La Factory, rue Cler
My favorite Paris neighborhood is the 7th arrondissement. Home to the Eiffel Tower and the Parc Champs de Mars. Home to my favorite hotel: Hotel Le Tourville; the best, in my humble opinion, outdoor food market: rue Cler; one of my favorite museums: Musee Rodin; and my favorite restaurant: Au Petit Tonneau. It's also nominally what my first published magazine article is about, Francaise Fare. Rue Cler is a historic 'old' neighborhood; where the elderly, diplomatic elite, and academics live. It's residential and family centered; known for it's amazing architecture and fabulous homes and apartments. As a rule, the 7th is not flashy or trendy, slow elegant and steady is the rule - and all of it appeals to the romantic historian in me.
Yet a few buildings down from my apartment is this little boutique - La Factory, with a storefront painted an eye searing brilliant red. Coco and I pass it every morning on our way to our favorite tiny cafe:Le Petit Cler for breakfast. There's a tiny dog, who comes out from the boutique everytime Coco and walk by and follows us to the corner. He pants after Coco, trying to get her attention, but she's determined to play hard to get ;-)
Before my 2010 trip, after I had decided try to get one of my articles published and was trying to figure out how and where to start. La Factory's searing red storefront popped into my head. I was going to go into the boutique and ask the proprietress if she'd let me interview her. If she didn't speak English - no worries, Peter speaks, reads and writes fluent French! I had never done anything like this before and had no idea what I was doing. But it was an adventure I was really looking forward to - Allons-y! (Let's go!)
On my third day, I decided to approach the owner of La Factory. As I neared the boutique my tummy was jumping with Butterflies. I thought: "I'm not a professional! Will I come across as a total geek? What if I can't/don't photograph the interior correctly? What if the owner says no? Can I do this?" I was freaking out because I knew that my first foray into travel journalism/photography would determine if I could really do this. If I was going to get a magazine to publish my stories and photographs, me a complete unknown, my photographs and writing style was going to have to grab their interest and keep it - no pressure!
To my surprise and delight, not only was the owner willing to let me interview her and photograph her store, she was totally into it. Even after I told her that I could not guarantee that my article would be published. I was going to submit it and see what happened. Still, she was totally on board - cool!
Elodie Alleno, proprietress - La Factory
La Factory is the culmination of a life-long dream of Elodie Alleno. Ten years ago Elodie was a telecom engineer (yeah, I don't see it either). After the company she worked for went out of business, Elodie spent two years looking for another job. She couldn't find a position that fit her. Or if she did, the pay was terrible. Though she admits: "encore mon coeur n'etait pas vraiment dedans" (still, my heart was not really in it). Elodie had a lifelong love of decorating/interior design and had always wanted to be her own boss. At the end of her second year of fruitless job searching, Elodie though that maybe it was time to give serious consideration to opening her boutique. And she knew the perfect locale - rue Cler.
Hustling, bustling rue Cler
"Rue Cler is chic and ultra-cutting-edge-fashionable, yet has an air of old world Parisian style and the feel of a small village in the midst of an urban setting." Such attibutes provided the perfect setting for her concept of her boutique - 1930s, Art Deco. With that thought in mind, one afternoon Elodie wandered to the very end of rue Cler (near rue Saint Dominique), there was an empty storefront at number 16 (the only one on the entire street). It was a sign, an encouragement. Elodie rang the bell, struck a deal with the landlady and never looked back. That was nearly 8 years ago.
La Factory is a delicious blend of new and old world style, kitsch and diva-tude. The bright red, light and airy interior serves as the backdrop for a shopping maven's nirvana. This boutique offers items of a global theme from a distinctly Parisian perspective.
There are more 'traditional' pieces: chapeaux (hats)
- handmade in Paris (20-35 Euros)
For a bit of Diva-spice I love Elodie's gorgeous jewel toned necklace (30 Euro)
Elodie's La Factory is filled with her imaginative, unique and quirky vingnettes. Multi-dimensional, yet drawing the eye to each of her handpicked one-of-a-kind-pieces. Deceptively sparse, but that's because of her exacting attention to elegant, chic and simple detail. Every piece is hand-picked by her; she finds her home furnishings (furniture, lamps, rugs, etc.), jewelry and art pieces at a bi-annual international fair in Paris - Elodie is always on the lookout for uniquely fabulous vendors.
Southeast Asian God - fabulous!
While ecomomic times of late have been pretty rough all around, Elodie has managed to weather the storm and continue to sell her gorgeous items at reasonable prices. La Factory offers the Paris tourist beautiful, unique, high quality and easily packed momentos that are far removed from the usual tourist souvenir fair. There's a steady flow of people (visitors and natives) buying multiples of bracelets, necklaces, trays, hats, vases, scarves, slippers, statues and purses. La Factory offers gorgeous Art Deco furniture as well.
Elodie has weathered the storm and is living her dream, doing what she loves to do, being her own boss. "I've been here now for nearly eight years. There have been good times and bad times but, all in all, life is good and I'm very happy."
When you're in Paris be sure to stop by. Tell Elodie that I sent you and say bonjour to Comma!
Accessories de Mode et de Decoration
16, rue Cler
Paris, France - 75007 (7th arrondissement)
Hours: 10:30-1:30 p.m.; 2-7 p.m. (closed Monday-Tuesday)
Vivre! Rire! Aimer!
Elodie and Me ;-)