Be IT their vegetable-dye cottons, accessories or edible items, you really cannot have enough of Auroville. So it is surprising that it’s taken entrepreneurs this long to catch on. Two weeks ago, we wrote about Aurovillian Sundar Rajamani and his new store-café Chez Nous, which is already a popular meeting place in Pondicherry. Following suit is Bobby Depl-echin,another Aurovillian, who has opened her store, Boutique St Laurent. Located on Rue du Bazar (opposite The Promenade), the store features an eclectic collection of bags, perfumes, knits and home accessories. For the peckish, it has treats by Auroville-based baker Kalya, along with Auroville’s breads, jams, rice and salads.
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Deplechin used to conduct workshops to make garments and bags. And when her friend Eshwari S approached her to start a new store, she grabbed the opportunity. “Eshwari was working with me and I had earlier mentioned to her that I wanted to start a store. She found the place, and I finalised the deal,” says Deplechin. While she retails her Amano leather bags, knits and garments (which are made in a workshop near the township), the store also has Maroma perfumes (an Auroville brand), incense, body care products, Auroville handicrafts, oil and water colour paintings created by Audrey, an Aurovillian.
Hailing from England, Deplechin came to Pondicherry in 1973 and married Andre, a Frenchman. “We all come to Pondicherry searching for something. When we reach Auroville, we knew we found what we were looking for. This place is very peaceful,” she says. Deplechin keeps herself fit and busy with aerobics. “My husband Andre, who makes bags, is also a cyclist and has taken part in international races. The most recent was in Mongolia. I conduct aerobics and fitness classes four times a week in Auroville,” she says. As for the store, Deplechin has plans to expand. “We want to get our little coffee shop running smoothly and provide free wifi, along with cakes, cheese and breads. We hope to offer birthday and special-occasion cakes. We will also offer organic food hampers and various breads,” she concludes.
Bags from Rs900 onwards, and knits, from Rs795. Details: 0413 2342220, email@example.com
— Mrinalini Sundar