Charlotte Vinciguerra is the owner and founder of the new online shop for kids, Merci Bisous. Having moved to New York from Paris less than a year ago, Charlotte recognized a void in the children’s market for fine French goods. Yearning for the attention to detail that she found in items created by French designers and inspired by her own pregnancy, Charlotte created Merci Bisous. She hopes to provide a special and inspired shopping experience for consumers seeking out beautiful pieces for their children.
Charlotte, we would love to know a little more about your journey from Paris to New York. What brought you to the States?
My husband and I arrived in New York on September 4th of last year. We were living in Paris and Mathieu was hired by an advertising company (DDB on Madison Ave). We both left our jobs, packed our belongings and ventured to New York! It was so exciting to move to the USA, especially to New York! The energy in this city is great.
What inspired you to launch Merci Bisous?
My future baby. When I found out I was expecting, I was a little frustrated about the fact that I could not find the brands I had always loved and wished to buy for my baby. It gave me the idea to bring them here, and to share them with all the moms. I really want to bring the best experience to my customers: an easy-to-use website, fast shipping, cute packaging with special little details, and a weekly newsletter with DIY and activity ideas for parents and kids. I would like to share and create a lifestyle around my selections, instead of selling random articles in an impersonal context.
How would you describe French style? Are there any common themes or characteristics in the goods and clothing offered on the Merci Bisous website?
What I like the most about French style is refinement, it is really a common theme in my choices. Every item is created by French designers who are usually women, and I especially like the beautiful material and exceptional quality. Last but not least, I pay attention to sweet details like a cute button on a top or a delicate embroidery.
Are there any items that you feel are basic essentials to a baby’s wardrobe?
Definitely! Petit Bateau’s basics are definitely one of them. These simple cotton onesies are so practical, I just cannot do without! Also, since babies outgrow clothing so quickly, Petite Lucette’s reversible pants are very smart as you have two styles in one. New styles are introduced every season, and I usually fall in love with them! Finally, I would mention Breaking the Wool’s hand knitted socks and blankets, which are perfect for keeping babies cozy and warm.
Merci Bisous carries some pretty adorable decor items! Have you started decorating the nursery yet? Will you be incorporating any of the pieces offered through your shop?
We are moving in a bigger place soon, but I have already planned the cutest bedroom. For the walls, I will use the Forest Wall Border by Mimi’Lou; and Rose in April’s Babou Shelves in aruba blue to display his books. The Alice stool (also by Rose in April) in the same aruba blue is a perfect match and will allow me to place a cute lamp. Additionally, I chose the Louis Pompom Storage Basket to hold the soft toys (Leopold by Moulin Roty is my favorite!). I also envision lots of cozy little spaces in the room filled with cushions.
The Merci Bisous site also features a lifestyle and DIY component. What sorts of projects or articles will we find?
You can find DIY and activity ideas on the Blog part of the website or receive the newsletter on every second Tuesday. For example, this week, I show how to make a beautiful flower crown. The principle is that you can make these DIY’s with the kids. I also write about entertainment ideas for the entire family. For the moment, it is especially located in NYC. Then, there is the social networks (Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest) where I post inspirational pictures.
My parents moved to the US while my mother was pregnant with me, so growing up I always felt like I had one foot in each culture. My friends and their families were American, but my home was filled with Cuban customs. We spoke Spanish, ate Cuban meals, and celebrated holidays in a traditionally Cuban ways. How do you plan to keep French customs present in your son’s life? Are there any special meals or folk tales that you are excited to share with him?
I think that growing up in a foreign country is a great opportunity. My son will have a chance to learn two languages easily and the two cultures will probably open his mind. Just like your family, we will keep on speaking French at home and spend most of the holidays in Paris and South of France (where I was born). I started to buy him French books and rhymes and I will be happy to tell him stories that I was told when I was a child. Concerning meals, I’ll do my best to maintain a balanced diet for him. In USA, kids love mac & cheese. In France, we have an equivalent of that: coquillettes jambon (pasta shells with ham and butter). I still love it!
Are there any special places in NYC that remind you of Paris?
New York is different from Paris in so many ways. I feel very good in NYC, but I love spending time in a French bookstore called Albertine on the 5th Ave. Also, my husband and I made a lot of French friends here, mostly from Paris. When we spend time together, it recreates the Parisian atmosphere, I appreciate it a lot!
Congratulations on your pregnancy! Motherhood is the source of inspiration for so many women in this industry. Do you have any advice for other mothers that want to pursue a new venture?
It’s true that pregnancy and children really boost our creativity. I wanted to make the most of this energy by creating a company that is completely compatible with the birth of my baby. I know that this is going to be a lot of work! But, strangely, I feel fairly peaceful about that. Dear expecting mothers, if you have a good idea and if you feel good about it, then trust yourself and go ahead! It’s so rewarding despite the difficulties. And don’t forget to be kind to yourself!