Paris: in Belleville, artisans unite to survive

    Paris: in Belleville, artisans unite to survive

    Much more elegant than a poorly practical cardboard box, its insulating cover and its “bag-in-box” dressing, (Editor’s note: the BIB, that is to say the flexible container of the cubitainer), to wear or hang as a decorative object, earned him two distinctions including a silver medal at the famous Lépine competition. His 100% handmade and 100% French creation also obtained the “Made in Paris” label not long ago. His boutique-workshop on rue Rébeval, in the Belleville district, has become a real place of life and connection in the heart of the 19th arrondissement. A very tidy Ali Baba cave or the “obags” of Florence rub shoulders with jewelry, monochromes, sandstones, fabrics and weavings, soaps or even a few exceptional packages of a coffee from Colombia directly transported and ground by a young Colombian, son of farmers! In short, the Florence workshop-boutique, “Aoflo”, seems an island of pretty tranquility. And yet … yet Florence and her partner Bérangère, have not finished fighting to defend a “small” craft which is only small by the size of the company … and by the help it can hope for.

    A point of sale for all craftsmen

    Today these two women in the triple hats of mothers, craftsmen and traders, are trying to bring together the independent craftsmen of the nineteenth, battered by the health crisis that directly threatens them, for lack of enough scope or the right status to count on public aid or municipal help. “The 1,500 € of aid does not allow the rent of the workshop to be paid, notes Bérangère with resignation, the craftsmen do not have partial unemployment either, and we are subject to the same rules as large companies, while we do everything on our own… ”

    A website in 2021

    “With the closures and confinement, we found ourselves having to digitize by force,” explains Bérangère, a former engineer, who left the world of international finance to embark on a small creative business. His idea: “A common site with other 19th century merchants, to highlight each other’s products, but also to show the diversity of artisans in the district. But it is very time-consuming, with the approach of the holidays everyone is 100% on their activity ”. So much under pressure, after months of closures and dotted openings, that Aoflo’s bosses can’t afford to miss the few days before the holidays. Their site “Small businesses of the 19th century” will have to wait until the beginning of 2021 to really get started. And with it a cargo bike delivery service, organized with a small cooperative business in the neighborhood.

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