Having recently opened her first store in the Bahamas, Vivre founder and CEO Eva Jeanbart-Lorenzotti takes her company to the next level while balancing work, family, and a social life-and making it all look easy.
By Ellen Wang
“What’s most important is being able to create a vehicle for people to have their own experiences and discoveries.”
Eva Jeanbart-Lorenzotti says she has resigned herself to imperfection. It’s hard to believe the composed brown-eyed beauty, though. After all, as the founder and CEO of the wildly popular catalog and online luxury goods source Vivre, Jeanbart-Lorenzotti is an incredibly successful business woman-so much so that Time magazine dubbed her the “mail-order magnate” three years ago. Her refined features, flowing brown locks, and bold personal style make her both a media darling and a fixture in the fashion world. Add to that a handsome husband and two young children-one boy and one girl, naturally-and it certainly seems like Jeanbart-Lorenzotti has it all.
“The big obstacle as a working woman is achieving some balance, but it’s also about a state of mind,” explains Jeanbart-Lorenzotti. “You have to realize that you will not find the perfect balance. If you’re passionate about every facet of your life and what you do, then it’s not about perfection.” In the 12 years since Vivre launched as a thin luxury goods catalog, Jeanbart-Lorenzotti has taken the company online, into countless homes, and around the world. With the recent opening of the company’s first storefront at Sol Kerzner’s lavish Bahamian resort, The Cove Atlantis, it’s clear that whatever her key is to success, it’s certainly effective. The new store, Escape by Vivre, offers a unique collection of clothing, accessories, and home products, and it makes tangible the idea of style and luxury popularized by the catalog.
“What’s most important is being able to create a vehicle for people to have their own experiences and discoveries,” says Jeanbart-Lorenzotti. “Vivre is about artistry and craftsmanship, story-telling and individuality.” Designed by architect Jeffrey Beers, the store at The Cove is 12,000 square feet of chic, airy retail space. Racks of colorful clothes, shoes, jewelry, and handbags are arranged with care, but not in categories. The setup provides a warm, homey feel and allows customers to browse and discover Vivre’s treasures at their leisure.
Always looking for the unexpected, Jeanbart-Lorenzotti’s decision to open Vivre’s first store in the Bahamas came naturally. The company’s various goods-from a shell ring and an embroidered chiffon tunic to a handmade backgammon set and a Murano glass chandelier-all carry an air of the exotic and eclectic. Surrounded by clear azure water and blessed with a sunny tropical climate, Paradise Island seemed to be just the place for the travel-oriented company’s flagship.
As a Swiss-born, New York transplant, Jeanbart-Lorenzotti personally embodies the Vivre attitude of exploration and individuality. Her story is typical only in that her teenage rebelliousness manifested as the desire to move to Manhattan despite stern parental disapproval. After earning a degree from Barnard College, the ambitious and classically beautiful brunette pursued a short career in investment banking at Lazard Fréres. From there, however, her story takes an expected turn.
The budding entrepreneur noticed that even New Yorkers only had limited exposure to luxury goods. Wanting to fill that gap, in 1995 she launched a glossy catalog targeted toward the affluent customer. The direct mailing, which originally only featured three brands, now boasts more than 150 labels, including Vera Wang, Roberto Cavalli, Anya Hindmarch, Ports 1961, and Andrée Putman for Christofle.
Vivre’s focus expands beyond well-known designers, though. “It has always been one of our biggest missions to have a place where artisans and young, undiscovered people could express themselves,” points out Jeanbart-Lorenzotti. “We pride ourselves a lot on that. Having a combination of the tried-and-true along with the fun and unexpected is really important.” In order to continually bring a fresh perspective to Vivre’s collection, Jeanbart-Lorenzotti spends much of her time traveling around the world searching for unique brands and artists. “The strength of the brand is that it’s global,” she says. “The business today is very different from when I started it.
It’s not about access anymore. Now, there are hundreds of ways to find what you want; you can just Google it.” Instead, what Jeanbart-Lorenzotti strives to do with Vivre is to present edited and contextual lifestyle products. Not only does Vivre offer a beach-ready bikini and matching wide-brimmed hat, but also an embroidered deck chair and coral-patterned dinnerware for entertaining.
In addition to being a successful business woman, Jeanbart-Lorenzotti has achieved something that could perhaps be considered even more difficult and elusive-socialite status. Somehow amid the responsibilities associated with heading a large company and maintaining a happy family life, she has also had the grace, flair, and-bless her-the patience to become a member of Manhattan’s shining social set. Society photographer Patrick McMullan’s lens has captured her on numerous occasions mingling with social superstars like Vanessa von Bismarck, Valesca Guerrand-Hermès, Jennifer Creel, Carlos Mota, and Lucy Sykes. Whether outfitted in an Yves Saint-Laurent evening gown, oversized, Jackie O-style sunglasses, or a colorful, floor-length scarf, Jeanbart-Lorenzotti seems to always exhibit poise and grace. Even her laugh suggests a sincerity and generosity.
As for her own style, she admits that it’s very tied to Vivre. “I love accessories and am a big collector, especially of jewelry,” she says. “I like to take a simple outfit and play around with it. Everything in life comes in layers, and my personal style changes all the time.” A regular attendee of international fashion shows, she also looks to art, décor, and what people are wearing on the street for inspiration.
Regardless of where she is-Greece, the Dominican Republic, or her office in New York-it’s very likely that she’ll have her children, Allegra and Amedeo, and her husband, Lorenzo, by her side. With one arm slung across her children’s shoulders or her face pressed close to theirs, she appears almost physically protective of the close-knit family life she has created. In anticipation of Father’s Day this past June, the front page of Vivre online featured a close-up shot of her husband and son. “I try to weave it all together,” she says of her hectic work and family schedules, “but sometimes it’s more about work, when others it’s more about family. Instead of striving for perfection, you just try to do your best and be passionate about everything you do.”