I can hardly believe that it's been five years since I started my yarn company. It seems just like yesterday that I was setting up in our tiny studio on rue Paulin Mery. It was just Hiro and I and I would run over after lunch shifts at my cafe, L'OisiveThé, to create colors and test new dye techniques out. We more or less just rolled our sleeves up and played in the pots. A few months in, I figured out the feel I wanted for La Bien Aimée and just went from there...
Here are a few photos of where we started from:
In the beginning, we started with four pots... at the time, we dyed just enough for the shop and we would have updates from time to time online. It was amazing what this room would transform itself into. By day, it was a dye studio and at night a drying room. On the weekends, I would host knitting and crochet classes. This little back room of our shop, sure has seen a lot of action.
I miss the little courtyard that we had out the back windows. It was also the access to where the toilet was which was totally weird for Paris but the previous owners has moved the toilet to the shed in the courtyard which turned out to be handy for us because we were left with a huge closet we filled with undyed base. The courtyard was a meeting place for friends and yarn. We'd let our yarn dry outside during the day, our neighbours thought we had the strangest laundry. It was a sight to see.
After a year and half in this studio, I knew that we needed to move. It was becoming harder and harder to produce yarn to keep up with the demand of our online shop. Also, our shop front was impossibly small and we needed more space to welcome our clientele. So, we moved about 600 meters from where we were to ave d'Italie where our current brick & mortar shop is located. My husband and I were looking at places to rent and found an old medical laboratory which turned out to be perfectly adapted to become a dye studio and it had a shop front that was just the right size.
This is our current brick and mortar shop. I always imagined that I'd have a shop with cubbies like this filled with beautiful yarn. I never expected it but this little yellow shop on ave d'Italie has become an international hub for knitters from around the world. I am grateful to be able to meet so many of you at the boutique.
This year has been something else, hasn't it? Late last year, we started construction on our production studio that would mean separating the brick and mortar shop and the dye studio. This was a much needed move for my team and I. The studio was too small for my staff. Everyday, we played musical chairs to find a place to sit and work a bit. Also, I dreamt of having a dye studio that would leave autonomy for my dyers and make dyeing more comfortable for my team and I. For that, we needed more space. It's not easy finding big spaces in Paris but luckily my business partner/husband and I found a "maison d'artistes" here in the 13th not far from my yellow boutique. The building is set up for the kind of work that we do at La Bien Aimée. We had found our forever home. The other tenants are also artisans like us so it's nice to know that our studio sounds and smells won't bother them. An added bonus that our building has a freight elevator which I never thought I'd be so excited for this but it has vastly changed our lives for our wool deliveries.
Speaking of life changing.... right when we were scheduled to move the Covid19 pandemic happened. The Friday before the big move, France went into lock down mode. It was a frantic week and one burned into my mind. We had two big orders to finish and we dyed like the wind to finish those. Our online shop had closed the day before because we had packed everything up for the move. Over night, we went from a team of 13 to a team of 3. My husband moved the studio on his own while I stayed home and took care of our kids and prepared them for what was coming: strict confinement. In a span of 48h, I had to restructure my business and pull it 100% online.
Our physical shop is closed for the moment due to Covid19. We are hoping to open very, very soon. We are taking every precautions to protect our employee and the shoppers alike. The shopping experience for La Bien Aimée has evolved to exclusively online. We have put in place a dedicated contact email for color advice. There are three of us responding to emails at this time. We are trying to offer the level of service we offer in our physical shop. When we open the physical boutique, I will offer custom orders of La Bien Aimée and we will ship your custom order directly to you from the atelier.
Here are a few shots of us working in our new atelier & office and what I consider my forever home for La Bien Aimée:
We are still getting settled in at our new home. Grateful that we were able to make the move in the sense that we can keep working and practice strict social distancing at work. It has become normal now that we wear masks when working in proximity of each other but luckily we have enough space that we can isolate and work safely as well.
I have pulled back on my travelling for the next year and will be focusing on getting my new dye studio running smoothly. We are training new dyers at the moment which is exciting as we will start to see new color personalities appear on our skeins. I am adjusting to our new way of interacting online. I have put in place different ways for our clients to interact with me and my staff. We have a dedicated link on our website (upper left hand corner) for Color Advice. Julia, Zach and I are checking this email box everyday. Send us your questions and we will try to help you find the perfect combo for your projects.
I am hopeful for the future and looking foward to the day that we will be able to open the brick & mortar shop and most of all see all our knitting friends again.
Since it's my birthday today and the anniversary of La Bien Aimée, I wanted to celebrate with you all virtually by offering 20% off the entire online shop. The discount will be applied automatically at check out and the promotion period will end on May 22nd at midnight. This is my way of saying "merci" for all these years of support and love.
Happy knitting, mes amies!