The company that imports and distributed Rhodia to the United States is called “Exaclair.” Some of you may wonder who or what exactly is “Exaclair.” I have never written about the company and thought I would do so now, as more and more people seem to be searching for “Exaclair products.”
The name Exaclair is a combination of the company, Exacompta Clairefontaine–our umbrella corporate parent based in France. This conglomerate includes 30 or 40 (I’m not sure of the number) different companies. We import products from 11 of those companies to the U.S. We are the exclusive U.S. importer and distributor of Exacompta Clairefontaine products to the United States. Our corporate website can be found here.
Exaclair was founded in 1984 — 30 years ago — by Christine Nusse, a fifth generation family member of Clairefontaine. Her father, Charles Nusse, also founded Exacompta, which originally started out making accounting ledgers and now makes a variety of office supply products sold throughout Europe and North America.
Christine Nusse literally started out with a suitcase of Clairefontaine and G. Lalo samples, showing them to (then) the many stationery stores on the Upper East Side and Upper West Side of Manhattan and Midtown. From there, Exaclair products have expanded to stores throughout the country where fine writing and paper products are sold.
In my 15 years at Exaclair, I have seen major changes in the stationery industry. Chief among them were the rise of email, smart phones and big box stores. The 9/11 disaster also eliminated many small stationery and office supply stores in Lower Manhattan, and much of the local printing industry.
I would estimate that 80% of Exaclair’s retail customers on the books on May 1, 1999 — my start date with the company — have subsequently gone out of business or been taken over. At that time, Palm Pilots were starting to impact sales of address books, and email was just getting popular. These changes dealt a cruel blow to social stationery.
When I started with Exaclair, G. Lalo and Clairefontaine were the most popular brands. It is now Rhodia, Clairefontaine and J. Herbin.
We are very proud of our products and stand behind them. If we get questions on any products, we follow up immediately with the parent company in France and the consumer. We are all very appreciative of the loyalty and support of consumers and local retailers.
We are very optimistic about the future. Our sales are growing, and we believe it’s because of the quality of our paper and the company’s good environmental record. As people return to paper to create, relax, express themselves or just slow down, we are confident that they will find our brands, and enjoy the pleasure of writing the way all of us do.