When I opened my homeware store, 'Olivier home,' in 2008 I had recently returned from a trip to Paris to visit my daughter Amy, son-in-law Simon and new grandson Oliver (Olivier in French). The family lived in an apartment near the Marais and Amy had been working in the N.Z. embassy - a ten minute walk from the Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysees. Simon was completing an MBA at a business college near Versailles which required a tortuous daily drive through the heart of Paris. Fortunately for me, Simon was the perfect person to bounce ideas for my proposed business off. Ultimately, his help, combined with my love of all things French, culminated in a clear vision for Olivier home.
As long as I can remember, I've been fascinated by houses. If I drove past a shabby house that I liked I would instantly visualize it in its renovated or restored state. This passion eventually led to a stint at freelance writing for newspapers and house magazines then on to working alongside a professional photographer - styling photo shoots. The images we created were then used to accompany written articles or graced the front covers of N.Z. House and Garden magazines.
These days, managing the shop, visually merchandising it and creating eye-catching window displays keeps me busy. I also offer an advisory styling service for customers wanting to shuffle things around, tart things up or generally maximize the appearance of their homes before putting them on the market.
When looking for inspiration, customers come into the shop to view the French, European and UK inspired furniture and homeware that is stocked on two levels. Downstairs in the basement showroom there are mirrors, lights, furniture, cushions and fabrics as well as hooks, homeware, gifts and interesting things for the garden. Upstairs, there are smaller items such as stationery, ceramics, books, door knobs, household linen, scarves and jewellery - including an exquisite Israeli range by Ayala Bar and stunning Coeur de Lion jewellery from Germany.
Popular ranges for the home include Savon de Marseille washing products, La Rochere glassware, Laguiole cutlery and Cath Kidston mugs and stationery.
Vintage and antique items also sell well. My husband David and I love tracking down old treasures for the shop when travelling around N.Z., Australia and France. Trawling through Vanves flea market in Paris on a Saturday morning and bargaining at brocante markets in small rural towns are a 'must do' when visiting France.
At Olivier home customer requests are taken seriously. My staff and I are happy to source specific pieces of furniture from our many suppliers in N.Z. Generally these items can be sent directly from the supplier to the customer which saves on freight costs.
So, if you're looking for something with a European edge, or fancy a little bit of joie de vivre in your home, please pop in and see us. We'll be delighted to help you.