Posts filed under ‘Uncategorized’

DBRx Interview on Design Biz Radio

22 February 2011 at 11:57 am Leave a comment

La Belle Juliette – a conversation with Anne Gelbard

La Belle Juliette – a conversation with Anne Gelbard.

28 October 2010 at 5:12 pm Leave a comment

L’Epicerie de Bruno

Post Via Vingt Paris

Walking past the trendy boutiques of Rue Tiquetonne, you’re likely to see some storefronts that will grab your attention: Freakish mannequins dressed up in cleverly arranged runway hand-me-downs, hipster vintage wear that walks the fine line between “ironic cool” and “grandma,” or perhaps a water scene of octopi floating up in plastic bubbles. The latter, however, is not the window of a fashion boutique. It’s a spice shop called l‘Épicerie de Bruno.

“Muriel used to work in fashion. She’s very creative with the window displays,” says Bruno Jarry of his collaborator as he surveys his small kingdom of over 150 spices and other accoutrements for the gourmet. “And I was working in banking, which also has nothing to do with this.”

So how did a banker wind up as one of the top purveyors of herbs and spices and exotic foodstuffs in Paris? “I’d always been traveling and I love food. I was interested in all kinds of cooking, all over the world. And I found there was no place in Paris where you can find all the ingredients, the spices,” he recalls. “So whenever I traveled, I always brought back some spices as a souvenir.

“And my parents were chemists,” he continues. “Old fashioned pharmacists who made their own medicines for customers, and there were spices and herbs in what they made. And my grandparents and great grandparents and great great grandparents were grocers in Brittany. So, logically, I decided to get into the business.”

L’Épicerie de Bruno’s appeal comes not only from a strong lineage of épicerie, but a thorough understanding of origin and what it means to how things taste.

Peppers “Take pepper, for example,” he says, pointing out a wall with a variety of peppercorns most people likely don’t know exist. “Most people don’t know how it’s grown, yet – as with wine – the soil and climate are important. Nowadays, when people buy beef or vegetables, they want to know where it comes from. Spices, I think, are one of the only food products where people don’t know or don’t care, and the origin isn’t indicated on the package.” On the other hand, Bruno does know, he does care, and he’s happy to dispense his vast knowledge to those who seek it.

Working directly with small or family-owned producers, Bruno gets to know how they work, and he collaborates with them to bring good, 100% natural products to market. “I work with hundreds of farmers in Kerala, India, for example, and encourage them to grow and sell us excellent products, and pay them a very good price, so they’re not simply growing and selling in volume to big wholesalers. Even French ingredients, like the Piment d’Espelette [a mild chili from the Pyrénées-Atlantique region], we source directly from a small, family-owned producer. Same for Fleur de Sel: We know the individuals harvesting the salt.”

These principles are balanced with pragmatism. When you start to think of the origin of spices and seasonings, it seems counter-intuitive to the current trend to buy locally. “If you want to eat things that are harvested or grown within 50km of Paris, it’s going to be very difficult. There are a lot of things you simply won’t eat: Fish, dairy, most fruits… But I support this, especially when it comes to seasonal vegetables. It’s a good initiative. However, in France, we can’t cultivate pepper, for example. There are many spices we can’t grow here. So I support the concept – for products that are possible to acquire in France.

“What’s interesting is that this is very much an urban phenomenon: Paris, London, etc. But I was born in Brittany, where it’s not new – we only ever ate fishes that were caught locally, or we’d buy butter from a local farm. So when you can, try!”


Trying is the essence of Bruno’s. There’s so much to try, that one could come back seemingly every day and not exhaust the palette of flavors on hand. Various spices, dried herbs, leaves, and flowers line the walls. There are 25-30 different kinds of peppers on display at any given time. Black Penja pepper from Cameroon, white Kampot from Cambodia… Over 20 kinds of chillies, running from 0-10 on the Scoville scale, 0 being no heat at all, and 10 being the maximum, like habaneros and some Indian chillies… Vanilla beans of all kinds in small test tubes… There are specific spice blends, some made on premises and some by Bruno’s growers themselves: Blends for European cooking, Arabic & Iranian cooking, South & Central American cooking, and all of the Southeast Asian and Indian/Sri Lankan/Pakistani cuisines. “We even have some blends that some of the Indian shops don’t carry because they’re not popular enough to sell!”

One should not, however, mistake L’épicerie de Bruno for a specifically ethnic shop. It’s for everyone.

“The idea isn’t just for people to come here because they want to make Indian or Iranian dishes, per se, but to take these spices and apply them to things like barbecue, to go outside the traditional uses of ethnic herbs and spices. People often ask questions like, ‘I want to cook duck, but differently – what would go with duck?’ and we’ll advise them.” 

It’s also a source for transplants to get a taste of home. “We get many people who’ve moved to Paris from other countries. Americans, for example, are accustomed to hotter foods and come in seeking hot sauces.” (Bruno himself likes spicy foods, but not past 9/10 on the scale.)

The shop is also a good resource for those who aren’t allowed salt or sugar. “Each spice has its own character and subtleties,” Bruno explains. “These characteristics are particularly good for people on restricted diets. For instance, if you can’t have sugar, you might use some cinnamon to remind your palate of sweet foods. Or if you can’t have salt, a little bit of something spicy can recall salted foods.”

Also available are a variety of rices (the shop was originally going to be called “Epices et Riz” – say it out loud) of numerous origins, accessories (“The tortilla press is always out of stock!” Bruno says, pleasantly surprised) and “kits” or pre-assembled spices to make quick work of meals.

“When I was working in finance I had long work days and I’d still want to cook a good dish quickly. So we have kits for making various rice dishes easily. And we’ve created kits for Mexican cooking. And various curry pastes. All with 100% natural ingredients. So in 20 minutes you can make a Thai green curry by yourself, which will likely be better than what you can get in most Thai restaurants here. Most people don’t have time to cook except on weekends, and they want to make quick things, but good things. And this way, it’s less expensive than going out or buying frozen meals.”

With so many choices, a visit to the shop can be daunting. Luckily, Bruno can (with a little prompting) narrow down his favorites: “Madgascar white pepper for every day. White pepper from Cambodia for fishes, it has a bit of a pineapple note! Arabic blends. Curry à l’ancienne (a more coarsely ground curry powder). Basic spices like cumin and cloves that are rich in essential oils.”

Muriel recommends Ras el Hanout (a Moroccan blend), Mélange du Trappeur (a savory/sweet Canadian blend used for grilling, which she likes on pineapple), green cardamom, and cinnamon. 

For those visiting Paris temporarily, a spice fix is still available via Bruno’s online store long after the holiday is over, and for those who want a more lasting souvenir, his book Épices (in collaboration with photographer Thomas Dhellemmes) may be of interest. The book features 50 different spices (no herbs, no flowers, just spices!) and a number of accompanying recipes. It’s available at the shop, but widely distributed elsewhere. In fact, a Michelin-starred New York chef saw the book at the nearby culinary bookstore Librairie Gourmande and came right over to pick up some of Bruno’s goods for himself.

In a nutshell: Bruno offers you ethically grown and procured spices, rices, kits and accessories, with the expertise of someone with generations in the business and the knowledge to write a book on the subject, all at the quality demanded by famous chefs.

L’Épicerie de Bruno

30 rue Tiquetonne, 75002 Paris

01 53 40 87 33

Open Tuesday – Saturday, 

10:30am-2:30pm and 3:30pm-7:30pm

A themed apéro is held each month with an invited speaker/presenter to talk about their product(s).

10 August 2010 at 8:54 am Leave a comment

Win a Trip to Paris

Opportunité Fantastique!

(Just a little French lingo to announce a spectacular opportunity for one lucky and talented design professional!)

Jay and Mark of  Helser Brothers are offering a trip to the City of Lights, PARIS! As in France! The winner will join Industry Experts Deb Barrett and Susan Schultz as one of a select group of 12 at the Maison et Objet show January 19-27, 2010. The trip includes a Cruise on the Seine and a visit to the Louvre among many other delights. It is truly the trip of a lifetime. There are a few qualifications, a passport, an engaging personality, and the ability to share the journey as you blog for us through 7 days of non-stop Francophile fun. You will get to be our eyes and ears on this trip, submitting daily posts about the products you see and your ongoing adventure.See the fine print below for details on just what is included in this offer and apply today! The trip is coming fast so we need to choose a winner on November 30th. Just send an e-mail to explaining why you are the perfect person for the job, then keep an eye on why helser for the big announcement. Ooh la la! (Wow in French – start practicing!)

The Fine Print:

Paris 2010 includes:

–  7 days /7 nights, January 19 – January 27, 2010, in the City of Lights

–  Airfare to/from JFK or Chicago. (Winner is responsible for getting to JFK or Chicago.)

–  Hotel d’ Aubusson, Four-star, double-occupancy Superior room in the heart of St. Germain (Super-convenient location and we’ve stayed in this hotel and love it!) Five minute walk to the subway, direct line to the show. Walking distance of the Louvre, Orsay, Notre Dame, Sorbonne; surrounded by art galleries, restaurants and shops.

–  Daily Breakfast at the hotel. Value of $140.00

–  Airport transfers Value of $80.00

–  All zone metro passes/carnets for 7 days. Value of $85.00

–  Admission to Maison&Objet and Planet Mueble trade shows. Value of $78.00

–  Welcome reception at M&O from show management

–  Exclusive M&O trend presentation with Q&A opportunity Priceless!

–  As-you-wish meet-ups for cocktails or dinner to review the day, compare notes, share stories, etc.

–  Pre-travel web session(s) with Deb and Susan to preview locations, M&O planning, travel details, our Paris faves and more

–  Cruise on the river Seine. Value of $80.00

–  Free entrance to the Louvre or Orsay. Value of $26.00

–  High Tea one afternoon in the Aubusson’s Grand Salon. Value of $25.00

–  All taxes and service included.

{via why helser}

11 November 2009 at 12:15 am Leave a comment

What Makes “Couture” Couture?

The Paris couture shows for Winter 2010 are taking place right now, inspiring oooohs and aaahs of envy and inspiration for both Deb and myself. But as Deb often mentions, the descriptive phrase “couture” is too often tossed off to describe something without have a true understanding of what separates couture from something well-built, well-made, well-crafted.

Take a look at this video, where a Karl Lagerfeld sketch is transformed into a finished Chanel dress and jacket. Each pattern is made and cut by hand, each sequin hand-sewn, each seam hand-pinned…

Lagerfeld is known for his dedication to the petites mains, the specialty seamstresses, milliners, button-makers and other decorative artisans whose elaborate handiwork transforms a design into a showpiece, this video is a clear example of why they deserve his high praise.

10 July 2009 at 7:25 am Leave a comment

The Future of Marketing: Part 2

8. Infinite number of channels today you can own your own channel- whether it’s a blog, podcast, You Tube or Facebook. You need to understand that you need to be where people want to go; not demand them to go where you are.

9. Consumer to Consumer Transactions Sales transactions are cutting out the middle man. Think about sites like, Paypal, E bay or It’s about getting out of way and connecting people to each other.

10. Scarcity + Abundance There has been a flip from what is scarce and what is abundant. What was once scarce is now abundant and what was once abundant is now scarce. What is an example in your industry? How can you capitalize on that opportunity? Smart brands are taking advantage of that flip and figuring out how to take advantage of it

11. Big Ideas used to be advertising ideas and had little to do with the product- Alka Seltzer, Squeeze the Charmin, etc. are examples. Now the big idea is a product idea. Like iphone.

12. Who vs. How Many  What used to be most important was how many people you reached, how many times did you send your message; how many people heard it; how many people bought it. Not anymore it’s about who- who gives permission to open your email or read your postcard; who are they; what are they looking for .

13. The new gatekeepers are bloggers and viral media. It’s about people telling people. We are all looking for a tribe to follow and we are looking for leaders to connect us to a tribe

14. Scarcity vs. Ubiquity- Scarcity is what is rare and worth paying for. Ubiquity is being everywhere (especially with digital products) – the most viewed on YouTube, most downloads. Godin calls it the Seinfeld Curve. You can win by being everywhere or you can win by being rare- especially for digital goods. You just need to decide which direction you want to take. It is happening on either end and the middle falls apart.

Finally, I will leave you with a question from Seth: Are you looking for consumers for your products or products for consumers?

30 April 2009 at 9:51 pm 1 comment

The Future of Marketing


Marketing is in the midst of a C change. The old marketing model was to broadcast ideas and the message in hopes that your target customer was listening and would act on it. It’s TV thinking mentality- where the power of marketing was seen in the maxim that the more dollars you spent the further your message spread. It didn’t matter when or where or how the message was received. It was OK to interrupt anyone; anytime. Not so anymore. The system is broken. It was hurt by all the clutter and too many choices. The shift in power is to what experts are calling permission marketing. It’s a power shift away from the marketer to the gatekeeper-the consumer . The internet has brought all this about. TV, radio and direct mail are the traditional channels of communication invented by marketers for markets. They exist to sell ads. The internet doesn’t care. Marketers are no longer in charge. They can’t control the customer anymore- what they see, read or especially what they say.
So what will the future bring for marketing? Seth Godin recently looked in his crystal ball to identify these  fourteen future marketing trends:
1. Direct communication between the people who make it and people who buy it. Create a community of your customers and engage them, cutting out the middle man in the relationship. Be prepared to take the bumps and bruises that might come along with it.
2. Amplification of the consumer Every person is a designer or reviewer and has the power to reach others. They are the new gatekeepers; embrace them and invest in their experience. Seth says instead of selling stuff; spend your days creating joy.
3. Authentic stories mean people do not buy facts; so you must sell the story. Is it about the location; is it about being green; is it about ownership, is it about why and how we make it? Facts are not important; it’s about creating opportunity. So craft a story that resonates with your view of the world and then live the story. You must do both- the customer can always spot if you are telling the truth or not.
4. Speed or let’s be honest- hyper speed. It’s about no waiting, it’s about reorganizing your business and building your processes around speed.
5. Longtail has proven that if you give people a choice they will take it. Over half of books that Amazon carries aren’t available in book stores. Offer your customer a chance to have a choice. Look for the small profitable niche.
6. Outsourcing products and services that were inconceivable five years ago .
 Google has diced the world into bytes. Social media and the internet are now the marketing platform. Your website needs to be friendly to the visitor. But you also need to realize that they are treat searches have become sophisticated; they are landing deep into you site more often than on your home page.

Check back tomorrow for the the rest of trend list

28 April 2009 at 10:44 pm 1 comment

Anticipating the Home Sector 2009

This is a blog post from Home Accents Today with the transcript of a panel discussion at Las Vegas Market revolving around what will 2009 bring for this industry. Good reading!

25 February 2009 at 7:47 pm Leave a comment


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