First comes love, then comes the puppy. At least, that’s what I keep telling my fiancé, but I’m not sure he’s buying into my (incredibly sound) logic. What I do tell him: a dog would help keep (read: get) me in shape. What I don’t tell him: I really want to buy the pup (me?) a totally adorable bed and of course, she has to have a super chic collar and leash to match. I may not be forthcoming about the latter, but no matter…he knows. We may not be quite ready for our fur baby, but I have already found the crème de la crème of (handmade!) dog accessories in Paris-based Charlie Be Good. Malgosia Krol-Baty, her husband and Charlie (she’s the super photogenic pup) work together to bring humor, quality and craftsmanship to one heck of an impressive brand. So either my future pup will have a bed in each room of the house (how can I possibly choose just one?) or we’ll need to bring home a few more pups than we originally planned. Either way, I’ll be a happy camper.
NAME Malgosia Krol-Baty
LOCATION Paris, France
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND Landscape Architecture Design and Journalism
COMPANY Charlie Be Good
Tell me a bit about Charlie Be Good (and Charlie!) & how you got started. Two life changes inspired Charlie Be Good: we moved from Canada to my husband’s native France and shortly after that Charlie found her way into our home. So the brand was really born out of my lifelong need to be my own boss, a pair of idle hands in a new country and a desire to spoil our furry family member.
I really appreciate that you had a sense of humor with your branding. What was most important when you were deciding on the look & feel of Charlie Be Good? I really credit Charlie for the lightbulb going off about the look & feel for our brand, right down to slipping us the idea for our brands name and logo; she’s super humble about it. But we were of course also inspired by Paris and wanted to go for something that reflected a laid back but pulled together street style. And I just can’t resist slipping in some humor wherever I can – makes my world a lot more fun.
You design and fabricate everything in your shop, from the plush dog beds to the adorable bow ties, collars & leashes. Things must get busy! What does your typical workday look like? Routine can be both your friend and foe when you’re your own boss, so I keep a fine balance between that and mixing it up. My day starts at 7 a.m., I’ll either go for a walk or run with Charlie and then get down to business around 9 a.m. If I didn’t organize my orders the night before I’ll start with that, respond to a plethora of emails, feed my addiction to Pinterest and then make orders until the evening. Somewhere in there I’ll have breakfast and lunch and succumb to Charlie’s guilt trips; she’ll stare me down until I give her a snack and take a much needed break for some sun & play (she’s great at “keeping it real”). And to unwind when the day is done, I’ll go for another stroll, a swim or a sit in the sauna. It’s super important to have a start and a finish to your work day, otherwise you take it to bed with you and that’s never a good idea.
Your aesthetic is truly, coziness at its finest. What inspires your collection? How do you go about choosing just the right fabrics? Tell me what your design process is like. I’ve had a life-long love affair with all things simple, texture and pops of color. I tend to navigate towards design that is orderly with clean lines and I love vintage fabrics like tweeds, wools and woven cottons. I’m also a big fan of the 50s and 60s, I feel like they really got design right back then, including the emphasis on solid craftsmanship. And living in Paris has been great in terms of daring to step outside of my comfort zone in many aspects, especially when designing and buying our textiles. And the best part about it is that it has by far one of the best textile districts I have seen to date. So I can take my ideas and make them a reality, because there is so much variety available. A lot of times our collections happen spontaneously, too. I’ll go shopping with my wish list and come out with something completely different.
What challenges have you faced in selling your goods internationally? Does exchange rate factor in at all? I had to think long and hard about that one and I can honestly say that I haven’t experienced any challenges selling internationally that stand out. So high five to that! And as for the exchange rate, we crunched some numbers, studied our competitors & the market and just found a happy medium for pricing our products.
What has been the greatest part about working for yourself? Becoming self-sufficient & autonomous has been the best part about working for myself and gaining the liberty it provides me with to pursue other projects I have one the go, without being on someone else’s clock.
As partners in life & business, have you set any rules pertaining to shop talk? Not really, but that’s only because we are both in creative fields and have creative minds, so there isn’t really that need to make rules, it’s a constant part of our environment as a whole. And it seems to have balanced itself out in a way that works, where we don’t get into each other’s space but don’t stray so far that we can’t ask the other for help or advice.
Prior to launching, what was involved in your research & development? Was Charlie your beta-tester? I dove into a year-long apprenticeship and perfected our products through trial and error. Craftsmanship has always been very important to me & is definitely something I look for when shopping for myself. And during that time, Charlie was such a great sport about being our little guinea pig. It was also an interesting process of discovering that trusting my gut is always the best way to go when choosing designs and pairing textiles.
Do you use your own products at home & when you’re out and about? What are your (or Charlie’s) favorite product(s) from your collection? Oh man, yeah, I think I’m my own best customer! I turn into Gollum from Lord of The Rings when it comes to our goods, it’s impossible to pick favorites – they’re all so p-r-e-c-i-o-u-sssss. But between you and I, I’m a sucker for our tweeds & florals, our aztec prints and faux cowhide textiles.
Did you face many challenges as you were preparing to launch Charlie Be Good? How did you learn the ins and outs of running your own company? The best way to learn the ins & outs is through hands-on experience, making mistakes and making it happen. And I would say that the biggest challenge while preparing the launch was to stop apprehending failure and instead, staying positive & curious as to where this adventure would take us.
What is one pearl of wisdom you would share with someone considering starting their own business? Start where you are and don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.
Guilty pleasure? Chocolaaaate and science fiction.
Favorite corner of the world? Oh, any green corner will do. Brownie points if it’s closest to my family.
Motto? “Ain’t no mountain high enough”
Cake or Pie? Pie (but don’t tell Cake).
Best cafe au lait & croissant stop in Paris? “Angelina’s” (for their real-deal hot chocolate & coffee) and if you smell pastries walking down the street, follow your nose, that’s the bakery you want to sink your teeth into.