“To be as personal as possible in everything I do,” says Elise Pioch, recounting the best business advice she’s ever received...
The French founder of lifestyle brand Maison Balzac – one of our favourite lifestyle brands in the world – has just returned home to Australia with her daughter and husband, after living in France for the past year. Her new collection includes the introduction of heavenly glass spotted vases, incense and oil burners (the marble hand is here favourite), beautiful bowls and two new scents to the essential oil range. “The initial idea behind Maison Balzac was to recreate my happiest moments in life through objects, perfumes, stories,” she explains. Pioch has done exactly this – create a collection of exceptionally special objects that will spark joy every time you use them. In other words, expect to smile with Maison Balzac in your home.
Go to www.maisonbalzac.com
You’re very considered with everything you design - talk us through how you decide which new objects to create…
Every time I wish to add a new product, I close my eyes and remember what we used and loved daily in our home as a child. My grandparents also had a very big influence on my taste, they had a great sense of balance and beauty. Not only that, but my family certainly knows how to arrange homely homes where you feel welcome. To decide what new category to introduce to the collection, I reach out to my original memories and pick one object at the time. In order to recreate this warm feeling of happiness and belonging, through small or big details.
Your brand has grown from candles into a collection of beautiful objects - was this always your intention?
Yes! From day one, my intention was to bring my attention to every single object that can fit in any home. This is why I called the business MAISON Balzac, MAISON meaning HOME in French.
You’ve grown in a very considered, organic way. Has this always been your strategy?
Yes, I am not a huge risktaker, so I have decided to grow the business at the pace of a snail, following my instinct but also the demand from customers. It’s like a concentric growth, I would be very scared of any big jumps or investments. Taking it slow and giving priority to a human, genuine approach is key to me.
If you could go back to the beginning, to when you first launched Maison Balzac, what advice would you give yourself?
I wouldn’t change a thing. I feel that we have been very brave, very considerate, and my best advice would be to follow your gut feeling, which I have always had.
What is your favourite piece from the new range?
The marble hand is definitely making my heart beat faster! It is quirky, beautifully made, useful and is so intriguing that people will want to know more about it. It is not your usual incense holder, it has a sense of humour while being made by hand in France by an artist. It’s got my ideal balance between eccentricity and practicality!
Tell us about some of the new candles you’ve recently launched?
We are working on a natural range, following in the success of our BONNE NUIT candle, made with organic essential oil of Lavender (to calm the senses). We will add two new scents to this “essential oil range”, one to be lit in the morning, the other one in the evening. This way we can accompany your senses from morning, evening to night. In a gentle, natural way.
Describe your dream day, incorporating Maison Balzac into it?
My dream day is the one I am lucky to have every day when I get to work in Botany (Sydney, Australia) with the four most amazing women I know, in a studio we have fitted especially for our brand, creating and promoting a collection that I love, in a country I feel so happy to live in (Australia). What else could you wish for?
How does life in France differ to life in Australia?
Life in France is almost the opposite of the one in Australia. In France I am close to my family (parents, brothers, extended family…), customers take no risks, newness is not encouraged and the entire population is depressed. In Australia, I am very far from my family, customers thrive on new products and the spirit is always positive!
What gives you the greatest inspiration in life?
My grandmother Jeanine Balzac, my mother Nadine Balzac as well as my daughter Loulou are my biggest inspirations. They are strong, caring, are somewhat unusual, and will always answer my questions or doubts with the most empathic selfless words.
What are your time management tips - how do you achieve as much as possible each day?
Time management has been my enemy for so long. For the first 5 years of the business, I didn’t prioritise anything. Whatever was coming first on my desk, would be what I was working on. It was exhausting, counter-productive and dangerous. I have learnt to write down lists, to not attend anything that doesn’t need my urgent attention and to try to dedicate a tiny bit of ‘me’ time during the week. I am not there yet but I am learning to look after myself as things were getting out of control. By the end of the year, my goal is to practice a sport… I haven’t done so in 15 years!