Meet The Owner Of French Country Collections & Win!

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summer20

If you’re a bit of a homie – and by that I mean someone who can’t get enough of gorgeous home wares – then you’ve probably spied pieces from French Country Collections on your travels.

I’ve always admired this beautiful brand but only recently discovered the back story behind this family owned and run business.

French Country founder Sonia Watts started the company almost 30 years ago and since then has been successfully selling to retailers across New Zealand and Australia.

I recently caught up with Sonia to find out a little bit more about how she got started and to find out what interior trends are heading our way this Winter.

 

5 MINUTES WITH SONIA WATTSFrench Country Collections

 FCC Sonia Watts

Above: Sonia Watts.

When & why did you start French Country?
I started the business in 1987 to fulfil my desire to inspire homemakers to bring beautiful things into their home.

Has the company changed over the years?
It’s changed quite significantly. I started out by making Tea Tree garden seats inspired by my love of Chinese Chippendale furniture.  I designed the seats and they were handmade by a retired furniture maker I found by placing an ad at the local RSA.  From there I went on to design and make my own objects d’art like photo frames, lamp bases, bookends, jewellery boxes and candlesticks.  My collections proved really popular and soon lead me overseas in seek of more products to help expand my range.  Today, French Country designs and imports gorgeous things for the home. We have a team of 40 staff and our products are sold via our retail partners throughout New Zealand and Australia. We also have our own concept stores in the likes of Arthur Barnett’s, H&J Smith, Ballantynes, and Kirkaldie and Stains.

How would you describe French Country in three words?
Unexpected, timeless and quirky.

Why French Country Collections?
We named the business during a time when I was doing a lot of travel to France to buy and import Quimper pottery from Brittany. I always thought our collections would have French influence because I am inspired by the unexpected and sophisticated French style.

Where do you source your products?
Our buying team travels throughout Europe and Asia to bring back gorgeous items for home-lovers. I still also design pieces and collections myself such as tabletops, garden ceramics, textiles and the Dragonfly range of ceramics which has become a pillar range in our collection.

How often do you travel with your job and where do you travel to?
Travelling is a big part of what I do to ensure I am scouring the globe to find the very best and most beautiful products.  I mainly travel to Europe and East Asia and often go to Australia for the annual gift fare and to meet with my Australian-based team and our retail partners.

Whose home would you most like to visit and why?
Although no longer with us, it would have to be Nicole de Vesian.  Nicole was a French fashion designer who spent most of her life in the Parisian design industry until she retired to Provence in the 1980s.  In her retirement she created a series of beautiful and innovative gardens, which she quickly became famous for.  It’s these gardens and her rustic French style that I am intrigued and inspired by.

Where do you get your home styling inspiration from?
It’s very difficult to say because it just happens.  It’s a gift from within that was inherited from my mother. I have a strong gut feeling about home design and what each of our collections should look like.

Is it possible to have a stylish home on a budget?
Absolutely!  And French Country caters to exactly that. We source and design a full range of products for all budgets.  My advice would be to invest in one statement piece, like a gorgeous antique, and then surround it with more affordable pieces that can be updated as trends and seasons change.

What is your own home like?
At the moment my Waiheke Island home is being renovated but is starting to come together. I love to cook and entertain, so the kitchen and the indoor and outdoor living spaces are the heart of my home.  My Auckland apartment is my winter haven and the focus is on the marriage of art and antiques.  It’s a place where I indulge myself with treasures and collectibles.

The one piece we all need to update our home this winter?
Furs and sheepskins remain one of the key trends coming through from Europe.  So my top pick has to be our stunning long-haired Mongolian Lambswool Furs and cushions in blush, cream, light grey and charcoal. They are divine!

Do you also love fashion?
I love fashion.  I have always been a Zambesi girl and also adore the designs of Isabel Marant.

Tell us something we don’t know about you?
I’m a bit of a hoarder and can’t bear to part with beautiful things – I can always seem to find a use or a place for everything.

What’s your guilty pleasure?
Perfume – I have a huge antique marble-top table in my bathroom and it is brimming over with my ever-growing collection of delicious fragrance bottles!

Obsessed with?
I’m obsessed with collecting art and books.  My books sit on the floor beside various chairs where I like to sit, drink tea and read.

Every woman should own?
A little bit of French Country, especially one of our new Mongolian Lambswool Furs!

 

WIN WIN WIN

summer20

To kick start your new season interiors styling we have a stunning French Country Mongolian Lambswool cushion (above) valued at $199 to give away to one lucky Insider.

To enter to win simply tell us in the comments below why you’d like to win then click HERE to officially enter.

Entries will be drawn here next Thursday 10 April.

Good luck!

Take a look at a few of my favourites from French Country below: