Recently, I had the chance to visit Tucson and the beautiful Bon boutique, whose values, dreamy selection -very European & French inspired- and aesthetic are really speaking the Belle Vie Paris language.
Their deep connection to things made by hand is especially meeting the ethics and the slow fashion philosophy we have had from the beginning, bringing to you items produced in small series by French artists and designers.
Behind this beautifully curated shop, there are Bonnie & Crystal, a very inspiring and creative mother daughter duo, who I had the chance to meet and spend time with.
Crystal & Bonnie, who are you and what is your background?
My mom and I have our shop together combining all of our interests.
My mom was raised on a ranch in California- she spent a lot of time outside in nature as a child. Her parents were first generation Portuguese and Dutch, so she grew up with European sensibilities, mixed with an American kind of fortitude and work ethic.
I was born in California also, but we moved to Tucson when I was young. My parents built an adobe house in the desert, so I also grew up in nature, but in a very different environment than where my mom was raised. Regardless of the environment, spending this time in nature gave us both certain interests and also a kind of independence.
Could you tell us more about Bon?
My mom Bonnie and I started our shop together about 15 years ago- after my mom had a different shop for 5 years prior to that.
We wanted to create a space and an environment that answered our passion for well made, beautiful things- including things for the home, the garden and clothing.
There is so much that goes into our shop and we love every aspect of it- from the day to day of being in the shop and helping clients and friends to going on buying trips, meeting with artists and designers, planning our ordering, updating our online shop, shipping, doing photo shoots… it really runs the gamut and our duties change minute to minute.
We also started our own clothing line a couple of years ago - as that has been a long time dream of mine. I think that what we make together is a process of dreaming and playing with a lot of hours and work to make those dreams come to life. We truly love every minute of it.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I think inspiration for us comes in the most unexpected moments.
Once we were walking in New York and a woman passed by us, she had very classic style which is something we always love. My mom said “she will always wear stockings”. In that moment I stopped in my tracks because I had been dreaming up a fall clothing collection and I wanted it to have a special name - and something to do with wearing stockings. It was as though she was reading my mind, and I thought “she will always wear stockings” would be a great name for a collection.
That is a funny example, but these types of moments happen often for us. It is well known that inspiration can be found in anything. I think it is the way we are looking or what our state of mind is that allows us to participate - to really receive and make something of it - and not just be a consumer.
What's your favorite place to think and create?
The desert, the sea… on an airplane or in a car. Also the kitchen table.
What is Happiness for you?
A dinner table full of life. Meaning, a happy family that has been busy independently creating and working… and we can come together and share all these things. Family is number one for us, so when we are all doing well and making what we love to be making, that is happiness for us.
A good balance with all in life.
What does Beauty mean for you?
Beauty is mystery. I think it lies in connection- to a person, to a place, a moment. It is something that is felt entirely, and it encompasses so many things…. And for that reason this answer is a bit short of answering the question. But back to mystery.
Favorite flower: Crystal - Rose, Bonnie - Cornflower
Favorite color: Crystal - Pink & Blue, Bonnie - Red & Blue
Favorite travel: France, from Paris to Marseille...
Favorite book: So many, too hard to pick one, but we both love reading about people we admire- so we would pick "Fasting and Feasting" - Patience Gray, all Alice Waters biographies, Pierre-Auguste Renoir- Mon Père, my last sigh - the autobiography of Bunuel, I shock my self - Beatrice wood… really can’t pick just one :( :)
Favorite song: Seulement toi, Naïm Amor (biased, not biased)*
* The French Musician Gabriel Naïm Amor is Crystal's partner
Favorite French artist: The painter Henri Rousseau
Favorite French place: All the tiny villages, but one in particular because of a dear family friend - Saint Nazaire le Désert. Also of course Paris, and Marseille!
Favorite French recipe: Our friend Freddie’s chocolate cake
Favorite place in Paris: The Jardin des Plantes
Favorite French word: haha- Chouette!!
Thanks Crystal and Bonnie!