“My experience at PCA taught me about leadership and entrepreneurial skills.” – Sarah De Herde
In early February, PCA’s communications team along with Linda Jarvin, President of Paris College of Art and Chair of the MA in Design for Social Impact had the chance to catch up with Sarah De Herde, an alumna from the program at her recently inaugurated sports club, bearing the distinctive name, Mon Q Club.
Located in 21 rue Hérold in the first arrondissement of Paris, this unique club merges the worlds of sports and nightlife/cabaret. Disco balls hang from the ceiling, there’s a ticket booth at the entrance, a bar in the gym, a podium in the center of the room for coaches, a makeup artist station over 5m tall with a makeup mirror in the dressing rooms, a glitter bar… In short, a club like no other!
Aside from its unique location and design, the classes provided consist of 50 minutes of buttocks-focused fitness to the rhythm of music, with one motto: “Workout is a party!”
Sarah De Herde reflected on her time as a PCA student and how the MA in Design for Social Impact program shaped her journey as an entrepreneur.
Please introduce yourself, name, where are you from, and when did you graduate?
I am Sarah De Herde, 27 year old, I am from Belgium but since the age of 1 have travelled all over the world (Saudi Arabia, England, Holland, France). So the only thing Belgian about me is pretty much my passport. I graduated from PCA in 2019.
What motivated you to choose PCA’s MA of Arts in Design for Social Impact?
After a bachelor of science at the TU Delft in Industrial Design Engineering, and a trip to Bali, I felt the need to use the skills I had learnt in a different, better, way. I wanted to give back to the world, and create meaningful solutions to social or environmental problems. Through PCA ‘s Masters in Design for Social Impact program, I not only developed my definition of “doing good”, but I was also given the chance to develop skills in entrepreneurship which came in very handy when I started my own business: MON Q Club.
Tell me about your thesis project at PCA.
My thesis project called help.R has as its main topic plastic waste. I wanted to educate households in cities to understand the value of recycling plastic through the means of DIY. I developed prototypes of two machines, and a plan for an infrastructure that would educate households and help them give new meaning to the plastic waste in their homes by creating new objects. The first step: educate by helping the user separate the different types of plastic, second step: create by shredding the plastic with the first machine to create small bits, which could then be melted and pressed into a new object with the second machine.
Did you end up continuing this project after?
I had high hopes for this project as I truly believe we as designers can help educate households on plastic waste in a fun way. This said, the financial need for the project was too high & I had yet a lot to learn on the business side. Having an idea is not enough, one needs to have a viable business plan. So I did not continue and opted to first learn on the job and worked for 2 years before launching MON Q Club.
How did your experience at PCA prepare you for what you’re doing now?
My experience at PCA taught me about leadership and entrepreneurial skills. It gave me methods such as ‘lean start up method’ which I adopted when launching MON Q Club. Using this method allowed me to launch a business in a very short amount of time, with little financial risk and high flexibility. The aim was to test the main function of the business, and quickly get feedback and nudges from the customers to create the a product with a real market fit (and demand).
What was the most valuable thing from PCA that continues to influence you now?
The people, I grew a lot during my year at PCA. I was in contact with loads of different cultures, who all have different ways of learning and working. The learnings are still applied in my daily interactions with people in my professional and personal life. Next to this, PCA allowed me to develop other skills such as screen printing, which is now a good hobby of mine.
What are you up to now and what’s next for you?
After two years of iterating my product to become MON Q Club and creating and sustaining a stable customer base, of over 4k customers, I opened up the doors to my own studio in the center of Paris: 21 rue Hérold. Next step: putting procedures in place so the place can run without me, and make it scalable… Bruxelles, be ready, we are coming for you!