Mother and daughter duo Noelle Davies and Jess Graham, the owners of Le Monde Inspired Homewares in Parnell and Ponsonby, will be sharing Christmas Day with extended family.
A love of home and family bond Noelle and Jess, although being in business together was never the plan. “I used to be an operations manager at 2 Degrees, and then in field sales at Skinny Mobile, which was very busy but I adored it,” says Jess. At the time her first daughter, Taylor (now four), was at a daycare she didnt enjoy and going through a biting stage. “I’d go to mum and dad’s on a Friday night, which is our custom, and talk about the challenges and they suggested I look at coming into the business, then put forward the idea of opening another store.”
They found an old mechanics’ building on Pollen Street in dire need of work and created the beautiful Le Monde Ponsonby. Like its Parnell sister (near La Cigale), it has its own parking and is filled with covetable items. “Our unique thing is our styling,” says Jess. “Each store has the same feel, which is underpinned by Noelle’s passion for the West Indies.”
Baby Sienna is three-months-old and comes to work with Jess two days a week. “It’s been about finding the work-life balance,” says Jess. “It’s easy with Sienna because at her age all she does is eat and sleep.”
Noelle has always had her own business and endured the guilt many working mothers do. Jess feels it’s inspiring to grow up with a working mother. “I’ve been lucky, my parents had already created the business model,” she says.
“There’s still a lot of pressure on you,” adds Noelle. “At the end of the day the responsibility falls on your shoulders.”
“Yes, but I think of it as a rite of passage,” replies Jess. “You have to do the hard yards.”
Noelle: “I still harbour guilt about working. But back in our day, daycare was like going to a babysitters, nowadays it’s so educational I can see the benefits.”
Noelle also had a working mother, and her lineage accounts for her style influences. “My mother was an interior designer which was groundbreaking really,” she says. “She went to Australia to train as there weren’t any interior design courses here. I also had an exotic great aunt who grew up in India — her apartment had the tiger skin and crocodile head my gorgeous and gracious great grandmother had shot on hunting trips.”
This year Christmas is at a bach at Matapouri with lots of family and laughter.
“We used to have a large home with a pool,” says Noelle. “We’re the great traditionalists and we’d invite everyone for Christmas Day including the Christmas orphans. Sometimes it would swell to 50 people. We live in an apartment now and my husband put his foot down. He’s the Christmas grump.”
Instead the family will head off to Matapouri where they’ve been renting an old farmhouse for several years. “The charm’s in the old house with French doors opening everywhere and plenty of space for volleyball and darts and kayaks,” says Noelle. “And we’ve always been boat people.”
Jess’s younger sister Brooke has just come home from overseas after a few years working on superyachts. “And there’s the next generation coming on,” Noelle says. “Last year we had two babies due in January, then Sienna in July, and this year my niece is due in January.”
“We have a huge family, and my husband’s family is really small,” says Jess. “My second cousins I think of as cousins, there’s no delineation. It’s chaotic and crazy. The table’s always decorated, we don’t give gifts, we play the gift grab dice game and its four minutes of absolute madness, then we usually end up on the beach with a glass of wine in hand. It’s such fun.”
“And isn’t that what Christmas is meant to be about?” finishes Noelle.