"The nature of being an entrepreneur means that you fully embrace ambiguity and you're comfortable being challenged daily," says Giada Zhang, CEO and Co-Founder of Mulan Group and President of Red Club x Cartier. Zhang launched her Milan-based company Mulan Group in 2018, focusing on sourcing local ingredients to produce packaged, ready-to-eat Asian meals in supermarkets throughout Europe. As a second-generation Chinese-Italian, whose family emigrated to Italy from China in the '90s, her start-up was born out of a desire to uphold traditional family recipes that significantly shaped Zhang's upbringing.
"Choosing the [entrepreneurial] path is completely irrational because the odds of succeeding are so small," explains Zhang. "You have to be laser-focused on delivery and persistence," she adds. "Especially through rounds of fundraising, strategy planning, and creating a brand legacy."
This dedication to nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit also became the catalyst for Red Club x Cartier. The membership-based club, established by Zhang in 2019 alongside Cartier was initially intended as a global gathering place for Chinese entrepreneurs. "The idea was to connect entrepreneurs with similar backgrounds to help foster a sense of community," says Zhang. Cartier felt like a natural partner because of their ongoing support of emerging entrepreneurs and change-makers.
Zhang, realizing talent and passion was as much a uniting force as background, swiftly opened membership doors to an international community of entrepreneurs aged 20 to 40 leading companies across all industries— from fashion to healthcare to finance. Three years into the program, Red Club x Cartier has created a strong network of entrepreneurs, offering them financial assistance, community support, and invaluable mentorship opportunities that heighten their resources and expand their business development.
Last year, Zhang and her team established the Cartier Red Club's Young Leaders Award to nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs, awarding nearly 100,000 dollars to four finalists annually. This year's theme, "Bettering Lives," led by Cartier North America and in partnership with Howard and Georgetown Universities, celebrates entrepreneurial endeavors in healthcare that provide more access and inclusivity to under-represented communities. In April 2023, Red Club x Cartier selected four finalists from 280 applicants from 33 countries. Awarded the grand prize for this year's edition was Dr. Bea Bakshi, Co-Founder and CEO of C the Signs. Her cancer prediction system uses artificial intelligence to detect illness at the earliest and often most curable stages of cancer. Grant money was also awarded to the three runners-up; Dr. Tatiana Fofanova, Co-founder and CEO of Koda Health, Neha Verma, CEO of Intelehealth, and Prabhdeep Singh, Founder and CEO of Red Health.
"When you're an entrepreneur, there's nothing better than having a community of entrepreneurs to give you [targeted], and [well] structured advice, coaching, and mentoring that can help leaders be the best version of themselves for their teams," says Zhang. Positioned for growth (Red Club x Cartier has expanded from three chapters in 2019 to eleven chapters in 2023), the goal is to develop the club's entrepreneur network across even more industries. "With Cartier, we also want to create more value for the Red Club members —especially during the tremendous rollercoaster of highs and lows that come with being an entrepreneur," explains Zhang. "Growing the community is essential to mutual learning," she says. With the help and guidance of Red Club x Cartier, budding entrepreneurs don't need to leave their success to chance. "As they say, the best way to predict the future is to create it," Zhang quips.
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Sara Holzman is the Style Director at Marie Claire, covering runway trends and tracking down the latest finds to buy and wear. When she’s not writing about fashion, she pens about the best places to jet-off to. Over her six years with Marie Claire, Sara has reported on the ever-evolving world of fashion— covering both established and emerging designers within the industry. Sara has held fashion positions at Lucky and SELF Magazine and was a regular contributor to Equinox’s Furthermore website, where she wrote across their style, wellness, and travel verticals. She holds a degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri, Columbia, and currently resides in Manhattan. Follow her along at @sarajonewyork.
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