Interview with Christine Orseau, Co-Founder of Les Folies de Paris
Could you tell us more about the history of Les Folies de Paris?
My husband, Olivier, was born in Australia and grew up hearing many wonderful stories about the country told by his parents after their Down Under expatriation. He has ever since been haunted by the Australian dream and that’s why we finally visited Australia in 2011. After this first experience, we decided in 2013 to settle in Brisbane with our two kids and to set-up a food business with a French Touch.
In September 2014, we bought out the company ‘Monsieur Macaron’, which enabled us to start immediately with a production tool and an activity already in place. When taking over the outlet in Rocklea however, our plan was to open a new shop close to the city centre, to extend our product range and to reach different markets. We have invested a lot of money in this company to make our ambitions come true. Our shop ‘Les Folies de Paris’ was open late June this year in Spring Hill.
How would you concretely describe the activity of Les Folies de Paris?
At first, we were a macaroons factory. ‘Monsieur Macaron’, created in 2008 by Thierry Serplet, was one of the first shops to offer macaroons in Brisbane. Centred on macaroons, the company succeeded in developing a large range of flavours over the years, using the best recipes from French bakers. Even before you have tried them, Mr Macaron’s macaroons will seduce you with their generous and yummy aspect. They are easily recognisable.
However, nowadays our activity has evolved to become a full French bakery. We offer more than 16 different flavours of macaroons, all gluten free, as well as croissants (plain, ham and cheese, almond and chocolate), mille-feuilles, Paris-Brest, and a lot of other treats. We also sell French bread, such as Parisian baguettes, sourdough breads, and pastries. Everything is freshly baked at our premises. According to our clients, we have the best almond croissants in Brisbane. We also offer high quality Italian coffee distributed by a local company.
Our main goal is our clients’ satisfaction; this is why we keep improving the quality of our products by sourcing the best ingredients and improving our recipes. We consciously keep our range of product limited for now, in order to focus on quality.
You can buy our products at our shop, 97 Kennigo Street in Spring Hill, where you can sit and eat in, but also at the City or Red Hill markets. Wholesales are also available.
Can you describe your personal background and your role as co-founder of Les Folies de Paris?
My husband and I, are both passionate about French Cuisine, and we are really proud to share our passion with Australians. With no experience in this particular business, the secret of our success is to be surrounded by the right persons. We pay particular attention to the recruitment of our staff, and care for our staff’s well-being and sense of fulfilment within the company.
My husband is an engineer. He principally worked in banks and insurance companies. He was the motor behind our expatriation and the one who made this project possible. Thanks to his scientific background, he is extremely rigorous in anything he undertakes.
I personally have a Master’s degree in Business Management, with specialisations in Finances and Marketing. I have been working for more than 10 years at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Paris - 6 years as a consultant in business development, and then 4 years in international development -. That said, my grandfather used to be a baker and would probably have been very proud of me.
Our roles within the company are well defined; they must be, when your work as a couple. We both have an entrepreneur spirit and are complementary. Olivier manages production, supervises staff and oversees logistics, and I am in charge of the accounting and marketing.
How do you envisage the future of your company and how can the French-Australian Chamber help you achieve your objectives?
We have plenty of new objectives for the coming months. Firstly, we would like to revamp our website, in order to develop our Wedding, Catering, and Corporate offers. We will also promote our new brand ‘Les Folies de Paris’ with a new packaging and new partnerships.
Of course, we will keep offering new products in our shop. We are actually thinking about developing a chocolate range of products. Opening a second shop in Brisbane in 2016 and another one on the Gold Coast is also on the cards. We are planning to reinforce our team to support our development, with the recruitment of an extra baker and a sales person.
We see the French-Australian Chamber of Commerce as a key player for the development and the promotion of our company, thanks to its network of companies and contacts with various local economic stakeholders.
Interview conducted by Claire Dupré on 21 of July 2015.
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