When you think of France, what comes to mind? Likely food and most definitely style. The effortlessness, the beauty, French design turns the most humdrum of tasks into something out of a Renoir painting. Sunday afternoon chores? There’s a French broom for that. Preparing dinner for your family after a 10-hour work day? There’s a French pepper mill for that. Trying to swat mosquitoes away from a picnic cheese spread? There’s a French pocket knife for that. Yes, for the next few weeks, I’m going to be writing about some iconic French household brands. First up, Andrée Jardin.
For over 60 years, Andrée Jardin has been making beautiful wood brushes in Brittany, France. Andrée Jardin and her husband, George-René Julio, drew on their old-school know-how when they opened up their factory in 1947, and they’ve since maintained their sense of traditional beauty while incorporating modern, whimsical design touches. Their brooms, brushes, and dusters are some of the only high-quality options made in a traditional way.
It’s a family-owned company passed down from father (George-René Julio – a trained brush-maker who apprenticed in Nantes) to son to grandson. With the advent of plastics the demand for high-quality brushes went by the wayside, but the company has since revived their classic designs. They are pieces of true craftsmanship, from the beechwood handles to the natural bristles, and make housework less of a chore!
How it all began
A century ago, on the banks of the Erdre, not far from the slaughterhouses of Talensac, George-René Julio, the future husband of Andrée Jardin, began his apprenticeship as a brush maker in Nantes.
When the Brasserie Pechon where he worked closed, Georges-René Julio set up his own business with his wife Andrée Jardin at 167 rue des Hauts Pavés in Nantes. He bought horsehair from the nearby slaughterhouses, and prepared it for use in the manufacture of all kinds of brushes, as well as mattress. From the start the choice of natural raw materials was an essential element of production..
SARL JULIO et Fils employed four of the couple’s children: Hélène, Henry, René, and André. The company starts to concentrate on making brushes for industrial use, such as in flour mills, ship yards and laundries.
André took over the family business in 1984 and the company continued to specialise in tailor-made technical brushes for the local industry (agriculture, aeronautics and agri-food), offering products of incomparable quality.
In 2008, while thinking about the company’s direction, Jean-Baptiste and François-Marie proudly assumed the reins of the family business. They begin by resuscitating the company’s know-how of yesteryear in collaboration with well-known designers to create decorative brushes.
In 2020, the brothers created the Andrée Jardin brand – named for their beloved grandmother – a range of high-end brushes for consumers.
Today, Andrée Jardin’s desire is to create as many home accessories as possible that respect the environment, are beautiful and functional and reflect a French way of life.
Buying Andrée Jardin products means saying no to all-plastic mass production and waste while saying yes to natural, hand-crafted, timeless, well-thought-out and well-made objects. Not a bad philosophy!
(All images courtesy of Andrée Jardin)