On her 30th birthday Georgia Metcalfe went in search of the perfect French bed, but soon realised she would have to import one from France. Within six months she launched The French Bedroom Company debut collection. Ten years on, we meet to chat with the Founder & Director of the hugely successful progressive-style French furniture company, offering the most beautifully made French designs combined with quirky and contemporary pieces. Georgia tells us about her passions, that elusive work-life balance, her inspirations and words of wisdom for other entrepreneurs.
1. Your Mum was an Interior designer and your Dad an Architect, a design profession may have been inevitable, but did you feel a passion for design from a very young age?
Yes, I remember when I was about 14, my Mum said she was going to take me into Laura Ashley and she set me the task to choose my own wallpaper and curtains for my bedroom. I didn’t know what to do, or where to start, but once the assistant got the wallpaper and fabric books out, it was the most fun I’d ever had. And you know I think that was probably when I realised actually, wow, this is really a lot of fun.
All my holidays as a kid were spent going around Italian churches and French cathedrals, which as boring as I thought it was then, it actually gave me a really good grounding and a really good base for design.
2. Apart from French style furniture what is your next big passion?
One of my other passions is fabric and wallpaper and it really goes back to the Laura Ashley experience. Also when I worked with Sanderson, the well known British fabric & wallpaper designer and manufacturer. They’ve been around for over 150 years. They hold the William Morris archive of wallpapers, all the beautiful Pre-Raphaelite arts and crafts wallpapers, hand-carved out of pear wood to create the very first wallpapers. Absolutely beautiful, each one original, each one unique, I’ve always got time for William Morris wallpaper, it’s just pure art, so I am bit of a wallpaper geek I’m afraid!
Apart from interiors, I was also thinking fashion, it is so diverse. It’s the same for interiors. I give a lot of credit to someone who has only a small budget for a few pieces here and there but actually up cycles and creates and makes and puts together something beautiful, they are much more talented than someone who can just have it all. I think it’s about putting your own personal stamp on things. Sometimes you may buy something that’s going to be an heirloom, other times you are just buying something that’s a quick fix and you know that it’s going to look really pretty.
My next big passion is probably Ibiza; I love to go there with the family and sometimes with just my husband for the occasional weekend, it’s my secret hideaway.
3. Since you set up the business you became a Mum. How do juggle the two and is there such a thing as work-life balance?
Work life balance is hard, when I was with my daughter I felt that I should be in the office and when I was in the office I felt I should be with her. I now work 4 days. Once or twice a week I’ll work late when the children are in bed and then I don’t feel guilty if I need to take time off during the day, to take them to a swimming or a singing lesson or just to go for a quick walk in the park. I work as flexibly as I can, trying to grab those moments because they’re so important. At the same time I have to be there to support the team and be there for customers. The work life balance thing is really hard and I don’t think I’ve ever got it absolutely right but I think I’m getting there.
4. The French Bedroom Company celebrates 10 years this year, congratulations! What has been your biggest learning curve since opening up your own business?
There are probably about 50 things that I have learnt that I didn’t know before. The biggest thing I would say is the importance of relationships, whether it be with the courier man who comes in everyday to collect our next day deliveries and making him a cup of tea, through to the window cleaner, our suppliers and also of course to our customers. Also promoting a popular place to work, creating positive relationships where you help each other. And a smile says a thousand words.
5. We adore your Plume Feather lamps & pendants, if you had to pick one of your products, what is your favourite FBC piece?
The white plume feather table lamp would be my second favourite; I’m obsessed with it and I’ve just bought two of them. I would say the Countess Vase is my favourite piece, which weirdly enough started out in life as a toilet brush holder! I was looking at it one day thinking it’s really too good to be a toilet brush holder, if you take the brush out you have this beautiful vase so we used it on a photo shoot as a vase, it looked beautiful. I now have one on my kitchen table and I’ve also got it in Ibiza. I am also obsessed with white! I love white, everything in my house is white, it’s so pure and at the end of a stressful day when you’ve got the kids wanting your attention, I think colour sometimes takes my attention, whereas white doesn’t, it’s just easy and pure. (Both items pictured below)