Luxembourgish craftsmanship - Myriam SchmitSponsored content Switch to French for original article
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A name, a logo, a colour – all essential for a company. But not everyone has the time and ideas to get them right... Myriam Schmit does. From her little pink office, where she simmers her eccentric designs that are as clean as the fruit company’s, the "Pink Lady" – as nicknamed by some clients – juggles successful projects with her role as a mother.
Beautiful houses, one or two restaurants and a few orange trees along the road. Goeblange, Koerich's smaller neighbour, is a typical Luxembourg village. However, at the end of its long main street, a flashy pink shade and an… elephant tickle the eye of passers-by. Enough to arouse their curiosity. What could be hiding there?
The pink shade is an msdesign by myriamschmit flag waving in front of a seemingly normal family home. The elephant is from the open-air exhibition that anyone who has visited the capital in recent years will not have missed. And the woman who opens the door and sticks her head out is called Myriam Schmit. Smiling and dressed in blue, she gives off an electric shock of a positive energy.
The "Pink Höl"
Inside, it is very warm. The opposite of the freezing cold of the Grand Duchy, which almost rivals the temperatures in Canada. The entrance hall could not be more conventional either. It has a view of the kitchen, a place to hang your coat and store your shoes… The magic happens in the basement. "My studio is downstairs", explains Myriam, who takes the lead and scouts down the stairs. "I warn you, everything is pink. (laughs)"
Downstairs, Superjhemp and his boots greet us. Or rather a life-size cardboard silhouette of the iconic Superjhemp Retörns. The boots are the real ones. The ones worn in the film. On the walls – pink of course –, her slogan: "Keng Iddi? Keng Zäit? Fro mech." As simple as it gets. "That's what people need", smiles Myriam. "They tell me that they don't have time to do their communication. They tell me that they have no ideas. That's me! (laughs)"
In communication, msdesign by myriamschmit is above all an all-in-one service. "People ask 'Who is Myriam?' and 'What does Myriam do?' because I'm so multitasking", she laughs. She started with graphic design, but her offer has only grown: "My clients have shown me what I am capable of". Brand creation "from name to logo and graphic as well as corporate identity", public relations, event management, sometimes writing and even speaking live on the radio.
"When I was little, I didn't speak", she continues. "My parents put me in a speech therapy centre. As you can see, it worked well. (laughs)" Jokes aside, she does all this work on her own. "But I also know very well what I can't do and I tell the client. For this, she has her suppliers; photographers, illustrators or printers. "I don't do fakes. I have a good network, that's the most important thing."
Rosport bottles, Luxlait cans, Streff moving boxes in bulk. A mess, actually neat, that is not there by chance. These objects that we usually have in our cupboards all have something in common; their names have been parodied. As some of you may have gathered, Myriam's busy career has included being responsible for marketing and product placement for the Superjhemp Retörns movie. Rosport became Räpsert, Luxlait became Juxlait and Streff became Stress.
"A crazy project, the likes of which have never been seen before in Luxembourg." A subtle and innovative brand placement, "funny without being a commercial". Simon beer is Sibon, Cactus and Bram are Kaktus and Dram. Simple and effective puns. "When I told the director of Rosport that they would become Räpsert (burp, in English)", says Myriam, "he replied: 'Yes, well… It's true that drinking our product makes you burp.' (laughs)"
Myriam Schmit about the Superjhemp Retörns movie.
Myriam enters her office. Boom, explosion of pink. Under our feet, above our heads, from right to left. Everywhere. "This is my pink cave", she smiles. "Nobody wanted to do the ceiling for me. I was offered old pink. Do I look like old pink? (laughs)" As well as being flashy pink, it also mirrors: "We take selfies in it." The room is cosy; TV and table for presentations, leopard print sofa for coffee breaks and desks, one of which can be raised, with two screens.
One of the screens is still on. The InDesign application is open and displays the photographic project "Sinn oder net Sinn" recently launched by Myriam with the municipality of Clervaux. "We promote equal opportunities by showing men and women in atypical jobs." She points to the poster. "This man said to me: 'Ech si Spillschoulsjoffer (I am a female school teacher). Because there is no other word…"
"The career of a woman with a family is never linear. It doesn't just go up."
Her "cave" is full of trinkets that are dear to her and make up her personality. A Barbie riding a bottle of gin, a gift from friends. Posters of Thierry van Verweke, whom she knew and whose NAC exhibition she portraited with a book. A frame reading "LuXusbuerg – Let's make shit happen!", another reminder of Superjhemp. Cars, one of her passions. But also thank-you emails hanging everywhere: "It gives me the energy to continue, recognition is important!"
At first glance, there's no doubt: Myriam Schmit, known to some clients as the "Pink Lady", and her creative studio are living la vie en rose (life in pink). But that doesn't mean that her path, although destined, has not been full of pitfalls. "The career of a woman with a family is never linear, " she notes. "It doesn't just go up."
A clear path
Myriam did her first two years of high school "with the nuns" at the Fieldgen. She then did her 5ème at the Lycée Michel-Rodange where she met her husband: "We were in the same class, but at that time the older boys were more interesting. (laughs)" The following year, she had to choose her direction. It was "obvious" to her.
"I still remember that Saturday afternoon. I was at home watching a programme about advertising on M6." In the 1980s, advertising and photography were very popular: "It was totally hype." It was watching these creatives that she understood one thing. "I felt it. I thought, 'This is my world'." Certain of her choice, she leaned towards the artistic section (E, in the classical regime).
To the great… misfortune of her parents. "It was very hard for them", she recalls. "'Brotlose Kunst (unprofitable art)', my father said." Then one day she found a book on his bedside table: "'Ne dites pas à ma mère que je suis dans la publicité… Elle me croit pianiste dans un bordel' by Jacques Séguéla." When he read it, he realised that one could make money with advertising. "A very important moment for me."
In advance, Myriam already had universities in her sights. But the art programme of the classical system, which she had scanned as a precaution, was not sufficiently advanced to build up a portfolio that would allow her to open the doors she wanted to take. Once again, I shocked my parents and left the classical system for the art section of the Lycée des Arts et Métiers (LAM)."
With her baccalaureate in hand, "I was admitted to the École nationale supérieure d'art et de design in Nancy", she says. "Directly into the second year" of a plastic arts course. Then came the specialisation. "A teacher advised me to do a workshop in industrial design, the development of products that are produced in an industrial way. 'I think you're a design woman, ' he said." And he was right. That's what she chose.
Myriam Schmit about her studies.
"Industrial design is not just about an object that is beautiful or attractive. No. 'Form follows function' is the motto. " Sitting at her table, Myriam takes two glasses and puts them together. "How much raw material is in them? How many glasses can I fit together before they break? These questions…" At the end of her fifth year – in May 1994 – and of a long project, she graduated with a Master's degree. "I was the only woman in my class to get it."
"The others had done something more sensual, more feminine. I developed, with a doctor, an audiometer for ambulatory hearing screening for school medicine." And the jury "composed of teachers from the École Centrale" liked it. Myriam had creativity and methodology… but unlike the others, she had above all understood who her target was. A key asset in communication. That made the difference.
In October of the same year, Myriam launched her agency: ABC DESIGN. Not in industrial design – "at that time, there were no opportunities in that branch in Luxembourg" – but in graphic design. "I said to myself: 'Come on, straight away. Independent. Cold water.' I wouldn't advise anyone to do what I did. (laughs)"
A leap in the dark… even though she constantly did internships during her studies: "I didn't have a lot of holidays. I wanted as much input as possible." Now she was finally there, where she had always wanted to be. "My office was in Limpertsberg and I was doing logos and graphic projects…" In advertising. In the corner of the room, right next to Myriam, a sign with the company's logo still rests.
A non-linear destiny
In 1997, the LAM knocked on her door: "A former teacher came to see me. I had one of their students as a trainee. She was happy, he was happy and he said: 'You should come and teach with us!'" Marco Godinho – "a great independent artist" – and Steve Jakobs – "the guy who made the grand-ducal family with the Mickey Mouse ears" – came through her graphic design class. She has kept in touch with them.
When she became pregnant with her first daughter Gloria in 2000 thought, she stopped teaching. Two years later, she also stopped at ABC DESIGN: "I was fed up. My husband was an auditor, he was never at home, so it was difficult to be self-employed. Then I read a job advertisement for international marketing." As ambitious as she is, she applied and went to present herself.
Partly Italian, they asked her if she spoke the language. "I said: 'No, but I cook Italian. (laughs)' The manager said, 'Even better. The Italians will then have to speak English then!' (laughs)" She found herself responsible for marketing and communication for the Belgian, French, Dutch, Spanish, Italian and soon Japanese markets in a group of 6,800 people that sold life insurance. "I would go to the headquarters in Hamburg to deal with them." She loved the nuances to be adapted from one country or language to another. "Fascinating."
Until the arrival of her second daughter, Laetitia, in 2004, and comments that she still hasn't digested: "Mrs Schmit, in your profession, with your career, one does not have a second child." Instead of congratulations, she got sexist comments. "Since that day, I have been committed to women. I warn young girls that balancing work and family can be a challenge in some professions.” She explains to them that it is important to receive resources and support to succeed in their careers. Encourages them to take these things into consideration when making career decisions, just like she does… and msdesign by myriamschmit came to life.
Since then, the company has had a succession of major clients. Gulf chose her to re-establish its brand in Luxembourg. "It clicked right away between the management and me. We speak Marnachish. We sell Ualeg. (laughs)" As a representative of the Asian Elephant Foundation, she was responsible for the auction of the 47 elephants on display in the Grand Duchy and Trier, "which brought in the sum of 516,000 euros!" Hence the wink in front of her house. "It was a great challenge, just like Superjhemp."
Everything was going well. But a mother's career is not linear… and one of her daughters was diagnosed with an incurable disease. So she moved from her office in Limpertsberg to her current office in her house. "We took every day as it came. It was difficult." Her determination and perseverance, which would soon be tested again, made the difference.
A year like no other
"For 2020, my calendar was very full. I had even given up the holidays." Then March 13 came as a bombshell. Covid-19. "It was a date as important as the birth of my daughters for me. Everything fell apart. I called my clients and they told me that communication was no longer their priority. Doing events? Don't even talk about it." Panic.
Once the panic subsided, Myriam did what she does best: not giving up. "I run Koerich Castle with the Friends of the Castle (KSF) and as soon as we were allowed to, I organised super safe concerts. I had Gast Waltzing come and he said to me: 'Myriam, this is my first concert. I'm sitting at home practising the trumpet for hours…'" Others then contacted her and asked if they could also come and play.
"People wonder how I can handle so many things. It's because they give me energy."
But the news didn't just reach the musicians, it also reached the ears of the customers who said: "If you can do it for the castle, you can also do it for us." A snowball effect. Today, everything is back to normal. "People even wonder how I handle so many things." Independent, on three boards including the Philharmonie and the EME Foundation, vice-president of a castle, in the Lions Club and socially committed… "It's because all these projects give me energy!"
Also close to the Chambre des Métiers, she wants children to be allowed to express themselves in their own way. Those who function differently are often alienated, as Myriam has experienced. She remembers being called in because her daughter, in kindergarten, was taking too long to choose her colours: "Gloria is more of a mathematician. When she was told to colour something blue, she coloured it. That's it. Next. Laetitia hesitated: light blue, dark blue, turquoise blue? That's why I've been called in!"
The AI threat
Myriam Schmit on artificial intelligence.
"Laetitia, through her mother's work, had simply understood that blue is not blue. She asked herself questions that others didn't." On Myriam's table, a pyramid of books, which she designed and project managed, proves it. Whatever their colours, they are present in many shades. Each of them has been carefully chosen by the graphic designer: "A book is a baby. You can hold three years of work in one hand."
"My favourite project is my job. I hope I can do many more exciting projects for many years to come."
However, she does not prefer any of her projects to any other. "My favourite project is my job. I hope I can do many more exciting projects for many years to come. I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but that's also what makes my job exciting. I need that suspense."
With her daughters now grown up and her husband having recently left his job for lighter hours so that she can "give it a go" after all the "sacrifices" she has made for her family, there is nothing left that can hold her back.
A pink and linear future awaits.