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Our Story

Kaari Meng began designing jewelry for Bergdorf Goodman after graduating from the jewelry program at FIT in New York City in 1992.  In need of a hat pin, Kaari designed a collection of pins and presented them to the jewelry buyer at the monthly open-buy day.  The buyer at Bergdorf's bought all of Kaari's designs and requested a full collection of jewelry for their cases.  Using vintage glass beads, buttons and notions, Kaari created a unique look that appealed to many who were looking for vintage inspired jewelry.  Kaari began designing for Anthropologie when they opened their first store in Philadelphia in 1992.  For many years,  Kaari enjoyed designing for retail shops, museums and catalogs - all of the jewelry pieces Kaari designed used her vast collection of antique beads found all over the world.


In 1997, the year Kaari's daughter Sofia was born, the business evolved into French General, which began as a retail store on Crosby Street in New York City's Soho district.  Filled with apothecary jars brimming with vintage notions, Kaari and her sister Molly began selling a French-inspired lifestyle that included textiles, notions, ephemera, and household items found only in France.  In 2003, Kaari and her family moved to Los Angeles and set up French General in an old Spanish style warehouse, on the edge of town and opened up one day a week for people to come in and browse their ever changing collections that they collected on yearly trips to the South of France.

Offering a variety of vintage craft workshops and kits, French General began teaching workshops using their vintage craft materials, including jewelry making, stitching, paper crafts, sewing, shibori, indigo dyeing, and weaving.  French General has become a well recognized craft workshop which now features talented teachers from around the world who visit to share their techniques and inspiration.

Over the past ten years, Kaari, and her husband, JZ, have written, photographed and designed six books highlighting all of the elements of the French General lifestyle.  Books include: The French Inspired Home, French Inspired Jewelry, Home Sewn, Handmade Soirees, Treasured Notions and A Year of Jewelry.

French General designs quilting fabric and patterns for Moda which are sold in quilting shops around the world. French General also designs scrap booking materials, including paper, notions and dies for Sizzix; as well as a line of home decorating fabric, trim and wallpaper for Fabricut.

And to relax....French General take groups of women to the South of France every summer to live in an 18th century chateau.  For four weeks, four different groups of creative women come and learn to live like rural French women - visiting the flea markets, local villages and artisans. Kaari and JZ draw on their summers in France as inspiration to continue to create the French General lifestyle.

Thank you for visiting our online store - we hope you visit our workshop in Los Angeles someday soon!

Merci-

Kaari and JZ