Meet Severine Balanqueux, founder of Titlee
Meet Severine Balanqueux, founder of Parisian brand Titlee, and the talented designer behind our new jewellery collection.
What inspired you to start your company?
I founded Titlee in 2005, after I came back home my honeymoon in South India, which was a fabulous trip for me. I fell in love with the kindness and light of the Indian people, and also the landscape of South India. The art gallery where I was working as office manager was about to close, so I decided to start my own business and create my jewellery brand.
I wanted to create a seasonless, timeless and effortless collection of accessories. As delicate, light and subtly coloured as a butterfly (Titlee means ‘butterfly’ in Hindi).
How has Titlee changed over the years?
Titlee has grown organically. I am a very intuitive person and since the beginning of my company, I’ve been driven by my intuition – for designing the collection of course, but also for choosing the people I work with, and in making big decisions for the company.
In the beginning, I was sharing a studio called Atelier Beau Travail in Paris with two others girls who were also designers, and they helped me and taught me so much. After three years, I left Beau Travail to move into my own space and to start selling at trade shows – firstly in Paris (Maison & Objet and Playtime), and few years later in New York. Trade shows were a big, big help, as not only have I met many retailers, but I’ve also built a network of people from all around the world – and met new friends 😉
For the 10th anniversary of Titlee, I’ve opened the first and only Titlee store in the heart of Paris, in Le Marais. This is the only place that you can find all the Titlee products together, as well as a sharp selection of everyday objects – books, ceramics, stationery, toys, cosmetics, herbal teas – all designed and made by talented, independent designers and artisans. I love to curate, to create a display and to welcome people into my store.
If you could give advice one piece of advice to someone starting a business, what would it be?
Follow your intuition, and trust it! It will always be a better adviser than any person around you.
Describe a typical day for you.
I wake up and spend about 20 or 30 minutes with my husband and two girls, having breakfast together without rushing. Then the rush begins. After my husband has left for the office, I have to supervise my girls while they shower, brush their teeth and dress, before dropping them both at school. Then I go back home to take half an hour of time just for me, before I head to the studio to join my team. We always take lunch together, talking and laughing. In the afternoon, I spend time at the store, welcoming our clients and working in the meantime. I go home at about 8 o’clock, where I spend time with my girls while they do their homework and tell me about their day. I read them a story, and when they are in bed, I spend a some time in the kitchen with my husband, just the two of us. This is the time when we can chat peacefully before bed.
What’s your favourite part of your job (and your least favourite)?
My favourite part is when I draw, and when I meet and talk with clients at the store. My least favourite when I have to work on my accounts. Illustrator = YES / Excel = NO.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
From day to day, and throughout the year, I’m inspired by the people I meet and the travels I make. I collect ideas, pictures, words and landscapes in my mind and on my phone. When I design a collection, I remind myself of all these collected pictures, and then I let my intuition go to work.
Children’s illustration is also an endless source of inspiration for me. I have a large collection of illustrative books for kids. I love the poetry, the kind of madness of the stories, the drawings, and the colours – the whole spirit of childhood actually.
You’ve worked so many designers – do you have a favourite collaboration to date?
That is a very hard question as I have so many favourites, as each one was born after an unforgettable encounter…it’s too hard to answer!
What’s your favourite piece in the Titlee x Donna Wilson collection and why?
I love the Sausage Dog Brooch, it is so, so cute!!