The story of Minois

Simone Tertoolen founded Minois in 2018. The idea for integrating technology in bags and accessories was already on her mind for a long time. In Minois, Simone combines her love for wearable design and innovative technology.

Before Minois…
Simone graduated as an industrial designer from TU Delft giving her a solid foundation for her design career. During her studies she also spent a 9 months in Paris to study ‘Création Industrielle’. About her time in Paris, she says: “In Paris I learned the importance of a strong design concept. All details, materials, packaging, etc should follow the design intent.” After graduating from Delft, she wanted to learn more about Information Technology and started studying Artificial Intelligence in Amsterdam.

In satnav company TomTom she grew from junior designer to head of the navigation design team: “In Delft I was taught how to design and manufacture new products, but only when working at TomTom I learned how to make user-friendly products.” After almost 10 years of working on navigation design and wearable technology, she decided to explore a new idea, upgrading an everyday object with technology.

Simone Tertoolen

In Paris I learned the importance of a strong design concept

Asking women for a pen
As a designer, it is important to observe the people that you are designing for. Simone followed the so-called ‘Design Thinking’ process. She started observing women with their handbags: “I had a trick question for this: I asked women if I could borrow a pen. Most women have a pen inside their bag, but finding it was clearly very difficult.”

This research gave her a lot of insight into why bags are often not easy to use. She then started sketching and prototyping. She created many  prototypes in paper, felt or leather. These weren’t all beautiful bags, but these helped her to quickly evaluate designs. She wanted technology that is delightful to use and therefore spent a lot of time on the color of the LEDs, fading of the lights and an elegant and easy-to-use wireless charger.

There is still an unconscious misconception that technology is not for women

What advice would you like to give to other entrepreneurs?

Nowadays there are a lot of start-up coaches, incubators, books, etc. You may get a bit overwhelmed by all the well-intentioned advice. My advice is to listen but then make your own decisions. Use your common sense. Nothing happens automatically, you have to work hard for every step. A good advice given to me by a coach was to enjoy the journey. Sometimes you work so hard, that you forget about that. When I was stressing out in Milan getting the presentation in place, I did fortunately remember to enjoy the beautiful palazzo, the last minute photoshoot and the delicious Italian food.

As a female founder, what have been your biggest hurdles to overcome?

There is still an unconscious misconception that technology is not for women, that women are not interested in technical features. I think women are just as much interested in technology, but they may be a bit more practical about it. Often men are more interested in features, while women are more focused on the functional benefits: how does it help me in everyday life?

Also, my background wasn’t in fashion. There’s a different rhythm of the buying seasons with different people involved at different moments. This was a new world for me to discover.

Do you have a vision of technology in our lives?

I am quite excited about user interface design. Our lives have improved enormously because we have so much technology at our finger tips (our smartphone). But at the same time we struggle with distracting notifications, we act asocial when we have our eyes on the screen. There is a lot of interesting research about tactile interfaces, augmented reality, user interfaces that you control with your eyes or even with your mind. I think exciting new things are going to happen.

November 16, 2021 – Written by Zoë Groetelaars