2021 will be the Year we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of our shop ! Throughout the year we will share with you some stories and never before seen photos : Our first “Big Gig” , first “Bastille Day”, Special Events … Looking back we should have written a book called “A year in California”, maybe with French people this would have been a hit like “A year in Provence” had been !
December 1995, it’s when we sealed our future …our California dream was about to start, right here in Mission Hills. We were renting the “Old Pet Store” ! (and still use today its original key chain as a matter of fact )
Back in Provence, in our little village of Saint Roman de Malegarde, it was now February 1996. We took a few last photos with Pascal’s mom’s old bicycle. It could not fit in our container but we would still take it with us on the flight to our new life .
You have asked us why did we choose San Diego over Provence ? Yes , for the unbeatable weather, the California sunsets, beaches, laid back lifestyle… but really at that time we needed to change careers. We had been suffering from being apart as I was constantly away to work . I was done with modeling, dieting, traveling and Pascal wasn’t taking well the stress and pressure of being a fashion photographer in the sportswear and jeanswear industry. After 10 years of this life, what we wanted now was to work together, be together 24/7. The idea of having our own shop was starting to germinate .
We had come to San Diego on vacation in February 1992 and had easily fallen in love with this place. It was way bigger than where we were from ( our village of 100 people is 45 minutes from Avignon ) , San Diego had more opportunities for us but was not as scary as other big cities like NY, LA or San Francisco. It had all the conveniences of a large city without the compactness or traffic. Coming from the rolling hills of Provence, it looked like we could adapt here. We could close our shop after a day’s work and drive to Ocean Beach to catch the sunset without thinking of traffic or parking. This was the “Dream” and still is today ! What we didn’t know then was how open and kind people were going to be. We were welcomed like we could never have imagined and the friends we made that first year became our family…
March 1996…we had just emptied our warehouse in Provence and filled up a 40′ container of goods to ship to San Diego…Taking that big lip of faith that changed our life !
We had dreamed of opening up our own shop in California, prepared for a couple of years and we were actually doing it ! 2021 is a special year as we are looking back at what we have achieved during the past 25 years .
It is hard to imagine what a 40′ container load looks like ! We measured everything, made a map of our container “puzzle”, planned how to load all the palettes and boxes, but with the rest of bulk things it was still hard to figure out if it would all fit in …
Pascal closing up our boxes and with some help we got it ready to go just in time…
It’s the big day… the container is coming this morning . We’ll have only 2 hours to load !!! Pascal with his mum and childhood friend Michel who is going to give us a big hand.
Pascal and his brother looking at the last pieces being loaded. The truck driver thought it would never fit… but it did !
Once our container left and only after we had the receipt that it had actually shipped out we could apply for our visas …what a stress ! With our suitcase ready to go, we had to wait… A week later with our brand new investor visas in our passports we were buying flight tickets for San Diego leaving the next day ! Here we are in Marseille airport with Pascal’s mom and the big box containing her old bike. We have been displaying it in front of the shop everyday since !
The neighborhood as it was in 1996
Monet’s Bouquet flower shop across the street with Marty and Betty .
“A la Francaise ” , the French Bakery behind the flower shop…it was a small French corner !
We have about a month before we get the big delivery so we are not wasting time !
With Erick our painter and friend since
By the end of March we were ready
The second Big Day : April 5th…our container has made it across oceans…. same drill : 2 hours to unload everything ! Our new friends are all here to help us out 🙂
Erick our painter handling the forklift
Our neighbor Bill checking it all out . Is this the most exciting thing that happened in this corner or what !?!
The boys : Pascal , Erick , Karl , Keith and Kecho ! What an experience for all of us…
It sounded like a great idea to promote our shop at the “Spring Home and Garden Show” in Del Mar …but we had not been to the show before so we had no idea it would be more of a home improvement show than a decorating show . Nevertheless, we rented a truck and headed to Del Mar ! We set up our booth, gave some business cards and made our very first American Dollar here !
The “Grand Opening” …. What is a Grand Opening ??? We are opening yes …this week yes … so this is just the “soft opening”. That was one of the many cultural differences, concepts that were totally foreign to us a the time …That Tuesday after the Del Mar show we opened our doors !
It wasn’t a Grand Opening and we never actually did one… We got so busy !! First clients , neighbors …everybody came ! Our shop was buzzing and we were exhausted but so happy 🙂 We were struggling with our very poor English but it didn’t seam to matter to people. One thing we will never forget is the warm welcome we got from the entire community. All Mission Hills came in , the neighbors brought us some French wine, Champagne, food …we had never seen that …that’s what we liked so much about the cultural differences !
We sure are in California ! This is one of my all time favorite photo of Pascal and neighbor Bill who gave me my very first hydrangea’s clippings and taught me how to grow them …see what happened next ! Now the whole side of the shop is a giant hydrangea bush . I am sure Bill will be happy that I continued his legacy….
We were wondering why people kept calling us to make a reservation for dinner ….but at that time we were having our lunch on the front porch like true French people : sit down , tablecloth ….
More stories to come …