Ten years ago, Nathalie Cadet-James was well into a successful law career in Miami when she started to think about a change in professions. Married with two kids, she wasn’t in love with her work schedule. “I realized I didn’t want to be beholden to a judge’s schedule when I needed to pick up my kids or read to them,” she says. More than that, though, Cadet-James wasn’t in love with her work itself. “I wasn’t passionate about it,” she says. “You have to have passion to produce at 150 percent.”
So Cadet-James quit her job to pursue an entrepreneurial passion. “And I’ve never looked back,” she says. That passion? Party planning that eventually blossomed into Luxe Fête where she produces elaborate, highly designed events for fashion houses, political candidates and other big names around the world. In thinking of her life as a big picture, however, Nathalie yearned for a way to make her career path exponential – yet balanced.
She wondered, could she parlay her event planning business into something that would scale her business and provide the work-life balance she longed for? As luck would have it, her eye caught an ad in the Miami Herald about the Babson College Women Innovating Now (WIN) Lab, a venture accelerator for women entrepreneurs. Created by the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership at Babson College in Boston and now in its sixth year, every year the WIN Lab accepts a class of 20 women entrepreneurs each in Boston and Miami. Cadet-James applied and won a 2017–2018 seat sponsored by FedEx. In the lab, she accelerated a business model for Luxe Fête Social, an in-home luxurious dinner party rental experience that is hassle free. They won the Miami Herald Business Plan Challenge and are also noted as one of the top start-ups to watch in Miami.
The year-long WIN Lab comes with five months of business classes, one-on-one coaching and access to experts in a variety of industries. But connecting with her fellow WIN Lab classmates is perhaps the biggest benefit, Cadet-James says. “Learning from my fellow cohort members was invaluable,” she says. “And with WIN Lab, the ethos is you will connect and bond with these 20 high growth women entrepreneurs, you will build together, and you will learn together. It was a game changer.”
The idea of connecting aligns with Luxe Fête Social too. “Our dinner party experience is all about connecting people — bringing the art of the dinner party back.”
Applications for the next WIN Lab class open in March 2019. Get details here.