Coco Chanel's Fierce Determination
The Creation of Her Global Empire
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About Today’s Piece on Coco Chanel
I read the book Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie to write this piece. Quotes from the book will have Justine’s name beneath them.
Of course, there’s a lot I couldn’t include in this piece, but I found Coco’s story captivating and there’s so much to learn from her.
Coco Chanel is a legend whose name has been known globally since the early 1900s.
Her namesake company did more than $17 billion in revenue in 2022 and today is one of the leading luxury brands in the world.
If you know anything about Chanel’s background, you’d understand just how remarkable of an achievement this is.
Chanel went from growing up in a poorhouse and then an orphanage to, at her peak, running a company with 4,000 employees.
And her customers were part of her legend:
Her story is one of fierce determination and built from a seemingly endless supply of ambition.
Let’s get to it.
Born Gabrielle Chanel on August 19th, 1883, Coco, a name she’d get years later, entered a world of poverty.
Her father wasn’t present at her birth, but he married her mother when Coco was 15 months old.
In 1895, when Coco was only 11 years old, her mother was found dead in a freezing room on a cold February morning. It was the start of a series of tragedies in Coco’s life.
After her mother’s death, Coco lived with her two sisters in an orphanage run by nuns at the Abbey of Aubazine.
Her father dropped them off and never returned.
Throughout her life, Coco told lies to conceal her origins. In regards to her father, she said he had left in pursuit of his fortune in America, which was not true.
She also called the nuns her “aunts” throughout her life.
Tragically, reflecting on this time living at the orphanage, she would say:
Coco would spend seven years there, leaving when she was 18.
She’d later talk multiple times about wanting to kill herself as a child due to that experience, being unloved by the “aunts” and being abandoned by her family.
Talk about a rough start to life.
But this start would give Coco the desire to be independent and fuel her determination for decades.
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