Welcome to another instalment of the latest Natbee’s Series where Inspiring Female Entrepreneurs are featured once every month telling us a bit about their career and products/services with the hope to inspire more of us to start up our own business and get down to it! Seeing as the highest read post of 2018 was Hollie Berries interview, I wanted to start this year with a strong woman that I personally admire a lot not only for her achievements but also for her kind heart and vision. So, for the month of January, we feature Virginie Brouard – owner of both La P’tite Folie restaurant and Le Di-Vin wine bar both at Randolph Place in Edinburgh’s West End. I met Virginie some time ago, while visiting her French restaurant, La P’tite Folie, in the heart of Edinburgh city and I was mesmerised by her intriguing story and personality. Virginie Brouard Edinburgh
Virginie is an elegant woman who shines from the inside out, she has inexplicable taste in personal style and interiors (proven by the menu and the decor of both the restaurant and wine bar that she owns), and a very determined spirit that has led her career to where she is now. She also has a charitable nature and a clear vision of what she wishes for her future, making her even more special. There are only good things that someone can take from listening to Virginie’s words, so if you happen to be in the West End of Edinburgh please do visit La P’tite Folie restaurant, enjoy the menu and have a chat with her, you can thank me later! Here’s her inspiring Interview:
(image credits to Derek Anderson)
1. Hi Virginie, it’s lovely to have you here today, could you start of by telling us a little about yourself and your business please? What inspired you to start La P’tite Folie?
The wine bar was once an old church which I renovated 10 years ago now, serves a range of tapas style small plates and sharing platters to compliment your favourite wine – most are sold by the glass. The restaurant, La P’tite Folie restaurant or “The Little Madness” offers contemporary French cuisine in the heart of Edinburgh. Opened in 2003, I transformed the ‘Tudor House’ space on Randolph Place into a lively and charmingly cosy place to enjoy great, traditional French cuisine in a unique setting.
I arrived in Edinburgh in 1991 aged 19, with £90 in my pocket. I gave up University in France and came to live in Edinburgh. I started working in Pierre Victoire (Famous French Bistrot) as a Waitress and after 5 years there an opportunity came up that I couldn’t turn down and I bought Frederick Street, my first ever restaurant in 1996. Milan my first son was just 5 months old at the time. In 2003, I opened the second branch (Randolph Place). Both places were successful. Then, in 2008, I opened the Wine Bar, with my second son, Pierre aged 6 months! Virginie Brouard EdinburghBecause the Businesses are successful, I decided to start Humanitarian work which is my one real passion which is how I began travelling to Ethiopia to volunteer there. Virginie Brouard Edinburgh
”I started my work in Ethiopia by sponsoring a feeding program for orphans and very poor children. The last year, I have managed to get renowned Mary’s Meals to start feeding school children in Ethiopia. We now feed 12 schools, nearly 8000 children per day and more is planned for 2019. Ethiopia will always be close to my heart.”
2. Did you pursue formal training or are you self-taught?
I am completely self taught. I never thought that my job in Pierre Victoire would lead to where I am now. He really taught me very well as well as a lot of hard work, commitment, determination and long hours. Virginie Brouard Edinburgh
3. Describe a typical day in your life!
I start my day at 7:30am sharp when I am up, getting the kids ready for school and doing the school run. I then get myself ready for work and have my breakfast each morning in the car on the way in to the wine bar and restaurant. I also spend this time catching up with the team over the phone. There is always something going on to deal with at the wine bar and restaurant when I arrive and then I get to work. If I can, I like to spend my time doing my paper works on my laptop at The West Room in the West-End – they also do the best coffee. During the evening, I am either at work until very late or I am home with my family and spending time with the kids, doing homework etc. Once they are in bed, I catch up on my emails. Every night I plan to go to bed earlier but I always go to bed at 3am as there is simply not enough hours in the day!
4. As a business owner, what is the biggest challenge you have encountered so far?
Definitely managing time! Within this line of work, it will also be long hours and I sometimes find it hard to juggle my work/life balance because of the nature of this business. There is only so much one can do in 24 hours. Virginie Brouard Edinburgh
5. What is the one tip you would offer someone who is looking on starting up their own business?
Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend opening a restaurant at the moment. When I opened my first restaurant, there wasn’t nearly as many as there are now and it was a lot easier. I feel that the economy is so up and down and unpredictable just now. Opening a restaurant is easy; however running one is another story and very challenging with lots of ups and downs that you need to be prepared for. You also need to be prepared to have it as your livelihood. When I opened the wine bar, I designed it all myself and it really was one of a kind. Now there are so many places you can go for wine and tapas. Virginie Brouard Edinburgh
6. Where would you like to be in a year from now?
I would like to be in the same position as I am just now but less busy, so that I can focus more on my family and personal life and my charity work which I am so passionate about. I would ultimately love to raise enough money for the first water well in Ethiopia in one of the many schools I work with. This would be a dream for me!
What a woman! Thank you Virginie for the lovely and inspiring interview! If you want to see more of Virginie, then please visit her incredible restaurant and/or wine bar on 9 Randolph Pl, Edinburgh EH2 1LH. You can also find out more about her charity work in Ethiopia HERE.