Melissa Ladd-Schulz is the beautiful, positive, and fun Instagram personality and Rue 24 Faubourg St.-Honoré Sales Associate extraordinaire known online as Miss Faubourg. Offering a lighthearted, upbeat look at life inside the Hermès Flagship boutique and all its wonders, objects, and people, Miss Faubourg became a very popular social media personality during COVID, which has extended past our return to the world of shopping due to her very experienced eye and warm heart. I was lucky enough to be able to ask her a few questions about her life inside the Flagship from a Sales Associate’s perspective, her relationships with both clients and online fans and what she sees coming up for her next.
Of course, we know you as the fabulous Miss Faubourg: the Hermès Sales Associate we all dream of having. What is your background?
I am an American; I grew up in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I come from a large family, but I’m the only one to live in Europe. I studied French in college and did half of my undergraduate degree in Paris starting in 2002, which is also when I started living here. I then did my graduate studies in Literature at a Parisian University. I met my husband here in 2006, and we married in 2012.
Did you always want to live in France?
Yes!!!! I have had a big love affair with France and the French language from a young age when, in middle school, I was introduced to the language by my French teacher.
When did you first learn about Hermès?
I had never heard of Hermès before I moved to France. When I moved here I only knew about the luxury brands that were well-known at the time to Americans, such as Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Chanel. I never actually went into an Hermès boutique until my first day of work, because I was too nervous to go in! So in that way, my experience was a lot like some of the clients who have ended up coming to shop with me at 24 Faubourg, because it is quite impressive to walk through the doors of the boutique, and there’s a sense of awe about this address.
What made you decide to work at Hermès?
I wanted to work for a French company. I had been working in study abroad for several years after graduating, and I wanted to work for a company that was stable and established.
When and where did you start at Hermès, and how many years have you been there?
I started at Hermès’ Faubourg St.-Honoré Flagship (FSH) in Paris in August of 2011. I had never worked in luxury before, and I got an interview with the Interim Director Madame Anne-Espieux, who hired me after a five-minute interview! Mme. Espieux is absolutely one of the best people to have ever graced the floors of the Hermès Flagship. I like to mention her name because she was such a wonderful soul, and she passed away several years ago. She gave me a chance, and I will always be grateful to her spirit for that. I worked under her direction in the Women’s department. I stayed in that department for 9 years and then moved to fine jewelry and watches right before COVID. I love jewelry – I always have – and I really wanted to be able to have that experience for a long time. The Jewelry Department Director has been the best example of a boss I have ever had.
Do you have a favorite metièr?
Jewelry, of course!!
Are Sales Associates (SAs) placed wherever they are needed, or do they have some input into which department they are placed?
From what I understand, they are most likely hired for positions where they are needed, just like any luxury boutique. But SAs can evolve into other departments over time if they find something that makes them tick, depending upon the availability of a position in that department at FSH.
Would you say that each department at FSH, or at Hermès in general, has a different culture and vibe, or is it uniform?
I would say that could be true. Hermès employees are humans – contrary to popular belief of us being fairies, hahaha! – and humans have personalities, every one of us is unique. So that means that just like anywhere, each team may have a different vibe, or a different approach. Even from one SA to another, everyone has a different way of interacting with others; Hermès definitely doesn’t want its staff to be robotic. Do you remember those videos Hermès made for the website, in 2021, which I was lucky enough to act in – they featured real SAs, and each scene showed the SA having a private joke with the imaginary client?!? This is the reality when you have a relationship with an SA: you get to create your own relationship, which is different from the relationship anyone else may have with that SA, because we are all different and each interaction is unique.
Of course Hermès is so well-loved for its leather goods. Do you have any favorite leathers or colors?
Everyone surely has their own favorites! I do tend to love the Heritage Leathers like Barenia and Boxcalf. There’s such beauty in these skins and the care with they are tanned. As for my favorite colors, that is very subjective, and it’s hard not to fall in love with so many of them! The first colors that come to mind include Bambou, Bleu Celeste, Bleu Azure, all of the Pinks, Gold, Gris Mouette, Bleu Brighton, Bleu Agate, Vert Comics, Vert Criquet, Rouge Cœur, Gris Asphalt, Craie, Mushroom, Mimosa…I could go on and on!
Is the culture of shopping similar in Paris as it is here in the US, or is it different? In which ways?
Well FSH is a cosmopolitan fishbowl, so it’s not a great place to analyze the differences between American and French shopping habits, or any other ones for that matter. I can say that not a single day is boring there! There is always something exciting going on; that’s what I love about FSH!!
How much of the daily culture at Hermès is steeped in tradition?
In my opinion, like with Hermès products, it seems to be a balancing act between modernizing the services offered to clients, yet always referring to the house’s roots.
How do you think Hermès manages to balance that tradition with staying modern and relevant? How does it walk the line between staying grounded in its history and current trends?
That is what I feel is the magic of Hermès! The brand has been like this ever since Emile Hermès put his creative genius into bringing the artisan house to another level. The creative minds that Hermès invests in are given carte blanche to create without restrictions. Therefore, Hermès always has a sense of modernity and “pushing the envelope,” yet the inspiration is always infused with the history of the brand. That’s how they create the magical balance.
What made you start your Instagram page? Did you need corporate approval? What motivates you to continue it?
I began the Miss Faubourg Instagram page kind of secretly, because at the time no one was really sure what the rules were. We had been given a newly-created chart of good conduct, and that was helpful for me to have because it gave me some parameters to use for posting. I started it because I wanted to show products beyond the famous Kelly and Birkin bags, so that people could see and appreciate through my viewpoint more of the brand’s products.
At first, I didn’t show my face, but I started showing my face and having a little bit more interaction with people during COVID, and I saw that there was a great need for more communication with the brand’s fans who were missing the store when no one could travel. Then I realized what people really needed, in addition to seeing products to dream over: I saw a need for validation. Fans and clients want to be seen and each one wants to know that they are a valued customer, whether they bought just a Twilly or €10,000 earrings. That’s what I advocated for with the project I was hoping to create for FSH; I felt it was a service that was needed.
People need validation, kindness and consideration. We all do, even people who have the money to spend on Hermès need appreciation. I continued animating my page beyond what I had initially started it for, because I saw this need. I love making people feel special, and sometimes all that is needed is a kind reply to a DM or a like of their post or a reply to their comment. Sometimes I was able to take it even further by welcoming them into the store! Everyone needs a moment now and then when they feel that they are special and the most important person in front of me.
Why are you giving your first interview to be published now?
Well, because I have finally decided to see where my little fairy wings can fly me! I want to be a bit freer and more creative, and have wanted to work in a digital and social capacity for decades. In the summer of 2022 I proposed a project to FSH but it wasn’t something they were keen on, because they really need total control over their brand image, which of course is very understandable, and I’m a bit of a spontaneous free agent!
In spite of the very positive spin I put on all my content, which is the way I naturally am, I don’t believe that the direction of my content is the way they want to go. Nonetheless, I made my proposal and tried to bring my talents to the table, so to speak. That was important to me: if you don’t try, you never know. Honestly it is for the best, because Hermès doesn’t actually need me to promote their brand, they do that very well themselves. On the other hand, there are plenty of small, lesser-known brands which could benefit from my talents! Most importantly, now I can have total freedom in what I do. So stay tuned: I promise it will be fun!
What is next for Miss Faubourg?
I’m going to create my own consulting service for content strategy, brand image and visibility and a little influencing…and see where that takes me. The sky is the limit. The future is mine, and I have a thousand ideas!
Will Hermès still remain in your content?
Absolutely! I could never give up my love for the beautiful things this Maison makes! Once you fall in love with the brand, it’s hard to not be addicted. Everything is so beautiful and whimsical!
Will you become a client?
Well, I do have a scarf addiction, I just won’t be able to get as many as I used to anymore!
With such a love for your job, how did you make the decision to leave Hermès, and was it a hard decision ?
It wasn’t easy because I love my job so much. I love Hermès for all that it stands for and symbolizes, but I need to grow creatively and professionally.
What will you miss the most about working at Hermès?
The relationships: the ones I have forged with all my incredible, hard-working colleagues and seeing them daily, I’ll miss that. I’ll miss being able to sell Hermès products to such fun clients from around the world. I’ll miss the rooftop garden! I’ll miss being in contact with the beautiful products every day.
Oh, and the employee sales!! Ha!
What are your favorite client memories at Hermès?
I’ve told the story before on my Instagram page of the young man who was about 18 years old when he brought his mother into the store for Mother’s Day to get her a ring with his very first paycheck. It was the most inexpensive silver ring, and I just thought that was absolutely the most beautiful gesture anyone could have ever done for their mother. I hope my sons do that for me someday! I also fondly remember modeling some jewelry pieces during lockdown for a video appointment with Stephanie Shojaee. That was such a cool way to meet a client for the first time! There was also the first time I met my client Mitch in real life: we had connected during COVID, and I helped him with remote purchases. The best hug I ever got in my life was probably those first 30 seconds of meeting him in person.
But all my memories there are special, and so are those with whom I share those memories. That is the magic of what I do!
What are you most looking forward to after you leave?
Having more time with my children, and being able to be more creative.