April 16, 2014

TIPS FOR WORKING WITH RETAILERS.



Working with retailers is a great way to expand your creative business, as retailers will make larger purchases than individuals and can result in long-term relationships (e.g. re-orders!) that don't require too much effort to maintain.

How do you get your products into retail stores? Here are some tips!
* Successful retailers have a strong point of view and buy what they love
- Visit their stores to understand their taste and what sells
- Only send them samples of products that are a good fit for their store

* Don't be afraid of retailers: you're on the same side!
- While it may seem intimidating to approach retailers at first, remember that they are small business owners just like you.  You're both on the same side, working together to bring great products and a great shopping experience to consumers.  Don't be desperate and realize that you have as much power as they do. If your product catches on, retailers will be clamoring and even competing with each other to carry your product -- they need you as much as you need them.

* Retailing is about relationships
- Boutique retailing is all about relationships. Retailers love to know the people who make their products so they have a story to pass on to their customer that makes shopping at their store a more unique and personal experience. Do you best to get to know the retailer personally; often small boutiques are slow during weekdays - make an appointment to stop by and drop off a sample and chat with the owner or store manager. Types of questions you might ask:  what are customers looking for / what products are popular?  Are most of your customers tourists or local?  Are their any gaps in your assortment that I could consider in developing new products?   Be careful not to sell the same products to retailers who are competing with each other directly, e.g. on the same block; instead, if both retailers want your product steer them towards different items in your line to minimize overlap -- after all, in order for you to succeed, they need to succeed!

* Retailers always want what's new
- Keep your product assortment fresh and when you contact your retailers, always be ready to show them "what's new."  

* Retailers need reliability and variety
- Retailers are small businesses and are often just barely making it financially. They may be reluctant to take a risk on a new vendor who might not deliver orders on-time or go out of business.  Be courteous and professional in all your communication, and make sure orders are always delivered on time.  Provide references if they seem hesitant about taking a risk on a small business.

* Get to know the retail buying calendar
- Most retailers buy at least 6 months ahead of the next season, so for seasonal items be sure that your products are ready well in advance. If you have a Christmas item that won't be available until October, don't bother releasing it -- most retailers will have already planned their purchases and maxed out their budgets. Save it until next year when you can reach buyers in the Spring / Summer and take advantage of their excitement of seeing something new.

* Get a sales rep
- Sales reps typically represent 10 - 20 different manufacturers in a geographic region and take a 15% cut of sales.  They have deep, long-standing relationships with retailers, so having a rep is a great way to increase your distribution quickly.  To find a sales rep, find out who reps lines that are similar to yours and contact them. Be personal, courteous and send them samples (no impersonal form e-mails!). Show that you are eager, earnest and understand the other lines they carry. Reps are often willing to take a chance on one or two very small lines to add interest and variety to the assortment of lines they represent, but as with retailers, it's all about relationships.

* Exhibit at a trade show
- Although trade shows are declining in importance due to the availability of most products online, they are still a great way to meet store owners and build relationships. Before exhibiting at a show, visit it and "walk" the show to understand the different "neighborhoods" and where you might fit in, and to get ideas for booth design and product trends. 
- When it comes to exhibiting at a show, keep it simple and keep costs low! If you're just starting out, consider forming a co-op with complementary vendors and sharing a booth space.

* Approach big retailers with caution
- While it may seem tempting to go after big chain retailers due to the volume of their orders, be aware that they often have steep discount requirements, onerous shipping and labeling requirements (which, if you don't follow them, result in heavy fines and could completely erode your profit margins), and may even have expensive testing requirements (e.g. if your product can be classified as a "children's product").  Also note that large retailers may decide to cancel an order if it's not fulfilled on time or for any other reason, meaning that you could take a big loss if you have investing money in creating inventory to fulfill their demand. While it can be great for top-line sales and brand awareness, the profit margins can be extremely slim, not to mention the stress of comprehending a 100-page vendor manual!





April 8, 2014

RITES OF SPRING!

A new sale has been launched yesterday evening with One Kings Lane and I'm very honored to be part of this pretty selection with talented artisans such as Bunglo, Kindah Khalidy, Wary Meyers,... You can see the full list right here.

"It’s been a long, strange winter, and it’s time to let your spirits loose
with these joyously scented candles, colorful bags, textiles, and
frost-proof paper blooms—all handmade, one of a kind, and simply inspired!"





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CHOUQUETTES!

Last February for Léon's 3rd birthday party, I brought some chouquettes at school to celebrate. Maybe you remember that post. Everybody, adults and children loved them and asked me the recipe. Same thing when we celebrated at the Randall Museum. I made 80 chouquettes and they all disappeared super fast!

Miam!

Oh... Good news! It is REALLY simple to make.
All you need for 20 / 25 chouquettes is:

- 1/4 L of water
- 100g  / 0.2 lbs of butter
- 150g  / 0.33 lbs of flour
- 3 eggs
- 1 big spoon of sugar
- 1 bag of vanilla sugar (If I don't have one I just add some drops of Mexican vanilla that I always have at home) 
- A big pinch of salt
- 1 bag of baking powder. (You can probably use the american traditional baking powder but I will highly recommend to use THE one and the unique baking powder I heart. Of course a French one: Alsa baking powder!! Easy to find on Amazon here.) 
- Pearl sugar. (This is the only tricky part of the recipe: buy the pearl sugar. As far as I know there is only one spot in the US where you can buy it: L'Epicerie, based in NYC. Don't even try to buy other kind of pearl sugar, this absolutely won't be the same. But the good think is that if you buy one bag at L'Epicerie you'll be able to make maybe two dozen time this recipe... and you can store it for long)


Action!

Boil the water and butter together. Add in one shot, the flour, sugar, salt vanilla sugar and baking powder. Turn until it comes off the edge of the pan and it forms a ball in the middle. Cool slightly. Add the eggs one by one. On a baking parchment paper create little scoops with a spoon or with a funnel that you can create with a ziploc by cutting one of the corner. Let the chouquettes in the oven 15-20 minutes at 410F or 210C.


Most of the time I double the ingredients of the recipe because at home we eat the 20 chouquettes too fast. Let me know if you make it! It's really easy I promise!

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April 6, 2014

HAPPY SUNDAY.


Two large smiles to start my Sunday!

With the kids of the neighborhood we love to organize some wall painting session in the kitchen. They love it, I love it too and it's super easy to set up. All you need is a large piece of paper, scotch, washable water based paint and eventually some brushes.

I'm very lucky to leave next to a one dollar store and I can find everything there except the large paper. If you don't want to spend to much money in the paper you can always save the large pieces of paper you receive in Amazon packages or other brands. I'm always amazed by the quantity of paper they add in the packages, just for nothing sometimes...

Last step: keep the drawings of your child and reuse it to wrap birthday gifts!


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April 2, 2014

WEEKDAY WALK - DOGPATCH.


A little stroll along the water at Dogpatch, San Francisco, is one of Leon's favorite spot now. 'Big boat' he said the all time! Last time we ended at The Ramp. This restaurant in front of the Bay is just SO perfect when you want to relax, drink with friends and watch the 'wild life' under the sun.  Next time I want to come at night I'm sure the ambiance with bands is top!

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March 20, 2014

OF A KIND x HAPPY FRENCH GANG.

Hello beauties!

I didn't write a lot yet on the blog about this awesome project I made with Of a Kind. But if you follow me on Instagram and Facebook you probably heard about it!

Last January they contacted me to work with them. They are always looking for new designers / brands to work with. And I discovered their concept which is awesome! They sell online goods made especially for them. Each item is made in a small batch. So you can be sure you won't find their bags and jewelries at the corner boutique. You buy something really unique!

I offered some ideas, colors, fabric, ect... And we ended to make the Mint Dream Throw.

The throw is hand-dyed in a 100% cotton knitted chevron pattern.


Of course it's hand-dyed in San Francisco and of course each throw is unique since the color and pattern made with the dye slightly vary for each of them. But you can see an example of the full piece below:


The team working behind Of a Kind made a wonderful work with the pictures and the description of the product:
"We know you’re ready for spring, and we bet your couch is, too. This hand-dyed, minty throw will make a True Detective binge-watching session all the more enticing, and let’s be real: That neon orange stitching will make even your sick days look good."

I like the way the present the throw 'in situation' :

It is just perfect!

An other cool thing is that you can find my bio and the bio of each designers working with them next to the product you purchase so you have the little story going with it.
And the final touch are the mini 'behind the scene' they made with each designers.

 // Dive into Happy French Gang’s Frenchified Guide to San Francisco //
Full behind the scene here

// Get to Know Sandra Dejanovic’s Creative Pals in San Fran //
Full behind the scene here


















Well... you know everything now! And I hope you like the new Mint Dream Throw as much as I do!  

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March 19, 2014

PHOTO SHOOT WITH MYRIAM RIAND.

Two weeks ago I met a young and very talented girl named Myriam Riand. She is French and Irish and came in San Francisco after graduated of an Art and Design School in Ireland, with a B.A. in Visual Communication. She just obtained a graduated visa and is looking for an internship in San Francisco!

I needed some pictures for my project with Of a Kind and she kindly offer to do it. We walked a little bit in the area and here are the pictures she made.

Thank you Myriam!

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March 17, 2014

HOW-TO: TWITTER FOR SMALL BUSINESS.

By Kirsten Mesch

For many small businesses, social media can be key to building up brand awareness. But what happens if you don’t know how to use Twitter effectively? Well, you’ve come to the right place.


Build a strong foundation.
First and foremost, it is important to make sure that you fully fill out your profile. There are three sections you should make sure are filled out completely.

  1. Location - Tell people where they can find you. Typically your city and state are sufficient.
  2. Website - If you have a website or blog (or both) share them on your profile. This is a great way to provide additional information of interest to Twitter users looking into your business, because they can be linked directly to your website.
  3. Bio - You only get 160 characters to tell people who you are and what you do, so it is important to talk about the benefits you deliver; whether that be with products or services. For example, Happy French Gang is “handmade, hand-printed, hand-dyed in San Francisco.”

Follow people with similar interests.
Once you’ve set up your profile, begin following people. The more people you follow with similar interest, the better. You can follow your friends or clients first, then follow your competitors (to keep up to date on what they’re doing) and finally, follow local businesses and business you work with. After you’ve followed all of those people, Twitter will recommend people for you to follow, which is very helpful. Once you’ve done that much, use the search bar to find more people. You can search by key words, such as “hand-dyed” or “handmade” and see who is currently talking about the same things as you, and follow them.


Drive traffic to your website or blog.
By linking your Twitter to your blog or website, you’ve already taken a step in the right direction. To drive more traffic to your website, you can create a tweet around a link, writing a message that compels people to click to learn more. Because you only get 160 characters in a tweet, you can use a URL shortener, such as TinyURL, to shorten the link to just 20 characters.


Use keyword targeting.
Keyword targeting in the timeline lets you reach Twitter users based on the keywords in their recent Tweets and the Tweets with which users recently engaged. By searching keywords, you can show users the right message, at the right moment, in the right context.


Tweet multiple times a day to increase visibility.
The best times of day to tweet are debatable. But I suggest tweeting in the morning, afternoon, and evening. This way you reach people at all times of day, and in all time zones. You can tweet either the same thing multiple times a day, or slightly change the post a bit. Your call.


Use hashtags to increase your following and searchability.
When you see a tweet with a hashtag, click on the hashtag to see a list of all tweets that include the same hashtag. You will see tweets from people you do not follow, and it is a good way to follow more people. You can also create a hashtag unique for your business and use it in your marketing to help people find your company and the conversations around it.

Use photos in your tweets.

People love to look at photos, and are more apt to click on your tweets if there is an associated photo. Photos are also a good way to tell your brand’s story. By using photos of your products and interests your followers can learn more about you and what you have to offer.


Consider using promoted tweets.
Promoted Tweets are ordinary Tweets that you purchase to reach a wider group of users or to spark engagement from existing followers. Essentially, it’s paid advertising. It is effective, but it does cost money, so it is something to keep in mind after you’ve tried the other tips to build a following.

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March 10, 2014

CAROUSEL OF COLOR.

A new sale was launched tonight with One Kings Lane and I'm very honored to be part of this pretty selection with talented artisans such as Shabd Simon-Alexander or Jennifer Parry Dodge. You can see the full list right here.
Some of the products I sale are unique and I won't make them again! Take a look!

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ENSOMA & HAPPY FRENCH GANG.

Last November at the West Coast Craft I met Marion Pernoux a really beautiful person with a lot of energy and ideas. She runs ENSOMA and if you have a look at Yelp comments, you will see that people just love her!

She bought that Pink and orange Cloudy Blanket at the event and contacted me few weeks after for a partnership.  She has a huge and pretty space that she wants to use as a little shop for her clients as well.

Happy French Gang is proud to be the first to sell in that place, but soon jewelries and other beautiful goods carefully chosen will invest the space.

Thank you Marion for your kind words on your blog!

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March 6, 2014

CLOUDY BLANKET PHOTO SHOOT

By Kirsten Mesch
We would love to have a photo-shoot dedicated to the CloudyBlankets. Some of our favorite couches and chairs that we think go well with the blankets are:

This Citrine Chesterfield Sofa would pair really nicely with the pastel blue and green Cloudy blanket. The green would accent the citrine color, and the pastel blue would help to tone down the brightness of the couch.

Isn’t this white swing dreamy? I can just picture someone curled up in a Cloudy Blanket and reading a good book.

I love the look of this tufted settee. You could pair it with ultra modern items or you could pair it with vintage items; either way, it is definitely making a statement. A Cloudy Blanket would make this couch all the more inviting and cozy! I really like how the orange detail on the blanket compliments the green of the settee.


This mid century modern chair is gorgeous. I love how vintage and chic it is. The orange and pink Cloudy Blanket would accent the blue chair so beautifully.

The Cloudy Blanket is a versatile item that can be paired with kind of chair or couch. What would you pair your blanket with?

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March 5, 2014

MAGNOLIA LOVE.

I love Magnolia trees. They are so beautiful. In the language of flowers, Magnolia symbolizes dignity and cheerfulness. A yellow Magnolia is the expression of fidelity and pink Magnolia is the expression of a timid love.
I'm not an expert at all in trees, plants and flowers but I wish I know more about them, their names, how to take care of them (they almost all die with me...) and their signification. My mother in law is amazing for that, she knows everything about that them, I can ask everything!
I found on wikipedia this article about the language of flowers. They attribute an expression or a word to each flowers. It's really interesting but impossible to find the same thing in English. Sorry guys!

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March 3, 2014

WHAT COLORS ARE REALLY SAYING.



When I was younger I went through a pre-teen angst phase. I painted my room dark grey and black, and only wore subdued colors. I loved it at the time. I felt that it truly represented who I was at the young age of 13.

It didn’t take long, however, for me to start feeling sad all the time. I couldn’t figure out why, but I just felt depressed. This is when I decided to paint my room yellow; a happy, cheerful color. I immediately felt better.

Colors impact our emotions in a big way. They evoke feelings and moods without us even realizing it.

Blue and turquoise are the color of the sea and sky, and closely associated to tranquility and calmness.

You may have notice that most social media platforms chose a blue color scheme and this is because shades of blue represent trust, loyalty, and confidence – which are what their brands want to portray.

Purple typically represents royalty. It used to be the color of kings. Along with royalty, it symbolizes luxury and extravagance, and can evoke feelings of romance and nostalgia.

Orange and yellow both evoke similar feelings. They are the colors of sunshine, and associated with joy, happiness, and success. Both colors have high visibility so they can be used to call attention to something in a pleasant and cheerful way.

Grey has multiple meanings. If dark grey is used too much without adding pops of color, it can be drab and depressing. However, if used in moderation and with other colors it can create a sense of calming. Using light grey accents in bedrooms, through blankets and pillows, can make a room feel comfortable and quiet. Grey/silver has been chosen by Apple as their new brand color. It is a big change from the rainbow of colors they used to have. The grey/silver color of the logo is sleek and modern, which is what Apple wants to portray be.

Pink symbolizes love and nurturing. It is feminine, romantic, thoughtful, and comforting. It tones down the passion of the color red, and replaces it with a gentle, loving energy. Typically, pink is the color of makeup brands. If you think of Mary Kay makeup, everything they do is pink from the packaging to the labeling -- everything is ultra feminine.


Green is the color of growth and spring. Green has been known to restore a sense of well being, and is considered to be one of the most relaxing colors on earth. It is a natural color that is considered to be one of the most pleasing colors to the human eye. Even if you don’t particularly like green, the color itself should still possess a calming quality.

Happy French Gang uses all of these colors in their products: pink, blue, purple, orange and mint. All of the products are hand-dyed in cheerful pastel colors and are stitched with bright colors, which shapes the identity of the brand.

Other brands, such as Sunday In Color use very bright colors for their products, that really pop out at you -- particularly because they are set against a stark white backdrop. The way the color is used and photographed give the brand an identity that's easy to recognize amongst many pictures on Pinterest for example. They stay true to their brand and it has proved successful.

Even though there are set theories to what emotions color evoke, many colors mean different things to different people. So what do colors mean for you?

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February 28, 2014

3 YEARS.

This guy, with killing eyes, turned three years old a week ago.
We organized a little garden party at the Randall Museum. That place is perfect for a brunch with families: the museum entertains well the littles and the view from the garden to the San Francisco Bay Area is beautiful. Bagels, chouquettes, salads where on the menu. And when the huge ice-cream cake arrives it was a beautiful cacophony with the excitement of the kids! Few friends congratulate Ivan and I. I was surprised first but when I think about it, I really appreciate that! What an adventure in 3 years and I think we did not too bad with Léon!

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February 26, 2014

WE HAVE A NEW INTERN!

Hey! My name is Kirsten and I am a junior marketing major at Ball State University. I have a passion for social media, but even greater than that is my love of food. I was able to combine both of my favorite things into one with my food blog, Bitchin’ In The Kitchen. If you look at the blog you may notice that it’s mostly brunch recipes. What can I say… I love brunch too.

When I’m not busy slaving away in the kitchen I can be found painting, playing with my puppy, and juggling multiple social media platforms.

Had you asked me five years ago if I’d ever have a Twitter account, I’d have laughed and told you about how I would never get a Twitter. Five years later and I’m helping to manage three twitter accounts and have a personal account. It’s funny how things can change.

For the next few months I’ll be helping to manage the social media for Happy French Gang as well as contributing to the blog – with posts such as this one (I promise they won’t all be about myself). In addition to the work I'll be doing, I also hope to learn a lot and gain as much experience as I can.


I look forward to helping keep you all up to date on Happy French Gang and enriching your social media experience!


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February 24, 2014

POPPY VON FROHLICH.

Hey! This morning I met my friend Trudy Hodges for a special project I'm working on. We met for the first time a year ago for one of my first interview with her and, her Tatoo Artist husband. She is one of my favorite entrepreneur! I like the image that the brand Poppy Von Frohlich represents and I love very much the way Trudy promotes all of her products on Instagram! This wool coat company is based in San Francisco and every collection is made in a limited edition. If you need a coat that will last for ever, and made in USA, Poppy Von Frohlich is the best!

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