If the name La Fleur Rouge and its fleur-de-lis symbol doesn’t cause customers to envision the French-influenced South, the shop owner’s friendly Louisiana accent certainly will.
Brenda Hosea owns La Fleur Rouge with her daughter Rhiannon, who describes her mother as “the full blown Southern belle.”
The women opened the gift shop one year ago to provide a Southern flare to Truckee.
“Brenda brings that hospitality and friendliness to Truckee and to the shop in a genuine fashion because it is in her DNA,” said her husband Chevis Hosea. “She truly loves people and has a sincere interest in getting to know more about the people she meets.”
A FAMILY ENDEAVOR
Brenda and her husband Chevis saw the shop as a good learning opportunity for their eldest daughter.
“While Brenda and I were prepared to provide the financial investment, we thought it very important that we take the ‘family’ out of the equation,” Chevis said.
The couple required that Rhiannon earn the investment, as if her parents were independent and unrelated investors.
“She developed and presented a comprehensive business plan, adjusted it according to our concerns or input and eventually earned the equity investment,” Chevis said.
Rhiannon created the shop’s POS (point of sale) system, as well as set up the store’s accounting and inventory.
“Doing it yourself you learn so much more than paying someone to do it,” she said. “It’s all part of the learning experience.”
Rhiannon said she was so nervous and excited during her first sale last summer that she was shaking while gift-wrapping the item.
“We said, ‘We’re actually doing it!’” she remembered. “It was hilarious.”
While her daughter set up the business side, Brenda came in when the decorating of La Fleur Rouge began.
“I told them, ‘y’all figure it out and when it’s time for me to start painting and decorating, I’ll be there,’” Brenda recalled.
La Fleur Rouge specializes in “happys,” small, fun gifts for friends and family. The concept of the hostess gift is universal, but it’s only called a “happy” in the South.
Brenda said it’s the classic “thank you and thinking of you” gift.
“I realized how many second homes are in the area,” she said. “It’s always nice to take a bottle of wine or a happy.”
La Fleur Rouge sells a wide variety of items such as kitchen hand towels, fashion jewelry, candles, lotions and picture frames.
“In this shop we really try hard to make the prices so that you can just come in and pick up a little happy to bring to someone,” Brenda said.
The mother and daughter don’t have trouble agreeing on what merchandise La Fleur Rouge will carry. This season Brenda finally allowed her daughter to bring a few stuffed animals into the store.
“I’ve been a major stuffed animal addict my entire life,” Rhiannon said with a laugh. “They all have names — the whole nightmare!”
‘CROSS THE TRACKS’
Brenda and Rhiannon say the shop’s location can be difficult for business. La Fleur Rouge is located on West River Street in Truckee, and much of the foot traffic stays in historic downtown on Donner Pass Road.
“Location is challenging,” Rhiannon said. “We don’t get foot traffic, but Truckee Thursdays was great.”
Brenda is sure to tell people she meets, “Don’t be scared to come across the tracks!”
A MOTHER DAUGHTER DUO
Now that Rhiannon has set up La Fleur Rouge from the business side, and Brenda from the display side, both women keep to their own tasks.
“She’s not allowed to touch the computer and I’m not allowed to touch the display,” Rhiannon said with a laugh.
Outside of work the mother and daughter ski together, travel together, and of course, shop.
“We’re more friends than mother and daughter,” Brenda said.
The duo painted the shop’s interior themselves, using their favorite color palette. The women refer to themselves as “color sensitive people,” and said it took four whole days to paint La Fleur Rouge in black and white stripes.
“Mom and I did every bit of it,” Rhiannon said as she pointed to the walls.
La Fleur Rouge serves champagne and wine on the weekends, to thank customers and host a good time for everyone.
“People come in and visit us,” Brenda said. “We like the company.”
Jenny Luna is a freelance reporter for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and Sierra Sun newspapers. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Doing it yourself you learn so much more than paying someone to do it. It’s all part of the learning experience.”