Sarah MacDonald of BeBe Bold in France

a new design studio for bebe bold in france

By guest blogger Sarah MacDonald of BeBe Bold in Europe
ARC-ET-SENANS FRANCE  Behind the hills of Byron Bay, on the east coast of Australia is my mum Jane MacDonald’s design studio—a space which celebrates Japanese textiles and crafts, and a place which has grown as an extension of our family home.
It all began as a single room—with a sewing machine, a design board, and piles of work-in-process patchwork quilts. Today, from the street, nothing has changed.
Raised on stumps and encircled by a large verandah, the house sits comfortably amongst the other weatherboard homes commonly found in towns close to the Queensland border. And yet, if you were to walk up those timber steps, an unlikely space lies waiting.
Through the French screen doors, the heart of BeBe Bold is in motion—with orders being packaged, stock being shelved, emails being sent. Whilst my childhood nostalgia may lie in the pressed metal ceilings and the wooden paneled walls, there is little else to show that the room you first enter was once our living room.
Now the walls are lined with double rows of yarn-dyed takumi and tsumugi fabrics, plus samples of kits and patterns promising to be a next favourite project. Walking past needles packaged in red-tassled pastel boxes, a turning stand of sashiko threads sits where our sofa used to be.
Whilst this room might one day return to the way it was, a place to relax at the end of busy days, at the moment it seems like a dynamic place to be. This studio has been built from my mother’s creativity, her strong aesthetic sensibility, and her keen willingness to learn about a material culture which has engaged her for many years. This space now leads to a packing room, an office, and more rooms lined with shelving and boxes. It is always inspiring to see how the studio continues to evolve.
Whenever I visit my parents I am always impressed with the energy my mum dedicates to her craft. Similarly my dad Peter, whilst known to grumble from time to time at the encroaching lack of domestic space, always shows a generous amount of pride when speaking of my mum’s achievements with BeBe Bold.
I always knew this project would grow and move beyond that room. However I think locating the latest BeBe Bold extension within the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region of eastern France may even have been a stretch for my mum’s vision of her business.
And yet, here we area–with another BeBe Bold studio, sitting across the road from the UNESCO listed La Saline Royale (Royal Saltworks) in the commune of Arc-et-Senans.
Perhaps it seems a surprising choice of location, but for us, it makes sense.
My husband Yves and I decided to move to the region of France where he grew up. It offered us not only the opportunity to present BeBe Bold to a new European audience but also offered new challenges for me. I’m trying to learn more about French culture: the language, the geography, the seasons and very happily, the food.
So whilst I have left Australia for now and the hustle and bustle of the Northern Rivers studio, we have managed to create something new for BeBe Bold’s future. Jane has already taught two workshops at the French studio and participated in craft and quilt fairs in UK and Europe.
This new part of the BeBe Bold story has moved beyond that one room at the back of my childhood home, and it feels like there will be plenty left to tell.
To visit BeBe Bold online +click here
To visit BeBe Bold online in France +click here
To follow BeBe Bold on Instagram: @bebebold

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  • Jane
    Thanks Robyn, lovely memories and I am so pleased that Sarah and Yves are now part of BeBe Bold.

  • Sarah and Jane
    We are glad you enjoyed the article and thanks for your interest in our taupe and red quilt. We have called it the Sailboat Quilt and it will be available as a kit and pattern on our website next year. If you would like more information please email us at (Europe) or (Australia) and we can keep you updated about when it will be available. Many thanks!

  • Robyn Ford
    Wow Jane and Sarah, congratulations. I knew when I collected you from the airport and we chatted all the way to Blackheath that your passion and enthusiasm was going to take you far. How lovely that Sarah and Yves and become hands on in such a big way. I wish you all every success.

  • Sarah and Jane
    Merci beaucoup!

  • Jeanette Casey
    What a beautiful story and a wonderful achievement for you both just wonderful Jane

  • Charlene Cuhaciyan
    Oh, I so enjoyed this article! Beautiful. Is it possible to get more info on the taupe and red quilt in the picture? I would love to make it…

  • Sarah
    Thanks Cathie, we would love for you to visit us at the Lismore studio one day.

  • miline
    Bienvenue en France

  • Sarah
    Thanks very much Cassie, we really appreciate such wonderful feedback!

  • Sarah
    Thanks very much Sheena, lovely to hear from you

  • Sarah
    Many thanks Cathie

  • Sarah MacDonald
    And to you Libby, thanks very much x

  • Cathie Hodge
    What a beautiful article about the development of BeBeBold, with Jane at it’s lead. Living states away from Lismore I haven’t had a chance to see the BeBeBold Australian Studio, which seems to be an extremely creative and hectic place at times, but a peaceful place to be in at other times. Extending the business into France must be very tiring at times but a wonderful feeling of achievement for you all watching it develop on the other side of the world from the lounge of a house in the country town of Lismore in northern NSW. It is on my “to do” list to visit the Lismore studio, but I just have to be patient at the moment.

  • Cassandra Collins
    I’ve admired BeBe Bold for years seeing Jane at many quilt shows. I hope one day to get back to France and visit you there! Keep on doing what you are both doing!! Cassie xx from WA

  • Jane MacDonald
    Thank you Cathie…Yes that’s the completed sashiko block of the month quilt.

  • Jane MacDonald
    Thank you Sheena for your lovely comment…and encouragement. I had you as a wonderful mentor when Sarah was born…having lived with the Gillman family when I first came to Australia all that time ago. Happy memories xo

  • Sheena Gillman
    So truly beautiful to see this accomplished Mother and Daughter team develop together. Indomitable style Jane and Sarah…love your work. Congratulations

  • Jane MacDonald
    Hugs to you too Libby from us both, thanks very much! x

  • Cathie Hodge
    Jane and Sarah, what a wonderful story, congratulations to you all. Is that a big part of the BoM I saw while reading. I wish you both all the very best in the days and years to come. Cathie.

  • Jane MacDonald
    Glad you enjoyed it, thanks

  • Sarah MacDonald
    Thanks so much!

  • Libby O’Connor
    Congratulations to you both.

    Hugs to you both as well.

  • MJ Buckingham

  • Janet Wright
    I would love to visit both shops—wish I had lots of money to do so. Lovely post