Guy Orban and his wife founded Kiss that Frog, a wholesale business in Berkeley, in 1996.
When this Belgian citizen and his wife settled down in the U.S., they had the goal to import artisanal brands “with a French accent.” It’s how they wholesale goods ranging from dinnerware to table linens, kitchen accessories to well-known U.S. retailers.
But with the growing demand from individuals, they created a biannual event now called Le Marché Pop Up, where they open their warehouse to the public for a weekend sample sale. And due to the success, the sale is now available online for 2 weekends a year as well!
The whole adventure of KTF started by importing goods like Tintin branded items before expanding their range of products. They are now equally importing artisanal and responsibly sourced in France and francophone countries.
A passion for craftsmanship and “makers”
Guy grew up traveling with his mother. He developed a taste for a nomadic lifestyle and enjoyed discovering people’s history along the road and, sometimes, their products. He learned to listen to artisans and their stories, and he knew how important it is to preserve the know-how and the legacy.
The story behind some brands
The focus of Kiss That Frog is more than ever to promote heritage and family-owned regional makers. France in particular has an endless amount of treasures. Each region has its specifics and specialties in tabletop and kitchen wares.
Consequently, Guy and his wife are spending increasingly more time on the provincial roads of France looking for artisans and families with handicrafts and home decor accents.
For example, they work very closely with their friends at Fer à Cheval to promote the expansion of their environmentally responsible products. Fer à Cheval has been making traditional organic soaps since its inception in 1865. Their legendary Marseille soap made from natural ingredients has recently been awarded the Ecocert label from the official European Organic Standard body. From now on, Fer à Cheval uses a plastic-free industrial process and package most of their top products in recycled paper.
There is also the incredible story of Poterie Renault. Renault Pottery is a 5th generation French institution specializing in classic French kitchen goods. It started in 1847, when Stanislas Renault first opened his workshop in Argent-sur-Sauldre, near Orléans. Five generations and 173 years later, the family was still handcrafting their iconic stoneware from local grey clay. They’ve since had to close up shop, but Guy was able to save entire collections of the traditional pottery. He is also working on fixing the warehouse with a team in France to try and maybe perpetuate one day the tradition and have the kilns working again?
In the meantime, these pieces are no longer in production outside Le Marché Pop-Up, but you can now find some designs exclusively on Food 52 and on other retail websites.
Another iconic French product is the famous “filet à provision” by FILT (grocery fishnet bag), or the traditional kitchen towels by Les Tissages de L’Ouest.
Kiss that Frog has more projects in preparation to support makers. For instance, a project in Morocco involving close work with artisans and their families to promote their fantastic work and environmentally conscious and responsibly sourced goods. Stay tuned for more!
This year Kiss That Frog turns 25 and is excited to be sharing this momentous milestone with the Bay Area and virtual communities.
Please follow along to learn more about their exciting future and upcoming sales, like their Warehouse Sale taking place from April 209 to May 1st 2022
Dates: Friday April 29th, Saturday April 30th and Sunday May 1st, 2022.
Hours: from 10 am to 5 pm
Address Berkeley: 2310 Fourth Street, Berkeley
Address San Pablo: 1065 Broadway Ave, San Pablo
By appointment, click here (your registration is valid for Friday, Saturday or Sunday anytime of the day)
If you cannot attend in person, there will be an online sale on May 13 & 15th, 2022.
RSVP here: www.lemarchepopup.com
Merci Guy Orban , Kiss That Frog and Le Marché Pop Up!