Florence Chataignier Mars, the VP of Bonpoint on her latest parenting book and raising children Stateside
Co-written by Florence Chataignier Mars and Pauline Leveque – who also provided the illustrations – ‘Say Bonjour to the Lady’ pokes fun at the austere French parenting methods, compared to that of the self-confident American style. As well as making a playful gift for a new mother, we love that 25% of the royalties from the book will go towards the Epic Foundation, which is a NY-based charity raising funds for non-for-profits around the world, concerning children’s education, safety and health. Here, we chat to Florence about the book, plus her own family and life with kids in the US.
AS THE VP OF BONPOINT, WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE?
The good news is there is no typical day! I have to travel quite a bit in America to visit our 8 stores and meet partners, bloggers, potential locations, our lovely local teams of course and to recruit. At least twice a year I spend a week in Paris at the Head Office so being at the office in NY is not my routine… I have been working for Bonpoint for 3 years now, it is not only a beautiful brand but a company with a nice family spirit. My absolute favorite thing is to organize events for children with my team. We have worked with MSKCC on their bunny hop event, started this amazing French Halloween party in the garden of Laduree every year, a partnership with the Moma and with the NY City Ballet. Every day is different!
WHAT ARE YOUR GO-TO BRANDS FOR STYLING YOURSELF AND YOUR LITTLE ONES?
Well, for my children, it is hard to not go crazy with Bonpoint. It has always been my favorite brand, way before I joined the company I have always been obsessed. Of course, as every Parisian mother does, I also go to Monoprix every time I go back to France! For me it is very simple : I spend my life in black pants and shirts. Whenever I need to be a little dressed up, I always go to my friend Sophie Theallet who is the absolute best at glorifying the female body. She is a magician, every time I wear her dresses I feel like a rock star.
DID YOUR STYLE CHANGE DURING PREGNANCY?
I don’t think so. I have been pregnant at 25, 28 and 33 years old and I tried very hard to not change too much my style. Here in NY I have not been pregnant (yet!) but I would go to Hatch for sure, I love the easy, effortless chic style of this brand.
CONGRATULATIONS ON ‘SAY BONJOUR TO THE LADY’ – WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM IT?
Merci beaucoup! The book is a funny comparison of both parenting styles: Paris and NY. With a lot of illustrations! We made fun of both the super strict French mother and the uber cool American, exaggerating a bit of course their differences… The truth is the best education style is right in the middle with a little bit of the French rules and a lot of the American enthusiasm!
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE MAIN PARENTING STYLE DIFFERENCE IS?
The main difference is that French mothers try to make sure their children are “bien élevés” while American Mothers wants their kids to be comfortable and happy. I am not saying that we don’t care about their happiness but that this comes after the respectful and well behaved part.
AS A MOTHER RAISING A YOUNG FAMILY, WHAT DO YOU TAKE AWAY FROM THE US CULTURE, AND WHAT DO YOU KEEP FROM THE FRENCH?
The art de la table is the one thing that I will never give up. It is very important to us to have diner the 5 of us every evening, no screen, no fooling around, sharing the food (that I prepare of course!) and talking about the day, the projects we have… There is a million little rules about “la table” that I will not bore you with right now but I am very much on it! Concerning the US habits that we should get a little inspired by : enthusiasm and self-confidence building. Americans are the best at that. No matter what the child do he systematically hear “you are awesome!”, “amazing!”, “well done” or “great”. We could use a little bit of that instead of our perennial “pas mal”.
‘Say Bonjour to the Lady’ is out now, available at Bonpoint, Amazon and Barnes and Noble