Expat Diaries: Lucie of From Lucie
Lucie Franc de Ferriere knows a thing or two about making cakes—as well as starting a business abroad. Born to a baker in South West France, her dessert-focused kitchen experience dates back to her early childhood days, which she now brings to New York’s East Village at her eponymous bakery, From Lucie. Taste France Magazine sat down with Lucie to learn the ins and outs of building a business from scratch, as well as to hear her challenges, inspirations, and lessons learned along the way. Get to know Lucie via our exclusive Expat Diaries interview, here.
Tell us a bit about your background. Where are you from and what did you study?
I come from Pessac sur Dordogne, a small village in the South West of France, about an hour's drive from Bordeaux. I studied Art History in Toulouse, France, as well as in Rome, Italy, and completed my Master's degree in Leeds, UK. After graduating—and before moving to the United States—I worked in the hospitality industry at a small restaurant in Bordeaux for a few months.
What made you move to New York?
In early 2018, I received an exciting job offer from a Lower East Side gallery in New York City while I was still living in France. I was thrilled to accept the offer, but it required me to move to New York and start working in just two weeks, leaving me with a tight schedule to pack up and make the move.
How did you first become interested in baking?
I grew up in France, where my mother is a baker. Being exposed to baking from a young age, I came to appreciate the casual nature of it. Just before the Covid-19 pandemic, I purchased my first stand mixer and began to take baking more seriously. I often baked cakes and pastries for my colleagues at work, experimenting with different recipes.
Tell us a bit about From Lucie. What was the inspiration behind it, and how did you come up with the concept?
I launched From Lucie during the Covid-19 pandemic as a way to take a break from my job in the art world, which I had lost. My fiancé had just opened a café in the Lower East Side called “Sunday to Sunday” and was in need of a pastry supplier, so I began baking cookies and banana breads for him. Over time, I found myself gravitating towards baking cakes, and eventually started a website where people could pre-order cakes every weekend.
I chose the name From Lucie for my baking business because I wanted it to evoke the feeling of the homemade cakes and pastries that a mother, grandmother, or friend might bake for you. The word 'from' also felt warm and personal, as though you were sending a treat to someone special. It was important to me to create a brand that felt approachable and welcoming, like an old friend who always knows how to brighten your day with a sweet treat.
What are your specialties at From Lucie? How can people order from you?
The shop is small and offers a carefully curated selection of cakes. I work with seasonal ingredients and update our menu every quarter to reflect the freshest produce available. Currently, we are developing a rhubarb recipe to replace the pear ginger jam we featured during the winter season. By rotating the ingredients regularly, we ensure that our customers can always enjoy the best flavors and textures that each season has to offer.
At the moment, the bakery is open from Thursday to Sunday, but I hope to open on Wednesdays as well. We will also be reopening pre-orders on the website in the coming weeks, but for larger orders, customers are welcome to email me directly (INSERT). We pride ourselves on offering a personalized and flexible service to meet our customers' needs and make their experience with us as enjoyable and stress-free as possible.
Who are some of your biggest culinary inspirations?
I draw inspiration for my baking from a variety of sources, including my upbringing and personal experiences, but one person who has always had a special influence on me is Maïté, a French cook from the south of France. Her rustic approach to cooking and emphasis on using fresh, seasonal ingredients resonates deeply with me, and I grew up watching her on TV. In fact, one of her recipe books is prominently displayed at our bakery, and I continue to find inspiration in her recipes and philosophy.
What are some lessons you learned while creating your company abroad?
I've come to realize that success in entrepreneurship is a collaborative effort. It takes a community to bring a business to life. Surrounding oneself with the right people and building strong relationships is crucial for achieving growth and realizing one's full potential. As an avid learner, I've found tremendous value in the knowledge and expertise of my amazing team, whose support has been instrumental in my journey so far.
What do you love most about French pastry?
Something I love and miss about French pastries is the flavor and sweetness ratio/balance. I don’t have the biggest sweet tooth and would [generally] go for really dark chocolate over milk chocolate.
Do you have a favorite pastry to prepare?
Out of all the things I enjoy making, cakes are my favorite. While I've been experimenting a lot with buttercream cakes, I'm also beginning to incorporate more traditional French cakes into my repertoire. For instance, I've recently started making moelleux au chocolat.
What are some of your favorite things to eat outside of work?
While I tend to crave Indian or Italian cuisine the most, there are times when nothing hits the spot like a perfectly cooked entrecôte with a bordelaise sauce.
What are some USA-based restaurants / bakeries that you like most?
When it comes to French bread bakeries in New York, some of my favorites include L'Appartement 4F, Le Fournil, and Le Pain d’Avignon. As for restaurants, I have a favorite 'seconde table' that's not particularly fancy, but always delivers decent food and a welcoming neighborhood atmosphere. It’s called Les Enfants de Bohèmes.
To check out our Expat Diaries with Gautier Coiffard of L’Appartement 4F, click here.
Any advice for those looking to move to the USA and start a business?
If you're considering starting a business in New York, it's important to build one that feels more like a hobby than just work. This is especially crucial, as the city never sleeps, and you may find yourself working around the clock. By creating a business that you're passionate about, you'll be more motivated to put in the long hours and hard work that are often necessary for success in such a dynamic and fast-paced city.