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,
This was a tricky one. Stepping into so much truth felt daunting.
God I dreaded the publication of this video, but like most things I get nervous about, it turned out to be liberating, freeing. You’ll see me writing more on here, enough with the fashion fluff, these are the sods I want to use to grow, and to help anyone who can relate to grow with me too.
I was telling you in my last update that I felt like a Brit who just happened to have a French accent. Truth is, first i’m not a fan of my accent, and if it wasn’t for people telling me it was cute, I would hate it even more. I don’t feel French, this accent is almost like a burden and it reminds me of the struggle it was to try to fit.
When StyleLikeU asked me to take part in the first episode of their first international edition, I was overwhelmed with flattery and pride.
But how could I possibly have anything interesting to say? Wait. People keep telling me that I come across so sure of myself and confident. Are you joking?! I’m slowly claiming power over my person back, I am finally realizing that I am what’s underneath and not these layers of bullshit people obsessed with boxes have tried to pin on me. (Freddie. Unleashed)
I didn’t grow up French, I became French when I crossed the UK border with my thick Parisian twang. But growing up black in France (and i’m sure in lots of other places) will tie your tongue so tight you forget you even have a voice to start with. Talking about racism is so taboo in France. And I guess everywhere. I don’t understand why some white people get so personally offended when you start on the subject. Just look at the comments section of the Guardian Facebook page: every time it is about racism, a bunch of white people are quick to claim that it is talking about races that makes things worse.
Some say they are colorblind. Being colorblind is nothing more than white privilege. I am not colorblind, and to be fair, no one needs to be colorblind. The problem is not to see colours, the problem is to set a hierarchy within them. Black is not a dirty word, the same way that white isn’t.
I was telling you briefly about the horrific experience I had with my ex French close friends, I remember one of them telling me in our last conversations that I was obsessed with racism and that it didn’t exist anymore (this is partly why I was so scared of this video coming out, odd what someone who is no longer a friend can do to you right?) Trust me, I barely talk about racism. I know better, I am French. I try to mingle and disappear in the crowd (my bright style came to me after I moved to London, if you’re wondering), but one mention of discrimination and you become a problem. That’s why I was so nervous about this video, I didn’t want to come across needy, moany, ungrateful (don’t ask me for what, but I’ve been told many times than necessary that if it hadn’t been for France I would have died of starvation already) I’m not used to step in so much truth.
I haven’t wished to visit France again since some of my bridesmaids, including my witness, tried to sabotage my wedding and wrote to Tom on the first day of our honeymoon, as we landed in Bali, to tell him he had no clue about the woman he had just married. No, it is the contrary. I’ve never been myself more than since I left Paris 5 years ago. I left its negativity, I left its narrow mind and bloomed and bloomed like a plant on GMO. I am in my truth, I probably saw these girls 6-7 times in these past 5 years, we used to be miserable together, share our miserable love stories together, our miserable work lives together. We used to keep each other in our misery, but then I stepped out and grew, embarked on a life I designed for myself with great friends and a great life partner and things went tits up. I no longer fitted with them, and what do you do to misfits? Especially misfits with a large social following with countless amazingly positive and supportive comments? You bully them, you want to see the end of them. The fact that they told me “you’ve changed, you forgot where you come from and who your real friends are” still baffles me today, and the fact that it was the reason of their anger and why they put so much effort into trying to ruin day 2 of our wedding along with our honeymoon?! Speechless.
Who was I expected to be after almost 5 years?! What’s the point of so much work?! Remaining the same person?! Unfortunately, I have little time for that. Allow me to reintroduce myself: Hi, I’m Freddie.
You don’t get to pick and choose, I come as whole. The girl who left Paris would have been friend with anyone who would have deemed her worthy of their friendship. That’s what my former gang was made of: girls who took an insecure and desperate girl under their wing, someone else to be frustrated and miserable with. That’s why I hammer that message everywhere: WATCH who you surround yourself with. I have the best friends in the world now, and grew into an adult I love beyond everything. I do love myself, I’m not ashamed to say it. But I had to surround myself with inspiring people to get there.
I was so nervous to receive my wedding photos, because they were on there along with my other bridesmaids. But now I look at these photos smiling: on one single shot you have my insecure and sad past, the beautiful present, and the promising future. Watch me grow. And if you’re not keen on this show, look away cause nothing is going to stop me mama 🙂
In this video, I briefly explained what it was to grow up black in Paris. Until the age of 10, I was unaware of the limits people will attribute to my origins, to the tone of my skin. Until the age of 10 I thought I could be anything, do anything but then I quickly stepped out of this mindset and made myself sick to my stomach imagining all the physical and economical changes I would have to make to even begin to dream slightly bigger. I was 11 the first time I wished I was dead, I remember trying to drown myself in my parents’ bath, only to learn soon that your body, unlike you, will fight such a situation. I never thought I’d live past 18, no way would I bear life for so long. I was black, therefore I wasn’t smart, I was ugly. I remember telling everyone I wanted to be a neurosurgeon, I can’t even bear the sight of blood, but that would prove them I was smart – wouldn’t it? I’d ask my mum for blonde braids mixed with the black ones, just so I could flaunt blonde strands like my friends. I also remember pretending I was West Indian, and not African. Because if you’re from the French West Indies, you’re not the child of an immigrant. You’re almost just as French, not quite at all, but closer. Immigrant, this dirty word we save for non-white people. A white person moving country is an expat. I was the daughter of dirty immigrants.
And another note, I’m on a flight from Geneva where I bought the latest French magazines. And the same thing again happens as I look through the French Glamour (haven’t picked up the others yet): not a sight of a black girl. No Asian girl, no mixed-race girl, only white girls. I won’t bother reading it, I’ll wait till I land in London and grab a copy of a local magazine where we all are represented. You know what’s funny? I hear that I’m on today’s Metro UK cover…
I feel so much lighter since this video came out. I was already feeling valid, smart and beautiful. But this video is a farewell to my Frenchness, and an ode to my blackness.
Allow me to introduce myself AGAIN: HI, I AM FREDDIE.
Hope you enjoy it!
Phew. I’m writing this from my aisle seat on a flight from Geneva to London. This last couple of weeks have been ridiculous. I actually like the feeling of the seatbelt that I fastened really tight, not because I’m scared to fly, but because feeling put feels amazing right now. Can we take a break, please? I feel like I’ve been running around like a mad cow, so being stuck 7 miles above ground suddenly feels incredible.
If you read my last update, I was telling you how I’m going to share more on here, take you through the makings of Freddie as I go. I’m surfing womanhood, it’s a beautiful thing, but let me pack you guys along with me. Reading about other women makes me feel like we’re a gang, so if my babbling feels like a hang or at least takes your mind off its 99 problems, jump in – we’re in this together mama!
I now officially live between London and Geneva. Tom started a job last week there, it all happened very quickly – had you told me about it 2 months ago, I would have thought of a joke. But look, he never applied for it, they simply wanted him (can’t possibly blame them!) and it was a lifetime opportunity. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am for him; how beautiful it is to watch your favourite person in the world reap the magic they’ve been sowing. He’s such a kind and ridiculously smart person, but also the best support I could ever dream of. I’d follow him to the other side of the planet if he wanted me to. So Geneva it is, but don’t rule me out as a Londoner, I’m still a jewel of a crown and will keep jetting back and forth.
Emotionally speaking, it’s been a hell of a rollercoaster. I had never been to Geneva until a quick 12 hours stop in January (and this last week), and the remaining of the obnoxious Parisian left in me led the rest of me to believe that it was a dead place, like a Ricola advert (only the French and Swiss will get that one). How wrong was I. But despite the lack of interest for what turns out to be an amazing place, I was still game! I genuinely believe in signs; I think that we all are surrounded with great opportunities. They float around us like dust in the air, and with the right attitude, we can grab the best among them and turn them into magic. I’m attached to London, but I’m not from here (been here for 5 years on the 31st – happy anniversary to me!) so leaving is not as hard for me as it would be for a true local. I like to be pulled in weird directions, probably because I constantly need things to stress about (I need to justify my daily wine intake you see). Plus, I remember being obsessed with the video game The Sims when it came out, I begged my friend to burn me a copy (60 euros for a video game was something my mother couldn’t get down with at the time, and I can’t blame her, there was a lot of us at home) and would spend hours designing lives for my various virtual families. Geneva is the chance to meet new Freddies, and I spent hours walking around the city imagining what life could be here.
BUT, in an ideal world, I would just focus on the bright side. It’s not an ideal world (tried to build one in The Sims but failed there too – turns out their houses can burn down in a blink of an eye if you don’t teach them how to cook) and I’m also having a hard time coming to terms with it. I’ve finally just started to feel like London is my home: my best friends are here, my husband is from here, I know most bus routes, I love a dirty pub, and I say “sorry” way more than I should really. I’m a Brit (although I can’t do pork scratchings, these are plain vile I’m sorry) I just happen to have a French accent.
So this whole thing, along with the two new projects I’m trying to get off the ground by next month (you guys wait), have been driving me slightly crazy. I feel completely overwhelmed and caught myself, more than once, humming and rocking my head side to side (Beyoncé style) as an unconscious way to try to remain sane. I feel like I’m disappointing a lot of people at the moment, I’m behind so many emails and deadlines (barely had Wi-Fi for the last 8 days), and can’t seem to find the right help.
I had found an intern after advertising a position on here, and despite asking people to not apply if they were not serious, she turned out to be a huge deception, turning up an hour late on her first day, not turning up on the second day because she had a driving lesson (!), or the third day because she apparently didn’t know it was full time, to finally quit over email on the 7th day, after going quiet ever since the 3rd day, as I was boarding my flight to Geneva. In the end I had to delay the whole production and launch calendar of said new project.
But they say that’s where the lessons lie, so I guess – silver linings and all that – the last few weeks taught me:
- I can be very naïve. I’m not always a good judge of character, and I know I’m too nice. BUT that’s absolutely fine! Finding like-minded people to work with is just like love really, it can take time but when you do, magic happens;
- I look around too much. Tunnel vision is a bliss (confidence kick video coming soon, because I’ve just learned that that one is a must my friend) Looking at what others do is a distraction, and not the good kind (try Snickers, they’re a better kind) There’s only one like me, no one can be better at being Freddie than me: I got this;
- I am a superwoman, but it doesn’t mean I can do it all and I should stop assuming that people are going to be disappointed with me if I fail a work deadline or miss a text. Plus, based on the average number of WhatsApp messages I get a day, I doubt anyone has the mind space for my late text – or for yours, for that matter. I should simply admit to people that I’m overwhelmed and that I need more time (if I owe you an email or a text and that you are reading this – here’s a mea culpa, but bear with me)
And to illustrate this new mind-set, I’m channelling a very confident and powerful Freddie with this denim jumpsuit of dreams. I went for the highest heels I had at home but the flares were still too long (bear that in mind if you go for this beaut) – still I remember I was feeling like a million dollar when we shot this outfit, I couldn’t help but looking smug then got embarrassed (I’m a terrible poser, more of a smiler); Tom went “babe don’t worry, it’s working!”
Well hello there !
Long time no speak on the blog ! I’ve literally been all over the place, you know when you bite off more than you can chew? Story of my life! And when I feel like things are too much, I just freeze – does that happen to you too? Please share! As a result, I’ve been quiet on Instagram, on Youtube and on here! Everywhere!
When it comes to YouTube, it’s not that I completely gave up but a part of me was starting to think, this is not what people are after on YouTube. They want real everyday life vlogs and make-up tutorials, both I can’t deliver (one feels too cringe and rather unnecessary, and I don’t have the skills for the other one – I mean, have you seen the state of my eyebrows lately?? The photo is here to illustrate LOL! I recently fixed them, after months of a Tundra style set of brows, very sorry brows ). I want to do laid-back style videos, confidence kick and most of all interview other women about their characters and their confidence. But I must admit, it’s fucking daunting. It takes me ages, not to shoot or edit, but it takes me days to have the courage to stand in front of the camera. And it takes me another string of days before I can edit because the idea of going through my clips makes me sick to my stomach. Unleashed much? Baaaah I’m as leashed as a string of onions (Pardon my Frenchness ha!) when it comes to shooting videos, and I have a lot of admiration for those who post weekly videos. I’m not looking for a vote of confidence here, but do you guys enjoy these videos? Is it worth for me to keep on doing them?
And this says it all, doesn’t it? I’m totally aware that I come across as being very comfortable on camera, chucking jokes here and there, but filming is not natural for me at all. It’s cringe. So don’t look at people online thinking they all have their shit together, no one has. But I do get to fully be myself and I love it. I feel like on Instagram I’m just that smiley girl in cool outfits, but erm, I have shit to say. You know?
It’s so funny how things happen sometimes. I took part in the amazing #IRLpanel yesterday, hosted by boss babes Emma Gannon and Laura-Jane Williams, and a lovely woman walked up to me and asked me when I would publish more videos… Erm, never?
And she went “YOU HAVE TO FREDDIE”. She picked me up where I had let myself down. This is the beauty of women, and why I love working with them so much, the reason why we had such a blast last night, all plotting about “permission” and owning the fucking right to feel amazing and strong! If you missed it, bear with us, we’re coming back! And watch out for the next SHE Unleashed workshop!
And I guess, the other reason why I’ve been quiet is because my head is currently boiling with another business venture I’m obsessed with at the moment. And it’s all I can EAT, BREATHE, POO AND FART (just joking, I never poo, or fart for that matter). I’ve been harassing Tom and my friends with the makings of it, I have such a strong feeling about it, I can’t wait to reveal it to you! You know when something is eating you up inside??? But the good kind of munchies! And I guess this is how much SHE Unleashed works its magic on me: I am not only one person. I don’t need to be just a fashion blogger (and to be honest I’m trying to steer away from this label), I want SHE Unleashed to grow and become a community, I want to bring it into schools, bespoke events, companies, everywhere! I also want to be a businesswoman, an entrepreneur, I was doing my daily visualization (if I lost you there, it means that you definitely have to join the next workshop!) and it hit me! From the likes of Amanda Woodward (who remembers Melrose Place? Amanda was my person man!) to Oprah (they say aim for the stars right?) I’ve always been a massive sucker for a badass entrepreneur. Well I have her in me, I’ve just identified her (yes, identified! Get a ticket to the workshop honestly) and I’m bringing her out. You don’t need to be just one person, to fill just one role. You are such a broad canvas of distinctive women, they’re here to provide you with the rich and fulfilling life you deserve. Own it! What are they about? Dig deep!!! Who are these women who make you? What embodies them? For each one of them, what are their strengths? Weaknesses? The best thing about them? Ladies, it’s time to get INFORMATION!
On another note, I’ve just spent a week in NYC and I had never been to the US before! I was telling you about my friend Contessa (she married us!!), well she lives there. I was really starting to burn out, I had also just found out we were moving country (more on this later), I just needed to disappear for a while, and be around someone WHO GETS ME 100%. Do yourself a favour: surround yourself with people WHO GET YOU! Not 1%, not 10%, 100%! All my besties do, don’t settle for anything less than that. You are too much of a gem to go about life misunderstood. ANYWAY, I booked a flight at the very last minute (they were £300!!!) and crossed the Atlantic! This trip opened my eyes to… MY BLACKNESS! And I’ve come back much more proud of my skin, my hair, my roots, and I am much more uncensored. I’ll write about it in a dedicated post but you know, I’ve been saying for a while now that I wanted to exist beyond my gender and my race, the latter being justified by the fact that white people do, so why couldn’t I? Well, it’s a big chunk of bullshit. I’m no role model and will never try to be, but I’ve also come to realise how I can actually help few black girls/women out there and boy that’s what I’m about to do. I’m done apologizing for the beauty of my skin, I’m done catering for other people’s feelings (I’m not loud, you think I am because I’m black. Really I whisper, cut your crap) and I’m calling out people on their bullshit in 2016. But this will come in another post 🙂
Overall, I feel that I don’t speak ENOUGH. And I want to do more of it, so if you guys tell me you like this post, I will post these updates weekly or fortnightly. Taking you through the inner workings (makings?) of my new inner business woman, the blooming of my unapologetic blackness, the musings of my (on and off) unleashed self and more. So, you game?
Yeah because I try my best at Snapchat when it comes to updates, but it’s another load of crap (I don’t do candlelit pilates, I’m mostly seen in sweatpants on my food-stained red sofa, and I’m too shy to film myself, especially in public places.)
Please leave comments, let’s chat here or on Instagram!
Lots of love,
PHOTO CREDIT: Travis Chambers