I am delighted to introduce the inspirational Karine Kong [FOU] of BODIE AND FOU. Karine is going to introduce herself and you will soon discover what an amazing woman she is.
I can’t even begin to describe how talented Karine is to juggle being a successful business woman, a creative thinker, run her own warehouse, do her own PR and be a mother of the most adorable little girl Mila – and all with seemingly effortless efficiency, I really admire her. So without further ado, I will now hand you over to the wonderful one-half of BODIE AND FOU.
Oh – and BODIE AND FOU have kindly agreed to offer our readers a 10% discount on any purchases till the 8th of December. Just enter TBH09 at the checkout. What lovely ladies!
A day at BODIE and FOU…we like it busy, inspiring, exhilarating and it often is…
BODIE and FOU is a chic online boutique based in North London, UK but we ship regularly orders around the world. As we don’t have a brick & mortar shop – we thought it would be fun to show you what’s going on at BODIE and FOU behind-the-scenes…so please come in…
First, a little introduction about us…. We are two French sisters: Elodie and myself, Karine and we launched BODIE and FOU 4 years ago when Elodie was still living in London [she is now based in Barcelona… yeah how lucky is that!].
Our company is named after us: Bodie has been Elodie’s nickname since she was little and Fou is the nickname that Steve, my New-Zealander partner and father of my daughter Mila Sienna gave me when we met because he thought I was mad…Well it should have been ‘FOLLE’ but his French wasn’t great at the time so FOU was it. As Elodie moved to Spain last year, she is now less involved in the day-to-day running of the business but we heavily use Skype and emails to keep in touch. We also go to trade shows in Paris and get together regularly in London, Barcelona or our house in France. I’ve lost a sister but I’ve won a brother as Francois, the youngest of our family joined us last January as Warehouse Manager.
So here is a day at BODIE and FOU… 6.20 am. Stumbled out of bed and go for a run. I don’t especially enjoy running but I’m all over the place if I don’t, and my gym is fab… a bit like a Manhattan loft with fabulous natural light and brick walls. Back home at 7.15 am to find the two loves of my life having breakfast. Steve jumps in the shower while I get Mila dressed for school and answer emails from overseas customers. I get ready in 20 min, have breakfast or pick up something yummy from Brook’s.
8.30am. Heading to the our warehouse in North West London which is 20 minutes away. I drive or cycle with my brand new pink single gear bike depending on weather and meetings ahead.
9.00am. I’m at my desk ready to spend the day the head down on my beloved Mac Book Pro. I work from a very old and distressed wooden door which I love. It’s a lot bigger than your average desk which enables me to display things I like and it has a story to it. Years ago I had read about a beautiful Swedish apartment in Living Etc and the owner was using an old door that she had painted with white gloss paint as a dinner table. I thought it was a brilliant idea so, as soon as I saw this gorgeous distressed door in the street, I knew exactly what to do with it! My ‘desk’ started its new life as a coffee table at home and it was a great to display a few beautiful interiors books and candles and gave my home a little boho feel. Then we launched BODIE and FOU and it got upgraded to the rank of office desk with a pair of oak trestles. It now sits against a wall in our warehouse and makes me feel like I work from home.
The BODIE and FOU warehouse…. We are very lucky to have a fabulous space. It has white walls, high ceilings and heaps of natural light. I sit at the far end from the dispatch and customer service teams by our lounge/meeting area so it’s a bit quieter.
In my corner, I put together a mood board with photos from my daughter Mila and my niece Lily, pages torn out from magazines and other bits and pieces and great examples of typography and design that inspire me.
We started the business from home four years ago, then a year later the business was growing so fast that we had to move to a warehouse in Bristol. It was in a great location but our warehouse was incredibly cold and dusty so it’s nice now to have a space that is light, airy and warm and to be back in London!
After making a pot of herbal tea, I checked the orders we received on BODIE and FOU and our sister site WhereDidYouBuyThat.com and then catch up quickly with my Twitter friends. I love Twitter… It can be time-consuming but if you know how to switch off when you need to, it’s actually a fantastic network of nice, friendly and helpful people and we got some great PR and success stories on the back of it. When we launched the Paris map print and the London map print, they sold out on pre-orders alone following a tweet.
Quick meeting with Francois our warehouse manager to go over orders, customer queries and stock levels and with Olive or Katie to go over press samples and high-res pics to send to various magazines and things to sort out.
Then I go down my list of things to do. I usually go through my emails and answer/action things straight away, send thank you emails and post happy things that are happening on our blog like a nice email we received from Marie-Claire Maison out of the blue or some new gorgeous designs we’ve added to the site As we are now getting very busy for Christmas, we’ve added a lot of beautiful gifts and things for the home which we need to tell people about so I spent a good hour writing a press release about exciting new products like the Japanese books by Paumes and send it out to the World!
Throughout the day, I will liaise with Jim, our amazing web designer to finalise new functions like the Wish List we have added on our new website and I will skype Steve, Elodie or my friend Mandy who also have an e-commerce website to pick their brains on website design and marketing ideas. Lunch time. Have a quick break to eat something [trying to be healthy….doesn’t always work)] watching Corto sleeping or chewing.
After lunch. Switch off from everything to focus on things that are less creative but need to be done: SEO, action points from meeting with our Google Analytics agency, look into ad hoc marketing requests, cross-promotions with partners and bookkeeping. We outsourced our bookkeeping to file our VAT, Staff wages etc, but I pay the invoices myself to know exactly what’s going on. After checking with Francois that everything is running smoothly and that our orders are ready for our daily collections from Royal Mail and Interlink, I work on our E-news either for BODIE and FOU or WhereDidYouBuyThat.com to announce offer of the month on WDBT, competitions and send VIP code to all our customers so they can get 10% OFF each month on BODIE and FOU. If I have enough time, will pitch a feature to magazines….Photographer Michael Paul came to our house in France to shoot it for a New-Zealander magazine. It will be featured at the end of the year when the kiwi Summer starts and because we are working together to sell the photos to other magazines in Europe for a Spring release, I cant really show them but they are gorgeous!
5.20pm. Leave work to pick up Mila from her baby-sitter’s. Once we get home, I do a few more emails before Steve arrives from work. I spent the first three years working non-stop until 2am during weekdays and weekend when the business was growing but not enough to hire the right people. Now our business is in a good place so I no longer work in the evening or the weekend except around Christmas time where our volume of orders triple. It took me a long time to get the balance right but now I’m fairly on top of things [give or take a stressful day] so it’s time to give some quality time to my little family for the simple reason that if BODIE and FOU is ever going to be massive, I want to be able to share its success with the people I love.
Author: Rohini Wahi
Rohini is a London based freelance journalist and trend forecaster for the design industries. She has worked for Elle Decoration, Living Etc, Houzz and Design Sponge amongst others.
She loves a period drama and keeps a tidy home. Launched in 2007 The Beat That My Heart Skipped focuses on home inspirations, design trends, lifestyle and food – coupled with an insight into Rohini’s work and home life – from key picks at trade shows to styled weekend soirees. To contact Rohini for queries, work for hire or just to say hi drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org