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Why and how I started French Bull

by Jackie Shapiro November 18, 2016

Why and how I started French Bull

In the 3rd quarter of 2001 things were shifting.

 

I had committed to moving out of NYC - ( my husband Ronnie's idea ) His " let's try a change" spin turned my die-hard NYC girl attitude into mush and I was game. The economy was in trouble - & then ..... 9/11.

 

The house we were moving into had a bunch of formica surfaces throughout that needed updating. Roger Whitehouse of Roger Whitehouse Design turned me on to Wilson Art to make custom formica sheets in any pattern I designed.  I made a few occasional tables and a bathroom counter.

 

Here's a picture of my formica powder room counter.

 

formica, powder room, counter

My patterns were selling nicely & popping up on lots of products. I was getting antsy to give things a go on my own.  The tables inspired me. I learned that the pattern application for the tables was similar to a process applied to tableware.  I discovered Melamine plates and found a factory to make some samples for me.

 

Here's a photo of me with the owner of the factory Harriet Lee. She and I still work together.

 

factory visit, Harriet Lee

At the time, melamine was a sleepy material that hadn't been relevant since it's hey day in the 1950's /60's. I was psyched to introduce it to a new generation with a cheery face, and called the company French Bull.

 

My friend Marilyn Rodan came up with the name. My first customer was Kevin Bryan of Dot zero, & then of Myxplyzyk fame - It was a beautiful store in the West Village NYC. Kevin introduced me to Jesse James of Keena the New York branch of a west coast rep group to sell the collection to retailers. 

 

In January of 2002 French Bull became a brand introduced by Keena at the NY Gift Show.

 

Here's a photo of the French Bull collection in Keena's showroom.

 

showroom, Keena

Upbeat energy is all I care about -  I love entertaining - not dishes. Melamine was a low cost entry point for me which is why I started with the material - but I want to make everything.

 




Jackie Shapiro
Jackie Shapiro

Author




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