Constance and Manou are a mother-daughter duo who own and run Auguste et Cocotte, a popular Lyon-based lifestyle boutique that stocks beautiful French fashion and homewares. Filled with locally sourced goods like ceramics, wicker baskets, furniture and throws, it is an exciting destination for any design lover.
We sat down with them – tune into our conversation below!
How long have you owned Auguste et Cocotte, and how did it all begin?
Constance: We opened Auguste et Cocotte in November 2013, when I had a change in work and my mother Manou moved to Lyon.
Why did you choose to work together?
Manou: I was a lawyer for 20 years, and Constance worked in advertising sales. Constance fancied a change in career, and I, a shopkeeper’s daughter, had always dreamed of opening up my own boutique. Rather impulsively, yet also rather naturally, we decided it would be a good business to start together.
How did you find the big space that you have today?
Manou: Originally, our boutique was at 20 rue Auguste Comte. We later sold that location to the Parisian homeware brand Caravane in order to take over this amazing spot at 16 rue Auguste Comte, which actually was a former butcher’s shop. We wanted to stay on the street where we started out—the one that made us famous—and with our fellow shopkeepers. We loved the big, stone facade and being in front of the beautiful Sainte-Blandine church. We removed the false ceilings and walls of the butcher’s cold room and kept the original kitchen tiles and meat hooks. The raw aesthetic and authenticity of the place was an instant “yes” for us!
Is Lyon a good place to be based? Do you use local connections to source products, or is your research on a more international scale?
Constance: Lyon is a great city, popular with both the French and tourists because of its geographical situation and, of course, its amazing food. We work with many local creatives, so the location is an asset for us and for our clients. We value good relations with our suppliers, and the proximity helps. That said, we also go beyond our borders when we really like a product. We don’t have any constraints… we only stock what we truly love.
Are you complementary in your work? Who does what?
Constance: Usually we are in agreement, which is a real blessing. We buy products together and have the same taste. The only exception is perfume!
Manou: I handle the bookkeeping—I love paperwork and it brings out my old, lawyerly side. Constance manages our relationships with stockists. The key to our working relationship is a good separation of tasks.
Is it difficult for you to separate your roles as colleagues and as mother and daughter? It must be hard not to talk about work all the time!
Constance: Maman and I get on really well, and it’s very rare that we argue. We respect each other’s flaws with a bit of laughter and a lot of rib-poking! It’s important to have the best possible working environment, so that each day is a real pleasure. Of course, there’s a lot of “shop talk,” which the rest of the family sometimes complains about, but the subject is decor and fashion, so they’re rather nice subjects.
Have there been many difficult moments over the course of this adventure?
Constance: It would be lying to say it’s been smooth sailing all the way, but the bad memories disappear quickly and leave behind lessons and projects in their place. I think it’s Maman’s greatest quality, that even at 60, nothing spooks her! On the contrary, we choose to move confidently towards the future rather than looking back.
Today, Auguste et Cocotte has a great variety of products. At the beginning, how did you decide which genre you were going to focus on?
Constance: Our credo has always been to sell things that we love, so we buy as if decorating our own homes. There are no limits to our favorite products, but when we love something, we stay faithful to it. We have maintained relationships with designers and brands since 2013 without straying too far.
Do other members of your family contribute to the boutique?
Manou: Of course, it’s a family business at heart! My husband, Stéphane (Constance’s father), helps us out a lot with any electrical issues, shelf stocking and heavy lifting. He also designed all of the shop’s furniture. Thanks to customer demand, we now also offer our own made-to-measure furniture brand, with pieces in wood, metal and marble.
What are your ambitions/projects/dreams for Auguste et Cocotte?
Constance: Never run out of breath! It’s important to stand back, take stock and reinvent. We love to surprise our clients as much as possible.
And yes, there are lots of projects coming down the pipeline, but we are very superstitious… so mum’s the word until they’re done and dusted!
All photography by © Constance Chavet
16 Rue Auguste Comte, 69002 Lyon
This article was originally published in the September/October 2020 edition of My French Country Home.