Profile photo of Laure Mouniamy from Elle Aime

Originally from France, Laure has over 12 years experience in upholstery. She studied in Paris,  working alongside recognised upholstery industry masters before bringing her trade to Clonakilty in 2018. Laure is passionate about houses, homes and interior design. She restores, re-upholsters, rejuvenates and re-designs preloved items for clients all over Cork and beyond, to be enjoyed for many more years and hopefully handed down through the generations. In 2020 she launched her own home decor collection through a series of lampshades  and has since expanded the collection to include a timeless linen range.

In this episode we chat about her path into upholstery, the satisfaction she garners from what she does, expanding her services & an unusual encounter with a hen.

About this podcast

Date:         21/02/2024

Duration:   22:25 mins

Laure's Takeaway Tip

“Keep an eye on the numbers”

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[00:00:00] Geraldine: Welcome to the Cork Creative Podcast. With this podcast, we hope to promote local creative businesses and people. I’m your host, Geraldine Hennessy from Flux Learning, and in this episode, I chat to uphosterer, Laure, from Elle Amie in one of the fabulous pods in Mix Coworking in Clonakilty.

Originally from France, Laure has over 12 year’s experience. She studied in Paris working alongside recognised upholstery industry masters before bringing her trade to Clonakilty in 2018. Laure is passionate about houses, homes and interior design. She restores, reupholsters, rejuvenates and redesigns pre-loved items for clients all over Cork and beyond, to be enjoyed for many more years and hopefully handed down through the generations.

In 2020 she launched her own home decor collection through a series of lampshades and has since expanded the collection to include a timeless linen range. In this episode we chat about her path into upholstery, the satisfaction she garners from what she does, expanding her services and an unusual encounter with a hen!

You’re very welcome to Cork Creative Laure.

[00:01:19] Laure: Thank you for having me Geraldine.

[00:01:21] Geraldine: So can you tell us a little about you, about your journey from studying in Paris to establishing your own upholstery business here in Clonakilt and what motivated you to set up shop here?

[00:01:29] Laure: Okay, so I moved in Ireland in 2014. But before all of that, I did a five years apprenticeship in Paris in upholstery and I was 17 when I started. So in France, you have like different possibilities. You can either go to a general high school or you can do like a specific high school, which I wanted to do. So my best friend was a cabinet maker in this school. It’s a trade school. They have different trades and he was, “oh my god, Laure, you have to come and have a look at the upholstery trade” .  I was okay, I’d go have a look in the school, but they had two different kind of upholstery. There was the furniture upholstery and there was the soft furnishing – for curtains and cushions.

But first they showed me the furniture class, which I was like, Oh my God, I have to do this. But then they were like, oh, go have a look in the other room. It was just a row of sewing machines. And I was like, nope, I don’t want that. Okay. So yeah, then I started my apprenticeship, for five years. Got my two degrees. And then at 21, I was like, okay, I’m not really ready to settle. And all my friends wanted to learn English at the time. I was terrible in school in English. Terrible. But I was like, okay, give it a go. But I didn’t really want to move. Like I wanted to maybe go to London, Dublin, Edinburgh.

And then I was like, well, what’s the point of being in Paris to go to another city? I was like, okay, let’s do something very different. Maybe in the countryside somewhere. Wanted somewhere quiet where I could open my window, not see any buildings. Maybe a farm would be good. Very good. Yeah.

So, yeah, I started to be an au pair in Timoleague just to learn English. I was supposed to be here for four months, but four months wasn’t enough for me to learn English. So I was like, okay, maybe I move to Clonakilty for the summer. Yeah. And then I was like, maybe I stay for Christmas. And it’s 10 years I’m here.

Geraldine: My gosh.

Laure: So, I’m like….

Geraldine:  Your English is perfect.

Laure: Well, no, it’s okay.

Geraldine:  Yeah. It’s very good. Very good.

Laure: I’m not doing bad.

Geraldine: Yeah. Well done.

Laure: Thank you.

[00:04:02] Geraldine: Were you always kind of doing upholstery when, even when you were, say, working as an au pair or?

[00:04:08] Laure: Like I did a few jobs. I worked in Dunnes. I worked in different hotels. And then I was working in the wine bar, Mollys, in Clon. And I really loved it. But I was at a point in my life, I was like, okay, I kind of want to try it was always in the back of my head even before doin my apprenticeship, I was like, I would love to have a little shop somewhere and do my little bits.

So yeah, 27 I was like, okay, maybe I’ll give it a go. Okay.

[00:04:38] Geraldine: Yeah. Very good. Very good. And could you walk us through, so the range of services you provide?

[00:04:44] Laure: So, I try to not do too many, I try to narrow down, but yeah, it would be like upholstery service for couches, armchairs, dining chairs, headboards, window seats, benches.

I love to do smaller items like lampshades, cushions. So yeah, all of those little bits.

[00:05:06] Geraldine: Very good. And you do workshops as well.

[00:05:09] Laure: Yes. Okay. Yes. So I started the workshop in August for August craft month. Again, it was always in the back of my head, but the shop is pretty small. Yeah. So I was like, okay, let’s think about logistic here.

How am I going to make that happen? And then, I found that August craft month was a good opportunity to maybe give it a first go. So yeah, I did it for three weeks in August, Monday to Sunday.

Geraldine: Oh my gosh. Hardcore. Yeah.

Laure: Yeah. I was like, why am I doing this? Yeah. But it was so much fun.

Geraldine: Very good.

Laure: So much fun. Yeah. And really worked well. Yeah. So I was like, okay, well, let’s try to include that in between everything else. Very good. I really love giving classes and courses and just the exchange with people and making them comfortable to do footstool or lampshade or…

[00:06:07] Geraldine: What a great skill to be able to pass onto people.Very good. Very good.

And what aspect of upholstery do you find most fulfilling? Is there a particular type of project that brings you the most satisfaction?

[00:06:17] Laure: I suppose traditional upholstery. So there is two different types of upholstery. There is the modern upholstery with the foam, the glue, which is really fast to do, cheaper to do.

So that has its own kind of thing, which is useful for a certain piece of furniture. But I learned traditional upholstery during my trade and it’s really time consuming, more expensive as well. And it lasts longer, but it’s so satisfying to build something from scratch with, I would say like eco-friendly material, every fabric or cloth I use is natural fibres and yeah, building everything.

[00:07:03] Geraldine: Just to see the final end product, that must be really satisfying,

[00:07:04] Laure: Yeah. Everything is covered, so you won’t see any of the work I’m doing, but it is fun.

[00:07:10] Geraldine: But you know it’s there. Yeah, you know it’s there. Okay. And when working on restoring or redesigning pre loved items, how do you balance preserving their original character with incorporating new and creative elements?

[00:07:24] Laure: Like I would say back in the days, the furniture were well made, so I tried to kind of keep that in mind and incorporating maybe a bit of both of traditional and modern upholstery. So I kind of work with that. And then I would say maybe for the fabric, depending on the era or the style of the arm chair and also the client I would be like…. I try to work with all of that too.

[00:07:53] Geraldine: Okay.

You must be a fairly creative person anyway, would you say?

[00:07:56] Laure: I would say I am. I like to think that.

[00:08:01] Geraldine: Okay, okay. And considering your international background, do you see any cross cultural influences in your work and how does it manifest in your designs or business approach?

[00:08:11] Laure: I don’t really know. I suppose being from Paris, like I would have been surrounded by art a lot, you know, like on the weekend we go to museums and like art is just, even walking down the street, it’s just like all the architecture and so I would say there is a lot of inspiration coming from that all the time and I don’t like limits. I would be like, no, if I have an idea, I have to try to make it happen. Yeah. Oh yeah. That would be the art in general….would be my source of inspiration.

[00:08:49] Geraldine: Very good. Okay.

And can you share a memorable or challenging project that stands out in your upholstery career?

[00:08:54] Laure: Well, I have a non-funny one and a funny one. Okay. Let’s start with the non-funny. So during my second year of apprenticeship, I’ve seen the best furniture possible. Like my boss was just doing luxury pieces of furniture and I’ve learned so much, but it was the hardest because I would say upholstery is a very male trade and having two girls in his workshop was really challenging. And it was really old school, the way of teaching, so it was really like, oh, if you want to be a real upholsterer, you have to put your tack in your mouth because our hammer is magnetic, so it’s going to make you go faster.

I was like, okay, or we have to do some stitches as well and kind of wrap the twine around our hand. But I use a glove now, but at the time I was like, no, you have to bleed if you want to make your hands go stronger. Okay. Or I don’t know, he would be watching all the steps I’m doing on the chair and then just pull up, pull  out everything, but like, no, you have to start again.

Because….you are never going to be a good upholsterer. And I was like, oh my God, what have I done, ? What have I done? Where am I? So that was really challenging. I hated that year, but I learned a lot with him. Okay. I can say that now. At the time I didn’t. But yeah, I would say that was really challenging in my upholstery adventure.

And then the funny story, so I was still working in, the wine bar at the time. So that’s kind of how I went back to upholstery. And this lady was like, Oh, I have this beautiful couch that I would like to upholster. And it belongs to my mom. So I would like to keep it really like traditional and, a good work and keep it in the family after generation and generation.

So a bit of a heirloom. So I was like, Oh yeah, my God, beautiful. That’s the kind of job I love to do. But while I was working on her couch, she came to the room one day and she had like a little pet farm, but she had a hen on her arm and I was like, Oh my God, that’s very cute.

Geraldine: A hen.

Laure: A hen.

Geraldine: Okay. Right.

Laure: She’s like, yes, well, the hen just got attacked by a fox and I know you have needles and thread, so would you be able to stitch her up? I was like, well, I only stitch fabric really, but I can try. So here I’m with the hen, my needle, and all my needles are curved. I don’t know how to stitch with a straight needle.

But they are curved. They’re pretty thick. And even the thread I use is linen, which is pretty thick as well. So the idea of going through a skin … I was like, Oh my gosh. Yeah. I didn’t do it. I couldn’t.

[00:12:06] Geraldine: Like, I didn’t see that story going that way now, if I’m honest. A hen. Wow.

[00:12:09] Laure: Yeah. She had to do it. She had to do it.

Geraldine: Yeah, gosh. Fair

Laure: The hen laid two eggs the next day. So, happy ending.

[00:12:22] Geraldine: A happy ending.  Didn’t see that, that going that direction now, fair play.  My gosh, okay.

And what would be your dream project?

[00:12:27] Laure: My dream project? Oh, how can I pick one? I suppose maybe reupholstering a full castle.

Geraldine: Oh, wow.

Laure: Yeah, yeah. Because I suppose like in a castle you have the era so you have kind of the direction you can work on and include as well the beats and it’s big.

Geraldine: Lots and lots of work to do.

Laure: Lots of furniture and

Geraldine: completely immerse yourself.

Laure: I suppose with a castle you don’t have that much limitation.

[00:13:04] Geraldine: Yeah, exactly.

Laure: So, I like that.

Geraldine: Because I suppose in a normal standard house, you’re restricted in terms of the space and usually the space is quite small. So yeah, okay.That’s understandable. Dream big. Dream big.

Laure: Always.

Geraldine: So you brought out your own home decor collection in 2020. What inspired you to venture into creating your own collection?

[00:13:25] Laure: So a few things. Well, first it was COVID. So COVID had a big impact especially. Before COVID was my first year. So my first year was working in the main street above a craft shop …Little Green Dot. She used to be in the main street. So I was above the shop, like on the very top floor. So bringing furniture up and down for a year, I was like, okay, that’s not going to work.

[00:13:56] Geraldine: No gym membership required here.

[00:13:57] Laure: And the stairs were so narrow, but yeah, I had to start somewhere, so that was fine.

But yeah, I moved to the premises. I am now at the end of 2019 and then three months after there was COVID and everything kind of stopped. So that was really challenging, but between the opening, non-opening, closing, I had to do something because people couldn’t come to me with their furniture anymore.

And I always wanted to create smaller pieces, like I did tote bags and little patches and things like that. But I wanted something that would match the upholstery and the entire kind of world. So, yeah, the lampshades and the cushion came into mind and I was able to pick the fabric.

Geraldine: It was your choice.

Laure: Yeah, that was my choice. Yeah. So that’s how it all kind of started.

[00:14:58] Geraldine: And you’ve never looked back, so it’s great.

[00:15:01] Laure: No. I love doing those.

[00:15:05] Geraldine: So Covid gave you a little bit of an opportunity. Gave you the time and the motivation to maybe do something different.

Laure: Yeah.

Geraldine: Yeah. Very good. Very good. And take us through your creative process when designing a new upholstery piece or creating a piece for your home décor collection.Where do you draw inspiration from and how do you ensure your designs reflect your personal touch?

[00:15:24] Laure: Yeah, so I have to take off everything on a piece. But I suppose on any piece of furniture, what you see is the fabric. So that’s kind of the most important. Obviously comfort – I would be, I would be really particular on the comfort on a piece because you see so many furniture at the moment and ….

[00:15:47] Geraldine: Beautiful, but just so uncomfortable.  What’s the point?

[00:15:48] Laure: You sit on it and  like, Oh my God. Such a disappointment. Yeah. So I like to work with my clients like, okay, you have that many choices of comforts. You can have foam, you can have feathers, you can have that many and you choose what you prefer.

I like to work with that and then fabric. They have the choice, but I like to narrow down and maybe try to get them out of their comfort zone. I’m like, okay, so you have lots of brown in the house. Maybe you don’t have to have your armchair brown, you know? Yes, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. What will work with those colors or what is the color you like, but you’re afraid of, or how can we make that happen?

Geraldine: Yeah, exactly. A little bit different.

Laure: So try to break the limits again.

[00:16:43] Geraldine: Yes. So do you feel like that you try and make it more than what it was before, as in you try and enhance it in some way.

Laure:Yeah. Yeah.

Geraldine:Yeah. And make it almost new to them.

[00:16:54] Laure: Exactly. Yeah. Well, that’s a new piece of furniture. Everything is different.

Yeah. The comfort is different because they choose the comfort they want. They choose the look they want. I suppose also going to an upholsterer….well, there is no point of picking the same thing that you see in a magazine that you can get in a shop. Yeah, yeah. You can get something completely unique to you with your taste and yeah, can pick like a pattern, a plain, a piping, a bottom.

There is anything you want.

[00:17:28] Geraldine: It must be quite an exciting process both for your clients and for you.

[00:17:32] Laure: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And there is no furniture that is the same. Yeah. Exactly. All projects are different. Very cool. Which I love. Yeah. Because I couldn’t do the same thing over and over. Over and over again.

[00:17:43] Geraldine: It would be a bit boring. Okay. Fair enough. Fair enough.

And how do you balance your creative endeavours with the more practical aspects of running a business? Are there any, have you any tips or advice for aspiring entrepreneurs in the creative industry?

[00:17:55] Laure: I don’t know if I’m there yet. I’m still, I suppose that would be maybe, one of my weaknesses that I don’t like to be still for too long.

So I’m always experimenting maybe if like, Oh, I have this idea, let’s do it. And also with years of COVID, like every year is so different that I feel I didn’t adjust just yet.

Gosh, I suppose as early as you can get into your books, keep that up because yeah, that would be the other side of having a business, all the un fun part of it.

[00:18:45] Geraldine: It just has to get done. So yeah. Okay. Just stick at it.

[00:18:47] Laure: Keep an eye on the numbers.

Geraldine: Keep an eye on the numbers, that’s a good one.  

And how do you see the role of upholstery and interior design evolving in the coming years? And how do you plan to adapt to these changes?

[00:18:59] Laure: Well, I’m always kind of coming back and forth of when you want to buy something, because we are in a society where you want to have everything very fast.

So you go to the shop, you buy, you have it. But you don’t really know actually what you have. Like the fabric that they use is really… there’s a lot of chemicals and even the material they use is very nocive. That would be a French word.

But I think everyone is kind of coming back to quality or preloved item, whether it’s furniture or clothes.

So I think we’re slowly going back to that. And I really hope that bigger brands would put their feet in and be like, okay, well, all our fabric is recycled fabric. All the wood we use is produced in our own country or, you know, I really hope that that would go that way. And how would I adapt? I still do my bits, I suppose.

And yeah, teach people to do their own thing.

[00:20:12] Geraldine: Well I suppose you do quite a sustainable thing anyway, you know, and it’s almost like…Upholstery and what you do has been around for a long, long time. So it probably will be around for a long, long time yet to come. And as you say, people are kind of going back to those more traditional type of things and quality, you know, preloved items, vintage items, be it furniture or clothes, you know, people are, are realizing that fast fashion probably isn’t the best thing, you know? So yeah, I think you’ve, you’ve made a good point there. Yeah. Okay.

And how do you envisage the evolution of Elle Amie in the coming years?

What’s next for you?  

[00:20:53] Laure: That’s always the question. Okay. So I think it’s an upholsterer thing, that space would be always the problem. I never have enough space. The shop is always too small, but then if I go bigger, I think I’ll have the same problem. But yeah, a bigger place would be nice. And then yeah, by started to do this teaching in the summer, it really brings so much energy and exchanging with people is just, it’s just gold.

So if I could, maybe go down that road a bit more, that’d be great, but I’m still, I’m still figuring things out.

[00:21:45] Geraldine: That’s good. That’s good. There’s nothing wrong with that either. Very good. Very good.

[00:21:47] Laure: But I’m always excited for, what’s coming next.

Geraldine: Yeah. Watch this space. Yes. Very good. Very good. Thank you so much, Laure, for joining us on the Cork Creative Podcast. If you want to learn more about Elle Amie and what Laura does, you can find links on