We are obsessed with French mamas and French-born artist Chloe Fleury is no exception. Inspired by her kids and the colorful city she lives in, San Francisco-based paper artist, Chloe Fleury produces the most beautiful and unique nursery art that you ever did see. She is not only a talented artist and natural beauty, but she is also the most amazing mama to her daughters, 3-year-old Lula and 10-month-year-old Anouk.
Finding artwork that is not overly 'cute' for your baby's nursery can be tough, but Chloe Fleury has us covered. Her paper trophies are the perfect balance between cute and chic. They are able to transform any space into a wonderland for inspiration. Here, Chloe invites us into her colorful San Francisco apartment and chats about how she does her best to raise happy, healthy humans while staying true to her career and passion for travel. Get ready to be seriously inspired.
1. Tell us a little bit about what you do and about raising Lula & Anouk …
I am a french illustrator/prop stylist/paper artist based in San Francisco. I have 2 daughters: Lula, 3 years old and Anouk 10 months old.
2. What does healthy living mean to you? How does that influence how you raise your girls?
With two children I recently understood that healthy living for me means getting some time for myself to relax. I used to work every time I could get a chance, when girls were napping or at night but I became so stressed and tired that it made me realize how important it is for me to take a break even if it's just an hour or less, it can be reading a book, go for a mani/pedi or a massage at the spa, meet up with friends for lunch...and most importantly taking a nap!
3. How did you end up in San Francisco? Why are you leaving San Francisco for Sayulita, Mexico! Tell us everything!
I first came to San Francisco on vacation with my parents when I was 10 and fell in love with the city. I always told myself that I would come back and live here. It’s been 8 years now and I am so ready for some change, to explore a new city, and get new inspiration.
My husband and I went to Sayulita, Mexico for the first time a couple years ago with our daughter Lula when she was about 8 months old. Again, I fell in love with this adorable and colorful little Mexican town and the first thing I told my husband was that I could live here. 2 years later, between 2 jobs for my husband, we decided to take a 6 month break in Sayulita prior to moving to LA!
4. You have taken your girls on some really incredible vacations. What has been your favorite place so far? Any tips for traveling with two littles?
Sayulita, first, with Lula, our happy place! The beach, fish tacos, colorful little houses! I seriously can’t wait to be back there in a couple weeks with our 2 girls this time! And then I went to Greece last summer with Lula and my family, while pregnant with Anouk. We went to this beautiful island called Paros. It was so great, it was a real vacation.
The beach is Lula’s happy place! When I didn’t have kids, I always wanted to go explore a new city, walk for hours, go to a museum, shop, enjoy the nightlife….I was a city girl. Since having kids, “vacation” has a new meaning. It needs to be a place where we can all relax and where the girls don’t have to be stuck in their stroller for hours because we are visiting. Lula needs to run, Anouk needs to crawl, explore…one of the reasons we like little towns like Sayulita and Paros. It is easy with the kids and everyone can enjoy it.
Since having Anouk, we’ve only been to Europe. I traveled with both girls without my husband. It was really hard and intense because of flight delays, missed connections, spending the night at the hotel to catch another flight in the morning, and then on the way back having the bad surprise that I did not have a bassinet for Anouk. After this bad experience and first time traveling by myself with two littles, my tip is, don’t fly by yourself! Other than that, think about simple things like the essentials for your kids. Ours are stickers, books, bunny doll, snacks, and iPad for Lula to make the flight easier. For Anouk, I pack snacks, a teether, a pacifier, and her bunny doll.
5. Is traveling regularly important to you? How do you find the time to travel and also maintain your own business?
It is so important for inspiration! I am lucky to have my own business so I can manage my time and be able to decide when I want and can go on vacation. Even though I work with paper, making sculptures/props big things that can’t really travel, there are some parts of my business that I can do from anywhere like answering emails, editing photos, searching for ideas and getting inspired.
6. Where do you find inspiration?
In travels, nature, fashion, my girls, and the kid's world in general.
6. You have created a brand for yourself that transcends into every avenue of what you do, from the clothes you wear, to the way you decorate your house and to the way you dress the girls. Can you tell us more about your style and why it is important to you to have everything be cohesive?
Thank you ;). As much as I love all neutral, white interiors, colors make me feel good and happy. It has always been very important to me to create an atmosphere/decor to live in. I grew up in a colorful and modern house. My parents love interior design. I spent a lot of time as a child in design shops and flea markets, so I am very sensitive to decoration. I want a home that is cozy, happy, and welcoming. I love fashion and I am just having so much fun dressing the girls! A little too much is what my husband would tell you...
7. Did you always know you wanted to be a paper artist? How difficult was it for your to leave the agency you were at to start your own gig? How did you know it was the “right” time? Any advice?
I think I’ve always wanted to be an illustrator. Finding my own style took time, it really happened when I arrived in San Francisco. I was so inspired by the bright colored houses that I started making miniature ones out of solid color papers. However, I loved working with paper for as long as I can remember. When I was a child I would always make paper boxes, cards, and origamis. Then I discovered stop-motion animation and I really enjoyed creating little worlds out of paper to be animated. Transforming a flat sheet of paper into a three-dimensional sculpture and bringing it to life is just magical. Leaving the agency was mostly challenging because of my visa situation. At that time, I didn’t have a green card, but a working visa for which I needed to be sponsored by a company. So it took some time to figure things out, but I knew from the beginning that one day I would do my own thing. After 2 years in an agency, I was more than ready. I just couldn’t stand being at a desk from 9 to 5 working on a computer anymore. I needed to use my hands, do something more creative. I knew exactly what I wanted to do, what I was passionate about (clearly not designing web banners and websites). So every night and on weekends, I was working on side projects to build my portfolio and get noticed to attain my first clients. Thanks to features on blogs, they came really fast.
8. What is your absolute favorite activity to do with the girls?
I love being outside, exploring the city, nature, going on beach walks, or hikes in the forest. Lula has so much energy that we can’t keep her inside, she needs to run and explore. Anouk is only 10 months old and almost ready to walk. She is an adventurer too!
Story time is one of my favorite things too. Since wanting to be an illustrator, I have been collecting beautiful children books so I am having a lot of fun rediscovering them with the girls and getting new ones too, can’t stop myself! I like making voices when reading and really getting into the story so the girls follow along. If you don’t put the tone, they just go away and play with their toys, so it’s kind of a fun challenge to really make them listen and I love it! I love seeing them laugh, touch the book, open the paper windows, turn the pages, hide under the blanket and say “Encore! Encore!”
And the one thing I really can’t wait for is to do craft projects with them. I started with Lula and it’s getting fun because she is more patient now to do these kinds of things: collages, drawing, making cardboard houses to paint and put stickers on… same with cooking!
9. Are there any ways you are encouraging the girls to be creative and potentially follow in your footsteps?
For now I just let them be, explore, try things...but of course, I like to show them what inspires me: my love for colors and design.
10. How, if at all, did Motherhood influence you as a working artist? How are you able to balance Motherhood and life as a working artist?
Motherhood has inspired me. I am really into the kid's world now. I love creating new products for nurseries and doing prop styling for kids' shoots. Finding the right balance is definitely a challenge. It is hard to not feel guilty when I am working instead of spending time with the girls. It is also hard not to think about my work when I am with the girls. Some days I feel like I can manage everything, some days are harder. It is nice to work for myself. I can manage my own schedule and be more flexible for the girls, but it’s also hard because I am working from home so it is difficult not to mix everything. I try to work when they are napping or playing. I am kind of constantly thinking about my work. However, I want to focus 100% on my girls when I am with them and 100% on my work when they are with the nanny or at school.
12. Apparently, French mothers have this whole motherhood thing down. Any top secret French mom tips you can offer? Or simply the best advice you have ever been given?
Haha, no, no tips, but the best advice is just to not follow advice. Just be natural and follow your heart. I feel like mums here are reading too many books/guides on parenthood.