WHAT WE LOVE: Inspiring French Homewares & Lifestyle brand with a wonderful selection of baskets and a new “maison” section.
WHO: Charlotte Reiss, creative stylist and queen of Instagram Stories. Her French chateau series kept us entertained during quarantine.
WHERE: Online and pop-up shops.
Vivi et Margot was founded in 2016 by Charlotte Reiss, after she and her husband invested in a 150 year old vacation property in rural France. Charlotte would bring French homewares and brocante finds back to her home in the US. Charlotte received so many compliments and requests from friends that she realized there was a niche in the market for traditional French homewares. Vivi et Margot’s stunning Instagram feed has lots of styling and home decorating and lifestyle tips.
Did you have prior retail experience? None! My Career is that of a talent agent in Los Angeles for 25 years.
Why did you choose the name Vivi et Margot? I had just given birth to my second daughter Margot and named the store after my two daughters Vivienne (Vivi) and Margot.
What are your best-selling items? French baskets, one off French vintage finds, and French linen textiles.
Where do you source your products? Every item we carry is sourced in France and made in France. Every Vintage piece we carry is personally sourced by myself from brocantes.
What do you think makes your shop unique? I like to think we are unique in that we carry one of a kind pieces and I only curate items that I would personally use in my French home, rather than just trying to appeal to the masses. Also, there seem to be a lot of online “farmhouse “ stores selling items claiming they are French when they are not.
Who are your customers? The majority are women, although we have about 20% male following on social media. Our customer is a woman who loves to entertain, is house proud, and has a European flair. She may not be able to visit France, but loves to take the time to shop for something special for her home that is quality and will last for many years, rather than a fad trend. Classic and traditional.
How has the internet impacted your business? Enormously, especially as I think (I like to think!) we are a visually stimulating shop, which inspires other like minded people on Instagram and Pintrest etc.
Charlotte Reiss, Shopkeeper at Vivi et Margot.
Who inspires you? Small business owners who stay true to their vision and marketplace. I believe in moving slowly and remaining true to myself. I was greatly inspired when we had our first pop up at maman NYC by owner Elisa Marshall and the many conversations we had about our dreams. Elisa saw my vision and helped me bring it to life inside her marche. I have very happy memories of our time there and its helped me grow as a business owner.
What inspires you? The French countryside. I adore our travels to Paris, but I am renewed with inspiration everytime I am home in France in the tranquility and visiting local villages and shops. The French have a certain way of living life and presenting themselves that greatly appeals to me.
Before I was a shopkeeper, I…. at the same time as being a shopkeeper I run a very successful talent agency and am a mother to two small daughters.
The hardest lesson learned in starting a business? A couple of things, the product photography (I try and take nearly all my images myself) understanding and managing the website (I am of a generation that isn’t very techy!) and the shipping of online purchases. We learnt the hard way, that you have to be careful what you wish for! The orders come in fast and you have to be able to keep up.
What task do you like to delegate? Shipping department!
The best lesson you have learned opening a shop? Be prepared with the merchandise you carry. You might think a certain product will sell, but it could be an entirely different item and you have to be prepared. Also merchandising is an art form and as I have zero experience I learn every day something new.
Your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop? Have a close knit team who each have different strengths for each task that needs to be completed prior to opening. Manage your time wisely and just believe in yourself, your brand and your vision. Many times I have doubted myself and though : I should more like…” but I sleep on it and wake up realizing I have to stay true to myself.
Which famous person would you like to visit your shop? Martha Stewart!
If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be..? There’s nothing else I would rather be doing.
What is your perfect day off? It doesn’t feel like work! Brocante shopping, merchandising, photographing for Social media, its all a sort of therapeutic day off for me.
Can you share five favorite shops? Casa Gonzalez & Gonzalez, Madrid; Labour & Wait, London; Marche Maman, New York; Penhaligans, and Floris, both in London.
I wish I could… bring my brand mainstream one day – I greatly admire the Magnolia Brand is the success they have achieved.
On the Future of Retail
“Personally I think the more mainstream stores will be hit harder than brick and mortar unique shops. Its our culture to browse, to touch and feel the products we buy for our home. Everyone loves something unique and special, not to mention the visual stimulation for curated brick and mortar shops.”