“Sometimes a mixture of bonkers and inspired can have fun results!” Ten years on Georgia Metcalfe, the founder of The French Bedroom Company, talks us through her humble beginnings.
“We started with 3 beds, 4 chandeliers and a handful of rugs and bed linen. Systems were basic, stock was low but ideas were flowing and hearts were aflutter. When the phone rang for the first time and we had our first sale we did a little jig!”
This was back in 2006, when Georgia set up The French Bedroom Company as an interiors guru, with a background in interior design and styling. Since then, the business has grown and grown, and now employs over 10 people.
With several accolades to boast too, such as awards from Mumpreneur UK, SheerLuxe, House Beautiful, and Amara Blog Awards, it’s no wonder they’ve been awarded CoolBrand status for the sixth year in a row.
It certainly lives up to its ‘cool’ status with a 7-bedroom Grade II listed country house-come-showroom where the “kettle is always on and the wine is always chilled!”
Infact, the Victorian housed French Bedroom Company Boutique caused quite a stir on social media at Christmas when it was decorated with a giant bow.
Beyond its success, and fun stunts, the company also sponsors local charities such as Honeypot and Shooting Star Chase.
And that’s not all. These guys have big plans for the future. With an excellent eye for style, a sense of adventure and a huge heart, we caught up with the girl behind the business, to ask how it all began…
How did the French Bedroom Company come about?
I was searching for a French bed but couldn’t find one in the UK. A bonkers idea of importing from France suddenly turned into a business plan, and then a photoshoot and then a website… Sometimes a mix of bonkers and inspired can have fun results!
What were you doing before?
I worked in interiors PR and loved it, but I wanted to see if I could have a go at starting my own company.
What inspired you?
Getting to the top of Kilimanjaro and thinking that if I could do that, then I could give other mad ideas a go too!
What’s the fascination with French design?
The feminine swirls, romantic carvings, elegant shapes – sheer beauty; there is a reason French furniture designs have been in fashion for nearly 400 years.
What was your biggest challenge in the early days?
Having the space for stock and not knowing if we should invest in large warehouse space and more stock. We were growing through the recession, so it was difficult to know if our growth would be steady or if it was in fact beginner’s luck and we should be cautious about an economic down-turn.
Did you have to make any sacrifices?
When my husband left his job to work alongside me we knew there would be inevitable financial sacrifices, I remember saying we would have a ‘baked-bean’ lifestyle for a while.
The sacrifices we still make though, are to our time; knowing I’d rather be putting my children to bed and reading them a story but instead I’m analysing data in the office. I have had to put hobbies on hold – there are so many things I’d like to learn (kite surfing) but I know they’ll have to wait!
But when you love your products, your brand and your team then each day is fun.
What are the biggest tips you can give any woman going into business?
Remember to listen and learn – be humble.
Expect a rollercoaster – there will amazing days and there will be stressful days so stay strong and remember to keep negative things in perspective by pressing ‘re-start’ each morning.
Drink wine: it helps!
Have there been any mistakes along the way you’ve learnt from?
As boring as it sounds, it’s all about the compliance of products and the service agreements with manufacturers. We’ve been a little too trusting of suppliers and manufacturers in the past.
How did you juggle work and family life?
Being really organised. Ringfencing my Monday off with the children is so important, they are little for such a short time and I love every moment with their little faces!
What has been your proudest achievement to date?
Being awarded Cool Brand status 6 years in a row has been pretty amazing. I still remember the first time they called me – I thought they’d got the wrong company!
What is your most extravagant purchase?
Oh gosh. Perhaps my Zadig & Voltaire jacket… or the G Wagon we’re about to buy…
How do you relax, and wind down in your spare time?
I love family Pyjama days on the sofa. Duvets, snacks, movies and cuddles. We have a little place in Ibiza so we sneak there as often as we can for family down-time.
And, what is your guilty pleasure?
Cake. And in this office we eat a lot of it!
What’s next for the years ahead?
Oooh we’ve got a gorgeous new collection coming out in the summer, it’s currently being prototyped and tweaked but it’s totally dreamy.
For this collaboration I received £100 vouchers to purchase and style products from The French Bedroom Company. To see more visit: