I was 14 when my mother died. On the morning of January 10th 2001, I said goodbye to her as she lay in bed with what seemed to be a bad cold, and left for school like any other day. That was the last time I would see her alive.
I recall the evening/night through a dream-like filter. The colours and textures of what I ate for dinner, but not what it was. My uncle —the person who would soon become my legal guardian— being at home with us because my mother had been rushed to the hospital as her lungs began to fail earlier that day (a detail I would only discover later).
There is nothing that can prepare you for an earth shattering event like this, or the shock and trauma that follows the sudden loss of the most important being in your world. Especially as a child. In the hours and days following my mother’s death, I was told by a relative of my mother’s boyfriend to take ten deep breaths, and that I would feel better after the funeral. I was encouraged to drink cups of milky black tea with plenty of sugar; offered my next door neighbors set of F.R.I.E.N.D.S tapes and bought ‘really good’ cookies by someone else..
I remember thinking how incredibly inadequate all of this was. My mother was dead. The person I had loved and needed the most in the world was gone and ten deep breaths and some cookies were not going to help me. Why did no one have anything of real help to offer?
I had no tools with which to navigate this monumental loss. No language with which to express the gut clenching devastation I felt. I was just entering into adolescence—a child, but not. No one knew what to do. No one could have prepared for this. A vale of shock settled over my life and my family, and continued to thicken and rout over the next several years.
In hindsight and having educated myself on trauma, I understand that we were all in a state of shock. As Joan Didion describes in ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’, your mind can convince itself of the most fantastic scenarios when in shock. For years I secretly fantasised that my mother had concocted a brilliant plan to run away and was actually alive in some foreign place. I would try to find her in the crowd when on holiday. Maybe she was there..
I was too young to have read or know anything about the experience of loss back then. There was no ‘Super SoulSunday’ were I could grab sound bites from trauma specialists, like we can today. I didn’t have the language, or the knowledge to process what was happening in or around me. I went into survival mode and lived in that state for the next 14 years.
It was only after beginning to tackle the insidious coping mechanisms I had developed in order to try and manage my vast, untreated grief, that I was able to start to bring it into the light. In the years that followed the death of Sarah, I used starvation, work, boys, alcohol, drugs, food, relationships, and more starvation to try and seek relief from the trauma of my mother dying—of losing my connection to the earth. I spent the best part of my teens and 20’s stuck in an endless loop or addictive highs and lows.
At the tail end of yet another devastating relationship break down, encouraged in part by a deep fear of intimacy and inability to trust anyone or anything, I was finally willing to do the thing that therapists had been trying trying to coax me into for years: talk about my mother and her sudden death. Gradually I became open to the tools that were available, and willing to let go of those I had depended on for so long.
Around this time someone the same age as me came into my life who had very recently lost her mother. Observing her open relationship towards her loss, her willingness to talk about it, to acknowledge the devastation, stirred something deep within me. I began to come to terms with the reality of my own grief. That which I had not allowed myself to really feel; and the very thing that was preventing me to move forward with my life. To open up to love and closeness with others. I found the mirror I had needed, to reveal all the pain I had trapped in my body and psyche.
I offer this not as a morbid tale, but as a prefix for what i have learnt: Untreated grief and trauma are like cancer, if you don’t do something about it, it spreads and destroys everything in its path. We become suspended in time and dependent on quick fixes to survive. There is a relatively new acknowledgment that all addiction stems from trauma of some sort, often in childhood.
I wish the 14 year old and her sisters had had resources to better cope. That my family had had them. We didn’t. Today we do. Beyond this, no matter the nature of our relationships with them, for women our connection to our mother is at the core of our being. It is the person we turn to, or crave advice and solace from. She is how we know what it is to be a woman. For a girl to lose her mother at a young age has a specific effect.
We are poorly equipped for dealing with and honoring death in the West. Furthermore, there is shame attached to grieving that seems to be systemic. We assume we have a certain window in which to mourn and must then move on, but this is not how grief works. It is not a linear process. Some of the most joyful events in my life have come with a deep grief also, knowing I would not be able to share them with my mother.
As with any systemic shortcoming, change begins with sharing openly and speaking up. Perhaps in doing so here I can encourage someone to acknowledge something they have not yet processed, as I was encouraged to do by witnessing a friends vulnerability. There is freedom beyond grief. And yet, it is often through loss of a loved one that we truly discover the intelligence of the body to remember and endure. Approached with awareness this can be a wonderful gift.
We talked to Maike Lüdenbach from LÖV the Label about bodypositivity, what it means to her and how she shares the beliefs that are the core of her brand.
How do you define body ipositivity?
To me body positivity is about creating a normality and acceptance of all body types, I feel like most of us have to retrain our brains for this. It seems like the ones shown by high fashion brands or cute instagram accounts are the only ones acceptable of praise, and we are shocked to see plus size female bodies.
I also believe that the body positive movement is one that men have to get involved in as well, we often forget that men’s taste in women is as varied as the women out there. We have a history of teaching women to ‘please’ others, which creates unhealthy habits and society imposed illusions of what a desirable woman looks like, especially amongst younger girls and women.
Does body positivity include all body types? And what aspects are important to you, to show in your work, it’s bigger more important than thinner, for example? Where do you draw the line between your personal point of view and your business?
The body positive movement in my opinion includes all types of bodies, ages and disabilities. And they’re all important to show in my work. I would love to feature XXL sizes, however we do not produce them yet, so it doesn’t make sense to show them. This is where I draw the line in my business at the moment, but as we grow, I personally want to be able to represent a bigger scope of the spectrum and a wider variety of women.
I don´t think bigger is more Iimportant.Actually, I recently wrote a newsletter with the title ‘The Itty Bitty Committee’. It is important to me, to show what we’re less exposed to, in order to balance the view on women and their bodies (and humans in general).
Did modelling affect your body image?
Yes it definitely affected my body image; I was in this bubble together with young, tall and skinny girls that I lived and worked with, got judge beside and looked up to.
I guess, as you can't change your age or height, you live with the illusion that if you can change your weight you are more in control of your destiny, i.e booking jobs.
I remember taking the subway one day, and realizing what women really looked like. It opened my eyes and made me realize I’d been so closed up in this bubble that I had totally blocked out the beauty and variety of all women and their bodies.
What does supporting women mean to you and have you always felt support around you?
To me supporting women, first of all means acknowledging each other. Intersectional feminism and including transgender women as well as everyone else that identifies as ‘she’. We did an editorial campaign with a queer model, and no media wanted to support it, that was really sad to see. It’s important to contribute and share all of our unique perspectives in order to educate our society, in what they sometimes think of as weaknesses, that in fact are stepping stones to solutions.
As a teenager I did not feel much support, there was a lot of envy and competition, even within my group of friends. But growing older, working on my self worth and boundaries, my friendships have become the relationships that fill me most with happiness and strength.
I am Marlene, my artist name is Franka Marlene. I was born and raised in Berlin, my profession, passion and ongoing drive in life is dance. I started at a very young age, never stopped and never questioned my path. I never decided to be a dancer, I just always was.
I grew into the process of choreographing, after many years as a dancer and soon realized that this was the way to express myself and to be even more creative with dance, body movement, music and the creation of the pictures in my head. I am fascinated by the possibility to influence and change a room by the mere presence of a human body, and to create a new space by choreographing and staging bodies. Collaborations and the interlock of different art forms are very important to me. Choreography to me is like painting, but the compositions don’t consist of colours, but of bodies, emotions and music.
Is there a lot of competition between female dancers? And are complicated relationships to their bodies, common?
When I was young the competitive side of dancing was on one hand really exhausting, because you do compare yourself all the time, and you get judged. On the other hand I was always quite confident and tried to not compete with people who were better than me, but rather learn from them. And I have to say that I never had issues with my body, I was always confident with myself, thanks to my parents who raised me that way.
I love that gender doesn't matter within the dance scene, at least that ́s my experience since a young age. It’s always been ahead of time when it comes to being sexuality, whatever it might be. There is no homophobia and ethnic diversity is also a huge part of the scene, and always was. The people and dancers I grew up with where always very open-minded and tolerant, much more than my other friends - especially men.
What inspires you?
Music is my biggest inspiration, and it is crucial for my art; it gives me pictures and scenes in my head that I let out through movement. I’m also inspired by the people that surround me, especially other dancers who I also work a lot with. There are some insane movers amongst us and luckily through the world wide web we can watch an be inspired by all of them.
Is there any re-occurring music or history in your choreography? And is there any female dancers or choreographers that have been especially important to you?
The genres of music that inspire me are changing from time to time, but I create a lot on electronic music. However, it always changes with my mood or the topics I’m dealing with. There are many dancers and choreographers from all over the world that have been important to me, both female and male. Many hip hop dancers, Vogue dancers, contemporary artists, and many artists from the US where I’ve been recently. I admire a lot of different dance genres; experimental contemporary floor work, Vogue, Hip Hop, Jive, House, Flamenco and Shuffle to name a few.
Another big inspiration for me are Martial Arts. As my father is a Karate Master I grew up with that feeling for movement, because I was surrounded by him practicing and teaching Katas. When I was younger I was never really interested in doing Karate but as I got older I realized that for me it was just another way of doing choreography and I began to let my art be influenced by it.
How did growing up with Martial Arts inspire you as a young girl?
I never thought that Martial Arts, at least Karate was a sport ruled by men. My father was training almost as many women as men, and my mother did Karate too and still does. I know a lot of women, who were in the Karate scene and of course I find that very inspiring, now. When I was younger it was just normal for me to be around all these athletes.
My interest in Martial Arts developed when I grew older and what is most inspiring to me are the movements, the choreography of the Katas, the strength and above all the philosophy. I’ve been working a lot within the contemporary dance scene, but I always make my way back to urban dance, combining my experiences from different dance styles as a choreographer, dancer and director. Through my creative network I’ve come in contact with video- and filmmaking, incorporating my art; my dance into video. In the past years I’ve worked a lot with music videos and I’d like to continue that, but most of all I want to make dancers shine.
Dancers, and this art form is not valued enough. However, I think this is changing slowly. Dance is an art form that needs much more respect and appreciation, we are performing athletes and I’d like us to have our own platform to express this. Of course, these things exist, but as dance is requested more and more also in the commercial world, I am working on not just being a nice side effect. I want dance to be the main effect.
I’m working closely with musicians, and other artists to realize both their and my ideas of music and dance together in one project. For this, Germany is in my opinion not the best country to live in, as other countries are much more ahead of time when it comes to dance. However, as Berlin is becoming more and more a capital for creatives and artists from all over the world moves here, I have decided to stay, for now.
Its not always easy, it can be very hard here as an artist. Everybody wants to express themselves and everyone can. You have a lot of pressure and competition, especially in the dance scene. But I stay true to myself, follow my desire and try to not get desperate if times are hard or things are not going well. Through the years I found lovely people to share and combine my art with. When you’re doing what you really love, you’ll meet the right people to work with. Its an ongoing process; my work and life in general is a never ending process of learning, creating, pausing, training, fighting, calming, researching and travelling.
Traveling is my second most loved passion, I travel a lot. I have always had this huge desire to see the world, I’m driven by wanderlust and by itchy feet. I need the freedom of being able to go anywhere, to get new pictures in my head, write and think about new concepts and see things differently than before. I think this is very important for growing, at least it is for me. I am always very curious, when it comes to different cultures and other ways of living. I grew up in the city with my mom, but I ‘m a child of nature. My father lives close to the mountains in the south of Germany, and I need nature, love to sleep in tents or in a van, where you don't need much luxury. I think it ś in my genes, my parents met in Greece, both traveling on their motorbikes. I love adventures and I like to see life as an adventure, not knowing what happens next. I don’t think too much of the future, I focus on the present, always following my instincts. The need to return to Berlin is always there, and I always come back as a better version of myself, inspired and open-hearted.
Hi, I’m Amy Tuxworth and I come from the very large Island, Australia. I started out as a photographer but have since moved into film. I was much more drawn to moving image as I like narrative, so for the last eight years I’ve been working in the film industry. I started out on the production side but I’ve ended up directing short form documentary films, which has taken me to India, Africa and around Europe. And I’ve just started making fiction. I’m inspired by people, places and cultures that activate my senses.
What is your calling?
I most definitely think my calling in life at this point is storytelling. I think if you’re a curious person with an interest in human psychology, being a filmmaker is a great profession. When I was living in Berlin, I worked with the online magazine, Freunde von Freunden and that’s where my interest in documentary began. I was very lucky to travel to many places with that job. One of my favourite jobs was in India where we documented a traditional Santoor player who has been working with the lowest caste teaching them traditional music and singing. I’ve never in my life been so moved by voices of 8 year olds - they were unbelievable. As soon as they started singing, I just burst into tears. I’ve always loved travelling and because of this, it’s definitely a career that I feel suits me - I can’t really imagine doing anything else anymore.
I’ve recently moved back to Sydney, from Berlin, and since coming back my direction has changed from documentary to fiction. I’m currently in post-production for my first fiction film, Silenced - which is about a Muslim family who are dealing with the impact of Islamophobia in their Western Sydney neighborhood.
Do you ever feel that other define you based on your profession?
I feel that my profession is a big part of who I am, particularly as I get older and start to see much more clearly what I want. The more I pursue that, the more wholesome I feel. I love the process of film making - it starts as an idea, which is usually inspired by a life event, the news or a book and then from there it takes a long time from pre to the final stages. You also get to work with other very talented people and it’s a lot of fun.
Looking back, had I not gone through heartbreak and moved back to Sydney, I’d probably still be searching and feeling creatively frustrated. I see my life as a constant flow, and sometimes when I’m swimming against the current, I know I need to make a change to get back in the flow. This is intuitive. So after coming back to Australia, I knew I was in the right place and that making this film is the beginning of something great. For me, it’s an important story, very close to my heart and the process has taught me so much about filmmaking - It’s like I’ve untapped something that was dormant and I can never go back.
If there’s one thing that I’ve learnt, it’s that ideas are nothing unless they’re materialized. I think people are afraid of judgement but if you can just be honest and realistic with yourself about “failing” or not meeting your own expectations, you will get a lot more done, and ultimately learn from each experience until you’ve reached your full potential.
I am extremely inspired by writers. I love reading as it allows me to create my own visual stories. To name a few Murakami, Maggie Nelson, John Cheever, John Berger and Arundhati Roy. I’m mostly inspired by people who are curious about the world, who seek out self-exploration and create stories to inspire imagination and growth - they’re the people I want to surround myself with. I want to die knowing I’ve explored not only the depths of the world but the depths of myself.
Are there any sacrifices in order to live like that, and if so what?
In the last 6 months I’ve worked really hard to try and fund my film and with that came a lot of stress and I didn’t have much time for friends and family. But sometimes that’s just the way it goes, there will always be some kind of sacrifice in life.
I will hopefully make another film this year and then in a few years I’d like to make a feature film. For now, though, after reading Murakami’s memoir, ‘What I Talk about When I Talk about Running” my goal is to run a marathon. I very much enjoyed reading about his connection to running and his creative process and I’d like to explore this myself, too.
I’m Crista Leonard, 34 years old, I’m a mongrel of nationalities although I predominately identify myself as Andorran/British. My ambition is to enjoy life, to see the beauty in the mundane and the extraordinary in the extraordinary. Experiences and people drive me, I’m fascinated by how we think, how our upbringings and experiences shapes us and who we might be if we were stripped of those things. I’m fascinated by the stories that are excluded from the greater historical narrative and our relationships with and understanding of the unexpected.
I feel like I don’t take enough advantage of opportunities in life but I also try to let my intuition guide me and that makes me feel safe. I try to rise above others expectations of me but sometimes I’m crushed, I always try to learn from both extremes though. I´m still learning to get validation from myself first and foremost. I live in a mixture of past and present at all times, it’s the reason why I’m never 100% in the now and frequently forget things (I think).
I’m a photographer, which as a career choice scares me a little and I’m still on my guard. If I wasn’t a photographer I’d probably be a psychologist if I could, location scout, writer, painter... Or curator.
Why and in what way does your career choice scare you?
Crista: Photography scares me as a career choice because it’s so mutable and you have to learn to stay very true to yourself and constantly be open to developing and maturing... And so it’s this very personally challenging career choice because you’re so easily distracted by what’s fashionable, what the client want... And it’s a constant struggle to learn who you are, how you perceive the world, what’s important to you...
I find the pressure makes me want to disappear from time to time and I’ve now learnt to do that when I feel that the pressure becomes overwhelming, it helps gather my thoughts and feel sane. I find inspiration when I’m in an unusual or different position to the ones I’m usually in, solitude and travelling are my sources of inspiration. I’m very inspired by Sally Potter, and I’ve always loved Elisabeth the first. I suppose it has something to do with my early realization that I couldn’t care less about being a girl and I wouldn’t be judged for it (easier said than done).
I think you´re the first one ever we´ve shared our interest for Elisabeth I with, could you tell us more about what she symbolizes for you?
Crista: I love that you do! As a child I adored her and I don’t think I really knew why, but as an adult I just love that she defied the concept of the ‘princess’ all us little girls grow up with, she was sole monarch and she was phenomenal! And to this day she challenges the views men can have of women not being leaders or not being emotionally stable.
When you say that you don’t care much about being a girl, do you mean that you´ve had a hard time identifying as a girl and what was ‘expected’ from you or do you not consider it being any different than being a boy?
Crista: As an only child I was very much brought up in a way that made me feel like I had all the opportunities that men do... It’s only as an adult that I´ve realized what the reality is for a lot of people.
We talked about having female role models, and you mentioned that you didn’t have many growing up. Why do you think that is?
Crista: Well there was Elisabeth I of course! But actually I spoke about this with my parents over lunch a while ago, and I told them that id been brought up with many stories of the great men in my family but I think that’s just symptomatic of a society that is obsessed with make strength! Having said that, I was also very aware of the great women in my family and as I grew up and came to realize that I was a girl and not a boy and I therefore had to accept my own reality.
My name is Léa Augereau, I’m from France, La Rochelle but living in Paris for five years now. I came to Paris after graduating fashion school, I moved to work in fashion production. After two years I started working with Haute Couture as an assistant pattern maker. Making clothes is my main passion, and my work.
Two years ago I started painting and was happily surprised when I started receiving enquiries about where to actually buy my paintings. In July 2017 I had my first exhibition together with six other girls; a truly amazing experience that made me decide to focus more on painting. My dream however is to work with both my passions; fashion design and painting.
I've managed to blend them both together in the blankets I make, inspired by my grandfather, a weaver and my grandmother who was a seamstress. I spent a lot of time watching them as a kid, my mother also made a lot of my clothes. Fast fashion makes me depressed, I want to dress timeless women, who do not care about fashion but wear clothes for the finish, the details and the cuts. I’m also working on jewelry and accessories since a few years now. I try my best to make my ideas come true, even though it takes time sometimes as I learn while doing it and I need to understand the process, touch the fabrics, feel the metal etc. to create.
My paintings are graphic with colour blocks as I started as a pattern maker, drawing technical files my work in fashion has had a big impact on my paintings. I work from home, in my tiny Parisian apartment, but sometimes I go back home to my mother and the calm sea to get inspired and work. One of my main inspiration is nature. I’m inspired by women, all women and from everywhere, I read a lot and I like (French and Italian) movies, music is also a big inspiration for me and something I can’t live without.
My paintings are my imaginary world, somewhere peaceful, in nature, surrounded by love and strong women. The painting ‘Tchin’ (Cheers) symbolizes my expectations and dreams of a better world. It was made on the night of the French election; three women, from different backgrounds and religions, drinking and being together. I think women can be everything in a picture, naked, wearing a headscarf, whatever they want as long as we respect each other, we have much more in common than we think.
My name is Ravenne Maria Helena Langer. As people couldn’t pronounce Ravenne and never knowing if I was a girl or a boy, I changed my name to Helena when I was five years old. I’m impressed by the will I had at that age but I understand now, that life isn’t about fitting into a box, which is why I decided to try again with my two names.
I was born in Regensburg, in Germany. My passion for creating started as a young girl, spending all my free time drawing in my room. I studied design with focus on illustration and graphic design, as my curiosity for fashion grew I moved to Hamburg and started working for a fashion agency and later for brands like Acne Studios and Céline. My passion for unique and minimal labels is big but there was no room creativity, so I decided to quit my job, finish my BA Degree and do what I really love; be an illustrator and a designer.
Back when I was taking my first steps in illustration, it was all about finding virtual mentors and role models. It’s really awesome to have someone to look up to and learn from, I couldn’t believe that yet only 3% of creative directors are female, which definitely triggered something in me. It’s a topic that is very personal to me; I’ve learned how important it is to have inspiring women to look up to, leading the way in their careers and sharing their experiences in this design field. I started with illustrating 25 brilliantly talented and strong women, from Frida Kahlo and Paula Scher to personal unknown role models. I want to empower women of all shapes and sizes through my artwork.
My illustrations are colourful and feminine in a minimalistic way, trying not to make my work overdone. Simplicity makes me happy; colours, geometric shapes and plants are important features in my work. Many of my illustrations deal with sexuality, female identity and mental health, all which are important topics to me. My work is highly influenced by my love of handmade elements and digital techniques. The best images, however are the ones in our heads.
My inspiration changes from day to day. A good morning gives you a good day, that’s why I love to wake up early and enthusiastic and make myself a cup of coffee from my local roasting house. I feel very inspired by botanical gardens and meditation at the moment. Music also has a huge influence on my work and my closest friends feed my inspiration.
I’m currently working on natural and organic skin care products with a couple of friends, collaborating with Pechuga Tee’s in Copenhagen and SUN.DAY in London. I’m always looking for opportunities to collaborate, I love meeting creative people, whether it’s for talking or teaming up in projects.
Carla Cascales Alimbau
My name is Carla Cascales Alimbau, I am 28 years old and I live and work in Barcelona. I’m an artist, sculptor and designer.
Since I was a child, I have always been drawing and building little objects but I never thought I could make a living from my passion, art. I was born in a modest and hardworking family where we all shared the appreciation for the artistic disciplines. My father is a model maker, my mother an interior designer and my sister a musician. We lived a very hard time in the family when, with the arrival of the digital 3D design and the laser cutting machines, my father had to close his model-maker studio, where everything was made by hand. Due to this experience and also influenced by the socially accepted idea of success as an economically stable job, I decided to study Advertising and later specializing in Design.
For a few years I felt comfortable working as a designer, but something inside me was telling me I was not true to myself. In 2015, I found myself in a very good job position working at a famous international design corporation. I was economically stable and well respected as a company member, but feeling completely empty inside my values wasn’t aligned with the ones of a mass production company. It was time to devote myself to what always moved me, so I made a decision: I quit my job and started the path I always wanted to do. With lots of effort and dedication I started to develop my own career as an independent artist and designer. Since then everything began to make sense, I feel at peace even though every day is a new challenge.
At the same time, I am thankful to see how my previous years as a designer enriches my current work, as can be seen in my sculptures there are influences from design, furniture, and architecture. I am specially inspired by the architects of the Modern Movement like Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright and Alvar Aalto. As well as artists such as Barbara Hepworth, Jean Arp, Constantin Brancusi, Eduardo Chillida, Jorge Oteiza, Ellsworth Kelly, Henri Matisse…
I am also fascinated by the Japanese view of beauty, specifically by ‘wabi-sabi’ movement and their admiration for the imperfect, mutable, and incomplete things. It is so different from the admiration of perfection or the fear of the passing of time we have in western countries. I deeply admire the work of Toko Shinoda and Tadao Ando. Another concept I love in the Japanese culture is ‘kintsugi’, a technique to repair fractures of ceramic with resin sprinkled with gold. It suggests that breakage and repairs are part of the history of an object and it’s shown instead of being hidden.
These concepts apply not only to objects but also to people. We need to accept that time passes by and consider it an element of beauty. Showing our scars make us stronger. All these concepts about being in harmony with life is what I try to communicate in my work.
I like my pieces to be a mix of these different streams, organic shapes with geometry, and the beautiful imperfections of nature with the purity of polished materials. Most materials I use to build the sculptures are pieces that can no longer be used in industrial manufacturing, like broken or irregular parts of marble, wood or metal. I love to find beauty in discarded pieces and give them a new value.
My near plans are a solo exhibition at the Gallery Castellana 22, organized by We Collect Club, during the ARCO Art Fair in Madrid.
Like Leonard Cohen says in his song ‘Anthem’
‘There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.’
This is My story. About My Journey from Absence to Presence.
”My Art is My Meditation. My Spirit is to create. It´s My Calling, My Desire, My Light, My Inner Voice.”
My name is Helene Kask. My journey started 36 years ago when I was born into this world, by two beautiful loving parents, and a few years later my baby sister also arrived. My grandparents where born in Estonia, but were forced to escape from the Russian occupation after WWII. To leave their home behind - the place were they were born and raised, and experience the horror of a war-torn Europe, have of course had a profound impact on my family in many ways. Due to the implication of our family history, the meaning of affinity really grew strong in our consciousness. To be there for each other and to share the struggles in life together. I had a happy and loving childhood in Sweden where my sister and I grew up in the same house as my grandparents. To see them daily during my childhood has influenced me in many ways - huge respect for the elder generation and also to life experience in general. This insight from my childhood I carry with me and it influences my behavior towards people when meeting them for the first time. To share a life story with someone else lets us get in touch with values that are real and honest.
Me growing up
I have always been a creative spirit. I could sit and sketch or make crafts for hours. I also loved reading books. These two activities helped me escape reality, and I lost myself in a dreamy fantasy world where anything was possible.
Since I loved to create and draw I applied to Art Class in Elementary School, and at University I studied fashion design. After completing my degrees I begun to work as a fashion designer. My main driving force is to inspire and to be inspired. To learn more and develop every day. Both as a creator, creative spirit and a human being. My next project is to participate a course in silver smithing, and in the near future I would like to learn about the art of tattooing.
A new chapter in life
Today we live in a fast paced world. The pressure is high and the load on your shoulders is getting heavier everyday – that pushed me into a new chapter in life.
Hitting rock bottom
My life has been stressful and unbalanced for many years. Unaware and ignoring that my body was sending out signals, led me into the worst scenario I have ever experienced. A stress disorder.
It all started with being tired, tired, tired…
I did not understand and I did not listen to my soul or body. I thought being tired was a normal state in today´s high paced society. The tiredness did not disappear even when I rested. I was tired deep down into my bones.
Hand in hand came the insidious dizziness. I had trouble breathing properly and felt almost a constant pressure over my chest. I fainted. My ears were blocked and I had twitches around my eyes. My body temperature was uneven. Had migraines. My immune system was really low. I had pain behind my left eye. Felt heavy anxiety. Started experiencing trouble with expressing myself in English. Forgot words and sentences. Then this happened when I spoke Swedish as well. I started forgetting how to do simple things like making coffee. At the same time I noticed mood swings. I could get upset or annoyed over small things and I had no patience. Then I started getting numb in my fingers and around my mouth. I felt stitches in my legs and arms and I got a heavy pain in my joints. Had my first panic attack out of many. I was really emotional. I cried and cried. Finally when I had trouble walking due to pain I had to face the truth. The day after my realization I started my sick leave. A sick leave that ended up being very long...
I could go on and on about my story when I was sick, but I would like to instead focus on how I have found a way out of this unpleasant situation. What I have learned and realized. Because what we focus on expands!
To accept my sickness was the breaking/starting point for me. When I realized this and started to accept the fact that I was really sick, I was able to start my healing process. It all comes down to awareness. It has been tough to realize that I can´t handle a lifestyle as before. My life will never be the same again. I have realized that I will always be more sensitive to stress, high paced pulse, high demands or pressure, large crowds, loud noises and sounds. I have to, every day for the rest of my life, constantly think about my energy level and not to push myself into something I can´t handle. Awareness of these facts has also taught me a lot - positive insights. To accept my struggle and give it time, love and respect. I have also come to the awareness that I-Am-One-Unity, my body and soul coexist. Living my life with a more holistic approach today, I honor and have gained a higher level of self awareness. To accept who I am and to reconnect with the core of my being. Learning to stay close to my soul is a constant organic process. I learn every day from my missteps, but staying on the predetermined path will bring me to the next level. It´s hard to be a sensitive soul in a world that speeds faster and faster, but if you accept and love yourself for who you are and stay true to yourself, your healing has come a long way.
Honor the callings of your body and soul
Self care is self love! To take care of myself at quite a basic level was essential for me at first. I changed my diet and started eating well balanced, organic, vegetarian, nutritious food. I started to eat a lot of vitamins and minerals which helped me to improve my sleep. I begun to walk. In the beginning maybe just 10 minutes per day slowly but soon longer walks. Walking is now part of my daily meditation practice. I spend a lot of time outside in the nature. The power of nature is truly amazing! I find my true nature in nature. Breathing fresh air, looking at water and beautiful scenery is extremely healing for me. I started practicing Kundalini yoga when I had a bit more energy. At a spiritual level I started working with my thoughts and my awareness. My Self-Esteem. Started meditating and here I found peace of mind. This transformation unlocked me to something larger than life. A connection to the Universe and to myself.
My Spiritual Awakening
I have realized throughout this process who I really am. All my life I have been trying to adapt. I have dimmed my light to be one-in-the-crowd. My best advice would be to always stay true and honest to yourself.
I started the long journey of coming home – back to myself again – by spending a lot of time to learn who I am. Something that I avoided before. To spend so much time with myself and my thoughts when going through a crisis was crucial for my healing. I got to know myself allover again. The real me. I also started listen to myself. I have become my own best friend – and I like the feeling. This process was a true spiritual awakening for me.
During this process I also returned to my childhood again and remembered the two things I loved to do as a little girl. My art and reading. During the process of being creative I found peace at mind, it is also my meditation. To start reading again has been amazing. I have read a lot of spiritual books and I have entered a new world. I suddenly felt inspired and alive again, realizing how much these things mean to me. They bring me to a safe place, my fantasy world, where I can express myself freely, be in my flow, find perfect harmony and feel radiant joy. To feel inspired again and in communion. To myself, my spirit and to the Universe. I stand at my sacred ground and contribute to the world. By being my true, authentic self.
My spirit is to create.
Being a creative soul is the calling in my life. To feel pleasure, not pressure. When I create I put high vibrations into my work, and every piece has a message to encourage reflection and to let go – to find your own way back.
I also have an Instagram account together with my sister. It is a Love Story to life, Mother Earth and to each other as human beings. This is our creative playground where we post our own photographs, affirmations, poetry and most importantly, a message of reflection.
My name is Zaida Sabatés, I’m 39 years old and I’m a decorative painter from Barcelona. I’ve always been passionate about fine arts. My dad has been making sculptures as a hobby since I was a kid and influenced me in my artistic development. I use to go to painting classes with my mother as a teenager, the teacher was a friend of her, and she worked painting Trompe-l’oeil and marbling imitations. I remember being fascinated by the amazing perspectives and the realistic imitations.
I studied art and specialised in decorative and mural painting. Working for a famous painting company I developed in different projects: from big hotels or famous restaurants to personal houses. I specialised in artistic and decorative solutions through traditional painting techniques such as: trompe l’oeil, glazing and marble imitation. One of the biggest project was to paint all the walls of the Majestic Hotel in Paseo de Gracia in Barcelona, if you look at the lobby walls you will notice there is no stone there.
After a few years working there I decided to start my own company of decorative painting, using the traditional techniques with a contemporary point of view. Working for a big company I was not a part of the creative process as most of the painting finishes were decided by the decorators, I found a lack of creativity in the way they were used. Now I work in my studio in Barcelona where I try to find new ways to apply those techniques, in unused fields and by constantly evolving and adapting to new ways.
The starting point of my work process is the observation, I observe a lot of things and I’m open to new techniques to imitate or interpret them. There is a creative process in that interpretation, which is the part I enjoy most. I find inspiration in nature or sometimes in industrial materials. Colour is essential in my work, so I prepare them with natural pigments to have unique results and find the perfect tone. Creating beautiful and delicate things with my hands is something I need in my life, it makes me happy.
I have a lot of friends working in different creative fields, interior design, fashion, photography, art direction and film, so I’ve started collaborating with them, applying my skills to develop set designs for photoshootings, music videos and fashions shows. One of them is my life partner Malva Sawada who is a Graphic Designer and Art Director, she designed my website and collaborates with me in different projects. Networking is essential for me, as I’m always interested in collaborating with people who inspire and improve my work.
My name is Samara Morris, I’m a photographer specialising in shooting women and founder of a yoga brand called Artogi. I was born in Cornwall but moved to London when I was very young and have always had East London as a base, even though I tend to travel a lot I had London as my home. I always had a passion for art and when I got accepted into London College of Fashion doing a BA in Fashion Photography (which I never thought I'd get into, as at the time, I had no idea how to really use a camera, I just really liked to take a photo for story telling purposes and creating a narrative) so that was a big turning point for me. I ended up graduating well and my first job out of University was shooting Playboy as they wanted a 'less is more approach' and for it to be shot in a more feminine way, through the eyes of a female photographer. This was huge for me and to be chosen to work on such a large scale production as my first job was insane. I learnt the hard way on a few things on my first job on location, like not to go to toilet when you have your microphone switched on for the film crew.
I then went into shooting high fashion and later onto Head of Photography for a big advertising agency in the city which I eventually left to set up my own company doing events and pop up shops with a strong fashion and music influence, working with brands such as Ted Baker, Universal, Rolling Stones and Disney.
Unfortunately (but in the long run the best thing that could have happened to me) I had a bad accident and fractured my spine in four places in a freak accident in a wave in Sri Lanka in 2014. At the same time of my accident my business I'd spent two hard years building went under as my business partner and I ended up not getting payed for a very large shop build we did.
After breaking my back, loosing my business and finishing with my boyfriend all at the same time I thought enough is enough... I need to go back to living life and doing what I love, being creative and not living to work as life is too short.
One day when I was laying there, during my many months of bed rest, I looked at a yoga mat that was positioned on the floor next to a work of art we were trying to flatten to frame. I thought how incredible it would look if the yoga mat was a work of art. That is how my yoga brand was created - Artogi - art for yogis - 'bring life to art' it was created from a place of real hardship and healing... like most art.
I had no experience in product manufacturing and getting the right eco friendly material was very important for me. I am a big believer in it’s okay to ask for advice from people who have been there and done it. I was fortunate enough to have a good friend Fiaz, who is a very successful entrepreneur and owns numerous online businesses and he was and still is my mentor. Other experienced friends have shown their support along the way in the form of guidance and advice. The vision behind Artogi is very much like art itself, it is forever evolving. Artogi represents ‘bringing life to art’ and supporting up and coming artists whilst incorporating art into our everyday lives. Looking into the reasons why we do yoga, for the mind benefits it has in relation to depression, anxiety, stress management etc is also very important.
Any artist will say “creating art is a meditative form in itself” and being able to express yourself always calms the often chaotic, yet beautiful creative mind.
Each mat has it’s own name and symbolic meaning, which strangely enough always resonates with the person who has picked their specific mat. The art thus far has a strong feminine influence of goddesses and strong warrior women. Artogi is not just a yoga mat, it is a form of expression, a personal chosen work of art that not only helps align your practice but also inspires.
I found myself working on Artogi day in and day out and being glued to my laptop around the clock. My yoga brand was about art and all things creative and yet there I was getting depressed because I wasn't doing my art ..photography. I have suffered with depression and low self esteem which is something I am not ashamed to admit to. Like most artists, I am blessed with a beautiful but complicated mind, I wear my heart on my sleeve, I feel everything so very deeply and I often have to remind myself how grateful I am for what I do and I am a strong believer in if you want something bad enough you can make it happen. My art is my therapy, without it, my mind gets the better of me.
So with Artogi in a comfortable place I got back into shooting women, this has always been my passion. When I shoot, I take the time to listen to my subject and work out what makes her tick. We all have fears and insecurities and parts of our body we aren't a massive fan of. It's my job, as a woman, for women, to bring out the best in them. This talent I have is something I am very proud of, how a woman views a woman is far sexier than how a man does (well that's my opinion anyway)
I was always inspired by the 80-90's supermodel era, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen etc. when women owned their sex appeal and confidence and curves came hand in hand. There is nothing more attractive than a good attitude. As women and the world we live in today it can be very hard to not loose your 'sparkle' but I like to think I embrace this when I shoot women and bring out that side of us we often tend to turn down or switch off in fear of being judged.
Being pretty spontaneous and the fact that I love travelling and the sunshine, I now spend most of my time shooting swimwear and portraits in lovely locations whilst also managing Artogi but from my laptop which when you are on the beach isn't so bad. Having just spent the summer in Barcelona I am soon to be heading to Cape Town to shoot. I figured whilst I still have no big commitments tying me down .. why not.
What’s my biggest inspiration? With out sounding too cheddar but I’d have to say my mum. It hasn’t been easy over the years but she’s been my rock and best friend through it all. I don’t know where I’d be without her. As a single mother when I was growing up she worked every hour god gave to give me the best opportunity in life and she has always believed in my talent as an artist. She was and still is a grafter and the strongest woman I have ever met. As she says “worse things happen at sea ..brush yourself off and as long as your effort is 100% I don’t ask anything more from you”
Thanks mum x
My name is Natacha, I’m 24 years old and live in Paris. After studying graphic design, I naturally turned to illustration and painting. My tiny Parisian apartment is my studio.
As it can sometimes be hard to work and live in the same place, I am also working in a gallery half of the week, which keep me grounded and stopping me from going crazy. It feels good to do other things than my own work, sharing ideas with other artists and meet people. I think I´ve found the perfect balance for the moment, I’m happy to go to work on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and then thrilled to go back to my pencil for the rest of the days.
In my artistic work I don’t really like to master a technic, I prefer to change it when it prevents me from doing mistakes, when it’s to perfect and there is no room for accidents anymore. I find my painting the best when I haven’t painted for a long time. I admire kid’s drawings and its maybe what inspires me the most as a narrative, the freedom and truth of speech, but also for the imperfect structures in the drawing. Back in school I remember crying during my first’s perspective classes, and it didn’t get better with time! I’ve only just started to get interested in classic painting, which I totally rejected before, but I think it may be an important source of inspiration for my work in the future.
I like the exaggeration, the amplification of poses and gestures, and the theatrical aspect of it. I also find a huge and limitless source of inspiration in advertising, it’s where I started my ‘Fake Vogue Magazine’ project who has been recently shown at Gallery Treize-Dix in Paris and a bookshop Candide in Brussels. Apart from the original paintings this is a mini edition that I produced, redrawing a bunch of pages from an original Vogue during a summer of boredom. It’s important for me to play with the boundaries to show another, more actual, type of woman and beauty. When I am painting those girls you can’t know if this is eye shadow on their eyes or tiredness, if they are posing or falling for example. My mother always told me to be a feminist, I am particularly obsessed by the representation and staging of woman, by their place in society and throughout the ages.
My name has led to long conversations wherever I go - even at the airports passport control. Behind each name lies a little story - my favourite one being how my brother Marlon named me Tigreta (little tiger) after a cat that happily came whenever he called, hoping I would turn out to do the same. Unfortunately for him, that didn't quite work out. My whole name is Lulu Frangipani Giada Tigreta Beatt, both my parents Raimund www.raimundkummerinberlin.de (German sculptor) and Cynthia www.cynthiabeatt.com (British, American filmmaker) are outstanding artists. Growing up in an old warehouse in Berlin, I spent my childhood climbing through my father’s studio, unsuccessfully trying to steal his small models of artwork. My mother’s knowledge of the great cinema classics and avant-garde film and my dad’s sculptural works in public space has helped shape my eye to become what it is today. Music has also been a big part of my life, my father always playing loud classical music through the whole house or dancing with my mother to funk and soul. Marlon's www.marlonbeatt.wordpress.com impeccable taste in music has always fed me with the most enrapturing and varied music.
My parents are undoubtably my first source of inspiration. It is challenging to have a family with such strong personalities, discussions tend to get quite heated as we all are very passionate about the things we believe in. But I am very grateful for their honesty and criticism which led me to understand how crucial it is to stick to your guns and always remain open minded.
I thrive on photography - it triggers extreme euphoria and adrenaline to capture a moment. My love in recording architecture and space stems from my obsession with structures, lines, shapes and shadows. Architects like Oscar Niemeyer and Louis Kahn are truly brilliant - the lightness of their monumental buildings have an inspiring and soothing effect on me. You need space to really see and appreciate architecture. I try to apply this to my life and dispose of unnecessary objects, as I feel these cloud my mind.
The art of photography is a very controversial subject. As technology evolves, you don’t need the same understanding of a camera as one used to, everything can be set to automatic. My father gave me my first analog camera with 13 and I immediately fell in love with the whole process. It fascinates me how the film material is created and how the chemicals reveal the image. The anticipation while developing films in the darkroom never fades. It’s a different world - only red light or no light at all, the smell of chemicals and your photography. I find myself lost in time developing one print after the other.
Philipp www.philippgroth.com , my boyfriend, is my constant source of inspiration and an exceptional artist. It is captivating watching him express his ideas and the energy that gushes from his mind. We are one another's biggest supporters. He encourages me to let go and create without overthinking ideas. Phil’s and my father’s work ethic is remarkable and very exhilarating to be a part of.
Traveling by myself for seven months across the world in 2015 was a formative experience and made me hungry for more. I’ve just returned from a three months trip to the US, where I found myself falling in love with New York cityscapes and Californian landscape - the shapes of mountains and shadows reminding me of the body details I shot previously, a project where the lines created by our bodies intrigued me, not knowing which lines the eyes are following, questioning the ability to discern body details.
Whilst in New York I had the pleasure to work with Pace/MacGill, an amazing Gallery on 57th Street. It wasn't just being surrounded by the most incredible photography, I was lucky to witness wonderful, strong and intelligent women who treat one another with the utmost respect and care. I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by so many incredible women, for a start without a doubt my brilliant, empowered mother. Creating art and raising two children is admirable, as each of them is a challenge by itself. Then of course my close girlfriends, who are strong companions in the appreciation of life and art. The same can be said for the men in my life, my father, brother, boyfriend and a number of close male friends, who have been supportive and played significant roles in my fight for equality.
My name is Emmanuelle Roule, I am 32 years old, and I am a graphic designer, art director and ceramist based in Paris. I was born in Saint-Étienne, in the south-east of France. As far as I can remember, I have always loved dancing, drawing and painting. I grew up surrounded by my brother and my parents, far from the professional field of creation and art but they always supported me and respected my choices. I left home after I graduated from high school at 17, with the desire to go elsewhere to see what was happening there. I studied art in different cities in France. I passed my graduate diploma in graphic design in Paris and had the honour to take part in a Franco-Chinese exchange, organized by the ministries of foreign affairs and culture of both countries, called ‘100 young French artists in China’. An extraordinary trip that lasted about two weeks. We were a group of 100 artists in very different fields, embarking on an incredible adventure, dense, exotic, surprising and very enriching. A journey that left a big impression on me and contributed to the foundation of my personal and professional aspirations.
I graduated in Graphic Design in Paris in 2007. Two days after presenting my diploma project, I started my first graphic design and art direction job, and registered as a freelance artist. At that time, an incredible design experience began for me; creating the graphic identity of the Centre Dramatique National Gérard Philipe in Saint-Denis. For seven years I worked together with the director and his team, I created and developed all the graphic communication of the theatre, from posters to the programs including facade lettering, tickets, invitations, etc. It was an incredible playground. At the same time, I joined a collective of visual artists and combined these two activities on a daily basis. One; a more solitary and personal playground as a graphic designer, where I could experiment, produce and research work around images, colours and composition. And the other more about contemporary art and creating with a strong collective and many multifaceted dimensions. However, I knew that I didn’t want to work alone, that the collective dimension was major because it expands the field of possibilities and the thirst for curiosity. The collective becomes a common space for creation, production and research, in addition to my job as a graphic designer.
We were developed art installations in public spaces, based on a 80 million year old animal, the bee. For more than nine years, we created installations for humans and bees which we build on city sidewalks; inviting the audience to interact and reflect on economic, social and ecological questions through a nomadic and interactive artistic device. The multidisciplinary nature of this project has allowed us to meet and work with people from all walks of life: artists, politicians, entrepreneurs, journalists, cooks, students, researchers and philosophers among others. These encounters were a great source of inspiration. The project spread to different cities in France but also in Europe; Italy, Netherlands, Norway, England and Japan.
As the youngest and only woman in the collective, it was necessary to build my place, to convince, to exhibit and share my point of view and my ideas in an essentially male and older context. We entirely renovated a space in the North of Paris, which we opened to the public. In this space, we programmed various events, exhibitions and public workshops. I designed and directed a festival dedicated to young contemporary artistic creation, combining techniques and practices in the vein and legacy of the artist Robert Filliou. This festival, called ‘Allons voir ailleurs si nous y sommes’ which means: looking for ourselves elsewhere, had two editions in 2014 and 2015. I'm currently planning a new edition that will take place in another space in Paris. We were a very small team and did everything: design, mediation, construction, administration, graphic design, curation, sponsorship and bee keeping! The intensity of work; production, residencies, events and the chance to work with a lively and fascinating animal, have helped me find a new skills, knowledge and point of views that were not related to my initial fields of expertise. But I've always liked to learn and to discover, I believe that the most beautiful aspirations of an individual are curiosity and benevolence.
I like to stand at crossroads, to lead several projects at the same time, to engage in new adventures. To meet new people, exchange, discuss, think, and compare ideas and point of views. I left my previous collective to found another one, a few months later, around the common and experimental practice of ceramics the project gangster, a girl gang was born. We renovated a space in Paris to make it our studio; a hideout for us and for others, to invite and show our work and that of other creators, thinkers and doers.
I started taking ceramics classes back in 2012, I learned alongside Patrick Loughran, a fairly magical American teacher, it allowed me to test and work the material and volume, beyond drawing. My practice has over the years taken up more and more space, and I’ve started to produce and showcase my work. The practice bridges the gap between graphic design, public space, art installations, artistic direction and drawing. I work with stoneware, earthenware and porcelain and I make non-functional pieces, like sculptures. I like to experiment with the colours around the glazing process, a blind device, because the final rendering of the colours only appears at the exit of the kiln. I stage my pieces in a photographic work, which links questions around light, colour, composition and matter. I recently exhibited my work at Galerie Marcel By during Paris Design Week.
Today, I divide my time between art direction and graphic design projects, my artistic practice around ceramics solo and with our collective. I also teach a semester a year at HEAD, an art school, in Geneva. I feel very lucky to live through all this, to be involved in all different dynamics, it’s intense, strong and stimulating. I try to travel as often as I can to keep looking elsewhere and discover what's going on. I am passionate, enthusiastic and optimistic by nature, I love meeting and connecting people. I love to introduce friends to other friends and make them friends, it broadens the circle.
My sources of inspiration are very varied; I am fascinated by swimming pools, smoke, light, water and the night, hence my deep pleasure for the colours blue and black. I am curious about the interferences, the connivances, the relations that exist between materials, colours and textures. What I like most is searching and not to knowing where it will go, there is a strong exploratory and experimental dimension to my work, born of encounters and instincts. Music, architecture and nature are also important sources of inspiration. Immersing myself in the atmosphere of a space be it sound, nature or man made, letting myself go and be surprised, is something I really enjoy. I have recently sketched out plans for a medium sized house, made of wood and concrete surrounded by nature and trees .. I aspire to build it for my family in the future as a living and working space.
Women who inspire me are Niki de Saint Phalle, for her self-taught artistic practice and multiple engagements. Marguerite Duras, Simone de Beauvoir and Françoise Héritier for the strength and accuracy of their words, their writings, their determinism and their power of transmission. Choreographer Pina Bausch and finally Nathalie Du Pasquier, whose work for the multidisciplinary dimension I admire.
My name is Laurie, Laurie Nouchka. Nouchka is my middle name. It is Russian and comes partly from the Eastern European heritage of my great grandparents. Although the actual name is taken from a good family friend of my parents who was really kind to them when they were living in London. Nouche was a strong and creative woman, an Aries like me. Funnily enough I disowned the name up until about the age of 21 as she and I would always come to blows. We are both confident, determined women which didn’t always mix well. Looking back she was an extraordinary character and had been through so much. I would have a very different relationship with her now.
I grew up in Suffolk, in the countryside. My father is an artist, although not a practicing one in professional terms. He studied art at Edinburgh and also taught at Hornsey College of art. He is very much an inspiration but I think it’s more that we have a very strong relationship and great respect for one another’s work. This has really been a huge driving force in my artistic endeavors. My mother is trained in psychotherapy but also has a really strong interest in art and has actually gone on to do degrees in art history and contemporary art and is now a tour guide at Tate. Being an artist is very much in my veins and has always been encouraged so it’s something I’ve always explored. I’ve always been supported to be a strong, free thinking female. This whole campaign about bring back bossy, taking away the negative associations, is really important. If you have a natural inclination towards leadership, having your voice heard as a woman, it’s really important this is not shut down but instead channeled in an effective way for both yourself and others. Men, especially fathers, play such an important role here. My father has always encouraged me – I think now he is sometimes shocked by my boldness – but in a good way. I feel like he learns from me too now which is an amazing thing to feel as a woman.
It’s really interesting being a woman today, in general artist or not, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be able to achieve and do all the things we want to do and that’s certainly something I really welcomed when I was in my twenties. I was very ambitious in so much as if I had an idea I wanted to realize it. I also felt very confident in my capabilities and always have done. I’ve been very fortunate in that sense but I was also acutely aware of women around me who didn’t have that, either that support around them or indeed their own self-esteem to be able to drive them forward. In my thirties it has been much more about building on the foundations rather than always striving for what I should be achieving or think I want. Much more of a focus on being present and aware of what is in front of me. It’s very grounding and a much more enjoyable place to be. In so many ways it’s much more creative too. Process is key to my work so being very present is central to this. I’m currently doing my yoga teacher training and really the focus is less on teaching for me and more on self exploration and how in turn that feeds the process and journey of life.
I started off, when I left university, working for the Roundhouse in Camden supporting young artists. It was a really important period in my life. I was there for about eight years and the reason I was there was because I felt that I had a strength that meant that I could put my own artistic ambitions to one side for a while and not let an ego or whatever it might be get in the way. Instead I focused on supporting emerging artists who were in my view, as creative if not much more creative than I and had these incredible ideas that needed to be realized but they just didn’t have the facilities or support to be able to let that happen.
It wasn’t specifically my focus on women at that time and indeed it never really has been, but I did become acutely aware of the number of women out there who have an added struggle in terms of gender and equality and the pressure on women to be able to be many things in this day and age.
At a certain point when I was working for the Roundhouse I decided to take a sabbatical. I had come out of a longterm relationship and as is the usual story you find yourself wanting to explore new avenues and it was possibly one of the best choices I’ve made to date. I decided to go woofing, which is working on organic farms, to get out of the city. When I was there I was enjoying being in nature so much but I was aware that my main objective for this sabbatical was to really focus on getting back into my drawing and explore my artistic endeavors once again.
Being in the country side wasn’t really inspiring me to draw so much so I decided to leave and ended up in Barcelona through a number of different events and circumstances. It was in Barcelona that I was totally captured by the energy of the city and it was there that this fascination of architecture really began and I discovered Gaudi who formed the beginnings of Laurie Nouchka as we know it now. On reflection I think this fascination was all about identity. Our generation is quite nomadic in many ways, we think little of moving from one city or country to another. It’s exciting but also how do we connect, what makes a community while we are always on the move? With a specific focus on cities I found these iconic architectural structures have become totally related to our sense of identity. A sort of familiarity, a communal place for us to gather. Be that a museum or a concert hall it’s a place where humans come together with a shared interest. The architecture is key to that, to draw people in. It’s also what people go to see and also what they remember.
After Barcelona I went to Australia and it was there that I met an incredible tutor; a man very in touch with his feminine side and his creative sense I would say. I would go to his drawing classes and he totally opened up something in me. I guess something which had become dormant in me which was the ability just to be free and flow. At the same time I was starting to do yoga so this was quite a transformational experience, it was a beautiful time of the year, October or November so it was hot, I spent my days going to these drawing classes and then doing yoga, finding my absolute flow and it was incredible really.
So that was the beginning of the Laurie Nouchka brand but in a way I kind of want to steer slightly away from the brand and make the connection between myself as an artist and someone who’s interested in the body and movement throughout. I guess these are reflections after many years of exploring what my voice is as an artist and I’ve realized that my expression is all about creating movement and this sort of boldness. Its energetic and that’s the at the center of my voice, this energy that of course is exactly what connects us as human beings and particularly women – it seems we have more of a natural ability to be able to do this. Men it would appear need to work harder at it.
I recently had a really profound experience when I was doing my yoga teacher training together with 17 other women in a villa in Morocco, and energetically it was the most powerful thing I´ve ever experienced in my life, for a number of reasons. The classic sort of thing, I had my period and it arrived ten days early on a full moon which has never ever happened before (and I’ve spent a lot of time with women) but this was quite extraordinary. We were all on this journey together and it was opening up a lot of things for me and a lot of people that they were not expecting, and I think we supported one another incredibly well. I consider myself to be very open anyway but being around these women in that capacity was incredibly powerful.
I did question what would it have been like if a man would have been in this environment, what shift would that have made, what would it have meant for them? I also really sympathize with men in so many ways, I have a brother and I have a father who are the men who are closest to me in my life and they’re both sensitive and respectful humans. I think it’s a struggle for men in this day and age as women are becoming more powerful and more open. Don’t get me wrong, we have a long way to go in terms of equality in most places but it’s a struggle to know where we sit within that for both men and women, to strike a true balance and respect. It’s an important struggle and one that we are going to have to go through and its bringing up all sorts of stuff.
Energetically I think that’s the most powerful kind of resource we have as women. Our ability to open up and be be bold in the face of our fears and questions and support one another within that.
I also run a community arts project with another artist, which was very much born out of my previous work at the Round House, but also because as an artist this idea of energetic kind of exchange is really important to me. I set up this project because the idea of co creating works of art in places where those kind of struggles or challenges are really real with women and with men. Everyday walking out of your door, to not only the unknown as we all do but also the kind of deep seated history which might have been challenging is something that I haven’t had to face in my life but I can really sympathize with. It’s not a kind of charity exercise, this is an exercise in human exchange and I guess the belief that if you have the resources to be able to nurture that, then it should be part of our desire to create that.
It is interesting how these conversations might lead to something else and always to consider how you put yourself out there as a woman, not only your own understanding of yourself but the perception of you in the world and that’s really important. Not in a way that you’re so concerned in an egoistic sense of how you look or what people think of you but that what you do is with integrity and is true to you rather than what you think you should be doing. I hope this relates to the work I´ve done with my clothing line. I like to create pieces which are reflective of us as women and how we like to move but they’re not overly sexualized. They´re all also made sustainably in the sense that they´re all made in the UK, in a very small run factory that has hugely ethical manufacturing methods.
Also, in terms of the growth I never had any ambitions to grow my business beyond being pretty much me and a few others, who kind of support in the periphery. That’s just a personal choice I don’t judge anyone who goes larger scale, quite the opposite I admire them for their ability to do that but it was my choice because from an energetic point of view it was really important for me to be able to focus on my life in a yogi sense and not steer away from this very much being a creative project. I am also am I trained masseuse so that takes up a lot of my time, in a very positive way, and also with walls on walls. I do a lot of things and I explore a number of different roles in my life but with each one I like to think that I do it with integrity. Maybe that’s about being a woman who is slowly getting more in touch with her sense of self and confident to apply that or maybe it’s just about being human and fortunate enough to feel supported and confident in my choices.
My name is Garance Vallée, I live in Paris, I’m 23 years old and currently finishing my Master's degree in architecture. I’m pursuing a specialization in scenography to work on smaller scale architecture. I grew up in the painting studio of my father Kriki and my mother’s artistic literary world, between paintings and punk music. My parents are my first sources of inspiration and I owe them my open mindedness, they’re the ones who shaped my artistic eye.
My love of the straight line results unmistakably in my fathers hand. My parents raised us, my brother and I, in this arty lifestyle. My mother, who studied art history made me work on my creativity as much as she could, teaching me to have a thirst for knowledge which has a big part in my work today.
I’ve always been drawing and building little objects, but I’ve only been showing my work for one year. Passionate about contemporary art, design and architecture, my current inspiration comes from modernism and the young talents of the Avant Garde of today.
I love working with a lot of different materials, I like feeling them, modeling, having a real contact with the textures that I use. What excites me most is bringing my drawings to life, to go from 2D to 3D. My drawings are very geometric, probably inspired from my father’s love for straight lines, and my architecture studies. But from time to time I like adding curves through a feminine figure that represents the women in my life. To me, drawing is like a step towards object design, that’s how I currently consider it. As if everything I drew was destined to be built someday.
Everything is a creation; walking, eating, talking, and even being. Even if you’re not practicing any art, the way you see things, the way you pay attention to everything is what defines you. When you start to see things around you, you get more attentive and sensitive. I can’t help but write or scribble down something really quickly when an idea comes to my mind.
I go to some places because I like their ambience, their architecture, and the way they inspire me, even music or clothes are a source of inspiration. It’s an everyday lifestyle and it creates your own artistic personality. I’m a very romantic person in my everyday life, and I like to show it in my work so people can feel it too.
My name is Olivia Aspinall, I am 26 years old and I live and work in Nottingham. I moved back to my hometown in 2015 after studying Textile Design at Central Saint Martins in London. I absolutely loved doing my degree, CSM was an inspirational place to study and the friends I made there are all amazingly talented people.
After graduating I interned and worked freelance for about a year, then naively took the jump into starting my own studio and moved back to the Midlands for the cheaper rent! I had mixed emotions about leaving behind London to start a new life and business back in Nottingham, however I have been enjoying the different lifestyle that
this has allowed.
I love to travel, and try to visit somewhere new whenever I have the opportunity. I have just got back from walking the Camino de Santiago from Porto to Santiago de Compostela with a good friend of mine, we walked 280km over 10 days. I can recommend this as an excellent way to feel relaxed and powerful at the same time!
Over the past two years I have been developing my studio and learning a huge amount from the various people I encounter along the way. Working for myself is tough and sometimes it can feel like an impossible mountain to climb. I love the work I do and moving forward I am working on reminding myself what I have achieved, prioritising and striving to learn as much as possible.
I design and manufacture colourful and patterned hard surfaces that can be specified by architects or interior designers for use within interiors. I make these surfaces by hand in my studio and they are used for a variety of applications such as dining tables, shop displays or furniture elements. I work from a studio/workshop in the centre of Nottingham. The building is an old hospital so it has lots of character, however I am on the look out for something a little bigger and brighter.
I juggle a lot of different tasks throughout the week and this makes everyday different. At the moment I am working on a new collection that will launch at this years London Design Festival, a couple of exciting collaborations and a series of client projects.
I don’t have much of a routine, and things change from day to day and week to week, which I love. Weekly jobs include, sending out quotes and replying to requests for samples and information, working on client projects and working on new designs. The work I do can be very labour intensive, I spend a hell of a lot of time sanding, but it is worth it for the final result! I spend time visiting clients, suppliers and fabricators and also recently I have been working on some collaborations. Meaning having someone to work alongside, which has been really fun.
I feel most inspired when I am busy with work but not too overwhelmed by it! I like to move between different projects, so juggling a series of projects that are going well makes me really focused and determined. I often feel I learn the most and am inspired the most by making and doing. To solve a problem or move on creatively I have to try things out and make something. This often helps me to move onto the next thing, or to get a good idea. Great colours and beautiful materials drive me forward. When I am working on a new collection I can become obsessed by certain colours, then I find myself seeing that colour everywhere and almost always I will eventually be accidentally wearing the colours of the new colour palette for a collection.
Because the majority of the project I work on are bespoke or customised, I am often inspired by my clients input. I am always really interested by the colour combinations clients choose and how these can often spark ideas for me. I’m lucky to have lots of inspirational women in my life that are creative, determined and resourceful. All doing their thing and making things works both in and out of the creative fields.
Im Becky, I’m from the North of England and I’ve been in London for about six years. Throughout school I wanted to be a fashion designer and I was lucky to go to a brilliant school with an art departement bustling with ideas and focus which is becoming a rarity now. The waning attention on creative subjects in schools worries me, I’m not doing anything about it but I'd like to.
I’d been fascinated by form, surface design and well travelled textiles for as long as I can remember so I didn't consider anything other than fashion design, I studied at Central St Martins before moving to LCF and supplemented my learning with paid work at The British Fashion Council, and unpaid experience at House of Holland, Mary Katrantzou, Matthew Williamson and others. Unpaid internships are not right, but nor is graduating from university with so much debt and little understanding of how to make your way in the creative world, or what jobs exist within it. I think there’s a lot to be said for paid apprenticeships instead of university and you’ll often find the most brilliant success stories have never taken the usual route. Kids need to know from mentors 5 or 10 years ahead what jobs exist, and what they’re really like, before they spend time and money going down a specific route. I’ve got a few ideas about how to open up the world of work for young adults. Starting small, over the next few years I’d like to have a go at doing my bit, I’m writing it here so you can keep me accountable.
I engineered somewhat of a whirlwind of a summer for myself, and I’ve loved every second of it. Two months ago I was working for Nike in a marketing role I was happy in, surrounded by hugely talented colleagues, but for six months prior I had a real burning need to move on. It was pretty difficult to justify to anyone who didn’t know me well, and blindingly obvious to anyone who did. My real energy in life comes from small businesses making social impact through connecting people and spreading experiences and education, often over the dinner table with great food and wine. Understanding that’s what I wanted to do was the first step. Having handed in my notice to my thankfully kind and understanding managers, I set off on the path of ultimate inspiration and found nothing short at The Do Lectures, as cheesy as it sounds, life changed (and I got a tattoo to prove it!) After one day back in London, I moved onto Cornwall for a stint of work coordinating the fashion and arts stages at Porteliot Festival, setting up a festival shop and meeting a festival family I’ll return to every year now. If something is too good to be true, you’ve got to go back.
In a matter of weeks I’d been in a desk job, moved on to fields in Cornwall and now my daily routine is refreshingly varied. I’m the marketing manager at Caravan Restaurants and Caravan Roastery so I’m based between our three (soon to be four) restaurants, in our little satellite office in East London, or when I really need to get my head down I’ll crack on at home with peace and quiet. I’ve learnt that while saying yes is vital to finding newness, it’s vital to know when to say no because I need to recharge. I used to feel guilty for that, but reading Quiet by Susan Cainquiet made me understand there’s a lot of us out there who need a bit of me time.
Like I said, the summer has been a whirlwind and not necessarily representative of what’s to come but I’m moving forward with the drive to never forget how much I learnt from those collective experiences. From The Do, I learnt that one of our jobs as humans is to get the best out of each other, whether it’s connecting people together because we think they could create amazing work or because they’ll enjoy each other’s company. I also learnt how important inter-generational communities are, for guidance and sense checking ideas, and how rare those become when we move to cities leaving behind relatives. Phones are great things - give your grandparents a weekly call.
When the city is such a busy place it’s hard to make time even for an hour here and there but I’ve found it’s worth getting the tube in the opposite direction of where you need to be, at 6am on a Monday morning just to be able to catch up and check in on each other. Those times give me a buzz and a real drive to keep working and collaborating. Earlier this summer I read a Do Lectures report called The Side Project, it taught me how vital it is to have inner strength and an understanding of what makes you tick. When you’re lucky enough to get there, then you can start having real fun outside of work, and just like that, side projects form. I’m in a place right now where I’ve just begun a new job which fortunately I absolutely love and it’s important to devote myself to getting it right. I’m working hard so my side projects are on the back burner for a moment, but I do think having burning desires outside of everyday work is really important to our mental health and our energy in everyday working life, whether it be hosting supper club, having a crack at a podcast series or whatever else makes you tick.
When you meet someone who makes you feel the best version of yourself, it’s a really unique thing and I’ve learnt to hold onto that with all my limbs. I’m very lucky to be inspired by a lot of people I know, each for different reasons and often at different times in my life. Sidonie Warren became an instant soulmate when we were introduced and then met properly at The Do Lectures earlier this summer - we’re both very open to sharing ideas to benefit each other and everyone around us which has led to a really positive and supportive friendship. I love having pipe dreams, I think we both know some sort of business is going to take root from our shared interests, but there’s no rush, we’re both busy enough right now.
Meeting Megan Donnelly and Ariane Mac Crone through working for Nike was beyond fortunate and we’ve always made an dedicated effort to stay in touch outside of work. I’ve learnt how important it is to have inspiring women to look up to, leading the way in their careers. We’ve stayed in touch as friends and as mentors to each other, because for our own development and mental health, it’s vital to understand the peaks and troughs of working life. Ariane’s story of finding her job through gumtree is a corker and it gives a glimpse into how driven and ballsy she is underneath her chilled exterior, she has plans so much bigger than herself. Megan was and is my spiritual sister from the moment I stepped back through the doors at Nike HQ, we’re always there for each other throughout every tough time, work life at Nike was brilliant with times of being intense and emotionally demanding as every great job should be. It’s very important to have close friends in work that you can call on for a five minute walk around the block, or a breather in the loos!
Kim Raphaela and Katie Saunders are my go-to-gals for a challenge, we signed up to run 100km when they'd never run more than three miles. Training wasn't always fun but it taught us resilience. Then there’s Imogen and Ellie - two ladies responsible for my most unusual and brilliant memories.
We’ve all taken very different, non traditional paths since school which hasn’t been smooth sailing for any of us. Now we’re at the ripe old age of 24, we’re all just about finding ourselves - my dad said when you get to 25 you kind of know who you are, I think he’s right there.
My name is Laura Faughnan, I am 31 years old. I was born and raised in a town called Newbridge in Co.Kildare, Ireland. I have lived in Dublin and London and travelled around the world with work and for pleasure but have ended up settling back in my hometown. I am a mother to a young son, Frank, named after my father. I live with my partner John, Frank and our dogs Dolly and Stevie. We are happily expecting our second child. We are currently renovating a house that predates the town of Newbridge, maps show its existence 300 years ago. A house this old comes with lots of problems but lots of wonder and secrets too, I document the project through photography.
Being a mother is my main focus now. In the past I have found it hard to stay focused on the present moment, always living in the past or the future but that’s pretty impossible with a toddler. As I am not technically “working” although I do consider caring for a child and renovating a house to be work (it certainly feels like it) I do try to make my home and surroundings as inspiring as possible.
I pick up things all of the time for the house, instinctively knowing what will work. I have a few rooms full of stuff at the moment, full of things that don’t have their place yet but will one day, I routinely go through old boxes and bags and find amazing clothes or ornaments that I bought years ago. I am a little bit of a hoarder, truly I just find it difficult to part with things I like. All of our furniture, with the exception of ours and Franks bed is second hand. Most was given to me by family or found at charity shops and at auctions. I pick up things everywhere. I make things now and then, usually when the budget doesn’t allow for something (curtains are so expensive!)
I am by nature very airy, my mind jumps from one thing to the next quickly. I am probably quite suited to being in the company of children to be truthful. At the same time I can become extremely focused and work on one thing for days on end and I can get completely consumed by a task.
I've been learning a huge deal while renovating. How a French drain works (also what a French drain is), how 17th century wells are constructed, how to insulate a suspended wooden floor, how the mechanism in a sash window works .. John has been my tutor for most of this stuff. His background is in building and he currently works in social housing with a focus on the maintenance and repair of listed building throughout Dublin so he’s a great teacher and although he will cringe for me saying, a little bit of an expert. Some current projects we are working on include laying grass seed out the back, building a greenhouse from reclaimed windows, replacing old french doors and painting the windows. After this I have another fifty things to do. It will take a lifetime to finish the house as I don’t think I'll ever really feel it’s finished. The list is often overwhelming but seeing progress is literally the best feeling in the world, this really is a dream and we are very lucky to be able to do it.
Family is without doubt the most important thing in my life. Being pregnant was very surreal for me. Frank was a surprise pregnancy and although I was always happy about it I was also completely terrified. I didn’t even know how to change a nappy. The adjustment to motherhood was not easy for me. It was very hard to get my head around everything and there is very little support for new mothers really. I didn’t know if I was coming or going most of the time. Very few women really speak about that for fear of being branded weak or a bad mother which in turn made me feel like a bad and weak mother as I found it hard to connect with others that shared my thoughts. After Franks birth my health took a real turn for the worst. I was constantly on antibiotics, couldn’t leave the house, no one was visiting because I lived in a building site and I felt so overwhelmed and alone. My partner John was amazing during this time and truly I would not have been able to do it without him.
At four months old Frank had a long stay in hospital, a UTI overwhelmed his system and he developed sepsis which was life threatening. Facing the possibility of losing him has changed me forever. It was then I really fell in love with breastfeeding. I was helpless in so many ways, only he could fight the infection but I knew that I was giving him the best thing I could in the world. He was in so much pain and so afraid but the minute he would start to feed his whole body would relax and he would sleep, and then I would sleep too. After three weeks he was released from hospital. I continued to breastfeed until Frank was 18 months old.
Although all of the years before becoming a parent were formative, it is the last two that have really made me become who I am now. The women that inspire me most are those I meet daily in my community. Women that have raised families, worked, built homes for themselves and loved unconditionally often forgetting about themselves in the process. The expectations put on women are so vast and I’ve only really started to appreciate that since having a child.
I studied Fashion Design for four years at NCAD in Dublin. I think studying design has given me a really strong appreciation of well made things, beauty and the design process. After studying I’ve worked as a fashion designer, an illustrator, a store manager, a visual merchandiser, brand manager, set designer, stylist, pattern cutter and in retail operations.
I studied alongside the best, truly, many of my classmates have gone on to do some amazing things and seeing that inspires me. I was told many years ago by a good friend of mine that the best advice they could give me was to always be nice, to be kind and fair and generous and I must say that the most successful and talented people I know are without fail all of these things.
After studying with so many greats I have been lucky enough to work with some amazingly talented people. I’ve learnt so much from these people, mainly to dance to the beat of your own drum and that there is always something great over the horizon if you are open to it.
I’ve been lucky enough to get to know some amazingly talented women in my time through study, working and friendship. Just a few (and I really have a massively long list) are Simone Rocha (www.simonerocha.com), Niamh O' Neill (www.niamhoneill.com/shop), Felicity Marshall (www.felicitypmarshall.com), Heidi Higgins (www.heidihiggins.com), A Garden and a Library, Kristen de la Valliere (www.sayhito-mag.com), Mafalda Silva (www.mafalda-silva.com), Sara Bonner and Laura Kirwan-Ashman. They all do their own thing, in their own way and their work is just- so them- they shine through it. That’s inspiring. That will always be inspiring to me.
My name is Louise and I live in Bristol with my two boys and husband. I'm a costume cutter and maker and I manage the workroom in a theatrical costume hire warehouse. My career path hasn't been direct as I retrained in costume when I was in my late twenties and had a six-year-old in tow. Having said that the signs were definitely there. I've always been into films and grew up in a Midlands suburbia so escapism was essential. I trained in fashion but when we were asked to design with a customer in mind I always had a character. My final collection was based on the Harlem Renaissance and I had the models looking like they'd been out partying all night. I subsequently went on to design underwear, in my head for a less busty Alabama Wurley. I also designed children's wear.
I have worked freelance in costume and had a studio set up at home which I loved but I think I prefer leaving the house for work. This also means I don't work into the twilight hours anymore which I think my family prefers. Now I'm managing the workroom I'd really like to see it grow and encourage specialisms, tailoring, corsetry, dying etc. The main costume houses are in London but there is a lot more filming happening in the South West now.
People often mistake me for a costume designer which I'm not. I work closely with designers and supervisors to realise their vision. I would say cutting and making is a craft as it's not solely technical and the basics can be taught but long term experience is essential. The warehouse is based at a television and film studio which is a 20-minute bike ride from my house so that's where I head after the school run.
When I'm working on a new project I'll be given fabric measurements and designs or reference pictures. Sometimes the designer will provide a specific garment to refer to but if not I'll do my research in the costume store and in books. After that I'll pad out the stand to the measurements of the actor/actress as I tend to work between flat pattern and cutting on the stand. The costume will be cut from the fabric with large seam allowances and passed on to a maker to construct for fitting. I will be present at fittings where any changes and finishing will be discussed with the designer and if necessary is then taken back to the workshop where it is taken apart and re-cut and finished. Sometimes a second fitting is required.
Each garment requires great consideration, if it's for theatre we often back the fabric with another fabric for durability. If it's film or TV authenticity is key, HD is very unforgiving. Costumes that pre date the sewing machine would need to be hand finished and the cut needs to be period correct. After finishing a costume, it may be 'broken down'. This means it is made to look worn, dirty or bloody etc. This is where the character is added, a shirt can be dyed so it loses its bright white, it could have dirty cuffs and collar. Trousers could be grated at the knees or dry brushed with white paint to create a faded effect. We can do this at a basic level but big budget films and TV shows will have whole departments of textile artists who work on every costume before it goes on set. Theatrical breakdown is a lot heavier as the stage lights bleach out any subtlety. I truly love my job, every day brings a different challenge and I'm still constantly learning. I can do soft tailoring but I'm doing a more advanced tailoring course in the new year.
When it comes to visual inspiration I find it everywhere. At work (www.bristolcostumeservices.com) I have access to thousands of costumes for reference including a room of special originals that aren't available for hire. There are also plenty of historical and reference books (including Vogues going back to the 50's). I also have the privilege of working with some very talented makers and designers.
Other visual inspiration comes from gallery visits, films, people watching and I love a bit of Instagram and Pinterest. I'm also inspired by my immediate family; husband is annoyingly talented. My eldest son was a 'happy accident' in my early twenties which I found to be a difficult transition. Despite the challenges he has taught me so much about so many things including myself.
When it comes to inspiring women in my life the list is endless. My mum was a hairdresser but it didn't stop there, she was always involved in creative projects and continues today. Amongst my female friends and family, I have two therapists, a fashion lecturer Emma Prince, an interior designer, a tour manager, an upholsterer (www.shoreditchdesignrooms.com), a musician, an interior stylist and marketing manager, two great women who run art workshops for kids (www.letsmakeart.co.uk) and an accountant who's setting up a non profit community childcare project. They’re all passionate about their chosen career which even if it's beyond my understanding is a true inspiration.
My name is Sasha, I'm half English, half Iranian, I live and work in London, I am a mother, and I have a production company called Forever; we represent very talented directors make all sorts of short and long-form films for interesting clients: bands, brands, ad agencies.
I started Forever in 2013, leaving a well paid, comfortable job as head of music video for one of the hottest production companies in the world, where I worked with some amazing directors like Michel Gondry and Daniel Wolfe on award-winning videos. But after eight years, a tough breakup, and my father passing away, I saw that a new challenge was needed. As no one was offering me a job, and with a naivety that shocks me today, I decided to start my own production company - during a recession, with no directors, no clients, in a highly competitive industry. I had a logo by Fergadelic (www.ariesarise.com), a laptop but little else.
The learning curve was breathtakingly steep, and I probably wouldn't do it again knowing what I know now. I then became pregnant in 2014 which shook things up again, but now I think I have settled down nicely to effectively having two children: my son and Forever. What I love about what I do is that no two projects are ever the same, there is so much variety in the work, new people, new challenges, and a lot of momentum: things happen fast or not at all. It's exciting but I need a well balanced home and social life to keep me grounded.
I am based right in the centre of London: my office in Soho overlooks the beautifully verdant Golden Square, it's a lovely, light, cosy space. I spend every day, when not on set, across a mix of the following activities: talent scouting for new directors to sign, working with my existing directors on pitches to win jobs (in which we develop scripts and concepts for ads and music videos, always working out how to make grand ideas work for less than grand budgets), seeking out new business opportunities and as much music, film, art, low brow and high brow cultural information as possible.
Of course there is the much discussed juggle of balancing motherhood with having a quite full on career but I feel very lucky to have a lot of support around me from my family and friends. Lack of sleep is a challenge for me. Since my son's birth, I travel a lot less than I used to for work, although earlier this year I took him with me to Thailand to shoot an ad, which wasn't the easiest experience, but it was either that or not seeing him for 10 days.
My mother is a very inspiring lady in many ways, a brilliant psychotherapist, she has always worked. Still today in her golden years, she has a thriving career which she enjoys immensely. I guess she showed me that this is possible while being a present mother, which is truly inspiring.
I am very inspired by the young creative minds around me, the secret to youth truly is remaining curious and open as we get older. I have a library of art books in the office which we all leaf through for visual inspiration, Idea (www.ideanow.online/) is also a very useful resource. My best friend, since the age of 12, Katie (www.kateharmaninteriors) inspires me no end, she has a very clear sense of her aesthetic sensibility. We just got back from Ibiza together, which is an immensely inspiring, cosmic place.
Being in nature keeps me inspired and grounded and I feel anxious if I have been away from green and fresh air for too long. And finally London: she is teeming with opportunities to become artistically inspired.
My name is Kim, I'm 22 years old and live at home in North London, with Camillo (my English/Italian father), Chiqui (my Filipino mother) and Felicity (my sister). I moved back home last summer after graduating from the University of Bristol, and it is safe to say that leaving Bristol, moving back into my family home and starting post-university life was a challenge.
I think there is a huge amount of pressure to have it all sorted out and start 'real' life after university, but having studied French and Italian, a broad degree which 'opens many doors', I left university not really knowing what I wanted to do and feeling slightly overwhelmed by these open doors. After four years living away from home and being fortunate enough to live in Bristol (which has a special place in my heart), Paris and Milan, I really struggled with moving back to London. I felt disheartened, disappointed and disconnected to my hometown. However, almost exactly one roller coaster ride of a year after graduating, I am slowly but surely embracing everything London has to offer. I am trying to resist working in an office as much as possible, in an attempt to avoid a 9 to 5 desk based job, which is not for me. Working with people, food and googly eyes would be the absolute dream occupation, but unfortunately that job doesn't exist yet - unless it does and I've just been missing something?!
For the moment, I've got my fingers in several pies, and I satisfy the googly eye fetish by googly eying inanimate objects, most notably vegetables from the family allotment. I enjoy creating and organising, and currently have ideas for an Italian/Filipino fusion supper club. My wise father told me that "human beings can't be compartmentalised into one box, where that one box only fits into one space". I interpreted that as "don't do one thing, do all of the things".
My several 'pies' consist of three part-time jobs, a project, and a business that I am helping to develop. This means that my days can vary and no one week is the same, which I thrive on. Working with Sandows (makers of the tastiest cold brew coffee around) I find myself at various events in London or working at the Sandows Bar Netil Market on a Saturday. Working with the Vietnamese street food business Hanoi Ca Phe takes me to different catering events, Tottenham Green Market and E17 Village Market, and pop-up events. I joined the Papersmithsteam (www.papersmiths.com) when the new shop opened in the Boxpark. I think it might be the most colour-coordinated and aesthetically pleasing space in London, and working in the pink tiled box, surrounded by sleek stationery and paper goods induces instant happiness.
I enjoy having variety in my day-to-day life, and being able to meet different people and hear different stories has become very important to me, and is a constant source of inspiration. I have recently become involved with Co Created (www.co-created.co.uk), a food company that champions recipes created by the public. We want to find treasures that have been hiding in people's kitchens, the recipes passed down through generations or shared amongst friends. Co-Created combines food, real people and real stories - my favourite things!
On 1st January myself and two friends went to Greece, to volunteer with a community centre and shelter for displaced people in Athens. It was an eye-opening experience that showed me true human strength. We spent the month cooking with, and getting to know, the visitors and residents. It was here that I learnt the power of food and it's ability to connect people and work as a platform for story telling and sharing, despite differences in language and culture. After leaving Greece, Daisy, Flora, Regina (a friend we made in Athens) and I wanted to find a way to create connections between the truly inspiring people we'd met at the centre and those in radically different situations.
The Dear Friend project was born! It's a letter writing project that aims to create tangible connections through the reading and writing of handwritten letters. We organised an event in June to celebrate the start of Refugee Week 2017. It was a way for people to read the letters which have been written so far, write letters of their own and snack on some delicious Middle Eastern food. We have also led a few school workshops, working with younger people to change how they view and talk about "refugees". Putting pen to paper is a simple and personal way for people to positively interact with those they wouldn't necessarily meet otherwise.
I'm not based in an office, but I tend to be here, there and everywhere. When I am at home, my favourite place to sit, do life admin and relax, is on the sofa in front of the 'Wall of Fish'. A bright blue wall covered in fish that sums up my family! It's a corner that is full of vibrancy and life, and is right next to the garden.
I acknowledge the importance of making time for myself, but it's a lot easier said than done and is something I have to work on! While I love being busy and interacting with people on a daily basis, I recharge by being at home and yoga helps me to switch off, and encourages me to focus on breathing deeply. Last year my friend Oyinda gave me the One Line a Day: A Five-year Memory Book, which I started on 1st January and write in every evening before going to sleep. The idea of documenting five years through one memory a day and having all of these memories in one book is incredibly exciting. Knowing that I'll be writing a memory every evening encourages me to try and do something positive, inspiring and impactful everyday. Being able to read through my past memories constantly reminds me of the incredible journey I've been on since the beginning of the year, and makes me feel grateful for where I am now.
I am constantly inspired by those around me, particularly the women I work with: Gina from Hanoi Ca Phe, Sidonie from Papersmiths and Katy from Co Created. They have all identified what they love and are out in the world doing it. My good friend Lily amazes me, she is director of No Bindings project (www.nobindings.co.uk) editor at Book Kernel and a resident of the Pervasive Media Studio (www.pmstudio.co.uk). No Bindings is her Bristol-based publishing project, which produces paper fold ups filled with art and writing, each with a counterpart podcast. The publications are beautiful works of art, and with their malleable format, you can send them like a letter, read them like a book, and listen to them like a podcast.
Daisy and Flora, two of the Dear Friend project founders, initially inspired me to go to Athens. They had both spent time volunteering in Calais, and after hearing their experiences I felt compelled to go. They are two incredible 'doers': Daisy is currently on a postgraduate course in social innovation, and Flora is completing a translation traineeship with the EU Parliament in Luxembourg. The women in my family are incredibly inspiring: my mother, who grew up with ten other siblings and who lost her own mother when she was 14, is the life and soul of any party and taught me everything I know about loving, being loved and caring for others. Felicity is my older sister, and best friend. She is a freelance fashion stylist, lives life to the absolute fullest and is always looking out for me. Our Italian grandmother, Mamma G, lost a hand in a car accident some years ago and is almost 90 years old, but she is the strongest and sprightliest lady I know.
My name is Tamsin Chubb, I'm 42 and the founder of Little French Retreat, a wellbeing home in Gascony, South West France. Originally from London, I was born to a father who came from a line of artisan butchers and a mother who was a textile designer and fabulous cook. I studied Wood Metal Plastics and Ceramics at Brighton University, a course that no longer exists. It offered the chance to explore materials for studio crafts in a way no other course did at the time. I specialised in printmaking and ceramics making tableware, celebrating the rituals of gathering to eat and share stories, what I feel to be the essence of home. My career then began in design, manufacturing furniture and interiors.
For the past four years I have been living in South West France. An opportunity arose to transform a family home into an intimate retreat venue. The house was left to my sister and I after our mum passed away nine years ago. She was only 61 and with my father passing 13 years prior I suddenly felt I needed to make every moment count. So I quit my job working for the luxury furniture brand David Linley and took up photography, embraced my yoga mat and ordered a weekly veggie box to get me inspired in the kitchen. Changing my focus from managing team's and client's dreams to nurture my own.
This new direction took me on adventures to India, Thailand and France, which led me to take my Yoga teacher training in the Himalayas. I later completed a counselling diploma in the UK and then opportunities opened that I could never have foreseen after this point. I began to teach yoga and cook in ashrams in India and France, developing knowledge of Ayurveda as way of natural healing. The decision to buy my sister's half of our family house and move to France permanently was the catalyst to enable me to house and combine all my passions and skills in a space to nurture others.
I teach weekly yoga classes, facilitate retreats and cook vegetarian food, in South west France, the UK and India. I take inspiration from my surroundings, the rhythm of nature, people I meet and books. Walking my dogs is my time for reflection when I check in with myself to see what I am doing, why I am doing it and do I need to do it. This helps me stay focused and on track. The day usually flows with mornings for my yoga practice, time with the dogs and afternoons to work online. I don't have a fixed office space. I just work where I feel most inspire that day. My life and work are integrated so there's never a need for separation. Sundays and Monday night is the only time I get with my partner as he is a restauranteur, so I make sure I have have space to be with him without distraction.
My yoga practice is a constant source of inspiration. The small moments of change that arise from consistency, both physical and mental leave me with a desire to learn more. Yoga has transformed my life and it's a privilege to pass on the teachings to inspire others. Along my journey I have been inspired by various people. Jotana a buddhist friend and hypnotherapist transformed the way I looked at the world introducing ideas about thought power and positive thinking. My teacher Swami Govindinanda who is based in southern India has been a wonderful guide to helping me stay on track and an influence to mirror, photographer Susannah Conway who's online courses helped me find my own voice to connect images and words with honesty, and poems and writings by David Whyte as explores the meaning of words, elevating them from despair into hope.
Josie Thorne (www.horseshoe-photography.com) is a long standing friend from Brighton who's photographs I love. Her images capture the beauty and stillness of places and people. She transformed my website with photographs that portray the essence of Little French Retreat exactly as I see it.
I was born in Milan, Italy, to a half Chinese, half french mother and a swiss father. My mom is an illustrator and Chinese calligrapher, and my dad is a graphic designer. His studio was (and still is!) just above our apartment, so me and my sister spent most of our childhood surrounded by paper, paint and cardboard, and were constantly busy making something. When I think about the early years of my life, I feel so lucky for having parents that encouraged creativity so much, and for doing what I do now. Because of my family history, I've never really known where I was from, never had one specific place to call home, but it never bothered me. I travel often, and have always had the capacity to adapt to whatever country I'm visiting. There's this word in french: "dépaysant", which literally means, "de-countrying", and it's that feeling of "not belonging" that many people experience when they travel. I've almost never feel it, but it's one of my favourite words.
I moved to Barcelona about eight years ago and have been working as a photographer full time for about two years now. I love the city, I feel incredibly lucky to be able to live somewhere so close to the sea, the mountains, and the rest of Europe.
I am a freelance photographer, and I mainly do documentary, advertising and editorial work. I've always been addicted to taking photos, I'm always the one with the camera, wherever I go. The photographs I take come from an urge I have to see them exist, and I try to make them look as close as possible as how I see the world. I think the primary function of a photograph for me is that it allows me to think about the world in a non-verbal way which is very direct and at the same time incredibly subtle. I'm always asking myself questions: What am I photographing? What do I want to do with my pictures? It's an ever-changing process of questioning and redefining myself, and I find it very exciting.
I mostly work between Barcelona and Milan, and occasionally get to travel for some jobs. I don't have an office or a studio, I work from home, which I love: I find it easier to concentrate when I'm on my own, in my apartment. I love the work of Tierney Gearon, Christopher Anderson, Carolyn Drake, William Eggleston. I like photographers that portray everyday subjects, where everything is equally important; every detail deserves attention, and I love projects about intimacy. I watch a lot of movies, buy photography books, go to exhibitions. I'm an avid collector, some would say obsessive! I am really connected to all my possessions. I need to surround myself with objects that represent a time in my life, or someone that means a lot to me. It feels like home.
My name is Katie, I'm 23 years old, from Nottingham, UK. I graduated from university in 2015 from Leeds College of Art, where I studied Printed Textiles and Surface Pattern Design. After university, I moved back home to Nottingham, worked full time in an admin job and most my free time was spent in my parent's garage working, experimenting and developing my product. The not so glamorous side of things, but you have to start somewhere!
While working in my parent's garage on the material and surface aspect of my brand, I got myself an agent for my fabric designs, sold some designs and also worked freelance for a couple of international companies on art concepts. During that first year of graduating, everything was fabric based (which I don't think a lot of people know about). I knew this wasn't the direction I wanted to be in. I don't like to say it, but I really hate designing on a computer. But it was during the prep for an exhibition for young emerging designers in July 2016 (New Designers One Year On), where I really pushed my surface work and where things started to work out!
In November 2016 I moved into a lovely studio in Nottingham. It's so amazing to be a part of a little creative community every day. I get to the studio usually at around 7.30-8am, always starting with emails and couple of cups coffee (the essential). I have to make lists, I live by them! I think its so important to work with your habits and traits. As many creatives do, I also have dyslexia and dyspraxia, and at times it can be difficult, but by making a plan of attack for the day or week, it makes things a hell of a lot easier.
Since moving into the studio, I learnt so much about business, my product and even myself! I learnt that you need to treat your own business just the same as any other full-time job. Making sure that you have time for yourself, working normal hours and taking days / weekends off. My business and studio is my life, I get to the studio at 7.30 to 8am and try leave at 6pm however, I sometimes don't listen to my own rule ..but I'm working on it!
Its so important to not stress in silence, within anything that you're doing, creative or not. Previously on a couple of projects, I've kept a lot in and started to crumble. Its hard to ask for help sometimes, but its the best thing to do. I feel very lucky that I have family and friends who are super supportive. Owning your own business at any age, especially at these beginning stages is so difficult, but I feel so lucky to be working in my own studio full time on something that I'm so passionate about.
Research trips, i.e. city holidays are my inspiration! While in Barcelona on a little holiday with my boyfriend around four years ago, we visited the Barcelona Pavilion by Mies van der Rohe. I fell in love with the building, the juxtaposition of materials and the principles behind it all.
When back in the UK, I looked more closely into the principles of design of that building and the ideologies of Modernist architecture between the time of 1920's to 1950's. It was the sleekness of buildings, the interiors, the materials and design that I love. It's how I imagine my own outcomes and I strive for it when I'm making.
I'm inspired by SO many girl-bosses! To name a few, Jasmine Dowling (www.jasminedowling.com) who I've been following literally for years, Lola from One Girl Band (www.onegirlband.co.uk), Lindsey Hampton (www.lindseyahampton.com) and Emily from Evan James Design (www.evanjamesdesign.com) As a young woman starting out in a creative business, these have been women who I have looked up to numerous times. Jasmine Dowling and Lola have these great blogs posts and tips about working for yourself. What they write can be so relatable at times, and can be a perfect pick-me-up, when I'm feeling low or unsure about things. Seeing their success just instantly motives me.
My name is Kate Harman and I'm an interior designer, consultant and stylist. I'm originally from London but currently live in Bristol with my two "tweenage" daughters. Despite pining for London for years after I left in my early 20's, I've come to value the relative calm and proximity to the countryside that Bristol affords. Most of my clients tend to be London-based so I visit regularly and don't get to miss it too much.
When I was growing up I used to routinely draw up new floor plans and rearrange my bedroom every few months; my favourite shop was Habitat before I hit double-digits and I was always making (dodgy) accessories to decorate my room with, my favourite of which was a mobile made of sticks and string from which dangled small pieces of pink paper with red lipsticked kisses on each one. I foolishly paid little attention to these obvious clues to my true calling as I was also quite musical, and my family and teachers were all convinced I was going to be a musician - little did they know my most acute sense wasn't in fact my ears but my eyes all along. My career trajectory has been far from clean, with many deviations along the way. However despite real-life threatening to put the kibosh on my dreams on several occasions, kismet got me in the end. From visual merchandising at Habitat, to prop buying, styling and set dressing, eventually I found my way back to the home.
I've been told even as a toddler I noticed everything - and still have vivid memories of the wallpaper covering rooms I haven't seen since I was five, or my godmother's 80's flight suits or the leather steering wheel of my dad's old car. However there's more to being a good designer than having a good eye. Without sounding too esoteric, energy for me is also key. I believe part of being a good interior designer is not just understanding form and colour and having good taste say, but is also about having an innate feeling for how best to get the energy right in a space - so that it feels like somewhere you want to be. Interiors that speak of things like wealth, or status, or your ability to slavishly follow trends, have little interest to me. I love to prioritise the balance of great design and the energy of a space in my work. My role is varied, which I love. I've done the whole house, one floor, the room or just the chairs - all equally gratifying. I work from home which is both enabling and at times disabling; for me structure and routine are my friends. I aim to be showered, dressed and at my desk by 9am, and I've recently found that batch-cooking in the evening or on the weekend to be very effective at preventing lunch from becoming a drawn-out cook-off that can easily rob you of precious, productive hours during the day. (However, I'm also human and sometimes I get distracted by washing or fall into a black hole in the internet only to emerge hours later dazed and confused and usually starving).
My formative inspirations were my family. Both my dad and my step dad are extremely driven, hard working men who didn't necessarily fit the mould. My dad was a photographer's agent representing great photographers such as Eve Arnold and Jeanloup Sieff, among others. I spent many a (pre-photoshop) day honing my perfectionist tendencies, pouring over contact sheets in the studio with a magnifying glass examining exact distribution of condensation on bottles of Heineken, or ogling the beautiful Arizona landscape of a Marlboro campaign. However it's the women in my life who, for me, were the most defining. My grandma came from a well-shod background where women working outside of the home was not the done thing. Despite this she forged a successful career as an actress that began in the 40's when most women were primarily located in the kitchen (or more aptly, the coal-face). She didn't stop working until she died - which isn't for everybody, but I think when you're lucky enough to do what you love and love what you do, that's no hardship. My mum chronicled my childhood with her endless creativity. She made clothes, halloween capes, curtains, furniture, stockings, quilts, you name it. To this day she still hasn't stopped making and doing. WHAT a woman. She also has commendable taste in shoes. Aside from these obvious influences, inspiration for me is like osmosis, you take it in from everywhere. My grandfather's black kitchen in the 70's, Tomi Ungerer's illustrations in books I read as a child, MTV idents from the 80's and 90's, all helped shape and inform what I do now. I'm also a Pinterest junkie and my pride-and-joy collection of art books and old World of Interiors magazines are rich fodder for ideas and eye-candy. I feel privileged to be in the position where I get to make money from the thing I love most in the world - there is a large part of my job that doesn't feel like work (but plenty of back-office shenanigans that do!) and I'm incredibly grateful for this.
My name is Sidonie and I started my 'career path' (if we can call it that!), and 2017 come to think of it, in a completely different place to where I am now. I run a stationery brand Papersmiths and a design studio, Studio B.
I'm one of four sisters. I grew up in Dorset along the Jurassic Coast and have lived in Brighton, Bridport and Bristol as an adult. I moved to London this spring to expand my business and, if I'm completely honest, because I've always wanted to live here. At school, I was academic and jumped through the hoops of passing exams and getting to University. I couldn't see any other way. I got my degree in Brighton and I was heading towards becoming a teacher but found myself befriending creators such as musicians, artists and writers who inspired me to explore the arts. I dabbled in jewelry-making, illustration and buying and selling vintage clothes before moving to Bridport and getting started on my next path in design. More of that in a minute. I see myself spending three months in New York at some point over the next two years and exploring so much more of the world. But in the meantime, I'm so excited to be in this huge new city, so I'll take my time here first.
After I finished university, back in 2011, I set up a design studio with my business partner Kyle Clarke. Studio B designs interiors and brand identities for businesses. This could have been my core focus but a chance occurrence led me to retail. We set up the studio in Bridport in 2011 and moved it to Bristol in 2013. The premises we wanted fell through, and we ended up with no office at the last minute, so we took an empty shop on a temporary basis. From here we set up Papersmiths, a store selling stationery and paper goods. We have two stores now, one in Shoreditch in London which opened one month ago and one in Bristol which is almost three years old! The design studio is in Bristol too.
Over the years, I've discovered my passion is curation. It's my strength, I'm extremely discerning and tend to know instinctively if something is or isn't right. When I'm curating I'm in flow and I'm so inspired and excitable. I like to seek out treasures and put them together. Running a stationery brand means that I travel to source items for our shops from designers across the globe. Travel is another of my passions. I thrive on change, discovery and adventures. I also enjoy drumming up the vision and the big ideas.
Now that I'm living in London, I travel to Bristol once a week for a full day and spend time in our store and office there, working on marketing, making sure that things are spic and span in the shop and catching up with the studio team. Our online store runs from Bristol so it's a good chance to check in on that too. I get a 6.15am bus from outside my house in North London and have a good three hours on the coach to catch up on admin and emails. It's my most productive time. Then when I set off from Bristol at about 7pm, I have another three hours and I try and do all the actions that have come up during the day with the Bristol crew. Then I get tired and I listen to music or call my Mum for a chat. Setting up our London store has meant I've been a busy bee. I've been recruiting people, implementing systems and managing the store on a day-to-day level. Now that our sales team are trained, I can take a step back and I work outside of the shop more, focusing on the buying, marketing and my favourite - business development.
Running two businesses can be quite demanding. I don't have children but I imagine it's like having two kids. And now I sort of have three because there are the two shops and the studio. There are times where one gets more attention than the other. The new shop is getting so much of my attention at the moment! It has to be like that in the early days though. When I opened our big store in Bristol, I didn't have a day 'off' for weeks ... but I enjoyed every minute. I have a good work-life balance nowadays. In the beginning, I didn't. I would work all hours, all the time. I didn't see my friends. I didn't go on holiday. I've spent time learning about culture and growth and I realise my time is best spent working on the business, thinking about where it's going, how to get there and then getting on with it and making that happen. Sometimes I'll pop into the shop and before I know it it's three hours later and I've been moving displays around all afternoon. It's an important job and I love it but it's not where I'll add the most value.
I am constantly time short, and I could easily work all night because I have a never ending to-do list. But I know that I only get one life and I'm here to make the most of it, and spend time with the people I love doing the things I love. So I'm blooming well going to go to a music festival or drink all the Cava with my pals if the opportunity is there.
As well as having fun, it's important to me to stay grounded. In the past where I've gotten so caught up in the business that I haven't been able to sleep, or I've thought something is the worst thing in the world and become anxious about it. I've learnt that worrying and not sleeping doesn't help anyone; not me, not the team, not our clients and not our customers. I exercise three times a week, practice yoga and meditation and I spend a lot of quality time with friends and family. I use essential oils and my favourites at the moment are peppermint on the back of my neck for a refreshing energy boost and sweet orange on my inner forearms for joy. Once a month I'll do something like reiki (my housemate Penny Popps is amazing) or a special meditation (I love Carly Grace crystal sound baths and events at 42 Acres Retreat) and I go on a yoga retreat once a year at Little French Retreat (www.littlefrenchretreat.com). This is my simple but effective work-life balance combination and you're welcome to pinch it.
My passion ignites when I'm on the shop floor. I spend a lot of time working independently but when I'm in the shops catching up with the team and chatting to customers, I learn so much about what they're into, what they want to see and I hear from the team about how we could do things differently. And then I get fired up and excited and I go and find things or make a change. My favourite thing is serving customers at the till point and seeing what they've chosen and which pieces they've put together. I also like looking inside people's pencil cases. I interviewed someone the other day for a sales role with us and at the end I asked if she had any questions for me. She asked, if I was a piece of stationery, what would I be? We ended up deliberating over this for some time and then geeking out over the contents of our pencil cases. I decided I'd like to be my Kaweco Lilliput brass wave fountain pen because it's a smart and effective writing tool but the engraved waves are super fun. I guess I want to be smart and effective in business, but never forget to have fun.
I feel so rewarded and satisfied when one of my colleagues achieves something big. We just reworked our newsletter strategy and Becks Lee writes all the content. A few days ago, she sent me the latest copy to read and I was so impressed and enjoyed reading the articles so much. She's a very talented writer and it makes me extremely happy to see her enjoying this part of her job and creating outstanding work. And I'm thrilled that the business has grown so much that we can afford to invest in more marketing.
I'm really inspired by my friend and colleague Kim who literally bounces into the shop everyday. She inspires me because she is a doer and she is always working on an exciting project; perhaps a supper club one week, a food market the next. Kim is one of the founders of the Dear Friend project (www.dearfriendproject.com), a letter writing project born to create connections between people who would otherwise never meet. She aims to break barriers of language, nationality, religion and distance with a core goal of strengthening our shared humanity. It's a beautiful project which is particularly apt to mention this week since it's Refugee Week UK (www.refugeeweek.org.uk). Pictured is the Dear Friend project tote bag.
I'm massively inspired by the women around me. My mother Hilary Warren is a dentist, business woman, artist and music festival organizer. Need I say more? My sisters Hannah Warren, Briony and Sarah Warren are a doctor undertaking core surgical training, a production manager and a singer-songwriter respectively. My great friend Heather Falconer is living the life in New York through insane amounts of hard work and determination. My Grandmother reminds me to pat myself on the back when I've done a good job. She was a head teacher and we share our experiences of leading a team. I'd love to go on but my list is long.
The people who I work with provide huge amounts of inspiration for me too. For example the design team at Studio B who designed our new London store, new website and rebrand. The pink box concept for our London store was their creation. We installed 6600 pink ceramic tiles and we engraved one with 'Designed by Studio B'. Whenever I pass it, which is several times a day because it's right next to the door, I'm reminded of the effort that went into creating the space. We work with many designers and makers who are exceptionally talented and I marvel at their creative genius. One of my favourite products at the moment is this card by the oh-so-witty Ladyfingers Letterpress (www.ladyfingersletterpress.com)
And of course my travels inspire me massively. I spent a month in Australia and New Zealand at the start of this year and came away not just with bags of inspiration for products and design but for a way of life too. I spent a few weeks in a camper van, bathing in the sea every morning and cooking outdoors. Life was simple, and it was good. I've also visited bustling cities like Madrid, New York, Berlin, Stockholm and Melbourne searching for stationery, merchandising and design inspiration.
My name is Natasha McDowell. I was born and raised in South East London, and now live in Berlin where I moved soon after finishing University. I studied History of Art at Bristol University, which I chose in large part because the city's music scene. I spent just as much time in clubs, bars and underground music venues as I did in libraries (probably more.) Music was my obsession growing up and as I got older, electronic music became the focus. I would go back to London a lot just to dance, and various festivals etc. in the summer.
On the other hand, my mother was a professional painter, truly dedicated to her craft, so art was a constant presence. When I was eight, she took me on a trip to Madrid. I remember walking into a room full of Goya paintings in the Prado Museum and felt as though the wind had been knocked out of me. This is my most memorable early encounter with the power art can exert-it still makes me shiver thinking about it. My Dad and Grandfather are both writers: Creating seemed to be what everyone did, and I always had the sense I could focus on it. When I neglect my creative urges due to fear or business, it has a damaging effects on my mental health.
I hesitate to call myself an artist because I am troubled by the tendency we have to define ourselves-our worth-by what we do, or our job titles. Having said that, I make art and am inclined to do that more than anything else. I sell my work privately and am currently planning my first exhibition, which is incredibly exciting. I have always been more comfortable existing in my own fantasy world than in reality. As a child this helped me survive challenging and traumatic experiences, but as an adult I've had to find ways to manage this tendency.
I've followed a lot of different paths to get to the one I am on now. I feel art can be used as a tool for healing and connection. I want my work to connect with people and for them to have their own experience with it. I never imagined that I would end up making this kind of visual art, and yet it has become my primary means of expression. I aways saw and felt images, movement and colour when I listened to music; the abstract images I create at the moment allow me the freedom to explore and depict in a non-linear fashion.
I condense visceral emotion and energy into compacted, two dimensional planes using a variety of media on flat surfaces. I draw upon the practice of cartography and abstract illustration as a means of mapping real, felt and imagined space. The unpredictable nature of acrylic and water-based materials are balanced with intricately detailed patterns and highly controlled marks to create a sense of aliveness. My work is a personal means for understanding, expression and release. To channel and give form to feelings of immensity and uncertainty, and ultimately seeking of inner-reconciliation. What emerges as a consequence of this process is almost always unexpected, providing further impetus for exploration in an effort to more deeply understand myself in relationship to others and the world around me.
I am a highly sensitive and emotional person. This can be a hindrance in daily life; but it is also my creative super power. I don`t really have an `off switch` and thus find it hard to relax: Creating is a form of meditation and deep relaxation. My restlessness means I don't have to force myself to work hard -it just happens. But sometimes I go overboard. Susan Sontag wrote that creativity is a form of nourishment for the spirit. I have found this to be profoundly true. When I go into the creative mode, whether that be in order to paint, write etc., I invariably come out of it feeling rejuvenated. My spirit feels fed and connected.
I am inspired by many female artists, and the history of women in the arts. My mother`s legacy as a person and an artist, is a major influence and force: I find myself reacting to and against her example. She had a studio in our home, so my sisters and I got to watch her work. Even when she was not painting a canvas, she was doodling on tables, painting furniture or making us doll houses out of cardboard and papier-mâché. Without knowing it, I was soaking up everything she did. From the way she held a paintbrush and would step back from a painting she was working on, tilting her head to one side in order to examine strokes of paint. Her work and her children were more important to her than anything else.
Unfortunately, her relentless dedication to external things left her depleted and vulnerable to illness. So whilst she possessed many personal and creative traits that I strive to embody, her early death also taught me that one must take care of themselves, as well as their work and other people. That if you burn the candle at both ends for too long, there will be nothing left. This is especially true for women. It is so deeply ingrained in us to feel we must be everything to everyone. We have to be more selfish in order to take better care of ourselves and not give all we have to others.
I have a studio apartment where I live and create. I get up early and do some kind of creative work first thing in the morning. I make coffee, then write, draw or work on something in going. I do yoga pretty much everyday, or some kind of exercise that feels grounding. This is essential. I still have to do various jobs to make enough money, so it`s important to have a good system that allows all of the aforementioned to happen before I go about my day. I'm an anxious person, so healthy routines and structures are important. I have to be disciplined and get enough rest. Otherwise I cant make work and be a decent human being at the same time.
Living in Berlin really inspires me too. Whilst at Uni i started to visit frequently and fell in love with it's strange, palpable energy. I was initially drawn here by what was going on musically, but then everything from the art and cultural scene, to the city's intense relationship with the past, excited and intrigued me. This is my home now, and I love living here. I am reminded every day what a privilege it is to enjoy freedom, that which so many of the city`s previous residents were stripped of.
Kristen de la Vallière
My name is Kristen and I am the founder of say hi to_ which is an online magazine and media network, soon to be printed magazine and design gallery. I also work as a freelance media producer, art director and design consultant. In short, I am a curator of sorts. As a New Yorker, I feel compelled to introduce myself with my job and what I do but I am also a loyal friend, an outspoken and sometimes provocative feminist, much too opinionated at times and I am passionate for standing up for what is not only right but supporting those who are genuine, honest and hardworking. With that super serious statement about myself, I also have to say I don't really take myself too seriously.
I was born and raised in New York, moved to Dublin for adventure and later love at 18, moved back to New York for a few years in my early twenties where I had my intensive career bootcamp, got transferred with a company to Berlin by my mid twenties where I learned about true friendships and creative collaboration, and later moved to Paris in my late twenties, for inspiration and to create the life that I wanted to live and still blissfully live here today. I currently enjoy daydreaming in cafés (so cliché but why else do you move to Paris), late night wine infused debates and chats, discovering the next biggest and most talented young creators in the art and architecture world, exploring the creative landscapes of lesser explored cities, true crime documentaries and not answering my emails in a timely manner.
I'm a very visual person so of course I find a lot of inspiration from design objects, interesting photoshoots - lately I have seen a lot of great young object designers staging their shoots with amazing prop styling and concepts, I also love really abstract photography of nature and architecture. I get inspired by artists who redefine their medium and do things in an unconventional and experimental way. I also get inspired by people who do the right thing in and out of the business world. It is so hard to find loyal and reliable people, also hard to find cool people to work with where there is no jealousy or competition. I hate that petty shit at work and with colleagues; so when I find those rare stand up people - I have a lot of respect and get very inspired to keep trying to work in that way and of course inspired to continue working with them.
As much as I love a good party and getting loud and a bit rowdy (still american), I have to say I really need a lot of time alone and I find a lot of inspiration from throwing on my headphones and walking aimlessly through my beloved Paris for an hour or two alone. I specifically moved to Paris because not only is the architecture and the people beautiful, but it has an energy that truly does leave me inspired every day. I've lived in cities where the energy drained and uninspired me, so now that I have found the city that fills me with that 'je ne said quoi' and countless ideas every day, I couldn't imagine to live anywhere else. I also like going on trips alone. You really get to see all of the beauty in cities and people that I think you sometimes lose in your own home town. These little lonely adventures of mine have led to some of my best ideas and most inspiring memories.
This one is a bit random but the terrible economy inspires me. I don't feel any obligation to get a job in a company - as there aren't many of them, they aren't well paid like they were in our parent's generation and they usually exploit young employees. A bad economy is the perfect climate to take a risk and go out and follow your ideas and passions, what do you really have to lose?
I guess I first and foremost aim to inspire other people through new discoveries in architecture, furniture design and fine art and also through sharing stories of international creatives and business owners who share their anecdotes, tips and realities. I'm really passionate about learning from the masters and promoting the generation of rising talent. I've worked to create a community, platform, ecosystem where people come to learn and be inspired by let's say, a famous French architect they love and then at the same time find a young new incredible artisanal glass blower from Stockholm whose work is still affordable.
Also now, in our generation it is different from the consumer or 'Ikea' generation where people spent money right and left on new products all of the time. If you're a millennial like me, you know there ain't much money or opportunity around (unless you make it yourself!) and when you spend money it is for a good reason. We are also the generation of options. With that combination I thought, I would rather spend 600€ on a beautiful table that I will keep for six or seven years for my home where I can tell the story behind the creator, who is maybe also my age following their passion, than 300€ for the same one everyone else has that is manufactured in a big warehouse somewhere and mass produced. I want to keep quality goods for a long time and I want to invest in talented people's passions.
This is why I am working with young creators to develop themselves and to collaborate on products, in the realm of object and furniture design as well as fine art - give them exposure through my platform and then offer their work to young collectors starting their fine art collections and or anyone who is interested in interesting and quality design objects. With that little introduction, our online platform will be moving offline for one month in September to showcase in person, some of the many talented young creators I have met and found over the past few years.
Brand and magazines also hire me to write for them, concept, produce and do PR for events and product launches as well as art direction for their photoshoots. So in short; I write, I strategise, I curate, I advise, I produce, I organise, I create content, I do PR, I edit and I allow myself plenty of time to day dream in between.
My name is Nina Wiger. I am from Stockholm, but have been living in the city of my dreams, LA, for about one year. I love it so much it hurts. The struggle to get here was real and that makes me appreciate every second spent in this city. I really found a place I think I will call home for a very long time.
To wake up at sunrise, walk to an early morning yoga class and then continue my day working as a Collection Manager at & Other Stories (www.stories.com) in one of the most amazing offices one could ever dream of makes me walk around with a constant smile on my face. It has been such a journey coming here to help spearhead our new office and I'm so grateful I got to be a part of it. We are such an amazing team, so it is really like working with your best friends. Some people say that I am so lucky, which really provokes me. Luck did not take me to where I am today, hard work and an extreme determination did. That's one of my strengths, I never give up on my dreams and everyday I try to inspire those around me to believe that anything is possible if you just put your intention out there, and dedicate your life to whatever it is you want. Nothing is for free and you can't just sit and wait for good things to happen to you. You need to work your ass off and then we can start to talk!
From what I remember, I have always been interested in fashion and I have expressed that in many ways that we can all laugh at today, but my motto in life is to try everything at least once- how else would I know? My earliest fashion error memory was during my 1st school graduation. My mom had to go to work early, so we prepared my white dress and fancy shoes the night before. I remember my mom leaving that morning and me looking at that dress that I had worn to a wedding the weekend before and thought it was pretty boring to wear the same dress again. So, instead I picked out a ballerina skirt and my mom's old fringed western vest, put it over a turquoise Minnie mouse sweatshirt, and paired it with my matching turquoise Velcro taped sneakers. Then I happily took off to school.
Walking into the school yard seeing all my classmates in beautiful white dresses with flowers in their hair and seeing the look on their parents faces is probably the first time I realized I was not like everyone else. I didn't like that feeling at all, so the following years I did everything in my power to try and fit in. I don't know if it worked that well..
In most things I do, I have this tendency to do everything slightly more extreme than everybody else. I realize now that that is one of my other strengths, it took me to where I am today and here in LA I finally feel like I fit in! The mix of personalities, ethnicities, styles, and life stories just never get old here. Every day I meet someone who inspires me in a different way.
I have always loved fashion, but I draw like a two year old so designing was out of the question. So, I thought it was impossible for me to get a career in the industry until I met a girl in San Francisco (where I lived in my early 20's) working as a fashion buyer. When she told me about that job my world opened up. I had never heard about such a career before, but she inspired me so much that I went straight home to look into schools to become a buyer. Education in the US was so expensive, so when I came across this new school in Stockholm focusing on international buying I decided to move back home. I was determined to get a job as a buyer at H&M, my favorite brand as a 20 year old. I called the HR department and asked them what was needed for me to get a job there and they said I needed a degree in buying and some courses in material studies. After studying for a year and a half it was time my classmates and I to get internship. Of course everybody wanted to get the H&M internship position. I was the youngest and least experienced in my class, but after a couple of interviews I was the only one in my class getting a place with the company.
It was a dream come true and I couldn't believe it as I almost didn't get into that business school based on mediocre math grades, but I managed to convince them somehow to give me a chance. This just goes to show that there is always a way to get what you want- you just have to be persistent and believe in yourself, then others will too! I have really brought this lesson with me when I interview candidates for roles here- to me it's so much more about personality, life experience, attitude and willingness to learn than what education or past jobs someone has had. If you have the right education or an impressive CV but the wrong attitude or bad energy it will never work anyway.
During my 12 years at H&M, I worked as a Buyer for several departments and I also had the opportunity to relocate to Shanghai to start up our innovation teams. It was five years of hard work but as much play. Shanghai was a crazy city to live in and I had to travel somewhere almost every week so I learned so much about myself, the world and about the other side of the fashion business. My dream of living in LA has been alive since I left San Francisco, but life took me to so many other interesting places. It was not until one of my last years in Shanghai that I decided this was something I really had to turn into reality. Every time I visited the city I just felt so at home. I couldn't get a visa working for another fashion company because it requires 12 years of experience to get an O1 visa. Consequently, it didn't work out at the time so I decided to move back to Stockholm for a while, but still with a very clear vision that I would be in LA within the year. However, that didn't come to fruition and I was frustrated.
I got a job offer from an American company, but I had to figure out my own visa which took me almost a year and cost me a fortune. When I came back to that company with my visa in hand they had changed almost their entire staff and no one knew who I was anymore. So there I was, with a visa linked only to this company that decided no additional employees from Europe were needed. I was devastated. In search of answers, I went to a psychic who really helped me along this journey. She told me that I will get what I want, but not in the way I thought I will get it and not as soon as I wanted it. She told me to breathe, enjoy being home, make the best out of it and get some rest after those intense years in Shanghai because I was moving...it was just a matter of time. I decided to trust her on that, which truly helped me stay calm and focused.
The psychic also told me that I will live a long and happy life if I don't try and fit the mold of what most people in Stockholm expected me to do being a 30+ woman- like get married and have children. Since I already tried the married life in my early 20's and donated my eggs to a beautiful woman back in the day, I don't really feel that pressure as much as i think many of my friends do. It wasn't that exciting to be married and whatever happens my genes are already out creating trouble on the streets of San Francisco, so I can stay calm and focus on myself for as long as I feel.
So, what I have learned from this journey I call my life is to work hard, never give up, put your intentions and positive attitude out there, and trust that everything always works out in the end. If not, it wasn't meant to be!
I really need balance in life, so during the weekdays I'm very strict about my routines, but during the weekends I do whatever I feel like. It really works for me. I normally get up at 6 am and head to a hot yoga class. Currently, my favorite class is at a studio called "Y7" which is an hour long class in an infrared heated room set to hip hop music (So LA I know). It is intense, but nothing gets me going like a sweaty workout in the morning. It makes such a big difference for my day! Even though I view myself as a morning person, it's of course a challenge to get out of bed. However, I read an article about a Swedish runner a while ago who shared her tip for getting up- in the morning, rain or shine, she would go on a run before her kids woke up and put her clothes by the bed the night before. When her alarm goes off, she pretends that she's a fireman and just jumps in her clothes and gets out of the house before she has time to think. I live by that advice and it works wonders.
I have the luxury of living walking distance from work, so I avoid dealing with the stress of LA traffic in the morning. So, after getting ready I normally have a matcha latte on my patio while keeping up to date on what's going on in the world during the night. I then head to work where I am responsible for two of our LA lines. My main responsibility is to maximize the selling of our assortments by creating the best collections for our customer. With the help of my team of collection developers, designers and pattern makers, we work to secure the right products at the right time, ensuring we have an elevated range of fabrics, colors and silhouettes in a variety of price points. However, since we are a new office we all must wear several hats. It is such a perfect job for me as it is requires me to be equally as business minded as creative.
After work, I normally go out for a hike in the canyons or dinner with some friends or on a date. LA must be the best city in the world to be single in- it is just endless amounts of fun with so many interesting people to meet. It is no wonder why people here never settle. When the weekend comes I try to see the rest of California, so I will road trip somewhere like Joshua Tree, San Diego, Big Sur, Ojai or to wherever there is a festival. Festivals are a big passion of mine since I can combine everything I love in life- dancing, meeting new people, yoga, art and workshops in healing or quantum hugs or some other subject I had no idea I was interested in.
I've learned so much about that spiritual world since I moved here and I'm just getting into crystals, essential oils and my favorite weekly activity- blindfolded meditation dance. There are countless options, which makes it very difficult for me to get bored.
Another big passion in my life is photography and I especially love taking portraits of interesting people. I lost my creativity a bit moving back to Sweden from Shanghai, but I feel like it's slowly coming back to me. I'm working on a project which I just launched 'gypsetontherun' where I will capture all the interesting people I see or meet around the world and have them share their travel dreams (as traveling is another big passion of mine) My only problem right now is that I have lost my courage when it comes to walking up to people to ask them if I can take their portrait, I freeze and really have to push myself to do it- there has to be a crystal to fix that- note to self, I need to look into it this weekend ..
For the first time in my life I feel like I'm happy living in the now. There is no other place I'd rather be and I truly live each day going with the flow. It's also my year of saying "yes" to everything (if it's not destructive). It's only May, but it has taken me to some pretty rare places let me tell you. I would encourage everyone to have one of those years. There are so many amazing opportunities out there out there if you stay open and get out of your comfort zone. YES!!
I can get inspired by anything, but I would say that my main source of inspiration comes from strong woman around me, especially the ones that go their own way. Two of my best friends are currently staying at my house. We call ourselves the modern family and we inspire each other a lot. Jenny and I had only met once at a festival in Sweden a few years ago. She is a make up artist and hair stylist who got dumped and became very bored of Sweden. She asked if she could come stay with me for a while because she loved LA. As this is my year of saying "yes," she moved straight in and she haven't left yet. She is extremely straight forward, which is a trait that I admire and want to incorporate more of in my life as I have a tendency of not wanting to hurt people that are close to me. Instead, I don't always speak my mind and end up only hurting myself. I need a bit more Balcan in me haha. Another thing that inspires me about her is that more is never enough. I can put on some all over leopard print outfit with red lipstick and ask her if it's too much and she will be yelling "no for gods sake, its LA." I love that! I think my style has become a lot more daring since she moved in. A few months ago we barely knew each other and now we really are like a small family. That is priceless and truly inspires me to say "YES" even more!
Erika is my other friend staying with me at the moment. She left her life in Istanbul with a great job and boyfriend to take a year, Erika is my other friend staying with me at the moment. She left her life in Istanbul with a great job and boyfriend to take a year off and try to figure out what is important for her in life. She has travelled the world working with white tigers and monkeys while taking so many interesting workshops and courses in personal development as well as healing. She has grown so much in just a year. It's so inspiring to me what you can do in one year, a month, a week or even a day if you just decide to live each moment to the fullest.
A few years ago, I could spend an entire weekend inside just watching movies not wanting to do anything else. I was just waiting for my life to start to happen. I promise you, nothing will happen if you sit inside and watch TV...Get out! Take a workshop, travel, force yourself to go to that party even though you don't want to. If you are open, everything will lead to something. We can now laugh at the fact that it was only four months ago when we were traveling to Mexico together. It now feels like lifetime ago when we review all the adventures in between.
That's how I want the rest of my life to be too- so full of life that a year feels like a lifetime when it comes to experiences and meetings.
When I’m sad I don’t cry I pour. When I’m happy I don’t smile I glow. When i’m angry I don’t yell I burn. The good thing about feeling extremes is when I love I give them wings. It took me until my thirties to understand who I am and what is important to me.
I traveled many paths, done many things. So far the one I am on now seems to be the one for me. Recognising who I am gives me the ability to give to the people unconditionally. Being myself, best friend, wife, mother, agent, manager and partner. I’m currently in the process of building up my agency. An artists management and booking agency. The electric music scene was always part of my life, but never my profession. I studied Fashion Design Menswear at Central St. Martins in London. By then my son was two years old, so I took him with me. The time in England was the most changeling but also the most rewarding time. After finishing my engineers master degree in garment development in Berlin I sadly realised that there was no chance for me to actually work in my learned profession in Berlin. By then I had two kids and moving was not an option.
Music was still very much part of my life due to my husband/ partner. But starting as a booking agent was more a coincident than planned. It turned out to be my calling. At least for the next years. I’m able to create something new, bringing like minded people together. I’m working hand in hand with my partner/ husband, who I also represent in my agency. Along with 20 other artists which most of them I can call friends. Which is a lovely position to be in.
Who inspires me? Most of all: my family! My friends and my artists. We recently went to an amazing concert by two young girls, Their performance inspired all of us. They are called ‘let’s eat grandma’.
My name is Jane Kenney, I am a jewelry designer and maker, living in Bristol with my husband, baby son and newly adopted Greyhound Peggy. Following graduation with a degree in Silversmithing and Jewelry Design, I moved to Bristol to work for an award winning jeweler. I immediately fell in love with the city and although I left after a few years to pursue my business, I returned in 2009 and have remained here ever since. I have always been drawn to body adornment and during my degree I experimented with many varied materials including silver, precious stones, steel, resin and leather, creating large shoulder pieces and elaborate bracelets. However, after graduating when I started to create my own collection of work, I soon realised that I wanted my work to be worn, easily accessible and versatile which was quite a contrast to my previous work. I really love the sentimental qualities of jewelry and how it can be an extension of self expression. I want to make pieces that mean something to the wearer, that will last and will be enjoyed.
Alongside my jewelry business, my husband and I launched our business STRANGE (www.strangebristol.com) last August, a contemporary online store, designing, creating and selling beautiful products. This has been a bit of a dream of mine for a long time and hope to have a bricks and mortar shop of our own one day.
I set up my business in 2005 and have been designing and creating my collection of jewelry ever since. Each piece is designed and made by me, and sold on my online shop and through contemporary jewelry shops, galleries and exhibitions. My workshop is based at home, in a small brick out house in our garden which is very handy, especially now, since having our little boy. I am currently on maternity leave but have previously always had a part time job alongside my business, partly for financial reasons but to also have a balance and to maintain certain skills. Being on maternity leave is giving me time to reflect and re-evaluate my business and to contemplate how I would like it to move forward. My time is inevitably going to be different now but I am determined to make it work. Before maternity leave, I would have three full days in my workshop working on customer orders, stock orders, one- off commissions and when I could, new designs. The other days were spent working at contemporary jewelry shop Clifton Rocks (www.cliftonrocksco.uk) owned by my close friend Clare.
Hearing people’s stories, how they came about doing what they do, how they got started and their process, is what really inspires me. I often over think things and can be a bit of a worrier which can be crippling at times so I love hearing of people who just ..do it. When I need a bit of a push I watch creative talks Do Lectures (www.thedolectures.com), TED Talks (www.ted.com) and Creative Mornings (www.creativemornings.com) It is easy to assume that people are in better financial situations, have particular skills or have certain support but often, its just that they’ve made the decision to go for it and to work really hard. It’s that sheer determination and perseverance that inspires me and gives me perspective.
My name is Lena Nyholm. Even though some really painful things have happened to me I have always known that there is a choice between getting better or getting bitter .. I've tried my hardest to get better, to get stronger, to learn and to heal. To me life is not about earning money and buying stuff, its about learning, growing and enjoying because you never know what life will bring you. It's better to live now than to wait for whatever we think should happen, hop on a train if it excites you, hop off if it burdens you.
I've done everything from project coordination, styling and event design, I eventually started to freelance, relying on my wings to take me wherever I was suppose to go and it wasn't until I clicked with a wonderful interior architect at a party and started to assist her that I got into interior design and eventually started my own business. I worked super hard for no money, but always tried to make the best and most out of it. I think that your mindset is more important than anything else, if you enjoy what you do, you will be good at it. For me it led to getting to do the set design of Swedens most popular TV show as my first own interior project, even though it was big and scary I did my very best with a smile and it worked.
Your life is your responsibility, what you do and how you treat yourself is your responsibility. It's your life, so go on and live it.
I love nature and the beauty that excists there so I try to be outside as much as possible, it's in the forest and by the lake that I find my best ideas. I like to surround myself with beautiful and inspiring things my house is everything but minimalistic. I love colours, patterns, different textures and materials, beautiful pieces of furniture and details that creates interesting contrasts. I believe that more is more and in finding a personal and balanced harmony. That all together brought me to working with interiors and I think that reflects in my designs. I didn't dream about being an interior designer, it just came to me. One of my driving forces is to create beautiful spaces where people feel good and happy rather than rooms that are 'right' according to interior trends and rules.
Inspiration is everywhere, I'm never prepared from where or who it might come. It can be a pattern, a flower, a building, a person or a furniture; anything that is beautiful in some kind of way. Sometimes I don't even know that it inspired me until later when it pops up in my mind and I realize that I unconsciously have created a new idea out of something I didn't really notice directly. I try to be as open minded as possible, I look for beauty everywhere and in everyone. It's a choice to see the beauty in things, of course it's easier sometimes than others, but when you know that there is beauty everywhere, even in the cracks, you can always find it.
My name is Claudia: I was born in Northern Italy 28 years ago and I like to describe myself as a passionate, meditating, book-loving, go-with-the-flow wanderluster, thinker, and dreamer with a tender heart. Currently I'm based far above the moon – no kidding, you've got it right. Well okay, if you'd like to pin a tiny flag somewhere in the world, I'd say that mine would be located in Berlin, as this is the city that means the most to me together with my hometown, Bergamo. That said, I believe that the world really is your oyster, and after spending five years in the hippest capital of Germany, end of last year I decided to step out of my comfort zone and turned my whole life upside down: I quit my job, ended a long and important relationship, and decided to travel solo to Cape Town, South Africa. Silly, brave, or crazy enough – maybe it's a combination of all.
I must admit, a big jump in the dark is the recurring story of my life: something similar happened in 2012 after finishing my studies in marketing and international management, when I followed my instinct and moved to Berlin without having a job and a place to stay. Fast forward a couple of jobs and seasons, and you'll find me working as a PR manager for a renowned Berlin-based publishing house specialized in contemporary visual culture. I really enjoyed crafting compelling communications plans and PR campaigns, working side-by-side with young, driven professionals, and being able to delve into topics I'm passionate about such as architecture, design, and art on a daily basis. Then, I started feeling restless, I was itching and wandering. I was asking myself if I was truly happy, if I was giving myself a chance to grow, both on a personal and a professional level. I gave myself some time and realized that sometimes you really need to learn to let go, and you can't embrace the future but with empty hands.
Now, I reckon you had probably expected a woman in her late 20's who's rocking the perfect career, has a winning strategy for the healthiest work-life balance, and tells you she's absolutely satisfied with herself and couldn't wish for more in life. Hey, I'm very sorry to be a killjoy. I thought, if there's anything I'd like to share with you here on As Seen by Her its my true story, my authentic self, something you might relate to. I'm always fascinated by people who admit to be vulnerable and share their honest thoughts, people who stretch their boundaries to embark on exciting, challenging journeys. If you appreciate that too, you might be in the right place with me.
A couple of months ago I was having lunch with friends and one of them asked me to describe my biggest passion with just one word. 'Words' was my answer – writing, reading, music, communicating with people. So much meaning can hide in one single word. Now, let's make a step forward and pair words with traveling and photography: bang! That's exactly what makes me feel like a happy clam. Spending almost three months in Cape Town, far away from the place I used to call home, surrounded by a completely different environment, new places and people, was such a challenging, life-changing experience. The stunning natural landscape, inspiring encounters, and the unique flavours of the Mother City gave me a precious sense of lightness, of freedom. Living in the here and now was the key and the best I could gift myself with. So yes, as you can tell my life at the moment looks like a building site on many levels, but I believe that no sailor is meant to watch the ocean from afar, so I'd rather get my hands dirty and experiment while trying to have fun along the way. Challenge accepted?
Inspiration comes in so many different forms: a well-written novel (currently I'm reading 'The Goldfinch' by Donna Tartt), browsing new music (I've been playing Devendra Banhart's latest album 'Ape in Pink' on loop, for days), wandering without a specific destination and discovering hidden spots, observing people on the streets. To me, a foreign city probably is one of the biggest sources of inspiration, because it's diverse and unfamiliar enough to keep me interested.
Last year I managed to squeeze in a couple of long weekends in Paris, Copenhagen, Warsaw, and Barcelona, and can confidently say that traveling is one of the experiences and moments I value the most. No surprise I've got itchy feet the whole time, uh. But inspiration also comes from new challenges, for they've got the power to give you new eyes: I took surfing lessons in South Africa and felt like a kid playing in the salty water, big excitement when a wave was approaching; also, I decided to teach myself how to play the guitar: it will most certainly take me months to be able to strum a song, I know, but in the end it really is about the journey and the time you carve out for yourself, to start anew.
My name's Aimee, I'm an artist and printer. One of my earliest memories is walking barefoot, along a sandy road in a little Spanish fishing village called Caleta de Famara in Lanzarote. Walking hand in hand with the boy from next door and his older brother. Flickering between each house as we walked by, you could see the rough sea crashing on the rocks. My school consisted of one room with 11 children varying in age.
Mum would pick me up in their clapped out beetle and we'd go surfing for the rest of the day and then end up in a bar where I'd run around playing with the local kids. It was a magical time! Lanzarote is a remarkable island. It's left an imprint on me forever, the never ending wind and rough sea makes you feel completely alive! Once, I went to help my dad collect volcanic rock for a water fountain he was making for someone. It was incredible, we'd park up literally on the side of the volcano and start excavating. We'd find the most fantastic, other worldly looking pieces of rock. I was always fascinated by all of the different colors you could find.
This nomadic way of life stemmed from an early age. Before this we lived in Paris. My parents bought and sold furniture in Les Puce / Paul Bert and we'd travel back and forth in their van between Paris and Bristol, where I was born. We were always busy, always moving and there was always noise! The house was full of people. I think I've been soaking in all this noise, colour and life for so long that this is what's channelled into my painting.
I often wonder how I generate ideas to draw in a certain way and how these ideas evolve with very different styles from one day to the next. Some days I have the urge for a big inky brushstroke and bold colour, and the next day I might be onto very fine intricate line and pale washy colour. I guess it's all that noise and movement showing itself. I think all people have creativity inside them, unconsciously or not. You've got to find a way to extract that information and it's not easy, but it is there!
I live in Barcelona with my six year old son and husband who is also an artist. I run my own business called Studio Amour which focuses on fabrics for interiors, designing and hand printing all of the fabrics myself from my home studio and various others screen print studios around the city, primarily Taller 57 which I've been part of for the past four years since we moved here. A lot of my work is commission based. I work with private clients to come up with a special piece of fabric for a room, to use as upholstery or as wallhanging's. I also work designing prints for the fashion industry, most recently working for Yolke (www.yolke.co.uk) on a print that will featured in their S/S18 collection next year. I'd say producing a textile design is a battle and a journey.
An idea sparks in your mind and then you travel .. idea, sketch, paint, print, fabric. I work very quickly, it may take 100 or more sketches to come up with something I'm happy with. What's so exciting for me is the amalgamation of two opposing processes. From the freedom of freehand design, experimenting with drawing and painting to the technical process of screen printing which is something that is precise and requires extreme accuracy.
I love to work like this, it keeps your mind ticking and requires different elements of focus. Once I'm at the print table, all sorts of wonderful experimentation can begin to unfold. An entirely different world altogether, that can take you in another direction. The road is long but, I feel secure in the fact that this is something that I want to do for the rest of my life and it can only get better as I explore and work through periods of style and technique. My dream is to open a studio here, staying up all night working and sleeping underneath the print table!
The best way I find to be inspired is to get out or even better to get away. Turn my phone off, no computer, walk, look and breathe in the city. Trends emerge and spread so quickly that genuine art and design is easily diluted in it's wake. It's hard to break away from the commercial route with all these digital probes, telling you how to be inspired, involved, on point, what to look at, how to dress, what to follow. It's important for me to channel my thoughts in the right direction. If I'm traveling, the freedom and space away from my work always ignite a desire to get going with it all again.
As a designer, sucking in inspiration and being informed about what's going on happens instinctively, drawn from every single thing we look at and touch. Without realising it, I'd say my parents have inspired my work, they've given me the absolute vision for what I'm doing. They've always worked together, designing and building things from scratch. From the interior right through to the outside of the building, designing and making all of our furniture, our houses and even our clothes at some points.
This very liberating idea that you can design and make beautiful things from very little, has given me the guidance and vision to carry it on into my work and that of my sisters who now runs her own very successful bakery in Hackney The Dusty Knuckle (www.thedustyknuckle.com)
My surroundings, vital in order to create, also play a part in generating ideas. As much as I appreciate the beauty in the architecture here in Barcelona, I don't think it's this specifically that feeds my inspiration. For me it's the cultural difference that has fed into creating new work. It sounds and smells different here, this is the part of living away from home that makes me feel alive! The sound of children playing in the street outside my office every day, the evening sunlight in the courtyard, the sound of birds in the mornings, walking past the open door of the vermouth bar on the corner of our street and hearing the elevated Catalan banter. Morning walks up to Parc Guell to climb the hill, breathe in nature and get a look at the city from high up. Cycling to the beach early to catch the sunrise over the sea. Sitting in a rowdy bar etc etc ..these are the parts of this city that inspire me!
In the more recent years I've realized that there will always be hurdles, there will never be quite enough time to focus. Make the most of what you have or haven't got, use it and push yourself.
I am Karolina Aastrup or Lina as most call me. I come from Stockholm. I started making fashion illustrations when I was nine years old, which is funny because I still can’t draw to save my life. I love shapes and colours in every form, and have devoted my working life to just that - fashion, images, products, magazines, mood boards, editorials, commercials, films – anything with an esthetic value and a story to tell. And sometimes just creating something pretty for people to rest their eyes on (because hey, everyone has bills to pay ..) I now work as creative director and design eyewear for a couple of different brands.
I combine motherhood with daily work at the office. As an entrepreneur, I have many roles to play, some suit me better than others. When I’m in a creative phase, everyday chores stress me and make me loose focus. I am the most efficient and creative when by myself in a strange city. I finalised my latest collection in 12 hours in a hotel room in Hong Kong. Somehow, loneliness keeps me on my toes. On the contrary, when I’m in a productive period, I enjoy mixing work, kids, friends and private life. Screen shots are my life saviour when it comes to remembering stray thoughts, inspirations, moods. I’m a morning person, so getting up, making coffee and browsing through the last snaps I’ve collected is a great place for me to start my day.
Art, music and travel are my go to tools for input, energy and creativity. I like to play music loud in my headphones to block out all other thoughts and distractions. Creative process is almost a trance like state of mind for me where all the accumulated inspiration organises and form a pattern. Everything being very clear and happening really fast on an intuitive level. Like using the hyper speed button in a Sci-Fi movie. And with the risk of sounding terribly pretentious, I love that.
One woman I admire is Lisa Carlsson for her open mind, flowing texts and unique use of words. Her coming book is one I look forward to reading.
My name is Juliet, I'm from the UK and lived most of my life within a stone throw from London. In my opinion it's the best city in the world and has given me everything I am now. As a teenager I suffered from ME Post Viral Chronic Fatigue and it was returning to the city (after studying at Edinburgh Art College) that I regained my health and London allowed me to be the full expression of who I was and wanted to be. I dipped into different creative worlds of art, fashion and film, styling myself as a set designer before finally finding my feet as a yoga instructor (after an adventure in India) and then founder of my vogue-inspired fitness concept VOGA.
London is where I met my husband, was given my dog Rio (by him as a surprise birthday present after coming back from Ibiza!) and where I feel at home. Saying that, at the age of 35, I'm now at the cross-roads of another phase of my life and since having our baby Roxy last August, we've been living the last eight months in Barcelona, pursuing our dreams of a sun-filled relaxed life that offers both us and our little one the best lifestyle. Can we do both London and a dreamy paradise by the sea? I hope so. I think it's important to satisfy both aspects of our personality - the desire for excitement, buzz and creativity you find in the city and the chilled siesta Euro lifestyle.
I feel lucky to have found my passion and become Founder and Creative Director of a business, despite not intentionally seeking it and how all-consuming it can sometimes feel. If you haven't already heard about HOUSE OF VOGA, it's a lifestyle brand fusing yoga and vogueing (think 80's dance culture) fitness and fashion set to an 80's beat and designed to empower. We offer classes, events, pop-ups and retreats globally and love spreading the vibe that fitness can be fabulously and fashionably fun! Female empowerment is the root concept behind VOGA. My interest in Martial Arts (specifically Chi Gung as it originated from a female master); the origins of movement and an understanding of chi flow (since my illness); the politics and hieroglyphic style of cleopatras Egypt (when men signed allegiance to women I believe marriage). Quantum Yoga (that your practise will be ever changing, fluid and present in the moment); Vogue Dance (the authenticity of self expression and inner power); yoga and Pilates (I loved going to Les Mills Body Balance when I was at University with the focus on both the holistic and cardio).
Music and soundtrack (from growing up in the 80's and my love of Ibiza house); working in the Fashion and film industry as a Set Designer (the Space we choose for VOGA is essential to the experience). My love of all things 80's and that essentially 80's joy, working out Cindy Crawford, Elle McPherson style have all inspired me along my journey to create VOGA.
I'm eternally grateful for finding my path (helped by my yoga) especially as I don't work well being employed by someone else! I've somehow managed to combine all my passions - yoga/ dance/ music/ sociability/ set design/ fashion - in one all-encompassing concept that other people sharing the same creative impulses can also enjoy, all over the world. I love that VOGA allows me to travel, to meet different kinds of people and how uniting it Is to experience the power of breath, movement and pose together with an attitude of inclusivity and fun.
The fashion aspect is a passion of mine too. I think that fashion doesn't have to be frivolous. Everyone should (and inevitably does) embrace fashion, their own style, in order to express to the world and themselves who you are. Everything is a choice so why not make your choice a knowing one. It's why I love the idea of vintage and the chance encounter with the found object, surrealist style. With vintage there's not necessarily a known brand to back up your choice. You have to decisively love it, wear it and own it confidently as part of you. It also factors in the idea of recycling clothes which ultimately makes for a better planet so I'm all for promoting people coming to my classes with at least one item of retro chic. (and maybe one VOGA catsuit from our line).
Essentially it's all about The power of discovering the feminine. There's endless ideas I have for HOUSE OF VOGA and I hope I can continue it throughout my 40's, hopefully with a calm confident and decisiveness that I'm trying to learn as I go along. My biggest struggle is that as a business women you need multi talents - creative, business and management skills in equal measure, plus total understanding in the world of advertising. It's not enough to have a good idea!
Ultimately, my quest is to live happily in the moment. It's what I'm promoting with VOGA so it's what I practise - factoring in as many daily activities that act as stress-relief and offer both holistic and hedonistic effects. I like to cycle everyday, swim in the sea (now I'm in Barcelona, in London it was London Fields Lido) be outside in the fresh air as much as possible and eat nourishing food that makes me feel energetic and satisfied. Oh and not forgetting the fashion aspect - wear something colourful or styling to boost my mood. The VOGA method concept I'm currently working on will offer lifestyle advice on every level.
Cindy Crawford, Grace Jones, Madonna and Uma Thurman; women who are powerfully themselves and who express how as females it is our power and strength to continually evolve and metamorph into other versions of ourselves. Despite the fame, they also have managed to keep their personal life their own and retain an enigma. An essential part in my eyes to living the feminine successfully. Don't give it all away.
I hope VOGA helps people live their life to the max, lose inhibitions and fear and believe in the power of change and self expression. How to have the power to be themselves in the biggest way possible!
I am Nicola Baudone a trained hairstylist from Bristol UK, currently pursuing one of my big passions of this life .. fashion. After working around the world as a hairstylist, I landed in Stockholm where I lived quite happily for the most part of 20 years .. In that time I enjoyed Swedish life with my other half, travelled, enjoyed Stockholms nightlife and restaurant culture (two of my other big passions), opened my own salon, got married and bought a cat.
Loving the Scandinavian design, it was a natural progression that when my life underwent some colossal changes and I found myself at a crossroads I decided to pursue my dream of opening a clothing store and the idea of HUS was born; a local independent boutique in the heart of my home town, specializing in Swedish brands .. that .. was the easy part.
Three years in, working six or seven days a week with only two weeks holiday in four years. Financing the business in it´s start up phase by continuing to return to Stockholm every seven weeks to work as a hairstylist for two weeks, 10, 11, 12 hour days, six or seven days a week. Squeezing in my buying trips and learning all about my new trade .. I'm not sure how i managed. This year I will finally get to see the fruits of my labour, I can´t lie, it was harder than I ever imagined, the financial pressure from the retail industry is no joke, something I never had to deal with before. I cut hair, I get paid .. simple as that!
But in all this time, I had a firm belief that i was going to make it work, how could it not? I had the passion and drive, I had found a niche market, the clothes were beautiful and different, I had the means of supporting it, even if it meant no salary for three years. Finally, this year I can almost look forward to my end of year meeting with my accountant.
I have always found inspiration through others, whatever their circumstances or professions. Someone with a story to tell, a good read and it´s always inspiring to hear how people change their lives by not accepting lives half lived and decide to follow their hearts as well as their heads. Turning around a negative situation, making it into a positive one, that is inspiring! I have to say, I am a bit of a silver lining queen nowadays and it works! That was the million dollar question at my crossroads; what do you want?
Well .. I want to be happy, getting up and going to work to do something that I love, in a place that inspires, surrounded by people in my life that build me up and make me want to do better, either personally or professionally. Some days are better than others! One of my favourite quotes of all time is by Roald Dahl; "Those who don´t believe in magic will never find it." I'm still looking ..
One woman that over the years I have found to be a true inspiration is Carina Löwgren. I was fortunate to have worked with her at Hårgänget (www.harganget.com) in Stockholm for several years and we have been firm friends ever since. She always brings the utmost sense of esthetic to whatever she does and I have always found her stories of her professional life to be most exciting and enlightening. She knows what´s what in the fashion industry and she continues to bring her passion and knowledge to her craft. She´s still got it .. that´s for sure!
My name is Andrea Kellerman and for five years I tried to stop creating music. But it pulled me right back. Everything I do, everything around me, leaves marks, almost like the annual rings of a tree, that reveal events that have occurred in our surroundings. It often starts with a melody that lingers on in my head. And before the song is done, I can’t do anything else. That feeling is so intense.
My passion is music, or to be more precise, my passion is to write music. To have bits and pieces of a melody or parts of lyrics and then put them together in a way that make most sense to me. It is such a natural process, I don’t try to control the song writing, like I try to control most things around me. I just start somewhere and the rest just writes it self, if I’m lucky. The best songs I’ve written, took the least time.
I am what some people like to call a highly sensitive person. I walk around in cities and I’m like: OMG have you seen that old building? The paint is falling off and it hasn’t been restored since the second world war. It looks like shit, but still, it’s like I’m picking up on that energy, and somehow I find that beautiful and it moves me. And my friends will be like: what, what house? That happens to me a lot. The feelings I get are so intense, it took time for me to actually control it when I was growing up. I always like to think that human energy lingers on, in spaces, in houses, in other people, in music, in books. I find that beautiful.
One woman that has the ability to really move people with her voice and who I find really inspiring, is Nina Kinert. Not only does she have a voice to die for, she is also a really good songwriter and producer. The last time I saw her play I cried through her whole set, she was eight months pregnant and so cool, a real power woman.