Photographer Jeff Johnson
Vivi et Margot is a French Housewares brand that I first heard about through Instagram. The online brocante is owned by Charlotte Reiss who is mother to Vivienne and Margot (the namesakes of the brand.)
Based out of LA, Charlotte runs Vivi et Margot along with a successful modeling agency, The Lions. Vivi et Margot was also part of a 5 month pop-up at Maman in NYC.
In addition to running both businesses, Charlotte and her husband have also spent the past several years restoring a home on the border of the Deux- Sevres region and the Vendee. Their beautiful home was recently featured in the June edition of Romantic Homes.
When did you first come up with the concept for Vivi et Margot?
2 ½ years ago when I was on maternity leave after having my daughter Margot. I was looking for an outlet from my everyday job (I have been a talent agent in Los Angeles for over 20 years) and originally I wanted to open a brick and mortar shop but decided an online store was more manageable to begin with, plus the obvious in that the store would have a more accessible wingspan. The name Vivi et Margot is after my two daughters. Vivienne (6) and Margot (2)
While the brocante/shop is based online, Vivi et Margot was part of a 5 month pop up at Maman in NYC. What was it like having a brick and mortar store?
We loved every minute! When Elisa Marshall approached me I was very flattered as the Maman network of cafes is highly curated and popular in NYC. Elisa’s design and Interior aesthetic was very complimentary to mine and our product line, especially as our kitchenware’s line has grown. It wasn’t easy not being able to be hands on everyday but we had a great team of Anthropologie merchandisers called EastOlivia who we worked with to ensure we were merchandised well. I enjoyed it so much and we’ve been approached by so many great companies now, so I think the next one will be in California (I’m just not able to say where yet but will be most likely Oct – Dec 2018, possibly earlier.)
Do you have plans for a permanent storefront in future?
As much as I respect brick and mortar establishments and personally enjoy the hands on shopping experience, I have to be sensible as we are a small family business. By sticking with e-commerce as my platform it keeps my overheads down and more enjoyably as I mentioned allows for a much wider outreach wingspan, which is so fun. We are literally shipping goods all over the United States and internationally.
Vivi et Margot gives shoppers access to traditional French housewares, linens and French market baskets. Where are a few of the places that you source items featured in the shop?
We currently feature linens by Maison des Vacances and Harmony (two very popular linen companies from France) and our baskets our custom-made for us in Morocco. Along with the very popular wooden kitchen collection we carry and traditional utensils and brushes, we are currently working to produce our own branded line for 2019. The vintage pieces we sell are hand sourced by myself on my visits to France from various brocantes. Theres no one place I go to, that’s the fun of brocante shopping – visiting the unknown!
What is one of the most treasured finds you have made during your trips back and forth between the US and France?
Many of them are ceramics, I have a vast collection of confit jars dotted around the house that I use every single day. I don’t think there’s a possession I would single out but if I had to, I have a beautiful enamel soap dish I found that’s so unique. Grey enamel. I’m thinking of trying to get it reproduced!
This Spring Vivi et Margot commissioned Riley Sheehey (Make Things Co.) to paint a summer-inspired custom illustration that is currently for sale on the online shop. How did you discover Riley?
On Instagram! Riley had worked with Maman on a project and I fell in love with her work. We worked together on the Summer’18 watercolor together and I just adore the finished piece. People ask to buy a print all the time! I will definitely be working with Riley again of a Fall/Winter Illustration. She is talented and one of the sweetest people I have worked with.
Both you and your husband have restored a home in rural France where you spend the Summer and Christmas holidays. What did you enjoy the most about the restoration process?
My Husband would probably give a different answer to this as he’s the one who had to get really dirty during the process over the years, but he’s used to it, being a professional homebuilder. It wasn’t always easy especially being so far away with the time difference, but through trial and error we worked with some great people and local artisans. For example our oak floors were hand milled and laid by a wonderful carpenter, our shutters are handmade and for the Juliet balconies we worked with a local Ironmonger. I enjoy working with such talented people. It’s a slower process but its more of an art-form in my opinion and much more rewarding.It has taken nearly 7 years from start to almost finish (mainly because we can never spend more than 3 weeks there at a time!)
Tell me about the village where your home is located and what drew you to that area in particular.
We are right on the border of the Deux- Sevres region and the Vendee and our closet Village is Vouvant. I wanted something very rural, affordable and visually beautiful that we could enjoy warm summers. We didn’t really seek out this region and honestly I knew nothing about it before we purchased the house. It was more about finding the right home that had good bones.
What are some of the markets near your home that you frequent the most?
I do all my fruit and vegetable market shopping at Coulonges – It’s quaint and I like it.
Out of all of the housewares that you have available on your shop, which pieces do you use the most in your own home?
Baskets! Because I use them in The States daily for grocery shopping/ kids toys/ storage/ beach/ diaper bag you name it! It took us a long time to find our new manufacturer as I didn’t want to be selling non authentic products. Each basket is handmade exclusively for us and branded with tiny little brass rivets. I hated the process, but I am so proud of what we’ve achieved!
I honestly use pretty much every item we sell in both my homes in France and the US as that’s the whole premise of Vivi et Margot – That I have made all these wonderful things from France available to everyone. You can buy a nice “ French” bread board from Target or World Market or you can spend a little more on one from me and know that its 100% Authentic French. There’s something to that authenticity and I think that’s what is making us so popular. I see all these Instagram accounts online selling “French farmhouse Antiques “ and its such (excuse my language B.S) selling an old zinc watering can from a farm in Ohio worth $2 and calling it a “Vintage French Watering can” and selling it for $175. And these accounts have such a following too. It’s a little bizarre to see.
Do you plan to make France your permanent home?
No plans for that as our careers are too busy in the USA, but hopefully one day we’ll be able to spend extended periods of time there once the children are older.
Painting of Charlotte’s Home by Tammy Baumader
Check out the Vivi et Margot’s website and social media channels via the links below.
Website: Vivi et Margot
Facebook: Vivi et Margot
Note: All photos included in this post were provided by Charlotte Reiss.