Name: France Colignon
Home is… Bondi, NSW
What do you do? Founder, Head Buyer and Marketing Director of Cosette
Since its launch in 2014, Cosette has already been crowned an exclusive destination for premium fashion items. Explain the journey, from the idea to the creation of Cosette and it’s growth in such a short amount of time…
When I moved to Sydney from Paris, I found it very frustrating to have such a small choice amongst high-end designer collections from international brands. In addition to this, the existing luxury market was monopolised by a hand-full of retailers distributing these brands at unreasonable prices in comparison to those found in Europe.
By taking advantage of the season inversion between Europe and Australia, I realised we were able to purchase all of the overstock from European distributors and bring them to Australia for very competitive prices.
I called my relatives, who have been involved in the fashion industry for many generations, as well as other contacts I have in the luxury fashion circle to look into buying European overstock. The reaction was very enthusiastic and they immediately introduced me to well established department stores and boutiques who are thrilled to sell overstock so far away, geographically from their main marketplace.
After this. I locked in contracts with my wonderful suppliers and raised funds to order my first purchase of stock and Cosette was born!
My business partner and I decided to open our first store in the Sydney CBD in proximity of other high-end luxury brand boutiques to make sure buyers of the same interest came to Cosette. The strategy was a success as only 3 months after the opening of the first store, we opened a second one and a third one 5 months after!
Having such a good selection of luxury fashion at very competitive prices is a revolution in Australia. I love what I do and I am so excited each time I fly back from Europe with the thought that I am bringing back so many jewels to Australia.
As a successful entrepreneur, what is your biggest advice to young, budding businesswomen?
Be confident, trust yourself and do something that you love.
For the rest, I’ve realised you learn as you go.
What’s your signature look?
I don’t see myself having a signature look; I much prefer to dress for my mood. I tend to mix feminine pieces with boyish silhouettes. You’ll often catch me in skinny trousers, ankle boots and a floaty, oversized blouse.
What do you miss most about Paris? What do you love most about Sydney?
I miss early mornings spent in Parisian cafes, waking up with an espresso and the newspaper and afternoons spent on the Saint Martin Canal with friends, chatting with a glass of fresh rose.
In Sydney, I love the beautiful weather, friendly people and beach lifestyle. I’m living in North Bondi and it’s so peaceful, healthy and inspiring – I couldn’t see myself living anywhere else!
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for work?
During my second buying trip in Milan I ended up having a private viewing of the Dolce & Gabanna collection to hand select items for Cosette. It was the most surreal, positive experience!
Who is your current style muse?
For me, Alexa Chung is the exact definition of a modern muse. She’s groovy and oh-so-clever and not afraid to take risks with her style. I especially love the dungarees in her fashion line – effortless and cool.
What has been your biggest fashion blunder?
I once wore a pair of bright yellow pants paired back with red Converse. It was color blocking at its worst.
What’s on the top of your fashion lust-list at the moment?
Definitely the Hermes Birkin, it’s a timeless classic and I have such a penchant for a good handbag.
Describe your typical day…
I’ve never considered myself a “morning person”. In Paris I would get up as late as possible, skip breakfast and rush into the day. Since moving to Sydney, I’ve quit being a night owl and now start the day with a run on the beach or yoga, followed by a coffee while reading the newspaper or a quick catch up with a friend. It’s a much more productive way to start the day!
After this, no day in the office is ever the same. I usually spend a few hours in the morning on email to various fashion houses in Europe, our stores and suppliers. I usually try to take 20 minutes for a lunch break and always eat from Thomas Dux or Farm Fresh and then enjoy lunch on our beautiful roof top in Paddington.
My afternoons are a mix of meetings with various wholesalers, our PR agency and our Cosette stores in Double Bay, MLC and The Rocks. I usually end my workday with a Skype call to Paris and then head home to relax with my boyfriend and cook dinner, or go to a friends or restaurant for some well deserved down time!
What and where would your last supper be?
It would have to be at Le Germain, the restaurant at the corner of where I used to live in Saint Germain Des Pres in Paris. I used to go there so often it feels like a second home and their ‘coquillettes, Jambon, Truffe’ (pasta, ham, truffle) is to die for!
Ultimate top five handbags?
That’s a hard question. It would have to be the Céline Trapeze Plain Black, Balenciaga City Tote, Vanessa Bruno Large Cabas, Jeyrome Dreyffus cross-body & Chanel Matelassé. They’re all classic, timeless and chic!
What do your friends always comment on about you?
I always get asked where my shoes are from! I hate to say this, but I buy seasonal pairs of shoes from ASOS as affordable extras to top up my wardrobe. Shoes are my weakness, I can never have too many!