From an early age, Ajiri has always had the desire to celebrate the everyday.
After working as a fashion stylist in New York, she moved to Paris, and created Madame de la Maison, a tabletop rental company and online boutique.
As a lover of entertaining and the power of gathering, Ajiri believes that the happiest moments come from cultivating a community around the table.
We couldn’t be happier to introduce her as our latest guest in our Make Life Beautiful Q&A series and share her story about forging a unique path in the creative industry.
I worked at Sonic Drive-In, a 1950s style burger drive-through where I delivered food to cars on roller skates. I was 15 years old, and I absolutely loved it!
One of our favorite moments from @madamedelamaison
I first started working in the creative industry as a fashion stylist and editor in New York. It was important for me always to know what was happening in the market and find inspiration for photoshoots, so I was constantly flipping through books and magazines. Researching ideas for shoots and putting together mood boards helped me realize how much I loved costume history and the decorative arts, so I went back to school. I got a Master’s in Decorative Arts from the Bard Graduate Center. The best part of the program was that they encouraged us to look at design from a holistic approach. This encouragement opened me up to various subjects and ideas that inform and affect design.
These experiences contributed in big and small ways to the business and career I built for myself. However, there wasn’t a specific light bulb moment for me to make that switch. Over time I listened to and received compliments and encouragements from amazing friends and felt that I had done my deep research. I was so passionate about entertaining and the objects we use to do so, I decided to take a leap. I felt there was nothing to lose, and I knew I would only enjoy myself doing what I loved, even if it failed.
Ajiri via @madamedelamaison
First of all, always be a student; never stop learning because that’s how you will get new ideas and constantly feed your mind and desires. Also, start before you are ready because things don’t need to be perfect; they just need to progress.
A shot we love from Ajiri’s Instagram.
I find my inspiration from reading and flipping through books. I like to flood myself with images and beautiful prose from the past and present. Another way I find inspiration is during moments of solitude and silence. I think after seeing all those images; they stay with me for a while. Then I like getting up early in the morning just to think. Also, I loveeeee sitting at a cafe in Paris alone with a notebook or a book.
Photo via @madamedelamaison
It’s honestly an organic (aka slightly messy) process that probably only works for me. When a client asks me to style a table or design an event, I write down all the elements that need to be a part of the project. Then I just flip through books to see what catches my eye and write and draw what I think will connect all the elements. I need to do this alone before I sit with my team to discuss, brainstorm further and get feedback. Then I take all my messy notes and put them into a PDF before making it all come together in real life.
As a creative entrepreneur, the hardest challenge for me has been finding people who align with my ideas and vision. Then when I do find them, it’s hard to accept that they could move on to do their own projects or work with someone else. I tend to pour my heart in, get a bit vulnerable (thanks, Brené Brown), and get attached, especially when I share creative ideas. How have I grown from this? I wouldn’t necessarily say that I have. I can say that I am constantly learning, growing, and reminding myself that change is not bad. This quote has really helped me:
“Change is necessary. It is important. And it is also what makes life exciting. When we fear change, it keeps us in an energy of feeling stuck, powerless, and resentful, but when we embrace change, we open ourselves to the understanding that anything is possible. Our life, our communities, and our world are always in bloom. When we understand this, we see that change is growth, and growth is essential for each of us to reach our individual and collective potential.” – Cleo Wade
A beautiful tablescape via @madamedelamaison
I have to say launching and growing a business in a foreign country where my language skills are mediocre is a huge accomplishment for me! I absolutely have moments when I still can’t believe it.
One of our favorite creations from Ajiri via @madamedelamaison .
I am working on a book that will be published by Clarkson Potter, and I am so excited about the process and seeing the finished product.
Ajiri and her beautiful family.
To learn more about Ajiri Aki and Madame de la Maison, visit her website madamedelamaison.com, and keep up with her on Instagram @madamedelamaison.
What an amazing feature! Thanks for introducing us to Ajiri, she seems like a wonderfully creative talent!
Hi Rashanda! We are so happy to hear you love Ajiri’s creative mind as much as we do!
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