Chez Pluie Provence

Dream of moving to the picturesque South of France to enjoy some beautiful Provencal living? Australian couple Susannah & Hugh, and their beloved Labrador-cross Frankie, did exactly that! 

Their love for the South of France and it's natural beauty, charming medieval villages, stunning markets and beautiful brocantes inspired them to start an online business. They have adored furnishing their own French home, and now are delighted in sourcing stunning pieces for their online store clients.

Acacia had the wonderful pleasure of working with the couple on their website. We had a chat to them about their business and experience with owning an online lifestyle business..

1. What inspired Chezpluie to start?
We relocated to France from Australia to renovate our little maison. Needless to say we are devoted Francophiles. This was a wonderful experience that gave us an opportunity to furnish our home from scratch. So we explored brocantes (flea markets) and met many artisans along the way.  It was clear to us that there was an opportunity to provide access to these unique one-of-a-kind pieces to an international clientele. 

2. In a world with so many homeware shops and emerging online furniture stores how do you stand out from the crowd?
A brand needs to be authentic and true to itself. There is no way of succeeding if you are imitating a competitor. Our vision is to source unique objects that make everyday life beautiful. Every product on our site is one-off, so once it's sold it's gone. Our customers value the timelessness and individuality of beautiful objects and we are thrilled to connect with people who are as passionate about French decor as we are. 

3. Where do you source all your products from and what is the biggest struggle you face during this process?
We have a trusted group of local merchants who help us to locate products that are the creme de la creme. The biggest struggle is to not buy everything! We have strict criteria and always list products with our clients at the forefront. 

4. Running an online store worldwide must mean there are some language, currency and shipping difficulties. What are your top tips to reduce these difficulties? 
Absolutely. We communicate entirely in French with our suppliers, logistics and service providers. This is of course challenging, however we work with people of utmost integrity and have formed robust relationships built on trust. A good accountant helps too!  

5. What is your favourite part of running an online business instead of a physical shop?
Agility. We are extremely nimble and we can pass on savings to our clients by not having the traditional overheads of a High Street store. On average we add 20-30 new products every week and we have loyal customers who are always excited to see our new arrivals. We also have a global reach, and we get such a kick out of being able to send authentic pieces to their new homes in New York to Texas, to Hawaii and Sydney.

6. From the ideas stage of Chez Pluie to actually making your first sale, how long did this process take?
It was faster than we expected. It took just over one month from our first time logging on to Shopify to going live with our first 80 products. We had our first flurry of sales within the first few weeks of launching and haven't looked back. We now have over 900 products and counting!

7. How do you based in the South of France find your customers from all around the world? 
Social media - IG, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter & Tumblr
Published articles  - The Interiors Addict & Courtney Price
Word of mouth - Word of mouth (even by social media - people post our products in their projects / homes)
Networking - Industry events & trade fairs

(7b) & how much trial and error has it take to find a medium that works?
With so many different media platforms it was really important to try as many as possible and find out which ones help us connect with our specific customers. Because our business is so visual, Instagram and Pinterest have provided us with great quality traffic and customers. Quality content is king and authentic responsive engagement is well worth the effort. 

8. If you were to explain who your most common customer was in one line how would you do so:
Francophiles who have a passion for unique objects of the highest quality and craftsmanship.

9. What was the best part about working with Acacia Technology?
Acacia are a super responsive business. They are flexible, easy to communicate with and creative when it comes to problem solving. They were able to tailor our website to our needs and add plug-ins to make our day to day operations more efficient.