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Meet the Maker: Hey It's France

Updated: Oct 28, 2020

At 14, I happily picked white and lavender as the colors of my room. I'm the eldest of 4 daughters and my parents' (then) new house was at the finishing stage of construction back in the Philippines. I remember looking at paint colors and deciding on that perfect lavender color. I wanted it to be subtle, I wanted to make sure the greenery outside that was perfectly framed by an arched window would be the focal point, accented by wooden floors and whatever paint I was grateful to have the opportunity to choose. With my youngest sister, a toddler at that time as my roommate, I also knew our little haven needed color and so with that, the moldings and cabinet doors were lavender and the walls were white with just the tiniest specks of lavender to give it texture.

At 16, I designed my own bed after having gone to a furniture exhibit with my Mom. I wanted a bed that appeared in one of the magazines in that trade fair but it was too big for our room, So we had one custom made by a local artisan- without screws and bolts, set up like puzzle pieces that fit perfectly together. It's still in my parents' house, probably collecting dust and to this day, it remains to be my favorite bed; every other bed I've owned since then has always failed in comparison (ah the reality of spending your own money vs. your parents' LOL!).

I realize now that those two moments and a thousand more unconsciously introduced me to the world of design. My parents are not in the design field but growing up, I had my Mom as my ultimate peg for everything design related. She still is. Her clothes go from San Diego to San Francisco to New York City-- moving about my sisters' closets. Her garden back home in Manila was a dream: a mix of manicured but wild aesthetic with trees and plants of all sizes. My parents have always been hardworking people and it is in those opportunities they created for us, the experiences, the childhood they provided that brought me and my sisters to places far and near during those long, hot, Philippine summers all of which opened my eyes to design and its significance. It can make or break a room, elevate experiences, transport you, leave lasting memories.

You'd think I went to design school for university but I didn't. If you read the About Me section of this site, written wonderfully by one of my sisters, you'd also know I didn't work on anything design related for the next decade after I graduated. It wasn't until I got married that I started a wedding related business and wasn't until the pandemic this year that I finally pursued studies in interior design and worked towards this brand-- a brand that is a culmination of a long journey and a brand that celebrates the people, things, and principles I believe in.

Inspired by my Aunt Celeste of Malvar=Stewart, a brand that is centered on sustainability in the textile and design industry and who remains to be my sustainability compass, keeping me in check, and making sure my processes are correct, I took workshops under different natural dye and fiber artists. There is a science to natural dyes, chemistry plays a big part in the success of pigments binding with fibers (and I won't pretend to be an expert chemist on this because I'm not lol) but there is also a sense of spirituality. There is something so beautiful about raw natural dyestuff-- plants, flowers, food waste, and even rusty nails lending color and life in their almost afterlife, if that makes sense. There is also a sense of gratefulness that hopefully translates to something tangible through my work with textiles.

This whole brand encapsulates my journey that has seen me move from the Philippines to Chicago, Indiana, and finally San Diego, California, all while enduring and successfully overcoming a decade long of long distance relationship with my then boyfriend, now husband and our fluffy dog son, Xavi (who by all acounts is the color inspiration of this brand). This is a product of the seemingly random experiences I've been through and a reflection of my passions and my beliefs that though may seem ever evolving, will always be centered on sustainability, respect for all, inclusion, kindness, and love. Lastly, this is a celebration of and thanksgiving to the people who have constantly guided me and cheered me on-- my closest friends and family, four sisters, my Mama and Papa, and my husband. Lu France Interiors, my dream of a brand, wouldn't have been born, if not for them.

At 35, I feel like I'm starting anew and it can be nerve-wracking. In most Asian cultures, the pressure to succeed and make something of yourself starts early and that sometimes stresses me out. So much pressure... partly because of my age and partly because of this non-linear path I'm on but I think I'd forever regret not pursuing this passion project of mine-- this love for design and turning it into the brand of my dreams. They say the most beautiful things take time and I hope this was worth your wait. It certainly has been worth mine.

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