Chapter 1: Resist !
"Why is Mrs Thinghammy so angry with you?" » Asks my 7 year old son.
Mrs Thinghammy is the imaginary character he invented for himself to embody all these people, indeed very dissatisfied who call me, write to me daily to ask who an invoice, supporting documents, my office, my apartment, my stock, my furniture, my car, my company, my bankruptcy ...
And every evening, during our cuddly moment - my only respite from an ordinary day - he asks me if I have received any new reminders from Mrs Thinghammy. We then open my computer together and, like every evening, I show him the fifty or so emails that I received during the day. I have marked with a "Fire" icon all the reminders, all threats of pursuit, all threats quite simply… Without reading them - fortunately - my son has fun counting the new fires which are thus declared every day of my life for over a year. “Mrs Thinghammy is very angry, she looks like mom! She set you on fire 34 times today ”.
I don't know where he got this rather unsightly name, or why he sees a woman in this allegorical representative of my creditors, when the latter are clearly more than 95% men.
My little theory is that he knows that women are often more peaceful, more sensitive - therefore in his world "nicer" - and so that Mrs Thinghammy will probably not do her mother much harm. After having gently scolded her for not paying her bills on time, Mrs Thinghammy will end up smiling at her and hugging her, telling her that it's okay, that she forgive her and that she is love anyway.
The reality is of course quite different. I dare not tell my son that behind Mrs Thinghammy's jovial mask are people who are certainly very angry, but who will never forgive me. I have to live with it, I have to take it and do everything, everything, to make sure that these people - at least those who deserve it - can get their money back.
I almost succeeded on several occasions.
Alas, if those who animate Mrs Thinghammy are for the most part very commendable people, even victims, there are a few who stand out and have nothing to do with the good-natured character of the imaginary avatar of my son. No. They are predators. Killers. And they go after women.
The battle of female leaders
Why do I say they prey on women? Because it has become my fight today. A female entrepreneur who wants to be the equal of a man in this testosterone-filled world of business in Switzerland is usually put back in her place quickly, when she is not outright taken down.
And it is still terribly more true in Neuchâtel, where the clan assets always relegate the women to the subordinate functions, when one does not ask them to have the decency to return to their household. And where, despite these pressing prompts, I have been serving as CEO of heidi.com SA since 2015, before being propelled into the limelight - Winkelried way, the light- by the former board of administration of the company. Alone. Called on to become the only bull bar in the box. The word "bull" quickly became appropriate when I saw the violence of the charges that were thrown at me all these "balls carriers" ... Oh, did I not tell you? The first protagonists in my story are indeed men. Powerful businessmen, lawyers, senior executives of companies or public authorities, who were not at their first snow goose.
This power, these men direct it against two women in particular: me obviously, and another woman even more dangerous for them because she committed the recklessness of leaving her pasture to claim to become the symbol of the Swiss woman: intelligent and therefore emancipated, both modern and traditional. I'm obviously talking about Heidi. The society. Her values. The symbol. An idea of the new Swiss woman in 2021.
Since that fateful day, these men have been doing unsavory things on heidi.com, and even less recommendable things about me.
And as often during a hunt with hounds, all the dominant males joined in, each counting on recovering an advantage in the ruins of heidi.com: shareholders undercut by my sudden accession to the head of the company, competitors , well-known traders wanting to take over my premises - very well placed -, and even the City of Neuchâtel for whom I was becoming a big stain of oil on the breastplate of their image. All threw themselves into the quarry.
The weapons used are far from conventional: press campaigns carried out exclusively by local journalists, direct interventions with my partners and suppliers to convince them to let me go, attempts with my employers to have me fired, intervention with my banks so that they cut me off all credit (which they did) , multiplication of lawsuits (I have just inaugurated my 50th summons to court and my 50'000th franc - out of my pocket - in lawyers' fees and legal costs) , blocking of all my accounts, freezing of my income, blocking of my merchandise, campaign to make me lose my biggest customers, termination of all my leases, etc ... But what hurt the most are without doubts the slanders, which have made me pass in turn for a bad manager, a tyrant employer, an unworthy mother, a mental defect, a whore, a drug addict or even a not very feminine woman who stinks, neglects herself and does not wash her hair. Yes ! I read all this - and much worse - in mails that were not all intended for me.
When I left Switcher, where I was responsible for product and sourcing - and, contrary to some rumors, I had absolutely nothing to do with the bankruptcy of the "Whale" - I was first appointed by the former board of directors of heidi.com SA, specifically in the field of sourcing (procurement and suppliers) . After a year of collaboration, the board of directors of heidi.com then suggested that I take the place of CEO ... instead of its founders, which made them very angry (although I was not for nothing in this choice!). This is one of the reasons why one of them still hates me fiercely today.
At the time, the board assured me that it wanted me to occupy this position because of my "brilliant skills in the textile industry". So naive I was, I thought it was true.
Let us paint here as brief a financial picture as possible so as not to overwhelm my story: when I became CEO of heidi.com SA in 2016, the company had… 1.8 million losses. At the end of 2017, I had increased the company's turnover from CHF 600,000 to CHF 2.5 million, I had obtained Migros as a loyal and largest customer, and I had reduced the loss to almost ... zero.
Pretty good no, for a woman whom the press and my enemies have called a bad manager?
This honeymoon could have continued, turnover increased even more (Migros promised us more than 6 million orders !) and the little girl with the rosy cheeks was becoming more and more popular. Heidi could have become a very profitable company which would have made the pride of Neuchâtel residents.
But then, what happened to get there today?
Let's start by setting the scene.
It is time to say a word about the characters (unfortunatly very real ) of this story who distinguished themselves by actions that they would never have dared to commit if I had been endowed with the precious masculine attribute ... or if I had is one of the good Neuchâtel clans.
1. The Good
First of all, there is this large Neuchâtel Municipality (hint: this is not its first scandal; the last one to have had the favor of the press concerned the shenanigans of the remuneration of a senior executive of a famous transport company) . It had everything to become the Hero of the Heidi adventure: its municipal council, aware of the importance of the symbol of the little girl with red cheeks for the image of the region, had started by supporting the brand, especially in providing premises. This is why, obviously, it wanted to play the role of the Good.
Alas, when the tide turned after the press had dropped its hysterics on our fragile enterprise, this Commune courageously followed in the footsteps of the torchbearers. Its surprising methods earned him a chapter.
4. The Ice Queen
It was hard to find which role suited me the best. My casting team first thought of "the Straw Woman", "the Puppet" or "the Naïve Jerk", but we have to admit that all of this was not very flattering and obscured the fact that I still ended up making my own decisions. That only attracted enemies to me, but at least they were mine. The fragility of my little power, my "cold and contemptuous character" , as well as the obvious fact that I will end up disappearing by dint of being burned, ended up giving us the perfect name for my role: I will be the Ice Queen.
7. The Court of the Caliph
The Caliph likes to be surrounded by his Court and he systematically courts all the girls who come within his reach. As he struts and promises them a Pot Of gold at the end of the Rainbow, they swoon and promise him loyalty, fidelity and espionage ...
9. The Hostage Taker
There is no good thriller without a hostage taker. One of the largest logistics companies in Switzerland (hint: you can see its beige trucks on all our highways ), where all our stock is deposited, has all the qualities: for more than a year, we have been unable to sell a single T-shirt to our B2B customers because this company refuses to let us take any item (apart from the small stock of our shop which allows us to supply the E-Shop of this site) .
Official reason: we owe him CHF 16,000. While our stock (which we own) is worth more than CHF 500,000 and for years we have paid hundreds of thousands of francs to this company. This blockage has closed our B2B, which has already cost us hundreds of thousands of francs. Lawyers, threats of a criminal complaint have not changed anything: this national company does not care like its first Mercedes semi-trailer. It therefore also deserves its dedicated chapter because it also plays another role - much more opaque - in the story of the little shepherdess.
11. The Assassin
It is the only female exception in the row of the murderers of the little shepherdess. Here again, we hesitated to grant this role to the Bad, the Ugly, the Hostage Taker or the Inquisitors, all of whom helped bring Heidi to the ground. But it was undoubtedly this important shareholder of the company who dealt him the most deadly blow.
In a few weeks, she succeeded in making sure that our biggest client, who had worked for us for ten years, still guaranteed us up to 6 million in turnover and with whom I had patiently built a good trust relationship, let us loose overnight, immediately and forever reducing his orders to ... zero. Highly motivated in her role, this Shareholder was able to find the right words, effective, impactful, words that really exploded our image with this client.
13. The Epidemic
With, in its role, the Coronavirus COVID-19. Like many companies, unfortunately, the epidemic has hit us hard. Our administrative and sales staff had to stop work. And in our situation, the administrative staff is crucial: they negotiated with our creditors, concluded payment plans, opposed unjustified prosecutions (for example we received dozens of invoices for work, transport or goods that we had never ordered) . And it was our sales staff that allowed us to make the minimum turnover with which to honor these payment plans.
With COVID and without this staff, overnight nobody opened mail, opposed claims, paid current bills ... Without sales, payment plans collapsed, the infernal circle took place, generating the first bankruptcy requisitions.
15. The Second Fiddles
This story is also the product of the work of many extras and sidekicks, although I doubt they were volunteers. These are the many little hands without whom Heidi would not be what it is now, that is to say totally dried up in its resources, its means, its motivation, its time, its energy. These are the multiple accountants who billed us fortunes for their past efforts to conceal past embezzlement of our accounts, the collaborators who sowed discord before leaving, one with the cashier, one with our customers, one with our other employees, certain lawyers who have literally ruined us to write only a few agreed letters of referral from hearings, the revisers who resigned in the middle of the revision period, the lenders who took back our copiers and our vehicles when we were needed the most, until the building service who refused to give us keys to access our premises ...
2. The Bad
There was not much hesitation at the casting: with its muscular and brutal methods, the bank B… N (hint: it is a bank with a good-natured paternalistic image that wants to make people believe that it supports the PME of Neuchâtel ) had everything to play this major role in Heidi's downfall. The chapter devoted to the cowardice of the banks in Neuchâtel in this context of the epidemic will explain why.
3. The Ugly
We hesitated a lot for this role, because there were too many candidates. Many had that little extra that would have made them deserve this role. But the Palme ultimately goes to a businessman designated in my story by “the Brain”, “the Seducer” , or even “God” and whom I will tell you about later as his profile is complex.
5. The Caliph
This is the role of the one who thinks from the start of pulling the strings of the whole intrigue, without realizing that it is in reality "the Brain" who is the boss ... Self-appointed for this role: the Founder of heidi .com!
6. The Friends of the Caliph
The only power of the Caliph - who has friends who have friends - is his undercover agents: computer scientists, accountants, sub-tenants, brokers and above all certain Heidi employees who all have the same thing in common: make me believe that they worked for me !!
He began in the role of the eunuch of the Court of the Caliph. Then, as he realized that they were more attracted to the Pot of gold than to its asexual spiel, he first wanted to become Caliph instead of the Caliph. But his megalomania made him transgress all limits and the Caliphate was no longer enough for him. He then approached his hierarchy to take the place of the Ice Queen. He did not skimp on the means, urging the Court and the friends of the Caliph to light fires everywhere: with the partners, suppliers and customers of the Ice Queen, whom he tried to steal from him. He ended up snowman with a carrot in the place he deserved.
10. The Inquisitors
Ah, them, Mr. and Mrs the “specialized investigators”. If they did not deliver the fatal blow (that is reserved for much more ballsy roles) , they were nonetheless unworthy by throwing their victim naked in the middle of the public square with a big target on the chest. A certain local press undoubtedly saw the opportunity to boost its readership / audience by attacking a little shepherdess without worrying about wolves. A nice nod to the circus games of Antiquity, which would not have amused anyone if we had asked ourselves the question of the innocence of the condemned. The big advantage of this role lies in its power of nuisance: their dishcloths, alone, have led to dozens of cancellations of orders, termination of business relationships, loss of trust.
12. The Executioner
We almost gave him the role of the Assassin. But we gave it up. First, because the Shareholder had claimed it. But also because the axe of this executioner has not yet finished its work. We don't know if he's going to finish off the little girl after all, or if he'll hold back.
As negotiations have just started with this character - and they could be successful - I will reserve this character for now.
It is almost a shame, moreover, because he would have deserved a chapter all by himself as he manhandled Heidi!
Let's just say here that this is a person who owes us a lot of money, who is very rich, but who - while heretofore had always been of exemplary regularity and correctness - refuses to pay us since almost a year, without giving us any explanation, which pushed us into the bankruptcy cart.
Would he have been convinced to do so by one of the characters in our cast? We may finally find out what went through his mind.
[ Edit 23.11.2020 : well no, the agreement will not take place. The Executioner finally cut down his axe. Chapter 2 will explain how]
14. The Vultures
First, they are your Saviors, your best Friends, your Heroes. They spontaneously approach you to tell you not to worry anymore, that they are there with their millions, well… with the millions of a group of investors who are friends of their cousin's brother-in-law! Whether they are interested in this magnificent label that is Heidi, whether they want to take it over, finance a mega-relaunch project with the wick of the little shepherdess or they lend you without guarantee what you need to clean up, but 10 million minimum, eh, we do not take half measures.
Or even those who want to take over the premises to turn it into a super-trendy bar (for which they would pay all the work of course), the very people who made me empty my shop to "better see the work to be done" .
I was literally stormed by False Investors, False Financiers and False Buyers, who besides giving me False hopes always disappointed and each time more violently lived - and just for that we should deliver these people to the gavel of the judge -, all the steps they demanded of me (like giving them a complete business plan and a financial plan for the next 127 years) made me waste a lot of time and whole nights that I could have spent to boost my sales.
It was sometimes so absurd that I wondered if some were not on duty to slow me down, to lose me, to disgust me. They almost got there.
16. The Gravediggers
The State , the Administration, the public authorities , I have always believed that they were on the side of the companies hardest hit by the epidemic. This is undoubtedly true for some of them. Not for Heidi.
We were refused absolutely all the services : refusal of the RHT allowance (compensation for reduced working hours), refusal of a cultural subsidy ( we had tried to diversify ourselves by organizing cultural events), Heidi's apprentice who, with his score of 3.9 and deprived of examination to improve it, was refused his CFC (Federal Professional Certificate) in full COVID-19 containment… [ Edit 23.11.2020 : after having first refused us the RHT, then having (partially) accepted them, here is the Employment Service has just refused them to us again on the grounds that we have ceased our activities and that our website is not online! And the customers who order us every day, are they ghosts?]
Until the City's Buildings Department - lessor of our premises - which chose this wonderful moment of confinement to… triple our rental guarantee! And to terminate our lease because we were opposed to this and also - it is worth pointing out -, because we refused to pay the two months of April and May 2020 which the City had nevertheless forgiven to all other traders affected by the Covid! What happened is so violent that a chapter will be devoted to this episode.
And I am obviously not talking about Justice, because there is nothing to say about it. It does its job, applies the laws with all the rigor that can be expected of her. At the most, we could regret that it showed so much diligence after this difficult period. And that no judge ever smiles at you, even with pity, when he sentences you to an amount you can never pay or makes you bankrupt.
Oh yes, we can all the same mention a few pearls that say a lot about the skills of certain Neuchâtel judges! Unsorted : one of them communicated to one of our creditors that one of his colleagues had ordered the bankruptcy of heidi.com SA ... while the colleague in question had in fact done the opposite, that is - ie granted the postponement of this bankruptcy! This creditor is one of our big partners who thought we were getting out of the woods and who was going to work with us again. It cost us the presence of this partner in our relaunch, but Who care? Not a word of apology from the judge in question.
Or another judge who refused to heidi.com SA the right to claim compensation from an opposing party on the grounds that our request exceeded CHF 30,000 ... until one of his colleagues took over the case and, months afterwards, wrote to us to tell us that the other judge was wrong and that we could finally claim them anyway. Well, with an advance of costs of CHF 10,000, do not mess around either, the skills of the judges, we have to pay for it. Except that there, we have no more the CHF 10'000 ... Still no apology from the magistrate concerned.
And as I put this chapter online, I receive new proof of the competence of the people who are judging us. This time it emanates from the Cantonal Court - our Supreme Court all the same - : ruling on one of my appeals, one of these judges succeeded in rendering three contradictory decisions almost at the same time :
the first closed the case (so I won, yess!).
the second - a Scottish shower dated the next day - canceled the first (well yes, the judge had written nonsense, he realized that it was ultimately not to be classified, this kind of business, it's human ! So I didn't win anymore, but I didn't lose either!).
and in the third , he finally rejected my appeal on the grounds that I would have filed a document too late (although I did so within the time limit that he had prescribed for me, go figure ... So there it is clear, I lost… well I think !) .
I struggle with this kind of nonsense every day. You cannot imagine how exhausting it is to have to constantly challenge, write, appeal, ask for corrections just because of incompetence. My office is crumbling under the letters of the courts whereas I would like it to be under the orders! But so far I haven't been able to divert my energy from these trials that cost me so much ... and I'm not talking about money.
Small precision all the same: after all these cacti, I offer a beautiful Rose to the Registrars of these courts (their secretariats) : I only found very nice people, human, helpful and who knew their job perfectly. Like what, the skill is not always where we think to find it ...
17. Mr. X
Ahhh, Mr. X. I won't say anything about it at this point in my writing. Because if this story is made on the tone of irony, Mr. X is not the type to laugh. This is serious. He's the real villain of the story (not figuratively in my likable bestiary, but in reality) , so he's not going to like my words. And so, before he takes action (I have already received several threats) , I prefer to take some precautions beforehand. Mr. X may be one of my cast. Or maybe not.
And what could I have done to this Mr. X to deserve such attention? The relentlessness that I have seen on Heidi for over a year now must have another reason than my fight for the woman. I alone do not deserve such enthusiasm. So ?
Yes. There is much more. Heidi.com isn't just the cute little girl on summer T-shirts. She is also a victim, taken hostage by unscrupulous people, who saw in her candor the best of screens to implicate her in spite of herself in sulphurous stories of grown-ups. Stories that we don't talk about and that bring in a lot of money. And in doing so, these grown-ups violated Heidi's innocence. But I swear that I will give it back to her, that innocence!
The last character in my story is obviously the little shepherdess trying to survive in the world of wolves, alpha males and castes. She got there so far with difficulty, somehow, suffering a lot of blows in the process.
We decided at heidi.com, with some faithful soldiers * of life, to come to the aid of the mischievous little ingenuous. Even though she's gotten a bit sassy, we love her fight. So we decided to throw in our last strength to save Heidi. With her, for her, we will RESIST.
And if this last stand touches you, if you want to help us save Heidi, her values, her jobs and her rebellious wick, then show us all you can: sympathy, support, network, donations, even a short of your time (there is so much to do yet ...) , or simply wear our RESIST T-shirt!
I want to pay tribute here to the one who was perhaps the most fierce, the most energetic of "my soldiers", brutally carried away by the Covid with shocking rapidity.
Narcisse Niclass is undoubtedly the one who was most able to find the words to give me back the courage to get up, who organized in the shadows and despite my silences all the actions that allowed heidi.com to keep a minimum of social attendance . He imagined the Resist campaign and the logo of the T-shirt is his creation.
He was in his own way a Protector. His presence will be sorely missed in more ways than one. For his memory, I will not let go ...