“One of our big motivations,” explains Chris, “was that we wanted to buy and sell products which we had sourced ourselves. We needed to completely understand those products so that we could speak confidently to customers, and be proud of what we were selling.
“We both appreciate modern design and thought there was a significant gap in the market, particularly in Horsham. We were keen to offer something that couldn’t be found elsewhere on the high street. We tend to buy what we truly like and our enthusiasm is clear when talking to our customers.”
Sylvie has an extensive background in retail and worked for Printemps, Paris’ major department store, for many years, taking on key roles managing departments and even the store’s in-house magazine. Running her own business was a natural progression for her.
Attending shows in Europe is a vital part of the job. The pair sometimes have a specific shopping list, for example one year they may be sourcing high gloss furniture, while the next something completely different. “We’re currently looking for bar stools, “says Chris. “And of course accessories and items for the coming Christmas season.”
What process do they tend to follow on their international shopping expeditions?
“The first thing that strikes us is how a piece of furniture actually looks. The next question is where was it made? Then we’re all over it like a rash,” Chris laughs.
“Sylvie has an incredible eye for detail, so will be looking at quality and finish. I’m a bit of a nightmare, because I’ll be looking in all of the drawers to see what type of fittings are used; we are at the higher end of the market, so the quality we put our name to has to be absolutely right.”
The range of furniture at La Source clearly demonstrates the couple’s dedication. You’ll find everything from the sleekest of sofas, beautiful mirrors, and imaginative lighting, to stylish outdoor tables and loungers.
Chris and Sylvie’s commitment will extend to observing a piece being made, so that they can fully understand everything that goes into the process. They are just as scrupilous when it comes to exporting the goods. If a customer has to wait six weeks for an order, it must arrive in perfect condition. But how do they define the ‘look’ of their brand?
“It’s a bit instinctive. We know the high street, but we’re attracted to unusual designs which are also very practical. One of Sylvie’s great talents is in the presentation of our showroom and within moments of seeing a piece, she’ll be thinking how it can best be displayed.”
The shop is open seven days a week, but it’s often difficult to predict what the busiest day will be. Chris believes this is because consumers have far less leisure time these days.
“But we’ve overcome this by offering a personal service. If people are pressed for time, we’ll always visit them in their homes. We spend as much time in other people’s houses as we do in our own. It helps build trust.”
La Source has some big plans for the year ahead, which involve adding more services to their already impressive portfolio of services.
“I can’t tell you what those are yet,” teases Chris, “but they’ll be worth waiting for. Watch this space…”