They own a cool brand of art-inspired lifestyle products, they live in a charming house, they have two fun little girls and they are the most radiant, smiling people I have met in the industry. I am very honoured to feature Olivia Haviland and Freddy Deane, founders of Smiling Planet on Pirouette.
When Olivia and Freddy open the door of their house, you instantly feel welcome, and also lucky to be invited in such an inspiring place. The children are still in school and it is quiet in the large bright studio where Freddy is working on a book, and Olivia is checking bedding samples freshly arrived from downtown LA. Freddy and Olivia who got married 15 years ago, dropped their respective carreers in the cinema industry to start Smiling Planet. A project they had been dreaming of, and that their shared backgrounds in design, art, advertising and writing made possible.
Launched in 2007, Smiling Planet didn’t take long to become a little favourite of the children’s market. The brand’s signature products are plastic plates and tableware made of sustainable, 100% recycled, BPA-free plastic, but also dishwasher safe, scratch-safe. The earth-friendly product range has grown with years, now including placemats, colouring books and bedding, all decorated with poetic drawings, messages of peace and respect for the environment. Smiling Planet is on display in a long list of cool stores around the globe : Lost & Found (LA), Lane Crawford (Hong Kong), Chalboard (Shanghai), Sweet William (NY), Little Fashion Gallery, Whole Foods to name only a few.
What a luck to work from home! And what a home, simple and colourful, with a little garden and a swimming pool, ideally located between Abbot Kinney (Venice, LA) and the beach. We sit down in the living room, so unique with its bright blue floor and Olivia serves me a cup of delicious earl grey tea from Mariage Freres. Although she could easily be taken for a native Californian, Olivia was raised in Paris (French father, American/Belgian mother). We chat about raising multilingual children, about travelling with kids and about the children’s industry.
“What does it take to succeed nowadays?” I find asking myself. Looking at Freddy and Olivia and hearing their story, it sounds pretty clear : lots of talent, lots of passion, lots of focus, lots of hard work, and a good timing. The Deanes seem they have it all. With maybe the extra secret ingredient : Love. “Our products make people smile. Smiles are good for the planet too” say the couple, with a big smile.
At 5pm two chatty blond heads push the entrance door; Clementina (4 years old) and Elisalex (7) are back home. Just in time for a “bonjour” and a dive in the swimming pool, and just in time for me to leave Freddy and Olivia to go back to their busy busy life.