Caroline Néron visits me in the afternoon at the restaurant Les Enfants terribles on L'Île-des-Sœurs, very close to her home. A few hours earlier, she was packing vibrators and other accessories into boxes in her office in the north of the city, near Rue Chabanel.
Published at 1:10 am. Updated at 5:00 am.
Yes, Caroline Néron is making a remarkable return to the screen these days, with roles in the series STAT and the Denys Arcand film Testament, but she still has both hands in her jewelry and sex toy business.
“I’ll take care of the shipping,” she told me without batting an eyelid. It's new, but it allows me to control my inventory, it allows me to control everything. »
It's a big change for the actress and entrepreneur, who had 200 employees, 21 boutiques and offices in Paris at the height of her business fame in the mid-2010s. Today she has a total of five employees, including herself and her long-time partner, Julie St-Jacques.
“I'm not saying I'm going to spend the entire time on the expedition, but I'm learning a lot from it,” she emphasizes. I'm even on the road again. I am currently visiting all my clients across Quebec for the 2024 plans. There are about sixty of them, jewelry stores, gift shops, funeral homes…”
This very concrete return to basics well illustrates the new life of Caroline Néron, who experienced a highly publicized bankruptcy and divorce in 2019. I wanted to talk to her about this reinvention. To see how she managed to rebuild her life – and her career – from the ruins of a series of devastating setbacks.
PHOTO HUGO-SÉBASTIEN AUBERT, THE PRESS
Caroline Néron has managed to rebuild herself personally and professionally.
The 50-year-old talked for an hour and a half over a herbal tea because she cannot drink coffee due to a recent vocal cord operation. The idea of control, what we lose, what we give up, and what we regain took up a large part of this unfiltered exchange.
For Caroline Néron, control seemed absolute in the 1990s and 2000s. She played roles in around ten series such as Diva and Tribu.com, in films, recorded albums and founded her music business. Exhausted and outraged by the betrayal and “stabs in the back” she received on film sets, she left the world of entertainment in 2009.
His success, this time in business, reached stratospheric proportions in the following decade.
His company, Néron Inc., recorded one of the strongest growth rates in the country. She openly said she was aiming for a billion in sales, not less. Her seven-year marriage to Réal Bouclin, the wealthy owner of the Sélection senior living group, who is now in serious financial difficulties, occurred during this period of absolute splendor.
“The truth is that my mistakes started when I started growing too much and hiring more vice presidents because that was a recommendation that was given to me,” she says.
You know, there are a lot of people who didn't want to do business with me and told me, 'You should have someone, I'd rather work with a vice president, a guy who has years of experience in retail.' Not an actress.”
In retrospect, Caroline Néron believes that she distanced herself too much from the day-to-day operations of her company, which at its peak had an annual turnover of 16 million. She lost track.
“I didn’t need so many employees, I didn’t need five accountants for a $16 million company,” she says. For me the biggest lesson was: reduce and control your fixed costs. At my previous headquarters I had around 50 employees, and I definitely had 30 too many. »
PHOTO HUGO-SÉBASTIEN AUBERT, THE PRESS
Caroline Néron remains amazed at the extensive media coverage she received following her bankruptcy.
Caroline Néron bought her company from a creditor in 2022 for $400,000, she tells me. Today's version is “extra thin” compared to the pre-bankruptcy helium-inflated structure. She claims to have made a profit last year, but does not tell me her turnover. “I will stay with 20 employees. »
The entrepreneur now says she knows the intricacies of her stocks. She mainly sells jewelry, but her new lines of makeup and erotic accessories are becoming increasingly popular, she says. The tone of his advertising allows him to reach more mature customers who have never used such sex toys before.
It's not Léa and Maëlle. No, I'm Yolande.
Caroline Néron remains amazed at the extensive media coverage she received following her bankruptcy. But if others can learn from his journey, it will be of great help. “I have no problem explaining myself and I have also received many messages from entrepreneurs who need to listen to me and hear these stories. »
It was in her darkest time, in the midst of depression, shortly after her divorce and bankruptcy in 2019, that a phone call changed things for Caroline Néron. A former sales representative who discovered her in Diva's long-ago days managed to find her by calling the customer service department of his bankrupt company.
He wanted to offer her an audition for Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette's film The Goddess of the Fireflies, which ultimately won her the Iris Prize for Best Supporting Female in 2021. A “comeback” in good and appropriate form.
I will always remember that call. I was curled up on my couch, in the dark, you know, it was dark in my head, dark on every level. That call was very enlightening, like a sign from life that told me to take the step and keep going, that led me back to where I was supposed to be.
Caroline Néron says today that she is doing “extremely well”. She has found enjoyment in her acting career again and the industry is good for her. She will soon star alongside Anne-Marie Cadieux in a blockbuster series and in the film Anna Kiri Superstar directed by Francis Bordeleau.
Her partner holds the reins of the SME during the weeks she is filming; there is a clearly defined “agreement” between them.
His private life is on par. She lives in a condo on Nuns' Island with her partner of recent years and their 14-year-old daughter Emanuelle, who is making her acting debut.
“I’m making a comeback, but a return to everything,” she said. That's pretty much what happens when you take on challenges. I feel like this teaches you so many life lessons that at no point do you have the choice to reverse course. Everything that goes up comes down, but can also go up again. »
Questionnaire without filters
Coffee and me : Grief! I haven't drank coffee since my last vocal cord surgery…recommended by my speech therapist. I miss my morning coffee a lot, but today I can appreciate the impact it has had on my health.
The books on my bedside table : My next scenario
People, living or dead, that I would invite to my table : Jennifer Lawrence and Jimmy Fallon
A dream that I would like to realize : Acting in a film with my daughter Emanuelle
My favorite movie : Forrest Gump
The best compliment : On my acting or that of my daughter
The worst insult : At least you tried to be in business!
Who is Caroline Néron?
- Born in Boucherville on the South Coast in 1973 to parents who were real estate agents.
- Began an acting career in the 1990s in commercials and series such as Diva and Tribu.com.
- Her jewelry and accessories business was among the fastest growing in Canada in 2013 before going bankrupt in 2019.
- She restarted a scaled-down version of her business and in recent years resumed her artistic career.