French by Design

Si Mazouz, blogger, traveler, vintage aficionado, and all-around super mom, creates a home complete with her personality and voyage.

interview by ciara bird // photographs by ashley sellner 

In short: who are you, where are you from and what do you do? I am Si, curator of the FrenchByDesign blog. I also have a small Etsy shop that sells vintage handpicked pieces and I do interior design consulting. I am a mother of two awesome girls and a wife to a great guy!

How did you end up in Charlotte? We came to Charlotte through my husband’s job. I quit my marketing job in France and decided to start a home-based activity when we got here to be home more with my then non-English speaking daughters.

I read that you did a brief stint in Morocco before moving to the US. How did that happen and what was your favorite part? Well, actually, I am French from my mother and Berber (a Moroccan tribe) from my father. I was born in Morocco and went to the French school there until I left for Paris to study. We then lived in Aix en Provence, South of France, and right before moving to the US, we had a one-year stop in Morocco. The funny thing is that we got to do a lot of things I had never done growing up in Morocco, like visiting the Sahara and other delightful locations.

Was there a starting point when you began to decorate your home? Did you have an initial vision of what you wanted it to look like? I never have a predetermined vision when decorating my space. The space has to “speak” to me. I know I like to mix eras and love vintage, so there are always vintage pieces in my interior, but my approach is more of a guess and trial. If it feels good, it stays. If it doesn’t, I keep trying. One thing that’s very important to me is that my space looks like me and shows my personality. I don’t want to live in a showroom home or a space that looks like it’s a copycat of a store catalog.

What are you most proud of in your home? That it doesn’t look like my neighbors’! I’m only half kidding. When we moved to Charlotte, I visited a great number of homes looking to buy our house and was shocked at the number of interiors that looked the same, down to the wall color. Our guests always want to “tour” our home because it’s so different, full of unexpected and repurposed objects.

Do you often change your décor or does it stay the same? Overall, my interiors stay pretty much the same throughout the year – except some accent pieces here and there when the season changes. I add some pieces, take some out. Because we like the “airiness” of our place and its great feeling of space, the rule is usually if one pieces comes in, another one has to go. “Less is more” is my life philosophy.

We know you’re a huge fan of vintage, do you have any shopping tips you can share? Ah, you’re asking me my pro secrets! But I will share some with the Four Magazine readers! I love Cameron, a small town in North Carolina with a selection of antique shops. I always find so much stuff when I go there. I also go regularly to The Depot at Gibson Mill in Concord, a huge space full of vintage booths and antiques. I rarely leave the place without a full cart of vintage goodies.

Best recent acquisition for your home: The Eames bird, a splurge that had been on my wish list for a while.

Do you have anything in particular that you are currently collecting? I collect Kokeshi Japanese dolls. They are adorable little dolls carved in wood, originating from Northern Japan and believed to be lucky charms to protect your home from fire and evil.
I love their colors, textures and the meaning behind those little dolls. I am also a big fan of vintage shoe forms, and of all things related to North Carolina textile heritage, such as factory textile spools.

Which came first, your blog or your Etsy? Can you tell us a little about both? I opened my Etsy shop first. Then I decided to start a “relay” blog to show how vintage pieces could fit into a modern home, because a lot of people think that vintage means “old looking” and dark, dusty interiors. Little did I know that the blog would take off like that and become so popular, ranking now top 5 worldwide in home décor (Bloglovin’ ranking). What motivated you to get started? Do you think your life would be different if you hadn’t? It’s funny how sometimes you start something that looks pretty insignificant, like my tiny Etsy shop, and then so many amazing opportunities arise from this starting point. I’ve been so blessed, but also have worked very hard for it. I wanted to be home with my kids, work at my own pace and be my own boss. It’s been an exciting adventure and so many great things are happening.

Have any special opportunities come from starting your blog? Lots and lots of them! Contributing to amazing blogs like Sfgirlbybay, where I am now a regular house tour contributor, amazing interior design projects, meeting some truly talented people in the blogging community, and other big opportunities in the making that I cannot yet share.

Do you feel the websites like Pinterest and Tumblr have changed blogging in a positive or negative way? Oh, in a positive way! It has opened the web to sharing images and content. The only downside is for photographers who are rarely properly credited on such sites, and that’s a shame. I use Pinterest a lot for my blog. Pinterest has also raised the bar for bloggers because now we can’t just copy and paste Pinterest photos. Readers can do that just as well. We have to work harder to surprise, inform and inspire our audience.

Now that you are settled in Charlotte, what are some of your favorite restaurants? I am still discovering a lot in Charlotte and recently discovered the NoDa area. Cabo Fish Taco is my newest crush. I also love Zeitouni, a Lebanese family-owned restaurant. I’m also a regular at 131 Main at Blakeney where you’ll find me often sipping a glass of Buehler Chardonnay and munching on a delicious crab dip on the patio.

What’s next? Fun and exciting projects in the making, more freelance blog contributions, more interactions with the fun international bloggers’ community, and above all, continuing to have fun doing what I’m doing. Confucius said: “Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” That’s the best perk about my job, I never feel like I’m working because I really, truly love my job.

This interview was conducted early 2013.

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