Hèléne Rebelo: Founder of Cool Machine and Objeto Moderno
Hélène Rebelo and Edouard Beauget are the founders of the uber cool online store concept Cool Machine! Inspired by Memphis-like art decor, the store showcases unique pieces handmade by youns artists little known around the globe at affordable prices. A boom of colour, shapes and lines that is recognisable in Hélène's personal project too: Objeto Moderno - an Instagram based shop where customers can purchase curated vintage pieces through a DM.
Hi Hélène! Please, tell us a bit about how Cool Machine shop was born and how you started the whole project with Edouard.
Hi Daria! Cool Machine is a project I imagined more than 6 years ago. I knew I wanted to do something by myself but, at that time, I did not really know how to do and I had no idea of what it looked like. My last job was boring, so I had a lot of time to think about my future.
One day, I’ve left my job and I felt it was the time to finally start my tiny business. Edouard has been my boyfriend for almost 8 years. He always believed in me and my abilities to create something big, he always encouraged me. When the time came, he was there and helped me to build the online store. In the very beginning we only offered vintage shirts; later on I progressively started to get more and more independent artists in the shop.
You and Edouard were partners in life before work. Did you find this made the whole process easier to collaborate on the project?
Yes, absolutely. It made things much easier because he knows everything about me, he knows my weaknesses, my strengths and my way of being. We have a great complicity and complementary personalities, which is very helpful.
The whole store concept is based around shapes and colour, a bit art deco, a bit Memphis Group circa 1980. Were you always driven by this particular type of design?
I know that I’ve always particularly been driven by colors and shapes. Sometimes It’s difficult to explain what I feel when I discover an artist and their work, but I feel something very strong inside me, emotionally wise. Emotions drive me and my interest for past eras and different art movements have grown progressively in the last few years.
To anyone out there willing to start their own concept store, what would you say were the biggest struggles towards opening Cool Machine?
I guess the most difficult for me was to create my project without money and put my personal life in a limbo for a while. My best advice to anyone starting would be: be patient. Believe in yourself and be patient, in any projects you want to start. It's fantastic to have the keys of your future, you can improve every single day, but it requires a lot of time. You have to stay strong and confident…And work very hard!
It has been 3 years since the opening of the store, how wonderful! Where do you see it going in the next few years? Are you thinking of moving offline and opening a physical store sometime in the future?
Thank you so much! When I’ve started, I could not imagine Cool Machine would still be there 3 years later. I would be so thrilled to open a store or a showroom in the near future, maybe mixing Cool Machine with Objeto Moderno… or maybe not! I have thought about it for several months, I am sure the right moment will come one day.
Objeto Moderno is your newer "baby": where did the idea of starting an Instagram based store come from?
Objeto Moderno is a hobby for now. Being on Instagram gives me more freedom, I only work on it when I have some spare time. Building a website requires too much work and time at the moment. With Objeto Moderno I can just be more spontaneous and free.
It seems like Instagram is soon becoming the ideal platform for immediate purchases and a whole new type of concept store. Did you find the app was a way to interact with customers in a more direct way?
I believe IG offers a spontaneous behaviour and this is what people really want to see. The social platform can make a product even more attracting and desirable. With Cool Machine for example, the stories feature helps me to show a single piece in more detail and this is incredibly valuable as we don’t any physical shop. As followers can send you messages directly and they can react to your stories, people connect in a much faster way. However sometimes I do feel it can become almost invasive as your customers can contact you 24/7. It's important to set your limits.
The curated pieces for Objeto Moderno are stunning. Where do you obtain such pieces?
I mainly find my pieces in flea markets and charity shops where I spend a lot of my free time. I can spend hours and hours looking for the best pieces and I love it. It's so exciting! I always look forward to offer limited editions or unique pieces to my followers.
Cool Machine Shop, Objeto Moderno as well as your personal Instagram account have a very unique look and feel. Do you have any favourites you grab inspiration from and that you would like to mention?
There are a lot of Instagram accounts that I follow and love, here are a few of my fav: @louisrubi @maggieontherocks @palomawool @lisasaysgah @emmapardos_store @leseines @_sightunseen_ @the_80s_interior @kimcoolmon @royalgarance @ineslongevial