Ever been to the French House on Lordship Lane and seen the owner, Audrey, carrying her tiny baby in a sling, while running the busy cafe? Superwoman or what?! We met up with Audrey to chat about how she manages to juggle family and business life, with her 9 month old daughter, Loulou-Belle.
Tell us a bit about the French House
We opened the French house in June 2014, after looking around East Dulwich for a while, searching for the perfect spot. We’ve lived here for 7 years now and love it! We always knew that it would be the perfect spot for our café.
My husband and I are crazy about France, so we always wanted to do something very French! We couldn’t decide whether it should be a café, restaurant, or bistro…but the French House has taken its own way, being a little of everything - we’re busy during the day serving breakfast and lunch, and it becomes more of a bistro and wine bar in the evening. We like to think the French House has a family feel (especially with our dog Brian around too!) that fits well with all the local people in East Dulwich - everyone seems to be pregnant or have a young baby around here!
When, how and why did you decide to change your career?
It wasn't really a decision for me. When we first started the French House I was 5 months pregnant, so having a long time off for maternity leave wasn't an option. After Loulou was born, I was back at the cafe within a couple of months, making sure my second baby (the French House!) was running smoothly. I carried Loulou in the sling at the beginning but now she's older, and found her voice, we have help from a nanny to look after her. Having her here was a bit disrupting for customers enjoying a quiet leisurely breakfast!
What tips would you give to new Mums to help them to make the most of maternity leave?
I didn't have much maternity leave... but I'd recommend making sure you keep up with your normal life. Life doesn't have to completely change when you have a baby. I'm sure the reason Loulou-Belle is such chilled out baby is because I took her everywhere with me when she was first born. We even had her in a sling while we put up Christmas decorations at the French House! Now she’s a bit older, she has more of a routine, but we didn’t worry about that at the beginning and I think that's the best way to be.
Are there any other business mums out there who you admire?
When I had Loulou, I was lucky enough to have the Lanes midwives who were amazing. I now follow Clemmie Hooper, one of my midwives' blog (gasandairblog.com) and love to see her updates.
Where are your favourite places to hang out with your family in East Dulwich?
We spend lots of time in the parks around here. Dulwich park, Crystal Palace, Peckham Rye - they're all great. When Loulou was younger we used to go to all of the local restaurants, but now she's a bit older it's a little harder! We love The Palmerston and Great Exhibition for a Sunday lunch. Our baby girl loves her food - it's the French in her. Anything you put in front of her, she'll eat!
What’s next for the French House?
We have another bar in Clerkenwell (called 1920) and we're thinking about opening another French House concept in a new location, so watch this space.