I met Stéphanie while on a shoot for Ysé last year. It was one of those encounters that left me feeling totally inspired. Stéphanie is the founder of WHITE bIRD Jewellery. She has created two stunning Parisian boutiques (Le Marais, Paris 1st), filled with a unique curation of jewellery by designers gathered from across over the world.
From the décor to the refined selection of jewellery inside her boutiques, Stéphanie’s unique taste, eye for originality and her effervescent presence shines through. Here Stéphanie answers a few of my questions, shares a few of her treasured addresses in ‘le marais’ and we take a peek inside the stunning boutique, le Marais.
Tell me a little about your journey into the jewellery market ?
I entered the luxury market a bit by chance because of encounters along the way and a craving to live in Paris after my childhood and provincial adolescence. For more than twenty years I worked for big jewellery houses (CARTIER, CHAUMET, DINH VAN ) and I became interested in designer jewellery 10 years ago while travelling on business trips in the United States .
At Barney’s I discovered talented designers such as Cathy Waterman, Pippa Small and Ileana Makri whose designs were not sold in France, and so I wanted to create a space where I could exhibit and sell jewellery. I often like unique pieces that don’t conform to the standards imposed by major brand marketing. I am also mother of 4 children and I adore good food and travel!
Can you tell me about the WHITE bIRD story?
I had in mind the idea of offering an alternative to the major brands of the moment in Paris. Following a brief experience at Chloé in 2007/2008, I embarked on the WHITE bIRD adventure in December 2010. At that time, the French designer jewellery market was virtually non-existent. I think we have helped to develop it through our offer and media actions that we have undertaken. Today, jewellery designers have developed a lot in France and customers are more receptive to this type of jewellery that does not bear the label of a major brand. It’s a more personal approach. We have two boutiques in Paris. These are convivial places where it is, I think, easy for customers to enter. This was essential for me, coming from the elegant and often intimidating surroundings of Place Vendôme. The two boutiques were designed by architects but I became involved in the “personal touch”: carpets, furniture, lamps etc.
The curation of jewellery is really unique, how do you select the pieces and choose your collaborations?
Today we have about fifty designers, whereas when we started in 2010 we only had 13! I choose the designers exclusively according to my desires and my tastes. Relationships are very important to me, most of the designers whose pieces are sold at WHITE bIRD have become friends. I look at quality, relevance and sustainability before launching a new designer. As we buy most of the pieces, each one is chosen, the designer does not have carte blanche.
I loved your recent photos you posted from Sri-Lanka on instagram, how does travel inspire your work?
Travelling is always inspiring, it’s hard to explain why because everything may be inspiring. A drawing in a temple, a pattern on a garment, light, the colour of flowers. Travelling also allows me to recharge my energy, to reflect on the essentials of professional or personal matters. You can see more clearly when you are far from your everyday life.
What are your favourite personal pieces?
Everything and nothing: I like every piece of jewellery that I have bought for WHITE bIRD, but I’m not attached to it. I like change and when they are sold I am delighted for the buyer!
What influences your personal style?
My style is influenced by my daily lifestyle… My days are full! I travel a lot by bike or underground, so I need simple and comfortable clothes. My style is influenced by women with natural style: Jane Birkin, Ines de la Fressange, Sandrine Kiberlain. I’m more jeans, shirt, jacket than dress and heels! When it comes to jewellery, you have to understand, I change!
Your favourite treasured addresses close to la boutique le marais?
Frankie shop, rue Saint Claude: multi-brand clothing and accessories boutique whose parent company is in New York. Coem nails, rue St Sebastien – a perfect Vietnamese nail bar and without question, unbeatable prices. Alix de Reynis, rue Commines: if you do not have the means for Astier de Villatte, these wonderful creations in porcelain by Alix will do the trick. Acné, rue Froissart: somewhere I can rely on that I adore! The clown bar, just next to the Cirque d’hiver: one of the best restaurants in Paris. It’s also open on Sunday evening!