Nicolas, Atelier Choux’s co-founder, explains how he and his wife started the brand and how the Atelier Choux aesthetic was born.
What has been your source of inspiration and why did you decide to embark on this particular career journey?
My wife and I love art, illustration, architecture and interior design. While our professional lives had led us into “conventional” careers, we connected as creatives when we first met in New York in 2009. We spoke about one day having a “workshop” or an “atelier” together where we would make things side-by-side. We each had taken evening courses in wood and metal working. Fast forward a few years to 2014, we are now living in Paris and expecting our son. Although our lives were about to completely change as parents, we also kept returning to the idea of our “atelier.” As our creative, entrepreneurial sides kept resurfacing, we had the “it’s now or never” talk and decided to go all in with a project, while becoming first time parents.
Preparing our nursery and enjoying the beauty of Paris and our neighborhood in Paris’ 8th arrondissement (near Parc Monceau) shaped our idea. We were always admiring the beauty of the buildings and sculptures around us. We thought these themes could be brought to a wider audience, and also imagined a clear aesthetic that would appeal to both parents and children. We both “saw” the vision very clearly, but we needed an artist! We had been fans of the artist Mattias Adolfsson for a couple years at this point and sent him an email about our ideas. The night we got his simple reply (saying something like “sure,”), we couldn’t sleep. We jumped on a plane to Sweden a few days later and mapped out our brand aesthetic with Mattias over a weekend. We added the word “Choux” to Atelier which means “cute.” We were suddenly “all-in” and could literally feel the momentum of this new entrepreneurial journey together.
Can you speak a little more on why Atelier Choux pays the greatest attention to quality and detail in regards to the product? What is the importance to you of such special production?
Since the beginning, we have made the tough decision to not buy any materials or fabric in “stock”, meaning we are buying all the raw materials and making the finished products from A to Z. Local manufacturing in France allows us to control many of the steps, which has been really the key. I visit our factories regularly where we can actually see the raw cotton pods. We can watch the machines “run” that weave our fabric and follow production all the way through printing and confection. This can become quite technical, but thankfully we are working with factories which have been owned by families for more than a century and have been very open to include us in their production decisions. From the words of our suppliers, Atelier Choux has played a part in reviving textile production in France and we intend to continue growing our production cluster here.
What prompted you to ensure the global organic textile standard (GOTS) and the oeko-tex standard 100 in your product?
As parents and as brand owners, this is a given. We start with GOTS organic cotton in order to ensure our products are entirely free from chemical fertilizers or pesticides, and added the Oeko-Tex certification for all our production processes. Organic cotton fiber is also thicker, feels softer and is hypo-allergenic compared to conventional cotton fibers. GOTS certification also guarantees the sourcing and social aspect of cotton picking, making sure no child labor is used and that fair prices are guaranteed to the farmers.
We want to hear all about the new shop in Paris. How have you incorporated the design of your product into the interior design for the store?
It was a dream to give Atelier Choux a proper branded space, and we were on the lookout for a small store in Paris since we launched the brand. It was a priority before even securing an office! Our boutique on Rue Hautefeuille is located on a quiet street, just off the bustling boulevard Saint Germain and behind the beautiful St. Michel Fountain, which is full of pink and green marble. The space dates back to the 17th century and there is even an original painting on one of the ceiling beams. We had a lot of fun studying the architectural styles of the Renaissance and Baroque periods and asked Mattias to draw a collection of interior moldings in this style. The design is really a way for us to express Atelier Choux’s brand identity – whimsey, surprise and humor!