From Paris to Seoel, the coolest bag of the hour is Belgian. The brand: Jeune Premier.
Hélène Fransen designed the first model at her kitchen table in Ostend, because she couldn’t find anything she liked for her son Ralph. That was in 2012. For the coming school year, the company has sold over 100.000 schoolbags. Children like the colors, but parents prefer quality. So does Hélène Fransen. But she wasn’t impressed by what was on offer at the other end of the spectrum: boring, heavy leather bags.
Still, she needed a bag for her toddler, so she designed one herself. “It was a lambskin bag with a mushroom and Ralph’s name on it. Four mothers and the principal came up to her on that first day of school to tell her they loved the bag, and to ask her where they could buy it.
Her husband Bruno Piers pushed her further. Why not create four different designs and commercialize them? That year, they sold eighty schoolbags. They launched the first collection in April 2012, followed five months later by the creation of the company. The brand Jeune Premier was born.
“It’s a reference to the expression ‘Jeune Premier’, that we also use in Flemish to designate a clean-cut child, like a Prime Minister”, Bruno Piers explains.
The schoolbags target children up to 12, but also aim to please the parents. “We wanted to create something appealing to the children, but with a quality to seduce the moms”, Hélène says. She takes care of creating and selling the products, while Bruno focuses on the general and financial management of the company. A pharmacist by training, Bruno Piers put aside his business to dedicate himself to the development of the brand.
Indeed, Jeune Premier established itself all over the world, and is not done yet. From France to Russia, through Morocco, the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Canada, the USA, and the Galeries Lafayette of Paris and Dubai. They now have about 350 sales points spread across 15 countries. Not bad for something that started as a lark at a kitchen table. One of the reasons for this success: the Belgianness of the brand.
It’s actually a matter of pride for the creators to export Belgium to the entire world. “To be Belgian is always a guarantee of quality and creativity abroad.” Moreover, the Jeune Premier schoolbag tags bear the Belgian flag!