Excerpted from Vogue Online.
With their shared expertise in life’s finer things, gastronomy insider Maggie Frerejean-Taittinger and top model Constance Jablonski have turned their long friendship into a thriving business partnership. Inspired to create their luxury bubbles alternative based on their own experiences, French Bloom takes fashion’s socializing culture and rebottles it to be more inclusive.During her pregnancy, Frerejean-Taittinger wanted to sip on something that still felt a little special. When she wasn’t able to find a high-end alternative, she found herself at a loss at client dinners for her work managing the international development of the Michelin Guide. “For the first time in my life I felt what it could feel like to be excluded from the celebratory toasts at friends’ weddings, a bit on the side during the apero at sunset with friends during summer holiday, a bit awkward at gallery openings with water or even worse, nothing in my hand,” she shares. Former Vogue Arabia cover model Jablonski found the fashion world’s busy events and party calendar detrimental to her health and personal life, leading her to cut down on her own intake. “It’s difficult working long days – hello, 6am call times – traveling, and fighting jetlag, while socializing every night to network, and letting off some steam with friends in the industry,” she explains. “I saw first-hand as a model the prevalence in the industry, and it was something I struggled with.” “To put it short, she couldn’t wear all the hats that society expects of many of us today, and celebrate during every night out,” adds Frerejean-Taittinger.After teaming up with Frerejean-Taittinger’s husband, Rodolphe, CEO and founder of Frerejean Freres, and Carl Heline, former head of LVMH’s Krug, French Bloom was born. Halal-certified, vegan, and without added sugar, preservatives or sulphites, the resulting two launches, French Bloom Blanc and French Bloom Rosé, offer a sophisticated alternative to sweetened juices.The two founders share with Vogue Arabia how they balance their friendship with business, and how French Bloom can still honor the traditional sourcing practices.
Vogue Arabia: How did you initially meet?
Constance Jablonski: We met in New York City about 15 years ago via mutual friends. Our friendship is the perfect mix of a US and French; we both lived in both countries for more than a decade and have a special love for each one of them. Thanks to our similar background in the luxury industry – fashion for me, gastronomy for Maggie – we understand each other. It’s so nice to have a friend to whom I don’t need to explain myself all the time and who just gets me. I think we also complement each other really well; my weaknesses are her strong assets and vice versa.Maggie Frerejean-Taittinger: Constance and I go way, way back. We met in New York City during a time when we were both busy building our respective careers, while making the most of the social scene and the many openings, dinners and after-parties. We both quickly understood that in a city like New York, if you don’t take care of your health, the speed of the city can eat you up. For this reason, we became Pilates buddies, always striving for balance, while making a point to connect and catch up as much as possible. That’s what I love about Constance, in friendship and business, she’s someone who invests fully in anything she does. She doesn’t just put her foot in the water and check the temperature, she’s a ‘dive in there’ and embrace it kind of girl. And she’s been doing that for our friendship for over a decade; investing and making an effort to keep it strong, and for that I’m grateful. Our friendship is built upon the shared belief that friendships and social links with loved ones are a major priority.
What sparked the idea for French Bloom?
CJ: When Maggie became pregnant with her twins, she suddenly felt really excluded from our social gatherings, we would all be together while she didn’t have any options to make her feel like she was a part of the crowd. That’s when we realized that it should be more inclusive. We are really trying to open up the circle with French Bloom.MFT: French Bloom first came to life more than four years ago. At that time, I was responsible for the international development of the Michelin Guide, traveling the world and discovering new and exciting cuisines and dynamic food scenes, when I learned I was pregnant with twins. I was and I continue to be someone who understands and appreciates the importance of food pairings, and the complementary nature of the artfully worked dishes in front of me and the refreshment accompanying it. For me, they go together. And suddenly, I was at loss at what to have while at client dinners in starred restaurants. I shared this feeling with Constance, who for other reasons had also started to decrease her consumption. Constance found that she simply couldn’t keep up with all that was expected of her – with a highly successful career as a fashion model, travel, keeping up with her friendships and relationships, and maintaining her own mental and physical health.
What is French Bloom’s philosophy?
CJ: French Bloom is really about bringing people together regardless of their religion, age, gender, health. Our bubbles alternative redefines the codes of celebration. It’s also giving the opportunity to everyone to be the best version of themselves at work and within their social lives without sacrificing their own health.MFT: We are convinced that people are looking for more inclusive, bonding and long-lasting celebrations.
Talk us through the work that went into creating French Bloom?
MFT: Our starting point was to take the knowhow of French savoir-faire, and pair it with the latest innovations. We spent more than two years on R&D and over 70 iterations to finally release our two organic cuvees with 0.0%, Le Blanc and Le Rosé, which provide two unique flavor profiles but with a familiar character and heart between the two. We use organic natural ingredients to build that flavor architecture, like organic lemon, to develop character and mouthfeel. We never add sugar, we don’t have sulphites or conservatives, we work almost as in naturopathy to achieve the final product. The end result is an alternative to bubbles with a natural nose, nothing synthetic, and lots of flavor, and a very clean finish.
Celebrations are never-ending in the fashion and luxury worlds, how is French Bloom covering this space?
CJ: Being in the fashion world means having strong networks with the creatives around you, and making connections has always being associated with ‘cheersing’. In addition, I think we all associate bubbles with celebration, so French Bloom is perfectly suitable to celebrate special occasions. Our bottles were also made with care, we wanted the bottle to look as beautiful as our bubbles are delicious. It is a bottle you are proud to show and offer, you can display it on your table.MFT: What I’m seeing more and more around the world is an understanding that not having alternatives is becoming discriminatory. It is no longer acceptable at company events, luxury stores or large-scale events, to not have elegant and festive options for everyone in the room, not just the majority. And French Bloom accomplishes just that. We have an organic, halal-certified, zero-proof French product for everyone.
How will French Bloom appeal to women in the Middle East?
CJ: I think our products speak for themselves. French Bloom gives you the opportunity to celebrate memorable occasions such as weddings, baby showers, birthdays and many others without excluding anyone. French Bloom helps you keep your lifestyle choices without losing the quality and premium of special moments. Because the Middle East is a place where we celebrate many traditions, French Bloom definitely has its place.
What’s next for French Bloom?
CJ: We have new formats and a few other tricks up our sleeves, stay tuned!MFT: We’ve had the first alternative partnership at Coachella, with French Bloom sold on festival grounds. We then had the Cannes Film Festival, being served at the famed Terrase of Albane Cleret, then went to Dubai where we were chosen as the preferred alternative served at the Michelin Guide Dubai Awards and Gala. We also have French Bloom served by the glass throughout Dubai in incredible establishments including the Bvlgari Resort, SLS Dubai Hotel & Residences, BOCA, 11 Woodfire, St. Regis, and more. We believe that this genre is here to stay, and we feel privileged to be a small part of making events, restaurants, and celebrations more inviting for everyone.
How do you successfully manage the simultaneous friendship and business partner relationships?
CJ: We don’t necessarily overthink it; we just try our best to communicate as much as possible, tell each other when things are good but also when they are not working. We are trying to be honest with one another, but knowing each other for so long is honestly a perk. You can pick up on the many non-verbal cues from the other and quickly know each other’s feelings.MFT: We leverage the many years of friendship to communicate sincerely and listen actively. Neither of us bring ego into the project or meetings, and for me that is everything I didn’t find in my past careers, and it is something I appreciate deeply. The history we have allows us to know how to push each other up and work together in a complementary, and constructive way. We also make sure to start each week with friendship time, catching up on what’s happening within our family and personal life as we are both mothers now, and then we move to business. The history we have allows us to know how to push each other up and work together in a complementary way.
Read the full article on Vogue Online HERE.