Image via: Courtesy of Benoit Martin for IMPRESSION ORIGINALE
Impression Originale presents a new concept to the industry of wrapping paper. Founded by Mathilde Habert and Claire Commeau, two French girls launched their business in Angers, France, carefully selecting talented artists from all over the world to design their papers. Produced on recycled paper their wrapping papers are matched with couture ribbons for a truly unique experience. To see their full range of exquisite papers, visit their website at www.impressionoriginale.com
How did the idea for Impression Originale come about?
Mathilde: The idea first came to me during a trans-European road trip. I had hours with my memories and I remembered wrapping presents years ago during a charity fundraising campaign at Christmas. I recalled the actual process of preparing gifts to be rather tedious and the line of wrapping products quite limited. It was only years later, during this long drive home while contemplating potential new professional endeavors, that I was inspired to approach the art of wrapping gifts in a novel and creative way, founded in ethical sustainability.
Claire : A common friend introduced me to Mathilde who was looking for an artist. We simply clicked and the rest is history! The idea of “gift giving” was always an interest for me, one of my favorite books being “L’Empire des Signes” from Roland Barthes. I love the chapter where he explains why the way the present is wrapped is more important than the present itself in Japanese culture. Some Japanese connoisseurs would prefer an imperfect, but bespoke ceramic piece over a perfect, but mass-produced one. This reminds us that the considerations of the receiver of the gift and the associated sentimentality is paramount. This book actually led me to write a memoire on the topic “How to give a soul to objects made in industrial process”. Craftsmanship and how to give a ‘supplement of soul’ to creations is a constant source of inspiration in my everyday work.
How do you choose the designers you want to work with, do you have set criteria or is it more about raw talent?
Claire: The latter! We select the artist by “coup de coeur”, whether we like the style, the spirit or a particular design. It’s great to get to know designers all around the world. It feels very organic, very human, with no borders to constrain us in this fusion of creativity.
Image: Courtesy of Benoit Martin for IMPRESSION ORIGINALE
Looking after the environment and reducing your impact on the planet is important to you. What steps do you take to make play your part and how can we as consumers help?
Mathilde: A responsible company means personifying the values you hold. We believe that preserving the environment is crucial, and can be achieved as much as we believe that doing business can benefit those around us. That is why we decided that each artist should sign their design (trust me nobody does that – yet!) and be paid and credited fairly. For us “Made in France” signifies the quality of our product and a certain idea of craftsmanship and “savoir-faire”. We work hand-in-hand with local suppliers – a choice more expensive than outsourcing. We control the production from artist and supplier, all the way to our clients. It is our way of being a responsible company. We are accountable for all of our decisions. This makes the decision to participate in ethical consumption easier for our clients as they can feel empowered to make socially conscious purchases through our offerings while retaining the highest degree of quality and style. We have the power to change the world in our actions, consumer purchases included.
Claire: For me, every company should have to work on their ethics, it is the future and we need to lead by example. It’s great to know that the number of companies that are becoming self-aware is growing everyday. Paper does not have to be ephemeral: you can frame our wrapping paper if you’d like or re-use it for a creative project! In any case, remember to recycle it please!
What advice would you give an aspiring young entrepreneur?
Mathilde: Do you have an idea bigger than you? Then, that’s probably a good idea! Something that you so strongly believe in, that you are ready to face challenges from all directions and keep believing in what you do. The key I guess is to be willing to learn and to improve every step of the way. I realized that there is never a “right” time for a venture like this. The right time is often now! And you know, as Corneille, the French author from the 17th Century says so very well, “A vaincre sans péril, on triomphe sans gloire” meaning “Triumph without peril brings no glory”. So go and never be scared to ask for advice or for help, but remember that the drive is you, and can only be you.
Claire: Personally, I believe that the perfect timing to start a business is when you feel that you have gained enough professional experience to be confident in your abilities to launch the company of your dreams. Follow your vision, step by step, and see where it goes!
Image: Courtesy of Benoit Martin for IMPRESSION ORIGINALE
Where’s your favorite place in Paris and why?
Claire: For me, the Buttes Chaumont Park is my favorite place! It is not a usual French park. I love the hills and little temple at the top, the trees are amazing and the view of Paris is lovely. It’s an awesome place for picnics and meditative walks.
Mathilde: I love to stop over at the Bir-Hakeim Bridge, it is so iconographic to the Parisian life-style and I love to look at the River and the people going by. I find this contemplation both resting and stimulating. Then I would happily go for a walk in the tiny path of the “Swan island” (if you don’t know this place yet, go find it!)
Born in France and now living in London, what do you think are the main differences between life living in London compared to Paris?
Mathilde: I only moved to London a year ago, but I did study in the UK on an exchange program back in 2003. I think living in London provides me with a very special vibe. It is a highly cosmopolitan city where diversity is welcome and is part of London’s identity, everything moves around you but you still find large parks where you can forget the unbridled energy of the city. Initiative is welcome here, and the environment as a whole is very stimulating. Paris, in comparison is very French! Which is great (of course I am French) but can be at times quite oppressing. I think that France (in general) is less prone to encourage the start-up spirit; we are too conservative, and too focused on not failing rather than trying.
Claire: I agree with Mathilde and I have been living in London for almost 10 years! In general, I would say that the mood is much more uplifting and happy in London, it’s energizing. The food scene is just amazing. I love also the fact that you have so many huge parks and that you can have a garden even though you live in the capital. It’s pure luxury to have your own green corner at home and in the meantime to be able to access so many great exhibitions, nice restaurants and gigs.
Finally, have you got any exciting plans in the works? What’s next for Impression Originale?
Mathilde: Creation and innovation are one and the same to us. They mean the world, for they are shaping the future. We create today to influence our lives of tomorrow. We propose something new with IMPRESSION ORIGINALE, for we put the artist at the heart of our business. We want to challenge the “business as usual” and bridge the idea of being able to do “good” whilst not compromising on quality. We have plenty of projects for the future. Including a permanent IMPRESSION ORIGINALE Gift Workshop at the most luxurious department store in Paris… to be operational by the end of the year!
Claire: We are also participating in the London Design Fair in September in London. We are really excited about it as our brand will be exposed for the world to see for the first time! We are also finalizing some commissioned wrapping papers for the Versailles Castle. It’s really a fun and exciting project to create contemporary design looking at Versailles beauties with new eyes. I’m saying that because I used to go to high school in Versailles so I really rediscovered the castle with this new adventure.