Chloé Fleury & Her Home
Speaking with Chloé Fleury is an almost musical experience. The cadence of her French heritage naturally comes through in conversation, and, happily for us and our inspiration-seeking souls, that same magical tone carries through into both her work as an illustrator and into her home, which she shares with her husband and two daughters.
Every surface of Chloé's space is brimming with character and color. Though she has worked hard to keep her surroundings bright white and airy (a look we here at Glitter Guide can't help but fall head over heels for), Chloé has found creative ways of working in the patterns and hues that bring life to her surroundings. From pretty beaded jewelry swinging loosely on the walls, to pastel-colored artwork and fiber wall hangings, Chloé's home is filled with a carefully curated collection of goodies that we imagine fuels her signature artwork and style on a daily basis.
Below, Chloé offers insight and perspective into her routine, which consists of her role as down-to-earth mom and as a world-renowned artist—one who continues to infuse freshness into the illustration and styling industries. We invite you to step inside Chloé's San Francisco home below!
Tell us your story. How did you turn paper art into a fully fledged business? Describe your creative process.
I am a French illustrator, and moved to San Francisco almost eight years ago. It had been a dream of mine to live here since I came on a trip with my parents when I was 10 years old. I came for an internship in a design agency after studying visual communication in Aix-en-Provence, which is south of France. I got really inspired by San Francisco's colors, architecture and the happy, positive vibe of the city—it's so different in France.
I’ve always loved making things with my hands, creating little worlds and pieces of cardboard and paper décor for stop-motion animation. I like to transform flat sheets of brightly colored paper into small 3-D scenes. This city is really where I finally found my illustration style and where I officially became a paper artist. My very first project was to make little paper houses to represent San Francisco’s different neighborhoods.
It was back in 2011 when deer trophies became really trendy in home décor, and I wanted to decorate my studio walls. I thought to myself, “What if I made my own version with a bunny?" I was obsessed with anything with a bunny print on it at that time (on clothes, necklaces, etc.). My animal trophy first appeared in a feature for Anthology magazine for which I made the cover illustration. I received great feedback and people really seemed to like it. So, I started selling a handmade flat kit of the bunny so that people could easily assemble it at home. It quickly sold out, so I made more and more, worked on new animals and offered it in different colors.
Since then, I've work on nicer packaging and now I have them die cut, foiled and scored by a specialized company. I still put it all together in the packaging with the instructions, but my goal this year is to really focus on wholesale, which I started to do recently for small shops and online. I would like to have them completely produced so I can sell bigger quantities and be able to say "yes" to much bigger shops. My shop is one part of my work, the other part is my illustration work for magazines, brands, blogs—I really enjoy doing both!
As a busy mom, can you tell us how you manage your beauty routine? What's your morning and nightly process?
I need a lot of sleep, so it's a good thing that both of my girls slept through the night before they turned two months old! Regarding makeup, I like to keep it natural. I don’t like wearing too much makeup—it feels like I have on a mask and I don’t feel like myself. I might be a little lazy, too, and like to get ready fast! So, I use a good lotion to hydrate my skin (the Nuxe Crème Fraiche works really well for me), a little bit of bronzer to have a bonne mine, as we say in France, and blush on my cheeks. I never wear mascara and I like to wear lipstick when it’s not windy—I hate when my hair sticks to my lips!
As much as I like to be out in the sun, I really became aware of the damage the sun can do on your skin, so I use a little bit of foundation that has sun protection in it and always wear a hat if we are at the beach. I used to wash and blow-dry my hair every day, but now with two girls, I don’t really have the energy or time anymore, so I try to wash my hair less and leave it natural and wavy when I can. I also learned to take the time to enjoy a good bath in order to relax at night when my girls are in bed.
I don't work out, but now that Anouk is three months old, I feel the need to do a little bit of exercise apart from walking all over the city and climbing the hills with her in the stroller. I plan on trying postnatal yoga at Yoga Tree!
I experienced a few hard moments after school when I wondered if I would succeed one day. It’s easy to give up, but don’t! If you believe in what you do and if it really is your passion, then you’ll succeed.
Describe an outfit that you reach for over and over in your closet.
Denim jeans with a Perfecto leather jacket and booties or sneakers (if I go to the playground), or a cute bohemian dress with clogs or sandals!
Do you have any advice for how to incorporate color into a space?
I don’t really have any rules. I just like to mix colors and not restrain myself from buying furniture or décor because the colors won’t match. I also like to mix styles. I love an all-white, minimal space and neutral colors, but every time I try to do it, I find myself adding a little touch of color and neons here and there. Colors make me happy! They brighten my mood.
Where do you want your business to be in the next five years?
Maybe have a bigger line of products, and a brick-and-mortar location with my studio in the back!
What has been one of the best successes for your business so far?
Seeing my products in people’s homes is really fun! It makes me so happy and honored to see that they chose my art to decorate their little one's space, which is so special.
What is the most difficult part about being an entrepreneur?
That it never stops. Your mind is constantly working. It is so great when you have kids to have your own business because you can be flexible with your time, but it’s also challenging because you never really stop working. Even if you aren't sitting at your desk, you're always thinking about it, trying to come up with new ideas. I have a hard time being 100-percent focused on my kids and 100-percent focused on my business unless we are outside on a family adventure or on vacation. If we are at home, there’s always an email to reply to when they play, an order to work on when they nap or a diaper to change and a bottle to give when I try to work. I am still trying to find the right balance and stop feeling guilty all the time.
What motto or words do you live by?
Live happy and colorfully!
Who is one fellow mom whom you always look to for advice or inspiration?
It is funny how, when you are a kid, you criticize your mom and think that she is so annoying for asking you to clean your room, to not leave your shoes everywhere—and now that I am a mom, I realize things and understand her and appreciate so much of what she’s done for me and my siblings. She’s always been there for us. She has always been a stay-at-home mom, and I didn’t understand that at the time, but I realize now that it is so much more work to be at home and take care of your kids and your home.
My mom has always been very supportive of my art and of my passion. She used to drive me to art class, to the art store and would go to exhibitions with me. She always believed in the fact that I could become an artist and that I could do what I loved for a living. I hope to be as supportive and encouraging with my own kids, and encourage them to follow their dreams.
I am also lucky to be part of a Cool Moms Club in San Francisco—a group started by my friend, Katie Hintz-Zambrano, who used to work for Refinery29. This is how we met. She was writing an article about my work and we were both pregnant with our first kids at the time. She is now the founder of Mother, the best online magazine about motherhood. The mothers featured are so inspiring.
As for the Cool Moms Club, it is a very fun group of talented moms who are all creative-minded in the design industry (think: fashion, interior design, illustration, photography). We have kids' meet ups, parties, networking events and a Facebook page where we can all ask for tips and advice, and share concerns about anything related to kids and about being a mom.
I love an all-white, minimal space and neutral colors, but every time I try to do it, I find myself adding a little touch of color and neons here and there. Colors make me happy! They brighten my mood.
What advice would you give to someone trying to succeed in this niche field?
Work, work, work! Haha, no seriously! What made me find my style is that I would always work on personal projects—at night and on weekends. My 9-to-5 job at a design agency wasn’t my dream, and I did my best when I came home to make my dream of being an illustrator come true. It took a few years to find my style and to get people/clients to believe in me and give me a chance to show what I was capable of. I experienced a few hard moments after school when I wondered if I would succeed one day. It’s easy to give up, but don’t! If you believe in what you do and if it really is your passion, then you’ll succeed.
How do you balance being a mother and an entrepreneur?
I love what I do and I am so inspired by my girls, and I'm lucky to be able to combine my passion with the kids' world. I love finding new ideas/projects based on what they like. I am so excited about what’s to come, and for the chance to rediscover all the little things in life with them.
Has motherhood had any impact on your creativity?
I am more into the kids' world than my own—decorations for kids' bedrooms, children’s books and even more colors than before! I really found a passion for decorating nurseries, and making little nooks that feel both special and unique.