18.1.14

Franco File Friday: Suzanne Flenard of Square Modern


This series ended on a sweet note in 2013 and begins this year on a decidedly stylish one. Suzanne Flenard moved to Paris five years ago with her partner Jeremy on what she thought would be a 'six month break', an escape from the New York City grind and a stressful (and successful) job as an interiors specialist at Design Within Reach. They succumbed to the Paris pull and never left.

When it came to decorating their Marais apartment, thy struggled to find modern accessories that matched their style. Like many enterprising expats who observe a gap or need in the market, Suzanne took matters into her own hands. Literally.

In 2012 she launched Square Modern, a brand of mid-century modern cushions made from reclaimed designer textiles. And since one project is rarely enough to satisfy an entrepreneurial spirit, Suzanne is gearing up to set her next business into motion - a personal home shopping service for expats in need of, well, everything, for their new Parisian apartments.

Living proof that it's never too late to start over (and move to Paris). Read on for more about Suzanne!


Describe what you love about France in three words. 
Food, architecture, travel

Advice for other foreigners hoping to switch gears and settle down in Paris? 
If you're thinking about taking the plunge, don't over think it or else it will never happen! However, it is important to have some of your ducks in a row, such as arriving with a long term visa, a place to live and know that it will take a while to open up a French bank account that you will need in order to pay all monthly bills (it's not like walking into a bank in the U.S., whereby 15 minutes later you walk out with an account). Also, prepare to know some basic French phrases. The adage is true-the French really do appreciate if you try to speak their language. Practice the virtue of patience-you will definitely need it and a little goes a long way! Lastly, ask for help if needed. The French love to give opinions, share their vast knowledge of the complicated bureaucratic system, and correct your mistakes. However, don't expect any extraneous aid if you don't ask (very politely!).


Favorite home goods and design shops in the city? 
I love Fleux, Superflu and Merci. Also, there are several Scandinavian design shops popping up all over the city, most notably Maison Nordik in the 18th who incidentally carry my Square Modern pillows!

The first place you take guests in Paris? 
 My favorite museum, Le Musée des Arts Décoratifs, as they always have great exhibits and beautifully curated expos in their Mode et Textile division. 

Most frustrating or amusing (pick one!) interaction with the French?
At this point, it's a widely known fact that the French bureaucratic system is complicated and sometimes a mystery which requires a "dossier" for just about everything (even my French friends complain about this). Most of my friends here have either a "corporate expat package" whereby they have lawyers who take care of their every administrative need or are married to a French native who has grown up with this comprehensive knowledge. I, however, do not fall into either of these categories. 

Over the course of the last five years, I have obtained European citizenship, started two different companies, procured healthcare, got PACSed, trademarked my company, settled insurance claims and rented three different apartments (in addition to negotiating the regular phone, cable and gas/electricity abonnements that one needs to survive here). Each of these tasks were completed in French and handled with copious dossiers. Although I am quite proud of these small triumphs, none have been as arduous as compiling the dossier for Jeremy's Carte de Séjour (residency card) that we have to renew each year around this time. It never ceases to amaze me that no matter how much you think you know the inner workings of the French system, there will be that one administrator who will ask you for an additional document you don't have with you (which was, of course, not requested on the original sheet of requirements!). 


Yet somehow, we all push through it! For a glimpse of Suzanne's work, check her shop Square Modern (free worldwide shipping!) and follow her updates on Facebook

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