Talking business with Bonton founders Irène & Thomas Cohen

    Bonton made its UK debut with a new store in Westbourne Grove in November 2017

    Co-founder Irène talks work life, her love for London and the key to Bonton’s success

    How did life begin for Bonton?
    Thomas’s parents founded Bonpoint in 1974, so kids’ fashion has always been in the family. When Thomas started working for Bonpoint he was in charge of the IT department, and I was working for Condé Nast, but I became friends with a lot of the girls working in the design office at Bonpoint. Thomas’s mother, Marie-France, had the idea of building a project together – in 2000 there was almost nothing for kids, and she had in mind a children’s basics brand that was more casual than Bonpoint. When I became pregnant, she asked me to join the company to learn more about the business and slowly we started the Bonton story together.

    Describe a typical day for you.
    We are up at 7am every day – our three children have school from 8am, Monday to Saturday. We have breakfast as a family – I love this time together, even though now it lasts only 10 minutes because my teenagers are always running late! Then I go to the office – it’s close to one of our stores so usually we pop in there to discuss merchandising or displays. Then I try to go to the gym, around 7pm, two or three times a week. After, I’ll have dinner at home with the kids and watch a movie, or we go out for dinner with friends.

    What’s the best thing about your job?
    The people! I love that moment when an idea lands on the table, and a good idea can be brought by anyone on the team. I think this is one of the keys to Bonton’s success, we have a very collegial way of working and everyone’s opinion counts. And I am sure our customers feel that behind every product there is a mother or father who has already approved it. I also love meeting with authors, artists, designers and other brands – it’s very rewarding.

    The husband and wife duo developed Bonton together with Thomas’s mother, Marie-France

    Who is the Bonton customer?
    I like to think that we have multiple kinds because of our variety of products and price points. The brand appeals to everyone.

    How do you juggle family with work?
    With Khadija, our nanny. I’ve known her since before having my son, and she has been there with us since. The only way to juggle family with work, for me, is knowing someone is at home with my children and doing things as well as I would, or even better – especially with the cooking!

    You recently opened Bonton’s first UK store in Notting Hill. What do you love about London?
    I love the energy of this town, and I think English people are so chic! We had been looking for a store here for over 10 years, so the opening was one of our favourite moments of 2017.

    What advice would you give to other mothers wanting to launch a business?
    Find your identity and the specificity of your project and stick to it. Never get greedy, even if you are sometimes tempted. I am convinced that when you are faithful to your project, the customers are never disappointed.

    What’s next for Bonton?
    A second store in London – we’d love to have a huge flagship here. And also another opening in France, probably in Marseille.

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