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LIVING | 25.01.2018

Founder Stories: Janina Krinke from Bon Voyage Interieur

Until a few months ago, Janina Krinke was mainly busy with the home and lifestyle magazine Couch, scouting, staging, and describing interior trends and objects that make the home more beautiful. Or more alive. Or more colourful – or perhaps the opposite. In short, offering something for every taste. In addition, however, (and first only on the side) she started to establish a second, very exciting, source of income on Hamburg’s Lehmweg street: her own interior design store called Bon Voyage Interieur, which features furniture and decorative pieces with a decidedly French flair, lovingly selected and presented, with matching T-shirts and more, including even some designs of her own.

What followed was a real luxury problem: Right from the beginning, Janina Krinke’s founding idea met with so much enthusiasm from both neighbourhood and the media that reconciling her day job in the publishing house with spending her evenings organizing, reordering, billing and planning became just too exhausting. After all, self-employment is supposed to be fun. With a heavy heart, she said goodbye to Couch, in order to devote herself entirely to her baby Bon Voyage. Allude spoke with the selfmade woman from Hamburg about first steps and a passion for stylish living.

Where does your enthusiasm for elegant, innovative interior design come from, which you pursued first as an editor at Couch and now in your business Bon Voyage Interieur? Were you perhaps born with a special interior design gene, because your mother or father are aficionados?
My mother actually ran her own furniture business for 20 years. I used to go to fairs with her when I was a teenager and helped in the store, so my enthusiasm for this field started early. She also loved to redecorate our house every so often, something I also picked up from her. The best part is that she now sometimes works in my store so I can go on holiday and gather new strength and inspiration. She even already has her own regular customers …

How would you describe your style?
Mediterranean, French-elegant, retro-conscious, eclectic – and with a penchant for boho chic.

Discovering desirable objects, introducing them to readers and making them shine in photos is one thing. And difficult enough. When did the moment come when you felt the urge to switch sides?
As I said, I inherited a certain inclination from my mother. Through my work in and for various editorial departments, I got to know so many unique brands, and many of them were not available in Hamburg. I often bought pieces when on holiday and spend hours visiting all my favourite shops in Paris. So in the back of my mind I’ve long had the wish to own a store which would sell everything that I love.

Then, a few years ago, we did a feature on French interior designer Sarah Lavoine for the magazine Flair – and I knew right away that I wanted to sell her collection. Her style suits me, her sense of colour is incredible. In the following years Lavoine became more and more famous and I knew I needed to act. Two years ago I flew to Paris and secured the collection exclusively for Hamburg. And that was the beginning of everything …

From dream to checkout counter: Take us along the way to your Bon Voyage Interieur, step by step.
I had collected inspirations and ideas in a folder for years and always kept a list of brands in my mobile phone. If I discovered something beautiful at fairs, on Instagram or on holiday, I immediately noted it down. One by one I wrote to all these companies and asked if they would work with me. When I managed to convince Sarah Lavoine, I needed capital right away, so I wrote a business plan and talked to banks.

It took a whole year to find the perfect location – and a coincidence. I always liked this store on Lehmweg and had often thought of renting it. Then a friend told me on Facebook that they were looking for a new tenant. I promptly signed the contract, requested a loan, rushed to the Maison & Objet fair in Paris and ordered lots of my favourite things… And then I renovated the store and set up my shop within eight weeks!

Your range of products has a decidedly French touch. What do you associate with France, what fascinates you about this country and its style?
I spent many wonderful holidays there, both as a child and later. I like the way of life, the food, the language. Even in high school, I loved my French class. The French simply have the best style – gloriously effortless, to the point and simply chic.

First, you juggled your job as an editor and your business at the same time. How hard was it for you to put all your eggs in one basket – your shop?
After a year of doing both, it just got too much for me, and I felt I was no longer able to do justice to either task. In addition, I realized that Bon Voyage is just the thing for me, that my whole heart is in it and that I want to expand this business. After 18 years of day-to-day editorial work, it is a wonderful change, even though I will certainly do some freelance editorial work once in a while.

What rules of style should people follow in their own four walls?
My number one rule would be not to stick to any rules but follow your own taste. Definitely don’t just blindly copy the latest trends or have an interior designer plan a total look for your home. It’s better to find out what suits you and to put a lot of personality in the design of your home.

Which three products in your store are particularly dear to you?
The “Croisette” chair by Honoré, the table lamp “Bianca” and the mirror “Grace” – both by Sarah Lavoine.

What are your plans for Bon Voyage Interieur in 2018?
Our website is currently being redesigned and we’re building a small online shop. In addition, I want to realise beautiful interior design concepts. My dream would be to furnish a small hotel and to open hotel boutiques. This is an area with room for growth, and I intend to put out feelers this year.

As a northerner you are familiar with lousy weather and cool temperatures. Which piece of the Allude Collection is your favourite?
The striped turtleneck sweater (see picture), because it is cuddly warm and looks so wonderfully French with its stripe pattern.