Kaari Meng began designing jewelry for Bergdorf Goodman after graduating
from the jewelry program at FIT in New York City. 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 women looking for something different. Kaari began
designing for Anthropology when they opened their first store in Philadelphia
in 1992. For many years, Anthropologie and Kaari enjoyed working and
designing together - 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
another company, French General, which originally began as a retail store on
Crosby Street in New York'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 only found 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, Kaari, and her
husband, JZ, eventually wrote five books highlighting all of the elements the
French General brand had evolved into:
French-Inspired Home (Lark/Sterling),
French-Inspired Jewelry (Lark/Sterling),
Home Sewn (Chronicle),
Handmade Soirees (Chronicle) and
Treasured Notions (Chronicle) were all
Written and designed by French General.
French General also designs scrapbooking materials, including paper, notion
and dies for Sizzix; as well as a line of home decorating fabric, trim and
wallpaper for Fabricut.
And to relax....Kaari and her posse 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
draws on her summers in France as her inspiration to continue to create the
French General lifestyle.