes the Luxembourg language. Then we went on to the south of the country, to Differdingen, to visit Lea Schroeder, an art designer with a penchant for ceramics. We continued our quest on to Ehlange-sur-Mess to the Eilénger KonschtWierk, an inclusive project, presented to us by Peggy Jung. Our search for strong women also took us to the Moselle region and more precisely to Grevenmacher to the distiller Martine Streng and finally to Berdorf to the seamstress Nathalie Siebenaler.
All beginnings are difficult… aren’t they?
For Daniela Clara Moraru, it was clear from the beginning that languages would play an important role in her life. ‘I like to quote Nelson Mandela here at this point: ‘If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.’ I like to help people connect with others through their heart,’ says Daniela Clara Moraru. In her opinion, there might be a lot of players on the market, as it is the case for numerous domains, but very few pioneers. That’s why I’ve chosen to differentiate my brand through innovation.’ says the Romanian, who chose Luxembourg as her new home.
Lea Schroeder is also happy to have made the decision to start her own business. ‘I love creating things that don’t exist yet. And most of all, I like to create reactions, to appeal to emotions, to create an exchange with other people. It was a wise decision to turn my passion into my profession.’ But all beginnings are hard. ‘The money is often the problem. Furthermore, you need a lot of will power and the ability to start all over again and again. You’ll have to learn to live with the uncertainty,’ says the young entrepreneur.
Peggy Jung, secretary at Eilénger KonschtWierk, a Luxembourg project that employs mentally ill people, has been working here for almost 19 years. It was rather by chance that she discovered and chose this line of work. ‘I’d never have thought that I would like working in the social sector so much.’ Even today, she takes great pleasure in her professional work and her good mood is contagious.
Born in Grevenmacher, Martine Streng is a passionate hobby distiller. ‘Distilling is a sort of vocation for me, because for three generations, my family has been distilling traditional products. Distilling is foremost a male domain and so when I got interested in distilling in my early 20s, no-one took me seriously. But I got my way in the end.’
Nathalie Siebenaler from Berdorf also set up a successful company. She has been self-employed since 2016. ‘In 2012, I started with digitally printed scarves with self-designed motifs. Since 2016, I’ve been offering custom-made wedding and evening dresses, as well as coats, blazers and summer dresses in my studio in Berdorf.’ She has cherished her passion for fashion design since she was a child. However, she is also aware that it is difficult to gain a foothold in this field. ‘Due to the mass production of clothes and the increase of cheap goods, custom tailoring has become a luxury product. You have to be versatile and flexible in this field, especially since the whole fashion industry is in a state of flux,’ says the young entrepreneur.
Keyword: International Women’s Day
‘I grew up with the International Women’s Day. In Romania, it was always a very festive day and we gave flowers and small gifts to our mother, sisters, friends and work colleagues.‘ explains Daniela Clara Moraru.
According to designer Lea Schroeder, ‘This special day is very important so that the inequalities, but also the evolution of the status of women in society is addressed. A status that is still very fragile and that we younger women too often take for granted.’
Peggy Jung of the Eilénger KonschtWierk agrees with this statement: ‘I think that the International Women’s Day is quite important. Here in Luxembourg, women have it much easier to gain a foothold, but unfortunately this is not the case in other countries. That’s why I think it’s even more important to support this.’
Martine Streng also expresses her views on International Women’s Day: ‘International Women’s Day is certainly an important issue. I follow this topic myself. Nevertheless, I think we are well positioned in the business world here in Luxembourg. Luckily, I have never had a disadvantage as a woman.’
For fashion designer Nathalie Siebenaler, the 8th of March is an important day: ‘Here in Europe, women can live, think and act freely. But we must never forget that generations before us fought for these rights. And in so many countries we still have to witness how women are being oppressed. It’s important that we always remember that these freedoms are not given and that in other countries we still have to fight for them.’
Your female role model?
Here Daniela Clara Moraru did not have to think long: ‘My role model is my mentor Erna Hennicot-Schoepges’, she stated.
‘I don’t have a role model,’ says Lea Schroeder. ‘All women inspire me in their own way, through their experiences and their unique characteristics.’
Peggy Jung agrees. ‘When many women work together, wonderful ideas emerge and I find this quite positive for the Eilénger KonschtWierk, as well as the other domains.’
Martine Streng answers this question without thinking twice: ‘I am fascinated by Betty Fontaine, a woman from the north of Luxembourg who, together with her family, has created a certain level of awareness for herself and her product here in Luxembourg but also beyond its borders.’
Nathalie Siebenaler also knows how to answer this question: ‘There are many female role models in my life. Starting with my mother and grandmothers and friends all the way to Josephine Baker, Coco Chanel, Waris Dirie and Michelle Obama. Each woman inspires me with her own personality and story. Each woman’s strength, perseverance, willpower and positive attitude inspires me and helps me find my own path and write my own story.’