The Thursday Q&A with viens avec moi’s owners

Sophie Beaudoin, left, and Renée Morra, own viens avec moi boutique. (Photo: Christopher Schlesak)

Renée Morra and Sophie Beaudoin have been best friends since high school. In December 2011, they became business partners when they opened viens avec moi, a clothing and accessories boutique in the heart of Wellington Village.

Opening a boutique can be time-consuming but the fashion-loving friends still find time to somehow read piles of books and listen to hours and hours of the Beach Boys. Between shopping for the best brands from Paris, New York and Los Angeles, Montreal and Toronto to bring to their rustic clothing house, Beaudoin still manages to own a modeling agency, Models International Management. Morra helps out with it, too.

The busy women took time out to talk to Ottawa Citizen Style intern Deanna Spagnuolo.

OCS: Who are your style icons?

SB: I personally don’t have just one. I have many and I mesh their different styles together to get inspiration. There are so many people out there but I guess if I had to pick just one I would say Kate Moss.

RM: My mother was always amazingly well put together and had a great eye for beautiful key pieces.  Growing up, I would always love her shoes, boots, coats and summer dresses. My grandmother was always super eclectic (still is).  For a while,  she used to sell second-hand clothing and always had one room in her house filled with things. (For me, it was a secret room filled of treasures.) Many of my vintage pieces come from her collections. To this day, if I’m looking for a particular coat, shawl, purse or shoes (or dishes) she probably has it!

OCS: What’s on your bedside table?

RM: Right now I’ve got the latest issue of Fashion and Vogue magazine, the book Silver Sparrow (a novel by Tayari Jones) and a glass of water.

SB: I just moved so there’s only a candle and matches but normally there’s about four books piled on it.

OCS: Best home accessory?

RM: An old ink tray I bought (from a store) close to my cottage. It means a lot to me because it makes me think of summer, my cottage and my dad because I bought it with him.

SB: A beautiful table my cousin built would have to be it.

OCS: Best recent fashion find?

SB: Everything from this site called The Ropes ( Their stuff is amazing.

RM: I really like these wedge boots we ordered in. And same as Sophie, anything from The Ropes.

OCS: Who would you invite for dinner if you could choose anyone in the world?

RM: There are so many I want to invite! Probably Carl Lagerfield. I remember reading this interview and he just sounded so eclectic.

SB: Definitely Madonna.

OCS: You can see the debut of any piece of music in history. What would it be?

SB: The Beatles or the Beach Boys.

RM: I would see Janis Joplin.

OCS: What’s your earliest memory?

RM: It’s in my crib, isn’t that weird? At my parents’ cottage, my sister was giving me this handmade stuffed rabbit.

SB: Probably at Strathcona Park in the fall, on an old animal swing, wearing a knitted maroon sweater my mom made for me. (Ed’s note: Like a true fashionista, she remembers what she was wearing!)

OCS: Your biggest fashion faux-pas?

SB: I would tease my bangs when I was younger and add a ton of hairspray then side-part it. And scrunchies. I hate scrunchies.

RM: In elementary school and high school when I would wear a nice outfit but then incorporate running shoes with it.

OCS: Proudest moment?

SB: When I took over the modeling agency and when we opened this store.

RM: Definitely opening this boutique.

OCS: Favourite piece of furniture?

SB: A coffee table I have at home. It’s an old antique dolly.

RM: It’s here at the boutique, a bench downstairs. It used to be Renata Morales’ when I worked in her boutique when I was younger. (There’s also) a stool my grandfather made. He used to wood burn (back in the day when the market was filled with artists’ kiosk). He made a stool for my sister and me with our astrological sign burned onto the stool. Also, my dad made a beautiful jewelry cabinet with an old window for the store. He made a second one that I will keep for my place.

OCS: Qualities you most admire in a person?

SB: Honesty, ability to be easy-going, down to earth, humour.

RM: Patience, loyalty and same as what Sophie said.

OCS: How would you like the world to remember you? What would your eulogist ideally say?

SB: A fun person, easy to talk to, successful business woman that stayed grounded and loving.

RM: Go-with-the-flow type of person who was a hard worker, caring and successful.

OCS: Who would you most like to design for?

SB: I’d love to design a bikini line for anyone, but I’d love to make an outfit for Madonna. I feel like she’s worn everything though so I don’t know what I’d make.

RM: I’d like to make an outfit for a reporter from the today show on NBC. Ann Curry. I’ve always really liked her and she’s always really well dressed. It would be fun to see her in my clothes.

OCS: Describe a perfect day off (it can be anywhere in the world).

RM: At the cottage, by the water on the dock with a drink and friends. And there’s got to be sun.

SB: Me too.

OCS: Favourite visual artist, living or dead?

RM: Van Gogh

SB: Andy Warhol

OCS: Favourite local artist (if different from above, and doesn’t have to be a visual artist)?

RM: Christopher Griffin.

SB: Kathleen Edwards.

OCS: Best book you read in the past year?

SB: I have like four books I’m trying to fit in, but probably The Help (a novel by Kathryn Stockett).

RM: Lullabies for Little Criminals (a novel by Heather O’Neill). I haven’t read a book in a long time but that would probably be it.

OCS: Favourite food?

RM: Sushi and pasta.

SB: I have so many. Does cheese count? I love cheese. Especially fondue.

OCS: Most-oft-played song on your iPod or MP3 player?

SB: I’m on Fire by the Chromatics. I’m obsessed with it.

RM: The Beach Boys. Anything by them. I have to stop.

OCS: Wine, beer or both?

RM: Wine. Red wine.

SB: Both.

OCS: Mac or PC?

RM and SB simultaneously: Mac!

OCS: Fine dining or plain old diners?

SB: Fine dining. But that’s (a hard question) because sometimes I just really want a diner burger.

RM: Fine dining for sure, if I could.

OCS: Best restaurant in Ottawa?

RM: The Whalesbone (Oyster House)

SB: Whalesbone (Oyster House) and Wellington Gastropub.

OCS: Person, place or thing that makes you proudest/happiest you live in Ottawa?

RM: Our awesome running and bike paths, as well as being a car ride away from beautiful lakes and the great restaurants we have.

SB: When I jog along the Ottawa River.

OCS: Fave blog or website?

RM: I have a couple! 5 inch and up, Le Fashion, Purse’ n boots, Cupcakes and Cashmere.

SB: Garance Doré.

OCS: Twitter, Facebook or both?

RM: Twitter is easier for me because of my phone, but both are great for viens avec moi, M.I.M. and my blog.

SB: I personally rarely go on Facebook or tweet but I understand the importance when having a business so I have a great team from Models International Management and Viens Avec Moi that are constantly doing both.

OCS: What’s your guilty pleasure?

RM: Reading Us Weekly, Hello or In Touch while eating peanut M&Ms.

SB: I love popcorn with truffle oil! With…little cut-up cubes of cheese. Mmmm!

OCS: Favourite place to spend time?

RM: Bracebridge Muskoka, where our family cottage is, and Pemichangan Lake, where my boyfriend’s cottage is.

SB: At the moment, in my new home with my beau and my dog. During the summer, outside the city at my dad’s or friends’ cottages.

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