Published on October 11th, 2017 | by Laurence de Valmy1
French Wink: supporters of French creation in the USA
French Wink is a brick-and-click concept, combining eShop and pop-up stores, entirely dedicated to French creation. The goal of its founders, Claire Obry and Myline Descamps, is to enable American consumers to discover French brands and designers in a boutique spirit and to facilitate access to the American market for French creation. Brands covering various categories such as fashion, cosmetics or gourmet food are all carefully curated “The brand must be interesting, innovative and new for the American customers” and trigger a “coup de cœur » at French Wink .
After only a few years of existence, French Wink has about fifty brands and has important partners including the Salon du Made in France with which FW will collaborate to organize the first concept store dedicated to Made in France in New York in December next on 3000 Sq ft in the heart of Soho, in the premises of the brand of high-end lightning Blackbody.
An inspiring encounter with two sparkling entrepreneurial women with the desire to “create bridges between people and put beautiful initiatives in the spotlight”.
How did you two meet?
Claire: We met 3 years ago at our kids’ school, PS 84. Myline was a class parent and helped me understand how American public schools work. Our kids are in a French-English Dual language program where there is a solid French and Francophile community. We help each other and the school is as much important for the kids than the parents. It is a great network!
What lead you to create French Wink?
Myline: Claire created French Wink a few months before I joined the company. When we met, she told me about her project around French savoir-faire and with a background in retail in Asia, it interested me right away. At the beginning, I decided to get involved with French Wink as a consultant and when Claire’s former partner left, she asked me to join her. I invested in the company and since then we are the managing partners of French Wink.
Claire: My job and passion has always been to create bridges between people and to put under the spotlights great initiatives. In France, I was an event planner and agent mostly for cultural projects and artists. With French Wink, I wanted to create a path between French creations and American customers. Before Myline joined, I was struggling to clarify what French Wink really was. Now, just enjoy our new e-Shop French Wink!
How do you select the brands/partners represented by French Wink?
Myline: We are looking for the French « coup de cœur». But it is not enough! Actually the brand needs to be interesting, innovative and new for the American customers. We are always in alert looking for French brands embodying our traditional and innovative know how.
Claire: The brands we represent do not compete with each other. We try to have a relevant curation well balanced between traditional French savoir-faire and new designers.
What do you like most in your job?
Both: Working together!
Myline: Since we don’t have the same skills and are quite different we are completing each other in our work. The entrepreneurship offers a freedom and adrenaline that we would not be able to have in another position.
Claire: It is very important for us to enjoy our professional life and be able to laugh! As soon as one of us loses the pleasure of it, we sit down, talk about it and change the way we do it. We evolve and learn every day.
You’ve been both living away from France for a while. How do you stay connected with it?
Myline: Actually we are always connected to France. Our partners and brands are mostly based in France and our mission is to represent the French « savoir-faire ». Without forgetting, the third partner in crime, Florence Routoulp, the representative of French Wink in France. She is helping us a lot and it’s our most important and precious link with France.
Claire: the essence of French Wink is in France. It’s our way to fight the distance with our beloved country.
Do you have an anecdote that you’d like to share?
(They both laugh very hard and hesitate to share the story or not)
For Valentine’s Day, we had a pop-up store in Soho. It was epic from the beginning as we had a snowstorm the day we set up! The last day we were moving back to our storage, with a truck full of products, furniture, everything which had helped to create a small boutique in 400 square feet,… It was midnight … but you know, we were confident; it’s New York! The city which never sleeps….but the storage doors were closed. And of course, it was raining!!! So there we were, under the rain, with a full truck in front of a closed storage. As there is always a solution, we moved all the stuff at Myline’s place – can you imagine a New York apartment!!! And the day after we came back and forth to the storage with a small car.
It was crazy, but you know at that moment, we felt like 2 Wonder Women who managed to reach their objectives. Probably our husbands didn’t really like French Wink at that exact moment 😉
What are your projects for the coming months / year?
Myline: We are preparing a big BIG event for Christmas. It will be the first « Made in France » concept store in New York! We found the perfect location, at 25 Greene Street. Our host is Blackbody USA, beautiful lighting made in France. The 3000 sq. ft. will be open to general public from December 11th to the 17th.
Claire: It is a huge step forward. We work with big partners such as the Parisian trade show MIF EXPO. We will need help, because on this side of the ocean, it is just the 2 of us. We have sent a call for volunteers to help in different areas, marketing, social media and installation also 😉 And we are still looking for brands and experiences to offer to the New Yorkers and tourists. So, don’t hesitate to contact us!
Claire Obry – firstname.lastname@example.org
Myline Descamps – email@example.com
Facebook : French Wink