In 2012, Elvire Laurent and-Cerise Lichtlé had a very clever idea. Inspired by training as graphists and illustrators, the two friends imagined giant illustrated posters of cities to be coloured as a family.
Easy for sure, yet nobody had though of it before. The success story of OMY (pronounced Oh My) was launched. Paris, New York, Tokyo, the cosmos, the world of pirates or zombies… the concept can be pursued to the infinite. Far from being limited to the universe of children, the designers developed other products such as embroidered bracelets and paper pearls to compose their necklaces. More surprises are on their way.
Your colouring posters launched OMY. Where did you get the idea ?
After 5 years spent in our graphics agency helping others bringing to life their projects, we felt a little bored. Having become young mothers, we felt like doing things that appealed to us and that did not exist, such a space of freedom and creation in the house where everyone could express themselves, not just the kids.
At the time, colouring products were mostly A4-format notebooks with Batman and Spiderman ! So we imagined a imagined a giant fresco to be personalized using our graphics.
Ok, but how did you get launched ?
We had the good idea at the right moment. Publishers were starting to dust off colouring with the first mandalas notebooks for adults, but the graphics were not great. What we were offering did not exist. Our network of friends and acquaintances helped us a lot. We very quickly participated in trendy events and things started speeding up with Maison & Objet, when the buyer of Merci placed an order. And when you are sold at Merci, you are spotted by buyers from around the world.
You started out your first agency right out of school, without experience. A repeat?
We would do everything again the same way. We began creating our logos in the small maid’s room of Elvire, without any experience nor internships in a company. In the world of graphics and illustration, it’s very common to branch out as an independent. Furthermore, our parents started their own companies, they passed down to us a taste for entrepreneurship
You must have made a few mistakes at the beginning...
Of course. For example, during out first Maison & Objet fair, we did not even have purchase order forms ! We had to work with Excel, define a margin, establish sales. We learned a lot directly on the job. And that’s also what we like on a daily basis. Having started out as graphic artists, we became company managers, commercials, logistics handlers… We handled all the tasks of the company, which enabled us to pinpoint each person’s mission.
Did you seek help ?
At the beginning, we fended by ourselves, gathering information on internet, but very quickly we needed help because there were many things we could not handle such as the accounting of the commercial aspects..
Our advice? Before hiring full time staff that costs a lot in terms of social expenses, a company is better of hiring well chosen consultants, who give pertinent advice and charge start up fees.
You have been friends and partners for a long time, do you feel invaded on a daily basis?
Our lives are particularly synchronized. Since meeting on the benches of the Arts Déco school, we never separated. We encountered both our husbands at the same moment, they were also friends, we had out children at the same time, they go in the same school. We live only one street apart, see each other on the weekend and go on holiday together ! We always end up talking shop, but it never lasts very long .
You have just launched skin stickers. Please explain your creative process.
Our basic rule is doing things we feel like and need. For the skin stickers, everything started off with Mia, Elvire’s daughter, who had covered herself with decals one week-end. Impossible to peel them off without damaging her skin. We wanted to find another system, after some research we found face stickers We adapted the idea with our graphics. And since we like the idea that people appropriate themselves our creations, the stickets were conceived to be assembled.
Do you know the syndrome of the blank page ?
It can happen when we are preoccupied by figures or company management issues. In which case we take a step back..
To avoid this, we strive to give ourselves time outside the office. Like a 20 minute stroll around Paris—this enables us to be inspired, to find new ideas.
How do you manage to balance everything ?
Our offices are only 5 minutes from our houses and the schools, the perimeter is super right, it was a choice. We save lot of rime in the morning with the kids and in the evening at work. It changes everything.
Your children must be your first fans !
They are very supportive, especially when they can test the products before everyone else ! We are adamant about transmission. When we were little, we went to see our parents at work. We are happy it is once again taking place today. Our kids are happy to see their mothers working.
OMY, Papier Tigre, Maison Kerzon, Macon & Lesquoy, is there a French Touch emergence in terms of graphics ?
It’s true that French creation exports very well internationally, strangers watch us a lot. There is strong osmosis between us. Each year we see each other at Maison & Objet, we all know each other—it even leads to collaborations.
How to explain it ? Right now there are is a focus on creation in France. Paris is very inspiring, there are many restaurants with various influences, cultural news are super dynamic.
More info on OMY.
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