Fashion: Catherine Feore spoke with two of the four sisters that make this firm tick… Buissonnière – keeping it in the family!
When Laurence Buissonnière came into this world, little did she know that she was about to inspire the creation of a unique and exclusive fashion brand: Buissonnière. A brand that combines style, with joie de vivre. Myriam, Laurence’s mother, couldn’t find clothes in the shops that met her requirements. Myriam wanted clothes that were attractive, practical and made of good fabrics at affordable prices.So what else to do, but to create the clothes herself?!
Myriam’s efforts did not go unnoticed – soon her family and friends were asking her where she had found Laurence’s outfits. Then came the Eureka moment, Myriam and her husband Christian realized that there was much a wider demand for her clothes and the family fashion business was launched.
Over the years, the family grew to include Emilie, then Philippine and finally Clémentine. Four little girls who would inspire and grow upto share their parents’ passion for clothes. As the girls grew, so did the business, not just in terms of its success but also in the range of clothing that Buissonnière offered. Today, those little girls are adults with families of their own and adapting the business to modern needs; with five shops across Belgium and a website that allows busy families to explore their extensive range of clothes for children, men and women. We spoke to Laurence and Philippine.
Q: Given that you were surrounded by clothes from an early age, was it inevitable that you would follow in your parents’ footsteps?
Laurence: Our parents never obliged us to follow in their footsteps. When we were students we would certainly help in the summer holidays. Even before becoming adults we would occasionally travel with our parents. For example, each year they would visit the Paris Textile Fair to see the latest fabrics. From an early age, my mother would fit clothes on us, making sure that the fittings were right, the arms the right length and the fabrics tested to destruction. It was a major influence andinspired me to study fashion design.
Philippine: I did a Master’s in business management and wrote my thesis on the management of small and medium family businesses.
L: We all have a creative spirit and we all have the Buissonnière brand in our DNA.
P: I try to make sure that wehave a good global vision of the brand. Each of us brings different strengths to the team. Emilie is responsible for the E-shop and communication and Clémentine is responsible for the social networks and works with Laurence on design and purchases.
Q: You are sisters, you must disagree from time to time! What do you do when you disagree? P: It doesn’t happen often that there is a disagreement, mostly we will discuss and if necessary, hold a meeting to find a compromise. Between us we usually agree, sometimes we need to prove our ideas to our parents and convince them that they are good for the development of the company. L: The business is constantly evolving. Our mother is still very much involved in the design, she instilled in us a commitment to high-quality design and the use of good quality natural materials, while always ensuring affordable prices for young families.
Q: What influences your work? L: We keep abreast with fashion, but with aregard ‘Buissonnière’, but mostly we look at daily life: What do we like? What’s missing for families?
Q: I see from your website that you are an official supplier to the Belgian royal family!
P: Yes, we became an official supplier toPrince Philippe when he became king. The royal family bought clothes for their children for school and even for official ceremonies from time to time. L: Prince Laurence and Astrid have also dressed their children in our clothes.
Q: Your online business appears to be very successful, isn’t it difficult to buy clothes without trying them on? P: We provide lots of information about size and ensure that we supply lots of photos so that customers can see what the clothes are really like. There is always the possibility to return an item but because we are already very attentive to quality so we have very few returns; according to Bpost, we are one of the most successful online companies, with fewer than 10% of items returned. L: We have five shops in Belgium and we’ve expanded a lot, but for a small business opening shops far from our base is difficult to manage. We have customers in France, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, we are also receiving more and more orders from England and Germany. For us this is the best way for the moment.
Q: What about your children, do you think they will join the family business? P: We don’t know yet, but we hope that they catch the same virus as us, because it really is a very nice family business. They are already ambassadors for the brand. L: They also help out with our fittings. This summer we were fitting jackets for winter, in mid-summer, in the middle of a heatwave!