This week – French Weeks, more women-owned businesses

This week we are celebrating French Weeks, sponsored by the French American Chamber of Commerce. The theme this year is: Where French Business and Culture Meet. The week-long program of activities kicked off with a Cocktail and French fair. Other activities included the requisite wine tasting, several conferences on topics such as Intellectual Property and Technology, and a Petanque contest. I’m not sure where the culture was, but Constant Companion (CC) and I enjoyed learning about some aspects of business.

Now, our city considers itself to be the crossroads of the Caribbean and South America. Thus, several activities during the week focused on the Caribbean. An evening called Martique Spice, was “intended to introduce and promote Caribbean islands.” Another late afternoon was a French Caribbean Closing Party.  We attended the latter.

What was it? A a pop-up store gathering where more than 15 brands “representing French Caribbean cultural heritage, decoration, and art of living” showcased “iconic and high-end products.” The small storefront included women’s wear, jewelry, shoes, and cosmetics from Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guyana.

Constant Companion reluctantly agreed to come with me; he really didn’t know what it was; his skepticism was transparent. Who cares? A party was promised and my curiosity was ignited. Also, shopping was involved and who doesn’t like occasional retail therapy. 

We ended up chatting with 4 entrepreneurs while sipping punch made with Martinque’s Trois Riviere rhum (a https://specialitybrands.com/our-range/trois-rivieres/).  We also tasted small samples of the rum straight – even better than my rating of “very nice.” It almost reached the pinnacle of “yum,” if you like sipping rum. Green teas infused with lemon and ginger and peach (Maison Meneau) were also sampled.

I did my usual walk around the display area and saw some handbags, scarfs, shoes, cosmetics, and jewelry using semi-precious stones. Someone at the last display addressed me in French – it was a French Caribbean event after all, what did I expect? I smiled and mumbled a bien sur, or something brilliant like that.

Ok, my French skills were learned at summer camp: “Bonjour, comment t’allez vous? etc.” They expanded over many years spent in ballet classes: plié, tendu, jete entrelace, all very useful for communicating. To prepare for a trip to Morocco in 1972, I read one of my “Uncle Jack’s” (Kolbert) textbooks several times. Surprisingly, I was able to communicate. I have such delusions of competence in the language, and they increase in proportion with the amount of liquor I consume! Get the picture? Bien sur.

Well, after my jewelry encounter I got back together with Constant Companion (remember he who hesitated to come) and we looked at the beautiful shoes. A lovely lady approached us to explain the origins of the company name – Gloasanvé – it’s a song lyric that has to do with love; at is appears on the website – “GloaSanvé est une marque dont l’appellation signifie le plus grand des amours est en nous, c’est nous” . .. (https://gloasanve.com/). CC, who is fluent in French, was hooked; as usual his charm clicked in and conversation followed (he’s fluent in French).  Corinne Thimodent, the owner, told us all about her amazing Guadeloupe shoe company and more. They are really beautiful shoes.

Corinne Thimodent

After a while, I started looking at her neighbor’s goods, another woman-owned company. Marielle Plaisir, the proprietor and designer of les barbars (https://www.lesbarbares.agency/), shared with me the impetus for the designs of her scarfs and handbags. Her scarfs are decorated with scenes drawn from myths about the strength of women. More really beautiful, artistic items, created by an artist.

Marielle Plaisir

The last person I spoke to before we left the party was Richard Trefle, owner and creator of the eyeglass company – Bellatrix – also from Guadeloupe (https://bellatrix-optical.com/en/home/). These out-there eyeglass frames make use of natural materials to create patterns embedded in the borders. CC tried on a pair. I burst his bubble and reminded him that he doesn’t wear any of the colorful swag sunglasses awaiting at our front door. Why would he wear these, no matter how glamorous?

I came away from this lively party impressed by the strength and talent of two women business owners. I also was enthralled by the creativity of the eyeglass company. Even though I did not understand perfectly what they told me mellifluous French, I understood their passion for their products.

As French Weeks quickly reaches its end, we now await the total mayhem, madness, and total immersion into annual Art Week … stay tuned.

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