(this post has been produced in collaboration with Möet & Chandon)
Credit photos: Nicole Hertel Photography
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Hope you’re having a day filled with love and laughter!
If you’re looking for me today, I’ll be dancing and knocking down a few glasses of Moët in my PJs. And since it’s Valentine’s Day, I’ll make sure it matches the mood and will go for the fruity Rosé version 🙂
Have a beautiful one!
Guys, I haven’t written in so long. I mean written, written. That’s because 2016 (since that’s where we’re getting, eh) has been such an odd one. As you might know, I’ve moved to Geneva last May, and it’s been the loneliest it’s ever been. Oh and I was pregnant, so the hormones didn’t help make it less of a mind fuck. So I guess because of all the changes, mental struggle and the constant monologues, I’ve lost track of myself a bit. I was so consumed by this tiny world of mine that all the conversations were happening there, and not on here. But I got out, and it’s time to look at 2016 cause as much as it was hard, it was full of successes and blessings. But most of all, it was life. None of the hardships were cases of Oh why is that happening to me now? No, they were just normal stages of life as one navigates through it, through womanhood, and 2016 was part of the process of going through some of these stages. It got so challenging at times that I have to make it worth it by looking for the lessons it allowed me to learn and the time it’ll potentially save me in the future, that’s if I learn that is.
So what were they?
As a blogger, I get a lot of exposure on social media and your daily positive comments have had a strong impact on my confidence. I’m lucky like that, because of my following I have this constant access to confidence boosting and happiness inducing words I can go back to every time I feel low. We’re all valid and beautiful, this is a message I constantly hammer during my SHE Unleashed Workshops, but for some of us it’s harder to remember it, because we’re not often reminded of it!
That’s the reason I’m so proud to be part of the Amazon Fashion EU project #SaySomethingNice along with the uber cool Susie Bubble, Gala Gonzalez, Camille Charrière, Clémentine Desseaux, Hana Tajima, Masha Sedgwick, Samar Seraqui, Ana Pizarro, and Sara Joleen. With this campaign, we all aim to help fashion and social media become a place that encourages women to spread compliments instead of judgments. But I’m telling you all about it in this video, so check it out 😉
I remember back when I was a personal stylist, I worked with many women who were shopping and dressing themselves with the sole purpose of being perceived as this idea they had of a cool and swanky woman. I definitely went there, and spent quite a lot of time in that space until a few years ago, it’s sometimes so much easier to hide ourselves than to expose our true selves to the world, for it to judge. This shows how much what others think, their judgment, have an impact on the way we dress. And more.
I’m definitely guilty of judging people, we all are. In these days and age of social media where we’re constantly invited, and how great is that, to share our opinions and suggestions about pretty much everything, we tend to forget that what we say can influence people, and sometimes a lot! We’re constantly on our phones, if you’re anything like me you can easily get caught scrolling through Instagram in the middle of the night with your eyes half shut. This is also when my mind is at its grumpiest state and I can have thoughts I’m not proud of. But although it’s one thing to have a negative thought, it’s another to take time out of your precious day to share and spread this negativity. I’ll never quite understand the reasoning behind nasty comments. How is the person receiving it supposed to feel? How constructive are negative comments? What’s their point really? And it also goes to show you the level of selfishness social media has facilitated: we want our ideas, our style accepted, but do we really return the favour ?
I always mention during my workshops that another way to confidence is to watch your chain of thoughts. I’ve worked a lot on mine, when I was much more insecure and miserable, I would be really criticising of women around me. By focusing on people’s negatives, it becomes easier to accept all these flaws you think pour right out of your pores like the River Seine. But by accepting others’ differences, you definitely become more lenient towards yours and this feeling of validation comes to blossom. You are an individual, you are unique, there’s only one of you. You can’t be bad at that! So accepting others’ unique style is a way to give credit to yours, to give it its identity and to recognize its uniqueness.
I absolutely love to comment on Instagram, I love to let people know I love what they do, what they wear or what they’re about; I’m much more the lazy emoji speaker type, but when I think of how little it takes me to share a bit of love, I’m almost ashamed that I don’t do it more often.
So with this video, I pledge to #SaySomethingNice whenever I can, to these lovely ladies I come across everyday, be it on social media or real life. Let’s start this movement for women everywhere to stop judging and start complimenting! Are you in?
Also check out this compilation of the cool gang aforementioned and I’s pledges
Lots of love,
Guys. I haven’t been on here for such a long while. Things have been ridiculous lately, and on top of that I’ve been quite ill recently and that brought a lot of frustration and self-doubt, which hasn’t helped with dealing with the hecticness (I googled it, some say it’s a word). I was telling you in another post that we’re moving to Geneva, almost out of the blue. Tom left before me, because well, my work life is in London, and we did the official move a couple of weekends ago, packing our London flat and shipping it to Geneva. Hectic doesn’t cut it.
Then, two days later we launched Big Hair No Care, my new venture, completely new, new as in “Do you even know what you are doing? Meh”.
I’m beyond excited, I mean every bit of SHE Unleashed so when I say that I believe that we’re all made of several characters ready to be channelled, that we’re this unique mix of women and that therefore, we host every woman we need to be within us – that’s how I look at myself too. I’m a massive day dreamer, (I call it visualization to take the lazy edge off, you know) and I keep seeing myself in these amazing set-ups – businesswoman has always been one of them.
The entrepreneur trait is far more recent, but I imagined myself running my own thing beside my personal brand, and it looked like a pretty foxy challenge.
I had this hair idea in the back of my mind for a while, but I always had felt like my approach to this was too playful and easy. I’m no hair expert, I’m very lazy and can’t do much apart from braids and cornrows and once I find something that works for me, I stick to it.
I have quite a strict hair regimen and rarely try new brands or products, I’ve said no to countless brands who wanted me to try their hair extensions, I sometimes watch makeup tutorials and definitely have my list of faves beauty experts on YouTube but I had to recognize that I can’t apply foundation or stay on top of my eyebrows (someone recently told me I had dirty eyebrows – LOL)
Have you ever seen me with a different hairstyle or makeup? I’m an amateur, and really thought I had to up my game before I could introduce anything remotely “new” to the beauty world. But there I was, launching SHE Unleashed earlier this year and building the Freddie Harrel brand in London and all of a sudden I have to take a step (a thousand?) back and move country.
That’s when I had to go back to my Olivia Pope daydream to channel the necessary confidence to go ahead with Big Hair No Care. Because knowing myself, I would have died imagining the step back moving out of London could be (turns out it’s not, so I’m double busy ahah), and I know I’m not “manageable” (according to Mimi, one of my besties) therefore couldn’t bring myself to ever work for someone else again. It doesn’t matter how much of a fraud I sometimes think I am, this challenge had to be taken now. Lemonade and all that, right?
And just as every time as I come across new Freddies, or get pushed out of my comfort zone, I learn lessons. These are my recent faves:
1.Lemonade isn’t made from lemons
You juice it from self-love. I’ve had to deal with a lot of self-doubt lately, I was ill and more alone than the usual with Tom in Geneva, starting a new challenge I didn’t know much about – the best way for self-doubt to creep in and dig deep. At that stage, you either surrender, throw yourself a pity party and compare yourself to these billions of women out there who all seem to be dealing with life better than you, or you fake some extra confidence, take a bet on yourself and aim to perform just as good as that woman you see in your daydreams (we’ve all been superheroes in our heads at some point). I picked the latter, mixed it a bit with the former (I had a few self pity parties here and there) and juice that flipping lemonade out of that new found self-love and confidence. CHEERS.
2.Why are you doing what you are doing
You can easily sway from that one. And that’s when you run out of steam. In this era of #girlboss and #quoteoftheday, you’re constantly reminded that you need to keep the hustle going. Work hard they say, think like a man, act like a boss, sell, network, do cartwheels, etc. But erm, why? Money is there somewhere, but it can’t just be it. When I first told people about Geneva, some assumed I would stay full-time in London and see Tom at weekends, because you know “your career is in London”. And the idea of us hammering it all week, taking a country each and bossing it hard, Beyoncé and Jay-Z style seemed very cool – who can stop us? Well turns out, us. I’ve learnt that there’s absolutely no point, in my case, to do any of these things that I do if I don’t get to share my dinner or my GoggleBox session with him. I’d rather go through the hardship of trying something I don’t know much about in a country I don’t know at all than doing what I know in a place Mr H had bid farewell to. I do what I do to grow and explore myself as a person, but if I had to zoom out and look at our lives like the insignificant thing they are on a universal scale, I wouldn’t do any of it if it meant I didn’t get to be surrounded with love at the same time. So ask yourself that, or you might miss the point. And go nuts at some point.
3.Nobody can be better at being you, than you
So both that self-love and confidence are well owned and deserved. You need to recognize your uniqueness. I was telling you how much of an amateur I feel when it comes to hair. But I know how to look after and grow mine, and I know how to give it that extra volume without too much care, because I’m lazy, and without too much work, because I’m clueless. I know that I firmly believe that using human hair is all sorts of wrong, but I also know how little we know about that (after all, it’s sold everywhere). I believe that something as superficial (literally) as beauty shouldn’t be acquired at someone else’s expense, but obviously we don’t have that much control or knowledge over these things but when we do, we should try to minimise our involvement, and I also think that spending a fortune on hair is pointless to me, so wearing and offering premium synthetic works for me. That’s me there, and I’ve learned that that’s actually enough for my initiative to be valid and for me to want to put it out there.
(And don’t get me wrong, I know that lots of the clothes I wear are not made by happy people, but I like the idea of lowering my impact somewhere)
4.It’s not just about how you work, but who you work with
I was telling you in another post how difficult it was for me the right people to work with as my brands grow. There was even that anecdote of someone I had found who happened to be very unprofessional and let me down when I really needed them and at the time I was writing that the time will come. And it did. I found the perfect work match and we’ve been moving mountains ever since.
I’ve also partnered with my friends at Antidote Street (they’re selling Big Hair No Care online exclusively), and going on that venture with fellow young entrepreneurs, growing each other along the way, is proving to be a great lifetime experience so far.
And speaking about partnerships, keep an eye out as I’m launching a podcast very soon with my great friend Naomi Mdudu, founder of The Lifestyle Edit but I’ll tell you more about it in another post!
What are the recent lessons you’ve learned? How do you pull through hectic and testing times? Really want to hear from you, there’s always so much to learn when it comes to coping and self-development techniques so I’m all ears!
Lots of love,