We chat with business developer Stephanie Duval, co-owner of the Danish furnishings showroom BoConcept on El Paseo in Palm Desert, about living simply with great design.
Story by Emily Chavous
Photography courtesy of BoConcept
“In your home, if you have the right element and the right feeling — a good vibe — you’re going to be happier than having tons of things that don’t make you happy,” says Stephanie Duval, co-owner of BoConcept on El Paseo in Palm Desert. “That’s why I think modern design is the influence we need.”
After about 20 years working internationally in the retail industry and on the corporate side of franchising (helping franchisees), Stephanie and her husband, Stephane, decided they wanted to open a franchise business of their own. The couple turned to BoConcept because the Danish retail giant aligned with their personal aesthetics and the design philosophy that they implement in their own home. “In our personal life, we are very minimalist,” Stephanie shares. “Your environment and your home affect your every day … and modern design brings this peace to your home.”
That’s a nice feeling to stoke for an industrious family that’s seemingly always on the go. The French couple — Stephanie from a small town near the Swiss-German border and Stephane from Brittany — met in France while working at Yves Rocher. Stephane rose in the ranks to become retail director with the beauty brand, a position that ultimately took the Duvals around the world. Along with their two kids, a son and daughter, now 18 and 14 years old, they lived in Italy for five years and Canada for four before returning to France, ready to switch gears with their own franchise.
The Duvals met BoConcept’s national retail director at a franchise fair in France and attended a seminar on the brand. “We were customers,” Stephanie says. “We already loved the brand, the style.” So the couple jumped in — all in — signing an agreement four years ago to open four new stores across the pond in Southern California. The family relocated to Orange County, where they took over BoConcept Los Angeles. Six months later, they opened a new location in Costa Mesa. In November 2021, the couple brought BoConcept to El Paseo in Palm Desert, and next, they have plans to open showrooms in Pasadena and eventually San Diego.
“The goal is to have a footprint all over Southern California,” says Stephanie, who commutes weekly to Palm Desert. In addition to BoConcept, the couple operates other franchise businesses, including YellowKorner, an art gallery (with no ties to BoConcept) that they opened around the same time on El Paseo, a few doors down from the furnishings showroom.
When the Duvals moved to Southern California, they arrived with only four suitcases. That’s the perk of modern design and minimalistic living, Stephanie points out. “For me, less is better,” she says. “In cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam, they have found a way of living that is so peaceful.” Without being weighed down by unnecessary stuff, which is a pillar of the Danish design movement, Stephanie and Stephane have been able to devote more attention to their passions and professional pursuits. Now, through BoConcept (founded in Denmark’s capital city in 1952), the Duvals’ teams of sales associates and interior designers bring the fine art of modern living to their clients’ homes.
We spoke with Stephanie to find out more about the recently opened Palm Desert store and to learn how she and Stephane strike a balance between their personal lives and their many booming business ventures.
What brought you to Palm Desert?
We had been here as tourists a few times. Of course, Stephane has been multiple times to check on the market and see where the best place would be for us to [open a store], between Palm Springs and Palm Desert. He [conducted] a lot of research on the different streets and locations.
I have to tell you, I love it [on El Paseo]. If I have to compare between going to my store in L.A. and the one in Palm Desert, I love the vibe. When you arrive in the desert, it’s always sunny and the people are so relaxed. What I love the most in Palm Desert is the clientele we have. We have a clientele from everywhere in America, but as well from Canada. There’s always a different story when we get to know the customers. I love the vibe of the street — El Paseo is so pleasant.
Between the weekly commutes, spending time with family, and being hands-on with multiple stores — including a new art gallery — how do you find balance?
You have to be very strong. We moved here, brought the kids, and we actually arrived with just four suitcases. We left everything in France to move here. You have to be very strong, I think, in your personal life, to be able to live such an adventure.
Stephane and myself, we work in very different fields. We are complimentary because he [oversees] everything that is financial — accounting, marketing, logistics. I’m more customer service [oriented]. I’m focused on training and developing the teams and more focused on sales and merchandising.
I also do a lot of sports, which I believe helps me every day at work. I do yoga, Pilates, and indoor cycling. Stephane is a big runner, and he loves to play tennis.
What draws you to the world of design?
The fact that you’re never bored. I love the trends. I mean, it’s always changing. I read a lot, not only about furniture, but I read a lot of magazines on the trends in cosmetics, in clothes, because it’s all great inspiration for what’s coming. I am inspired by modern design, [looking at] what has been done in the past and [finding new ways to] bring it into the present, and maybe the future. I think this revolution of creativity is what I love in design. There’s always something new, always something different.
Do you feel that Danish modern design relates well to the lifestyle in Palm Desert?
Modern design can be peaceful. It’s like the time slows down. … When I go to Palm Desert, that’s my feeling. I feel the life slows down and you meet people you can actually speak with. They have time. They come from so many different places, and it’s just pleasant. It’s a nice vibe. … When you go to L.A., everybody is running. I think we forget what’s most important — to enjoy the time and be happy.