Whereas most foreign businesses (outside of France I mean) would use the ‘Father & Sons’, ‘Established’ or ‘Since’ indication to emphasize that they were, well …, seriously long established company, the French would instead use the word Maison which in itself alone worked as a seal of guarantee for their quality and know-how. Today the name Maison is commonly used either for some genuine enterprises but also as a marketing tool to add that twist of French touch and legacy to some sometimes quite new brands. For good and other times for bad. As said before if the appellation was once reserved to small craftshops or artisans and on the other hand big and old names in the fashion industry (Maison Hermès, etc) it is now commonly used by young entrepreneurs (Maison Cadot, Maison Plisson, …). It generally comes as much more than a posture but better a state of mind and a way of saying how committed the team is, how genuine and bespoke the products are, all hand crafted or locally made or produced according to substainable principles … Or even better all at the same time : the kind of criteria that would apply in your home or maison if you were to host a diner ! All homemade and handmade food !!! Provenance guaranteed from your local market …
This in mind while I was browsing Instagram reviewing my lifestyle selection and wandering on some other new accounts destination I caught sight of Maison Godillot. Hence my curiosity to get to know its founders and understand what motivated this new venture. A mix of bespoke designs and guests brands all coming from independant craftmen it called to my mind Rennes (www.rennes.us), Kinkfolk & Hole & Corner’s magazines curation and the best of Etsy all in the same shopping basket. Some beautiful creative minds and some makers … As they were packing on the eve of a trip to Japan to scout some new products they shared their story with me.
Business Madame: How did you meet and what was your education and carreer path prior to launching Maison Godillot ?
Yui, co founder of Maison Godilllot : I studied Fashion Design at Istituto Marangoni in Milan, then worked for Etro as a junior designer for women collection, it was my dream work because they use amazing fabrics with beautiful prints. I came back to Paris willing to learn more about ornaments so I studied embroidery at the Lesage school. As I had to work while studying, I worked for Habitat and then I applied for a shop assistant position at Paul Smith, where Camille was the manager. That’s how we met ! Then I worked part-time for Bonaveri France, the French sales office of the well-known display mannequins (the ones you see at Lanvin, Hermès, Berluti, … ) where I learned a lot about merchandising and display tools. The other part-time was an interim as an embroiderer mostly at Lemarié (part of Chanel group) that was a magnificent experience!
Camille, co founder of Maison Godilllot : I studied Management in South of France before moving to Paris where I started working as a shop assistant. Then I quickly had the opportunity to evolve to management positions at Paul Smith. Given my 10 years in Paris, I had experienced a few apartments remodelling. I liked to find old and abandonned places and change them into functionnal yet authentical homes. The last one was with Yui, we had both many ideas that fortunately matched all together. Interior design is something we really enjoy !
BM : What is the idea behind Maison Godillot hence why is it named as such ?
MG : The choice of the name was quite obvious for us. It is not just a coquettish touch, some fashionable idea of a ‘Maison’, refering to the luxury brands. Maison Godillot is the common name given by Hyères inhabitants to this house we live in (pictured below). We were still in Paris when we saw that an apartment was available in this iconic house. It was love at first sight. We quit our jobs and moved here last September. Fortunately, the interior has kept most of the original details : stained glass windows, marble fireplaces, hand painted faience tiles, pine wood floors… we thought it could be perfect for a homewares photo shoot. We always loved renovating old houses and looking for particular colors, objects and furniture to create a homely atmosphere for each room. We also like to cook for our friends and family so we spend a lot of time in our house. Maison Godillot is all of that.
BM : Could Maison Godillot be a physical shop better or combined with the existing on line shop ? Is it something that you are planning or do you want to remain an e-commerce pure player ? Why ?
MG : We sometimes think about a physical shop but Hyères has a very irregular activity because it is mostly a summer vacation spot, except for the fashion and photography international festival in April, Design Parade in July and few other events… Maybe some pop up store would be the best option for now as most of our clients are in Paris. We haven’t plan anything yet. We opened Maison Godillot earlier this year in April, so it’s been only 4 months. We need to focus on the online store and make it work first ! It is evolving every week and we still have many things to improve to offer our clients the best products and services.
“The design is obviously the first thing that catches our eyes. Then we meet the craftsmen to understand their products, how they work, their story and their message because they usually have one. They are true and passionate, they often fight for a cause”. Yui and Camille, Founders of Maison Godillot.
BM : What and when did you reach the point of being assured that the project was healthy and that it would meet break even ?
MG : We actually don’t know ! It is a personal feeling. When looking for homewares for ourselves, we noticed we couldn’t find anything else than industrial low quality design or more expensive pieces by big names in design (ndlr designer and editor). Our project is to offer a different shopping experience by connecting each products to its crafter. We wanted to be more human and responsible. People get more and more aware of our impact on this planet. Other just don’t care but that is their choice, nowaday nobody could say they didn’t know. Since we started, we got to meet many people from different part of the world and we got confirmed that it is an important idea to develop because we all know we must change our way of consuming but the reality is there are very few options. We aim to be one out of many. So it may not yet be as sustainable as we had envisioned it on a business point of view but we are forward thinking entrepreneurs and we will do our best to make it work and ‘healthier’. Fortunately, we get plenty of precious support by high skilled professionnal friends.
BM : From where are you operating your business ? And who and where are your clients ? French and parisians profiles ? Europeans or more international ? How does it impact your business strategy ?
MG : Everything is done at home, here in Hyères, South of France. The photo shoots, photographic treatment, site maintenance, packing, etc. Our clients are mostly parisians and from some other French main cities. So we will keep on having French as our main language but we hope to increase the European and international business, that is why we translated the site in English as soon as we could. We aim to have an singular selection of products that could appeal our clients by their essential values, regardless to their nationality. It is only about the same will to take care of the simple values like the sanctity of life, social behaviours and personal mental & body balance. This has no borders !
BM : How do you select the artisans whose products you sale and why have you chosen to developp your own designs as well ?
MG : We are always looking for new crafters. Local first, by going to crafts markets and fairs, and to workshops people recommend. In other countries, by seeking through social networks such as Instagram, Pinterest, Etsy… We are proud to already be working with the United States, Sweden, Russia, Ukraine and Japan ! The design is obviously the first thing that catches our eyes. Then we meet (physically or virtually) the craftsmen to understand their products, how they work, their story and their message because they usually have one. They are true and passionate, they often fight for a cause. Whatever it is, it means a lot to us that each person stands for their own beliefs. It is either for the environment, social causes, human rights… We only collaborate with people we believe in ! We also develop our own designs with local crafters. It is good to work with them, they are open to new experiences and we definitely need their technical know-how and advises. There are objects that cannot be find anywhere else, executed in a proper way, timeless and long lasting.
BM : What’s coming next for Maison Godillot ?
MG : Our first Christmas season ! It is a big challenge for us! We are looking forward to making the photo shoot. We love Christmas time, it is a very important family moment. We cook and bake a lot, prepare the home decoration and table settings. We will need to plan a bit earlier this year to share our ideas with our clients ! Also, many new products will be added for special gift ideas and we like to think that our clients will carefully pick from our selection the perfect present for their dearest ones… Now we are going to Japan to visit our family but we have scheduled a real tour of crafts cities to bring back some beautiful photos and exclusive products. People can follow our trip on our Instagram account !
@maisongodillot See also : www.maisongodillot.com
Copyright Troistudios Photography, Maison Godillot, Christian Gleises.