Hi Flo and thank you very much for taking some time to answer our questions.
After 14 years in London, two lovely kids and launching your business, we would love to know a little more about you and your day to day life!
Can you tell us a little more about you? Where do you live, where the kids are going to school, your hobbies.
Hello Victoria, I’m Flo, I’m French (from French / Laotian descent) and grew up in Normandy, in the middle of nowhere. I studied architecture in Bretagne before working in Switzerland and arriving in London in 2008. I have been living in the London Bridge / Borough / Bermondsey area for a long time, got married and started a family there before the four of us decided to relocate to the Wimbledon Park area around two years ago where we have a bigger place and are enjoying the outdoors more than ever before! I was not sure about that move (I miss SE1 a lot) but I’m so glad we did. During all the lockdowns we were at home (obviously!) and homeschooling in our garden – weather permitting. It’s a small garden with lots of trees and bushes, very lush, a perfect haven.
Our children go to a local state school and the English language is starting to take over our home! Both kids speak a lot English to each other, I sometimes speak English to them (why???) And they often mix French and English in the same sentence. I actually like this a lot, I feel there’s a richness to be able to speak like this. I grew up with both French and Laotian languages (I still understand day to day conversation in Laotian but can’t speak anymore sadly) and I understand that there are some things you just can’t express in one language the same way you would in the other.
As a family, we like simple things such as going for a walk in the park or bike rides in the area, games night, meet with friends and family, snuggle to read books and all things creative (particularly the kids and I).
What does make your company Sweet Pamplemousse unique?
I’d like to think that I help French-English speaking expat families to keep a connection with their minority language with a visual support.
After working as an architect for a few years in Basel (Switzerland) and London, I started creating bilingual cards about a year or so after my son was born. Sweet Pamplemousse was launched a few years after that, at the end of 2018.
I have a strong interest in graphic design (and a lot of my work involves graphic design activities). And I love learning about languages, so if you head to my instagram account (@sweetpamplemousseuk), you’ll find all sort of vocabulary, idioms, words I’ve found out about while reading or talking to someone and can be helpful to you, especially if you’re new to the UK or an English speaking country.
How did you come up with the name for your company?
Interesting question! I wanted to find a name which combined an English word with a French word, a name that will suggest childhood. The word ‘sweet’ was obvious to me. For the word ‘Pamplemousse’, I was inspired by a series of (fake) books I saw on a shelf in a shop. They had aromatic herbs names. I like the sound that makes the word ‘pamplemousse’. It means ‘grapefruit’ in French :D I like the relationship between these two words, one is ‘sweet’ and the other ‘sour’ which corresponds a lot to my personality and my background.
What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?
My children! And the fact that as a creative person, I can feel I have wayyyy more freedom on my own :D That said I miss working with a team a lot, I miss the interactions and sharing ideas, building something together. I’d like to think I’m a good team member! I’m trying to recreate a team of like minded people but it is hard work and everyone has different availabilities. I’m open to collabs!
How do you define success?
To me success is having a good life / work balance, doing what you love, spending time with your loved ones. When you do something you’re passionate about (if you’re lucky enough), work doesn’t feel like work anymore. Then, there are admin tasks! :D
Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
I don’t know! I don’t think so. I think everybody is different, have different rhythms and constraints or opportunities. Believe in yourself, work hard, get help (that’s an advice for myself!) and surround yourself with inspiring people.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
I have a lot of ‘mini’ satisfying moments. Each of them makes me want to pursue what I’m doing and go further. Self doubt is my worst enemy (or my best friend?!) and every little daily victory counts : making a sale, meeting an inspiring person, managing my way through HMRC website, receiving the prints of my latest creation, a lovely comment on social media… Knowing that I’m not doing what I do for my sake but that it is useful / helpful to someone else, this is the ultimate goal!
To what extent is the COVID forcing you to change your business model?
I like to meet people. Pre-Covid (and about a year after opening my online shop), I was starting to participate in markets and pop up shops which I really enjoyed doing. Since then, I’m back online and I have created new digital products that people can download straight away. That means there are far less interactions which is not what I want. For 2022, I want to go back to meeting people and reach more local families.
What does the day-to-day life of entrepreneurs in London look like at this time of year?
I don’t have a routine as such. I schedule my days with small tasks and I tend to do as much as I can during the day. If I want some peace and quiet, I get some work done in the evening or sometimes on Saturdays (I’m trying to keep my Sundays free!).
What’s the best advice you can give to anyone looking to settle in London or have a successful expatriation?
There are plenty of Facebook groups for young professionals, families, entrepreneurs, etc. I understand that a little late myself. There’s a formidable French community here in London. Meet people (seriously), go out for drinks, get togethers on the week ends, find a hobby.
And find a home in a lovely neighbourhood, which can be easily accessible with public transports. London is such a big city, you can spend a lot of time commuting. I love London because it is such a cosmopolitan city, there’s always something to do and I feel people are easy-going and quite approachable. It might take time to get used to life here but it is so worth it!
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