I hope wherever you are in the world this email finds you with hope in your heart. This year has created chaos in the world and our lives and our knee jerk reaction is fear.
The trick when we feel fear is to move towards a love emotion, kindness, compassion, faith, generosity, and caring.
I created this girl for Victoria and all the folks around the world who are still in lockdown. Her name is Hold the Faith and this is her story.
Faith is stronger than hope, it’s the willingness to believe without a doubt that something good or a particular outcome is going to happen without proof or results. It’s the magical place from where anything you want to bring to life can grow. Faith is like planting seeds you devotedly water knowing one day they will bring fruit yet you continue to water them even when there are no signs of buds or sprouts.
This girl knows to ‘hold the faith’, it means that when things aren’t going as she wished, her outcome still hasn’t shown up, times are tough, rocky, scary or unknown, she chooses to take a step in the direction of a dream or desire knowing it will happen.
Every small step you take, you are rallying forces you can’t see and it’s the elixir that will bring to life what you want.
She knows good things are coming her way, she is standing strong in times of chaos and uncertainty and that faith is her secret weapon. She knows it’s yours too.
I hope she brightens up your day and with her beauty helps you rally your faith.
A huge shout out to the people of Victoria, the United States, Brazil, and to every individual challenged by COVID in this moment.
I want to share with you something that happened in Paris after COVID.
Paris is a city that makes many women and men go weak at the knees. As a girl that has been known to love wearing rose-coloured glasses, I know many people around the globe love popping on those rose-coloured glasses when they think of Paris. When you live in Paris, she can be everything including a tough old broad that slams the door in your face, utters instantly mais non madame as a knee jerk reaction, long before she considers a Yes and a day can be filled with neutral stares and harsh rebuffs from the folks at the post office or any government body. She was as equally well mannered, chic, and impossibly beautiful if not just a little distant!
Pre-COVID, there were days I went out loving her and came home wondering why she made it so hard to love her!!!
Then something happened, we got locked up, they took away the parks, the restaurants, the post office (yes, it was closed for 2 months), the boutiques, the florists, the schools, the offices, the famous Parisian cafés with her beautiful cane chairs and the right to leave our homes for 8 weeks without a piece of paper. For 8 weeks, we couldn’t go more than 1 km from home and only for an hour a day.
Like many people around the world, we experienced a lockdown that was confronting, challenging, emotional, aggressive, controlling and everything in between. At some point, it also became grounding, slow, calm, passive, and gentle.
When we emerged from 8 weeks of silence and confinement, for many solitary, Paris was different. She went through her own transformation and out the other side she became a village.
People were different, we were different. In the place of being in a hurry, we all seemed to have time, in place of indifference we all were connected and concerned, in the place of blank stares we looked one another in the eyes.
The city slowly came back to life, terraces grew and grew wherever there was free space or even when there wasn’t. Umbrellas went up, inflatable flamingos appeared at the entrances of restaurants and even the smartest restaurant managed to add a rogue terrace with a white tablecloth. Waiters greeted us like long lost friends.
Gratitude filled her streets and our hearts, wonder abounded as we had the right to roam again and every detail was fascinating and beautiful. The gardens that had been locked away and had grown wild, were filled again with flowers and colour.
As the weeks passed, the village atmosphere remained as all of us started to roam even the most touristy restaurants that now stood empty, places that we once fought to sit in, we could finally get a seat outside with a spectacular view.
It was like being a kid in a lolly shop, Parisians and adopted Parisians had the menu to a moveable feast and now we could finally get a seat at the table and order up big!
The weeks keep passing and the kindness remains, conversations with strangers have become the new normal and the level of gratitude to sit on a beautiful café terrace is still as joyful as the first time we ever did it.
There is a feeling of spaciousness that wasn’t here before, it’s luxurious and with that spaciousness the city is softer and less aggressive. That constant feeling of FOMO that we would miss out if we didn’t get there early, has disappeared.
Why am I telling you this? There is a reason, particularly if you are in lockdown and your heart is breaking from the feeling of confinement, restrictions, loss of income, contact, unknown and more.
My wish for you and wherever you are in the world that you too will emerge from lockdown with a gift of humanity and that your world no matter how big and scary it is right now will too become a village. That what once was invisible will now be visible, including you.
I’m very excited to share with you Melissa Obeid’s story on bringing to life her unique dream and vision of creating a luxury skincare range in France.
I’ve had the enormous pleasure of trying this beautiful product, and as I said to Melissa, ‘It’s like a Hermes handbag in a jar!!’
It’s pure craftsmanship and luxury and everything you would expect of a beautiful product made in France with an interesting Australian twist.
Over to Melissa…
(Image: La Fervance/Jolene Denes Photography)
Why a face cream in France?
Creating a face cream in the global cosmetics hub was certainly not the intention when we arrived in France!
The concept of a sustainable, luxurious, 100% natural and proven-active skincare brand was one I had in Australia, where we had actually commenced the process. Then a few weeks into our French family sabbatical in 2016 and the inspiration struck! The momentum kicked in and I was engulfed in this extraordinarily powerful flow of making the vision a reality in the prestige cosmetics mecca as nothing beats that ‘Made in France’ positioning. I realised it was hugely ambitious, but with the encouragement of Jamie and our children, I maintained my focus, a blind faith and after almost 4 years whilst living in Provence, Paris, of highs, lows and ‘many reasons to give up’ — LA FERVANCE was born.
It’s the first clean luxury beauty brand to fuse the best of Australia’s enchanting environment and centuries of French savoir faire into entirely original and highly sophisticated and balanced formulations from 100% natural origins, at a time when many brands are using ‘off the shelf/standard’ formulations which are ready to label due to their lower costs and quicker time to market. Our benchmark was excellence within every touchpoint, and we refused to compromise on any element of the brand or product development. Market trends and commercial factors were never our driving force. The launch of our ‘iconic’ Eclat Extraordinaire embodies the essence of our adventure, brand values and represents a new philosophy in clean beauty. France felt like the most natural place to make all of this happen.
I’m extremely fortunate to have a husband who supported this dream and has been prepared to work with me to make it happen.
(Images: La Fervance/Jolene Denes Photography/Melissa Obeid)
What attracts you to living in France and how has it influenced creating La Fervance?
I’m convinced I must have had a past life in France! Despite the various dramatic events which have transpired whilst living here, I’m unperturbed. Each time I step onto the streets of Paris or whilst in Provence, feels like my first time and whilst I may look like a local, I act like a tourist, constantly pausing to take pics of building facades, doors, vineyards, corners, tables, chairs, old people… Not half as amazing as your pics, Carla, but with that same perspective of seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary.
After living in Paris in the 90’s where I studied at the Paris Fashion Institute and worked in fashion for a couple of years, France has a special place in my heart. Later my role at the National Gallery of Victoria was perfect as we staged many French exhibitions, so I got my ‘French fix’ regularly.
Around my 45th birthday, Jamie saw I was missing France, so decided he’d bring me and the kids to my ‘happy place’ for a ‘few months’. The relocation from our comfortable life in Bayside Melbourne for a sabbatical was sudden, but within 8 weeks of making the decision, we were on the plane — long stay visas in hand and an unknown adventure awaiting. On 12 July, we celebrated 4 years to the day! Whilst a true-blue Aussie at heart, with Lebanese heritage, for me, France feels like the centre of the universe, from where we can easily access other parts of the world. When I’m not here, I feel like I’m missing something intrinsic to my identity.
I’m also passionate about history, so clearly I’m in the right place and despite some aspects of living and doing business in France being highly frustrating — this quirkiness is charming in itself (sometimes!)
The pursuit of excellence, traditions, quality, and overall inspiration I receive whilst here has influenced every element of the LA FERVANCE story. The ‘Made in France’ positioning is essential to the brand and I feel the inspiration around Napoleon & Josephine’s fascination with Australia and the Bourdin expedition to Oz in 1800 strongly here, which in turn influences the energy which LA FERVANCE exudes.
(Images: La Fervance/Jolene Denes Photography)
What have been some of the joys of living your dream?
The hugely diverse group of people we’ve crossed paths with along the way, many of whom have become close friends and de facto ‘family’. Inspiring and playing a part in some of their journeys has been most rewarding.
The crazy synchronicities which have occurred so frequently, and which have impacted where we are now. Even meeting you, Carla, was via my now dear friend Jolene Denes, whom we initially met whilst principal dancer au Moulin Rouge — retiring in 2016 and who’s now our LA FERVANCE photographer. She’s another Aussie living in France.
Achieving what so many said would be ‘impossible’ and pushing through the consistent obstacles to see my dream become a reality and doing this all with our own personal funds.
The sense of freedom and gratification one feels from pursuing a soul led life, over an ‘average’ one, despite the latter offering more comfort and security.
Exposing our children to European road trips, locations, languages, cuisine, history, new friends for life, French schooling and the LA FERVANCE adventure. They have lived the entrepreneurial journey and seen us work tirelessly to create this brand.
Discovering my inner-strength, capabilities and working through some significant personal growth.
Reaffirming the power of integrity, good manners and respect for oneself and others. Seeing our brand appear in British VOGUE, Tattler, ELLE Paris.
Introducing the brand into retail in Australia, Paris, London, Canada, St Tropez, SKINLife in Portugal, in Lourmarin Provence and the highly reputed SKINS Cosmetics network — and thriving during the global pandemic which hit soon after the brand launch.
(Images: La Fervance/Jolene Denes Photography/Melissa Obeid)
What have been some of the challenges?
Oh Mon Dieu! SOOO many! This journey is not for the faint-hearted.
The Covid-19 global pandemic and all that this entailed (entrepreneurial 18-hour days & home-schooling included!)
A home-sick Aussie hubby and feeling torn between returning to the stability of Oz or pursuing the LA FERVANCE dream in France.
Being far from friends and family – especially my amazing, self-sufficient 94 year old Grandmother.
French bureaucracy and the various delays and road-blocks which are highly frustrating to a ‘can-do’ person.
The numerous time-consuming visa renewal procedures. Copious amount of requirements and paperwork.
Selling our first home in Melbourne, which held a strong sentimental connection for my children and I. This was a difficult decision. We were prepared for a short sabbatical in France, so when this extended and we created LA FERVANCE, an injection of funds was necessary. Either we returned to Oz and kept this rental property, or sold it and remained in France. I felt so strongly about LA FERVANCE so I chose the latter.
Four years and investing 100’s of thousands into the brand and living abroad expenses and on the assumption it will succeed is a great challenge, but I’d like to think ‘fortune favours the bold’.
How did you know you were on the right path?
I’ve asked myself this question on many occasions over the past 4 years.
For me, it’s waking up each morning with renewed energy and inspiration to continue with this chosen mission, despite the challenges which present along the way.
The excitement I feel about the project, the energy it evokes during meetings and the way the LA FERVANCE story inspires all who I share it with.
I truly LOVE what I do — despite the long days, juggling the project with a busy family life and all whilst living in a foreign country. I believe it’s the entrepreneurial spirit in which I was raised, and which runs through my veins. It’s really quite addictive.
The bizarre way this inspirational journey found me in many respects and how I could not imagine myself finding as much joy doing anything other than what I’m currently doing.
Someone once encouraged me to ‘Live a BIG LIFE’. I guess I took his advice!
(Images: La Fervance/Jolene Denes Photography)
Any advice to someone who has a dream and needs to take the first step?
Absolument! Just do it! Simply take ‘that’ first step. Whether it’s that initial phone call enquiry, an online search, a course, whatever — simply commence. If it’s the right dream, things will fall into place, flow effortlessly and then it’s up to you to write the rest of the story. Life is too short to procrastinate or live with regrets.
The universe will help those who help themselves, so give it a go, or you’ll never know. Regardless of the outcome, you will have lived new experiences, created an interesting story and who knows what amazing outcomes you may enjoy! Not to mention inspiring young people in your life in positive, ‘go getting’ ways.
Block out the ‘noise’ from negative people or those who chose not to follow their dreams, as this will only create doubt and pull you back. Instead, surround yourself with inspirational people, stories, podcasts, places to motivate that drive and determination.
If Jamie and I could put everything on the line to create a luxury skincare brand in the luxury skincare mecca of the world, then I truly believe anything is possible!
Get ready, #nopassportneeded because Forman Art and Framing and myself are taking you to a European summer. 🏖️ For a whole week, you can forget lockdown and imagine you are frolicking on a European beach with us. We have a joyous surprise for you below.
Today we are travelling to Ibiza, get your sunnies, bikini and dancing shoes on!!
This beauty is called Summer Daze – Cala Salada Ibiza.
When you think of Ibiza, you think of nightclubs, dancing, suntanned bodies, rockstars and hippies, business magnates and dare I say ‘Boxer’ Nuno Lopes (that handsome rogue from Netflix Ibiza folie White Lines – ouch)!
Ibiza is a little like Paris, she can be anything you want it to be but nobody, and I mean nobody, told me it could also be like the Bahamas. How long has this been going on and why wasn’t I phoned??
When you make it over the rocks in Cala Salada, your breath leaves your body when you see the water, you stand on the red rocks and look out at the transparent blue and all you want to do is float in it, jump in it, swim in it, and never leave it. And if you are lucky when you pop up out of the water like you are in a Coca-Cola ad, who knows, maybe there will be Boxer smiling at you!!!!
For a week ONLY with the code ARMCHAIRTRAVELLER, you will receive 15% off all beach prints on checkout and you can take the blue and the joy home. Stay tuned for more travel and more blue.
I know many of you are still in lockdown (shout out to all my followers in Victoria) and in an uncertain situation in the world, so I hope to bring you joy with this new girl from my series Young Girl in Bloom, her name is ‘Out Of The Blue’.
I hope you love her; here’s her story…
This girl is my latest edition to the Young Girl in Bloom series and her name is ‘Out Of The Blue’.
Something special has just started to happen to her, things that she wants and loves just like magic seem to appear ‘out of the blue’ without any logical reason. This girl is starting to pay attention to all the magical moments that keep occurring when she allows herself to do what she loves, be the fullest expression of herself and say Yes to her deepest desires.
There’s a posh name for this — it’s called Synchronicity; someone calls when you are thinking of them, an opportunity arises after having an idea about it just moments or days earlier and when you are at your happiest and most joyful, lots of good stuff comes your way.
This photo is created with you in mind, to help you notice that when you resonate with things, people, circumstances, joy and creativity, things happen easily, seamlessly and without pushing and exhausting yourself against life and situations. You will find yourself gracefully sauntering down a street knowing that life can have more ease by allowing yourself to do the things you love, safe in the knowledge that those little moments ‘out of the blue’ are more than casual coincidence.
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