Frameworks: Where Every Frame Has a Story

Located in Berlin, Frameworks’ vivid blue door frame jumps out invitingly from the surrounding infrastructure. At the same time, it serves as a reference to the shop’s contents—frames of all colours, shapes, and sizes hang from the walls inside. Each piece is made of reclaimed wood and is hand-crafted by the business’ owner, Claire d’Orsay.

“A big theme here is sustainability. We have two different types of wood: we have wood from Berlin, so I can tell you what it was—where I got that floorboard, where that door was, and from what apartment. Then, we also have frames from Bali—Bali boat wood.”

Claire moved from New York to Berlin in 2010. She discovered that the city is a great place to open a business, as it offers many supporting resources, like sponsorships and seminars. In New York, the prospect of starting a business is much more intimidating, with entrepreneurs requiring more funds for rent and for advertising—necessary to succeed in such a competitive market.

In her first year of business, Claire sold her frames at various markets to find out which one worked the best. Eventually, she opened her shop in Kreuzberg, and also began sharing her trade knowledge by offering framing workshops.

“I think that framing is definitely the intersection between being able to be involved in the artistic world, and knowing that—it’s hand-work; that I don’t necessarily create in the sense of a vision in my head.”

Claire’s ability to harmonize art and trade can be traced back to her roots. Her mother, brother, and sister are all artists, while her father was a business-owner. Additionally, being around the business her whole life—seeing how it could be managed day-to-day—instilled a kind of fearlessness in Claire.

“I knew I could do it, and it didn’t scare me. I definitely think there’s a type of person who’s going to take the chance.”

For Claire, the daily freedom gained through being your own boss makes the risk worth it. Additionally, being a female entrepreneur is particularly meaningful to her. Claire says it’s surprising how many people come in and ask her for the owner, whom they assume is a “he.”

“It’s still very male dominated, so I think that being a young female in the arts scene with my own business—it feels really great… That independence is priceless.”

While beneficial, to one’s autonomy, running a shop also poses many challenges. For Claire, it meant enduring, and seeing the bigger picture—while one day could be good and the next could be bad, she kept in mind that, overall, the business was going well. Additionally, the responsibility and daily workload involved in managing a business can strain on one’s personal relationships, friends and family:

“I think what surprised me is that, I knew it would impact my personal relationships in every way shape and form, but I didn’t know to what extent. And that was very difficult, because I value them.”

Looking ahead, Claire would like to launch an online store for Frameworks. And, thinking more broadly, she would like to further expand in the custom and recycled products space.

Claire got her SumUp PIN+ Terminal about a year ago. It’s especially useful at the markets because it connects wirelessly. And, since customers are less willing to leave the market in order to take out money from a bank or cash machine, she’s able to capture more sales.

Claire says that customers are always pleasantly surprised when they see the device.

“Customers are all the time like, “Oh, wow, I’ve never seen this before!” Or, “Ah, that’s so technologically advanced.” They’re so charmed.”

Blog author

Christine Lariviere