Last week I mentioned that I was working on a interview to share that I think you would all love. I am very excited to be able to bring you my little chat with Vivian Christensen the cofounder and "direktor" of Jeanne d' Arc Living. So please enjoy:)
Vivian how did you and your partner Lonnie Wirtz Jensen start Jeanne d' Arc Living:
We are two women ages 38 and 39, together we started the firm Jeanne d' Arc Living. Lonnie and I are both married and have children, houses and gardens in the country. We have been so fortunate to be able to make our hobby our career in such a short time. Four years ago we started to make articles and features for Danish and foreign including childrens interiors and lifestyle magazines. The features were about everything from interior decorating, gardens and activity articles for families with children. Also we included ideas for exciting and do-it yourself projects in the home and garden. We found our niche and greatest passion is the Nordic country style with inspiration from the French. Lonnie is the photographer and I decorate and write most of the articles. We have had our articles featured in the Norwegian magazine Vakre Hjem og Interior and also had our own column for 3 1/2 years. Now we have gone solo and started our own magazine here in Denmark~ Magazinet Jeanne d' Arc Living. The magazine is always in the Nordic/French style and it is distinguished itself from other publications in the way that it will only be sold in boutiques that are selling Jeanne d' Arc Living products and not through official channels. Also, the magazine is not filled with advertising in between the features. All advertising is to be found in the last pages. Therefore the readers will get much more features.
A lot of people has through the last few years asked us for advice on decorating their homes in the Nordic/French country style. Therefore we wrote a book, French Atmosphere~In The Nordic Way, which is considered a so called primer where we show how to decorate homes in the French country style. The book was published in May 2007 and was a fantastic success. As a successor we wrote another book, French and Nordic Garden, where we show how to decorate using Garden styled ideas. It was published in Feburary 2008. In September 2008, our Christmas book "Jul" was published.
The concept of Jeanne d' Arc Living also includes wholesale of our own designs. We started in the spring of 2005 by producing cards with our own photographs. The cards have their own style and mood, something we felt was missing in the markets. In May 2007 we started our wholesale firm in the form it is today. Our products are all in the French country style. Our goal is to collect as much as possible of the things you need to decorate your home in the style we love.
How would you describe the Jeanne d' Arc Living brand:
We are very true to our brand. As I mentioned before, we love the Nordic/French country style and will always continue to make products, books and magazines that reflect our look. We believe we have found a audience who love this lifestyle as much as we do and will continue to offer our products no matter what the fashion or trends dictate. It is very important to us to stay true to the our brand so customers will know what they can expect from us.
Where do you get your inspiration from for the products you offer:
All products are either our own designs or reproductions of older things. We are still trying to make the perfect patina on the products. so they are as authentic as possible. We find the old stuff when we are on photo shoots and when we visit our customers. A lot of what we produce are also made because we want them for ourselves!
Your textiles especially the Fench graphic curtains and pillows have a vintage grain sack look to them which is so popular now, will you continue to offer this line? Any new designs you are working on you can share with us:
Yes the Danish textiles with the text has been SO popular and is still selling very well. We are still making new designs and will continue doing that in the future. We can see that the customers like it very much and that the textiles are designed and made in Denmark which we are very proud of. Next new item is very big floor pillows (90x90 cm) for all of us that have small children who like to lay on the floor and watch TV can use. The big floor pillows on the market now do not have the Nordic/French style that we like so we are reproducing our own line.
I must say that all three of the books Lonnie and you produced are stunning. Are you both planning to write any other books:
We are now working on a new book about Summer Houses in the Nordic/French style. The book is planned to be on the market in April 2010 and will be the same size as the "Jul" Christmas book but with more pages.
The magazines much like the books are also beautiful with each issue filled with page after page of inspirational decor, how far in advance do you work on a issue? Do you still do most of the photo styling and does Lonnie do the photography:
Thank you so much for the nice words ;o) This year we wrote features 2 to 3 months before publishing dates. We also write articles ahead for 2010. The best way is to shoot the pictures this time of the year when the flowers are natural in the gardens. It is only because last year we didn't know that we would be producing our own magazine so we did not make enough features ahead of time. In the future we will always do articles one year in advance. We do almost everything ourselves! Lonnie does all of the photos and layouts. I do the styling and write the articles. We distribute the magazines ourselves too:)
Since introducing your Jeanne d' Arc Living line to my Raised In Cotton customers two years ago, your popularity in the US has soared, any thoughts to maybe one day offering your books and magazines in English:
We have talked alot about it and do know that many people would love that. We are looking for someone to buy the rights and publish in English, but we have not found anyone yet.
There are many Women in the US that have followed their dreams by starting their own small businesses much like Lonnie and you have done. It seems you both took your passion and turned it into a accomplished business venture. Any advice on growing a business and taking the next step to success:
JUST DO IT! If you have a good idea, just jump into it! We have done this because it is our PASSION and we can't help it...Good advice would be NOT to copy others but find your own niche. You have to be in front with new ideas and do things your own way. IF you want to start a business you have to give 100%. Don't think you can make a lot of easy money, it is a lot of hard work and many years with NO money. But if you work hard and are innovative you can-in time-create a great business. It must be the PASSION that drives it....if you have that then you will always LOVE to follow your dreams and do it every day:)
Any future plans you can share with us for yourself and Jeanne d' Arc Living:
We will continue Jeanne d' Arc Living as it is with new designs and producing the books and magazines. The firm has grown very fast the last two years. We would like to stay the same size as it is today. We have 14 employees and that seems to be a good fit for us. We are running the business on my farm and love to work here in the countryside. We are trying to stop getting more customers in Denmark, Norway and Sweeden~we think it is the best way to keep the products special when it is not to be found in too many shops. The US market is very new to us and are looking to expand in the next years.
I have to send my "Thanks" to Vivian for taking the time to answer some questions on her lovely Jeanne d' Arc Living business:)) Anyone want to take a trip to Denmark with me:)))