Léa Zana founder of Vaiselle Boutique

Vaiselle (meaning dishes in French) was launched during lockdown, bringing joy to kitchen tables everywhere. We met founder Léa Zana for whom business is booming.

What led you to set up Vaiselle? 

I had worked in retail for years, firstly in Paris and then moving to Spain to work for Zara. I relocated to London 9 years ago for a job at Topshop, later moving to ASOS. I was working in footwear design, a business that is actually quite difficult as there are so many processes involved. I had always loved ceramics, something instilled in me from my grandmother and I felt the time was right to set up my own brand. I made plans during the first lockdown, and as soon as I could I flew to Andalusia in Spain and spent a month there sourcing the very best team of makers. I launched the business in September 2020.

You mention your grandmother, where does you inspiration come from?

I am from a family of girls. Setting the table was always a big deal at home. My grandmother grew up in the 1930’s and for her it was incredibly important, a moment of humanity and safety. At her house things were always beautifully presented, she would lay out a tablecloth and use specific cutlery for different dishes, a tiny butter knife, a certain fork for the melon etc. I suppose I am continuing that sense of care and attention whilst at the same time modernising it and having fun with it.

What’s the design process like?

I design all the products myself, from the shape to the patterns and colours. They are then handmade by artisans in Andalusia in small batches.

How has Brexit affected your business?

To be honest it has been hell. When you are importing it is a real challenge in terms of the added fees and the VAT on those fees. It’s definitely been my biggest challenge since starting the brand.

You’re now stocked in Liberty, which is a huge achievement. How did it feel?

Yes it was complete dream when the buyer approached me via Instagram. My collection landed 2 weeks’ ago, I just can’t wait to go into the store and see it when we’re allowed. It’s a childhood dream come true.

What are your plans for the collection?

I plan to keep it small and retain the shapes but play with new colours and prints. I want my customers to be able to build up their own collection.

What’s your bestseller?

The number one is the Oily Baby in red gingham. The colour is really bright, and actually it’s quite hard to find those type of olive oil bottles in the UK. My lilac and red Genie in a Bottle vase (below right) is also a huge hit. People can’t seem to get enough of it.

You’ve said you’re a terrible cook…

I am! I am terrible. With lockdown it’s Deliveroo all the way. At least with my plates I can make it look pretty.

Where are you from in France?

The countryside in South West France near Bordeaux. I then went to Paris to study, I miss it a lot.

Where do you go to find a French fix in London?

Maison Puget in Notting Hill. It’s a properly traditional French boulangerie-patisserie and it’s just amazing. The people who run it are all French. Their English is terrible. It’s not bourgeoise, it’s just like you would find in a French village. And their cakes are incredible – and big!

I also love Brasserie Zedel in Soho. It reminds me of Paris. The food is not fancy, but it’s what you’d actually eat in France. The bread is delicious. The chocolate mousse is to die for. And it’s got that great atmosphere too with the live jazz.

Where will you be going first when lockdown lifts?

Barcelona to see my Mum. I haven’t seen her for a year and a half. As soon as I can, I’ll go there.

 

Note: until Monday 29th March you can get 10% the following Bon Appetit Serving plate, was £65, now £58.50

— Daisy Allsup
10th March 2021

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