Jean Rousseau’s traditional craft: how to preserve and pass on our know-how?

by Jacques Bordier

In 2007, Jean Rousseau received the EPV label. This label, Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant, rewards national firms for the excellence of their traditional and industrial know-how. We were proud to receive this recognition, as we are deeply involved in the preservation of our craft arts. Our know-how is indeed the base of our work and philosophy. It is what distinguishes Jean Rousseau from other brands: 100% of Jean Rousseau delivered products are executed in-house, nothing being subcontracted to outside partners as it is often the case in our activity. We therefore must be able to count on our expertise and conduct various actions in this regard.

For instance, we pay great attention in recruiting highly qualified people whether they are craftsmen specialized in leather and textile or engineers working on product development, including our tannery. We also maintain a strong relationship with vocational schools. Some of our craftsmen have even been teachers in those schools, giving students a glance of their knowledge of materials, fashion or art in general. As an extension of this implication, we welcome apprentices and interns.

If transmitting our know-how is one thing, developing it is another that is absolutely essential. We regularly set up in-house trainings with excellent professionals to teach our teams on very specific domains such as developing and improving execution skills with new products or even English since we are expanding on an international level. We also favour internal mobility since it allows the acquisition and development of new skills by our teams. In the end, talents within the company become multi-skilled and adaptable. It’s a real plus.

Of course, we want to share what we believe is a unique state of mind by showing our work. We intervene in trade fairs and trunk shows where our craftsmen create pieces of work under the eyes of clients and visitors. Last but not least to understand how we want to work: both sellers and craftsmen run our Atelier Jean Rousseau Boutiques in Paris, London, New York and Tokyo. Craftsmen are the best to explain what we do and how we do it but also to provide our clients with unique personalized articles.

None of these actions is a coincidence since preserving our know-how is vital and the key to our development. On a more personal level, the question of transmission also echoes having my daughter Anaïs by my side. From the beginning, she has been a witness of where I wanted to lead Jean Rousseau, from a company manufacturing wristwatches to a company specialized in luxury leather goods. Today that she’s become an actor of this plan, I must admit that transmission is not only fundamental to the firm but also to me and I would probably not do as much as I do if it wasn’t a bit for her.

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