Fabulous Females – Eileen Willett & Nancy Zeffman

Fabulous Females – Eileen Willett & Nancy Zeffman

It is said that behind every successful woman is a best friend giving her crazy ideas and in the case of my next Fabulous Females, Eileen and Nancy this is a reciprocal arrangement which they have turned to their advantage.

Their  idea, however, is far from crazy.  Recognising that women of a “certain age” struggle with hormonal fluctuations and over-heating, Eileen and Nancy pooled their extensive fashion and marketing expertise to develop a luxury sleep and loungewear range aimed at ensuring women stay cool and stylish, day and night.  The brand is Cucumber Clothing – an inspirational name that perfectly encapsulates their mission.

In a week when we have finally seen a record rise in the temperature, their innovative collection which uses a patented wicking fabric to quickly remove moisture from your body, may well be the 21st century rescue remedy to the nightmares of many midlife females – myself included.

Friends and sleep are precious commodities, whose values increase with age.  Eileen and Nancy have successfully used one to develop the perfect antidote to the other, making the midlife challenges for women easier, whilst disproving the theory that business and pleasure cannot mix.

Their story is a touching testimony of the value of female friendship as well as proof positive that midlife is a new beginning.  Here’s what they have to say about being fabulous females.

  • Who is or was your role model?

Eileen: Always my mother, blessed with inner and outer beauty and a truly loving and generous nature.

Nancy: My grandmother.

  • What motivates you?

Eileen: Permanent motivations are love for my family and love for life. I don’t want to waste any of it – there’s so much we can do.

Nancy: Being challenged, and my family

  • What are the values you hold dearest in life?

Eileen: The bonds of family and friendship have held me together all my life.

Nancy: My family and friends are the most important thing to me – good relationships with people who care for me.

  • What has been your biggest challenge so far & how did you overcome it?

Eileen: A death in the family, and holding our family together throughout.

Nancy: Overcoming a difficult relationship with my parents and coming to terms with it. Not sure I have overcome it yet…and they have both passed away now

  • What is your proudest moment?

Eileen: Perhaps a cliche, but no less true for that: becoming a mother three times over.

Nancy: Becoming a mother, three times over

  • What motto do you live by?

Eileen: The only constant in life is change. Something my father has always said and lived by.  It’s all about being able to accept change, something that keeps youthful perspective – and that’s from a 94 year old!

Nancy: Live and let live

  • What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Eileen: Be brave and don’t procrastinate.

Nancy: Do what makes you happy and don’t worry about what other people think of you. If you are happy and fulfilled, don’t worry how others judge you – it’s a waste of time. Be true to yourself. You are good enough.

  • Who gave you the best advice and what was it?

Eileen: My mother, “be kind”.

Nancy: My husband, “believe in yourself”.

  • How would your friends describe you?

Eileen: Calm, though from the inside out, I still can’t understand it.

Nancy: Energetic and enthusiastic

  • What makes you laugh out loud?

Eileen: My husband, every day. He is the wittiest man I know.

Nancy: Doing what I want and enjoying myself in the process. Happy!

  • What would your autobiography be called?

Eileen: The importance of being kind.

Nancy: You are better than you think you are.

  • What does being a modern midlife woman mean to you?

Eileen: To have the freedom to  live and love as I please. Growing a bit older has perhaps given me the courage, patience and thoughtfulness to truly feel able to live life to the full.

Nancy: Doing what I want and enjoying myself in the process. Being happy!

  • What would be your desert island essential?

Eileen: Waterproof mascara.

Nancy: Sun cream. I burn easily! If I’m allowed, a radio too.

  • What makes you feel fabulous?

Eileen: Sunshine

Nancy: A blue sky and a good blow dry

  • In your own words – ” A fabulous female is…..

Eileen: …someone who makes everyone around feel as fabulous as she does. The best women in my life do this, I always feel refreshed/energise/supported after spending time with them.

Nancy: …someone who makes others feel fabulous

 

If you are a female battling with the heat, both inside and out and are interested in finding out more about Eileen and Nancy’s Cucumber Clothing range you can find them here:

Business : Cucumber Clothing

Twitter : @CucumberClothUK

Instagram : @cucumberclothing

 

  • Editor’s Note : About Eileen & Nancy
Eileen is a Japanese-Canadian who met and fell in love with an Englishman, moved to London and never left.  She and Nancy have been friends since they met at the school gate eighteen years ago and now two of their sons are housemates. Eileen’s background is in fashion including working for Nicole Farhi Menswear and starting her own accessories company Wada Bags.  Nancy worked at advertising giant Saatchi & Saatchi, before like Eileen giving up her career to focus on her family.  With their children growing up they were both ready for a fresh challenge and now it’s Cucumber 24/7 and they are enjoying every minute.   

 

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Fabulous Females – Suhani Jalota

Fabulous Females – Suhani Jalota

There are some people in this world born to make a difference and my next Fabulous Females interviewee  is one of them.  At the tender age of 23, Suhani Jalota, the founder and CEO of the Myna Mahila Foundation has already achieved more than most do in a lifetime.

Living in the Western world there are many things as women we take for granted that others in less developed countries are denied.  One such item is the humble sanitary pad.

Menstruation is an unavoidable part of female life, but in India it is a taboo topic and girls and women are considered  impure, polluted and dirty during their periods.  As a result of the stigma and shame associated with menstruation, 320 million women in India do not have access to sanitary pads and this has far reaching hygiene complications.  For many of us worldwide not only is this scenario unbelievable but it is quite frankly untenable.

For the last six years, alongside schooling, Suhani has been working hands-on with women in Mumbai’s slums and in India’s rural communities to turn this situation around. The foundation provides access to menstrual hygiene information and products to more than 10,000 women every month at their doorstep.

This has brought Suhani worldwide acclaim and awards aplenty.  Notably but not exclusively, she is a Queen’s Young Leader 2017 representing India and the Myna Mahila Foundation is one of only seven charities chosen to benefit from donations marking the wedding between Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle.

Suhani Jalota, CEO, Myna Manila Foundation & Queen Elizabeth II

Suhani is an inspirational role model for our teens and young adults and sharing her story with my own teens provoked a period of stunned silence that comes from teens being in awe and an interesting debate.

It is difficult not to feel humbled by Suhani’s achievements to date and there is little doubt that she is a young woman to watch in the future. I hope you enjoy her story.

  • Who is your role model?

I owe a lot of what I have learnt, the way I think and approach challenges, and what I have done with Myna Mahila Foundation to my inspiration, idol, and mentor, Dr. Jockin Arputham. I met the women through him for the first time a couple years ago, and since then have observed, learnt and followed a lot of his ways of mobilizing communities and being able to get work done in the most unlikely situations. He has singlehandedly improved the lives of millions worldwide, and dreams of creating a world with less poverty and more beauty. I am here to complete this mission.

  • What motivates you?

Women’s potential. Women have so much potential that goes untouched, which could change the world. It shows how much can be done and what there is left to do!

  • What are the values you hold dearest in life?

Be happy, nice and humble. Treat others the way you want to be treated!

  • What has been your biggest challenge so far & how did you overcome it?

Too many challenges – we don’t have an experienced team and the issue isn’t obvious to tackle. It took us a while to understand how to go about breaking down the problems to select the biggest pain point to tackle. These pain points also differ between communities. Where access to products was a problem, we started delivering at the door-step, but where affordability was a problem we started to incentivize saving schemes that could help them save for pads and invest in their own health.

  • What is your proudest moment?

On Women’s Day this year we launched our Sponsor A Girl campaign and invited 16 girls and their families to a workshop we were leading for the first time. It was a gamble for us, but we had been surveying girls for four months and had a list of 1,200 needy girls who needed support. After years of planning the survey, months of executing it, we saw the first pilot work at the event with the first cohort of girls to be given free menstrual hygiene kits. It was a special time for the whole team who saw their efforts in practice.

  • What motto do you live by?

No one motto. There are many I can resonate with, but won’t be married to them every day.

  • What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Open yourself emotionally and let yourself be vulnerable! Its okay, things will work out, but you need to have some fun.

  • Who gave you the best advice and what was it?

My mother gives me the best advice. When nothing seems to work out and I am disappointed or dejected, she never consoles me. That was the time I needed to pull myself together and be stronger than ever before. She always said that life is all about responding to challenges, not the challenges themselves. And the power to decide how to respond is yours only.

  • How would your friends describe you?

Passionate, hyper, impatient, gullible, talkative, determined.

  • What makes you laugh out loud?

Talking Tom! (app)

  • What does being a modern woman mean to you?

Being modern connotes with confidence and defiance, although many women in the past shared those attributes as well. The only difference is that now more women are able to come out and speak their hearts out and show their true personalities. Still, millions of women face oppression to speak up, but had they been given the opportunity and the standing to speak up, they would have symbolized what an image of a modern woman stands for. A balanced woman who works at home and outside.

  • What would be your desert island essential?

Chocolate!

  • What makes you feel fabulous?

Being around my parents and grandparents. They bring out the best in me and make me feel like the only princess in the world.

  • In your own words –  “A fabulous female is…..

…one who can inspire other women and men to change something in their world.”

 

If like me you are inspired by Suhani’s ambition and would like to follow her story further you can find her here:

Business: Myna Mahila Foundation

Twitter : @MynaMahila

 

Suhani’s Accolades & Achievements: She is compelled by women’s stories and has given a TEDx talk at Duke University, titled “How to repurpose activist energy to govern” about the women who stood up to take charge of their own lives. Most recently, she was involved in evaluation projects with IDinsight, an independent research organization, UNICEF and Department of Education in the Philippines for sanitation programs. In the past few years, Suhani has worked in the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, and several cities in India. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Global Health from Duke University, Durham, USA. Her Economics Honors Thesis topic was looking at the effect of slum redevelopment on child health outcomes, particularly stunting, as rapid urbanization calls for policies that keep people healthy and safe.

At Duke University, she was a Baldwin Scholar, a women’s four year leadership program, and a Melissa and Doug Entrepreneurship Fellow 2016 to start the Myna Mahila Foundation. She was the Commencement Speaker at the Global Health Graduation Ceremony and has won and participated in several social entrepreneurship competitions, such as the mHealth @ Duke Shark tank competition, STEAM Challenge, Hult Prize Competition, and the Mass Accelerator Challenge. Her work with Myna has been featured in Glamour Magazine, TIME Magazine, Huffington Post, Vogue and BBC, among others.

 

 

 

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Fabulous Females Interview – Clare La Terriere

Fabulous Females Interview – Clare La Terriere

Exercise is the cure to all our ills apparently and particularly if we are moving through the midlife barrier.  For my next Fabulous Female, exercise has been her salvation and she is now on a mission (quite literally) to convert as many as she can to her way of thinking.

Clare La Terriere is a formidable and inspirational force in the instagram exercise world.  At 57 she has the abs of someone half her age and my guilty pleasure is to start my day with a cup of coffee and a digestive (in bed) being inspired to get up and move by Clare.  She is a midlife force to be reckoned with.

We all approach midlife in different ways but I think it is safe to say that for many of us it presents many challenges and a downturn in mood and enthusiasm for life is universal to us all.  Clare wasn’t any different, except whilst many of us may give up or succumb to midlife beneath a cloud, Clare was determined not to let that drag her down and fought back with exercise.  Now she espouses the benefits not only of moving but HIIT as an easy and surefire way to manage your weight, boost your well-being and feel good about yourself – whatever your age.

Finding the inspiration to do something is always hard, particularly when it comes to exercise but I defy anyone to not be motivated by Clare.  Here is her story…

 

  • Who is your role model?

I don’t have anyone that naturally came to mind but this question really made me think! It has never occurred to me to have a role model in my life but I deeply admire individuals who have a goal no matter how silly or small and actually achieve it! (I’ve only got 4 more more years left of the 5 year date I set myself to appear on Strictly Come Dancing!)

  • What motivates you?

My head motivates me… my radio crazy telling me that I know I’m one step away from a short workout that will change my mindset for the whole day!

  • What are the values you hold dearest in life?

I value generosity in any shape or form and empathy.

  • What has been your biggest challenge so far and how did you overcome it?

The ending of an 8 year relationship which I thought I would never recover from and the beginning of a newfound happiness and relationship with myself I didn’t know existed!

  • What is your proudest moment?

My daughter telling me I was her role model!

  • What motto do you live by?

You make your own happiness… you can never rely on other people for that!

  • What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Exercise… if only I had started back then I could saved myself years of depression!

  • Who gave you the best advice and what was it?

My identical twin once told me “you make your own happiness “ and I was like duh… why didn’t I think of that!

  • How would your friends describe you?

Funny, I seem to make people laugh..generous, kind and VERY sensitive!

  • What makes you laugh out loud? 

Oh god – I have such a weird sense of humour… such a difficult question.. anything and everything which frankly is a hopeless answer!

  • What would your autobiography be called?

Abs of steel and a heart of gold.

  • What does midlife mean to you?

It’s just the best time EVER… happy, confident, fit, healthy, in love!

  • What would be your desert island essential?

– FOAM ROLLER!  True….

  • What makes you feel fabulous?

Exercise- I know people will roll their eyes at this answer but exercise has been, is and always will be my salvation!

In your own words… A fabulous female is

A woman who is obviously but discreetly confident and happy with herself.. to me that’s all that matters!

 

In Clare’s world there are no excuses for not exercising.  She is forever trying to find ways to make it seem more enticing and not something to dread.  If you are inspired take a look and see what I mean.

Business – Live In Fitness Retreat

Instagram – @liveinfitnessretreat

 

 

 

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Fabulous Females Interview – Melinda Fargo

If you are a blogger, or you are over 40, or you live in East Anglia – or indeed if you are all of these – then my next Fabulous Females interview star will need little introduction.

Melinda Fargo is a freelance writer, blogger, former newspaper columnist for the UK’s largest regional newspaper, the EDP –  Editor-in-chief of online magazine Post-40 Bloggers, a photographer and public speaker. To pay the bills she is also a project management professional.

At the beginning of my blogging journey Mel’s blog was one of the first I fell in love with.  Not just because she wrote about subjects close to my heart but because she lived in my home county and wrote for the newspaper I had devoured not only as a child but also more recently as an adult.

Mel has faced her fair share of sadness and challenges in her life, but her indomitable spirit is paramount in her writing, as is her love and adoration for her children, all of which is interlaced with her unique humour.

In her own words  “A mother of four young adults, Melinda remains a widow, but will marry Denzel Washington after the sudden and unexpected disappearance of any of his wives.”  I rest my case!

What Mel Did - profile picture

  • Who is or was your role model?

My mother. She raised seven children and a husband on very little except the belief that it is education that opens doors, not money. We are now all professionals in varied fields.

  • What motivates you?

To be the woman my late husband, Bronson, married and believed in.

  • What are the values you hold dearest in life?

Authenticity.

  • What has been your biggest challenge so far & how did you overcome it?

Losing my husband. Getting out of bed every day. Once that’s done, the hardest part is over.

  • What is your proudest moment?

Recently? Launching my greeting card business.

  • What motto do you live by?

 “Take note of who you are with, where you are or what you are doing when you feel like the best version of yourself.” I coined this phrase to prioritise my life and to give less time to those people, places and pursuits that didn’t serve me well.

  • What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Beware adults who let you do what you want, when you want and with whom you want. These adults do not love you. The adults who hold you to account and discipline you are the ones who love you.

  • Who gave you the best advice and what was it?

“Do not let adversity be your excuse to fail; instead, let it be the reason you succeed.” A phrase I coined after watching how my mother raised us to face the world no matter how hard things got.

  • How would your friends describe you?

Loyal, passionate, funny… and mad.

  •  What makes you laugh out loud?

My children. If these people weren’t related to me, they are people I would choose to hang out with.

  • What would your autobiography be called?

“Where the Voices in my Head come to be Counted.”

  • What does being a modern midlife woman mean to you?

Staying open to adventure. Closing ourselves off from possibility is the fastest way to stagnate and become ‘old’ mentally.

  • What would be your desert island essential?

Denzel Washington.

  • What makes you feel fabulous?

Family who feel like friends and friends who feel like family.  Apart from dear friends and family? Perfume. I can evoke a time, place or mood wearing the right fragrance. It is very hard to choose a Holy Grail fragrance, but Portrait of a Lady by Frederic Malle always springs to mind. Currently wearing 31 Rue de Cambon by Chanel to feel warm, sophisticated and cosy in this awful East of England weather we’re having at the moment.

  • In your own words – ” A fabulous female is….. 

One who doesn’t look to others to find out who she is.

I leave you with one of my favourite comments from Mel “As parents, we never know how happy we are until “the next thing,” and there is always the next thing. And have you noticed how the stakes seem to get higher every time? Stakes which make us wish for the last ‘difficult’ situation. Difficult we realise we can handle. Difficult, we understand now, was a bloody breeze.”

 

You can find Mel here:

Personal blog – What Mel Did

Online magazine – Post-40 Bloggers

Business – I Miss My Garden Greeting Cards

Twitter – @HerMelness

Instagram – @WhatMelDid

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Fabulous Females Interview – Marilyn & Jacynth Bassett

Fabulous Females Interview – Marilyn & Jacynth Bassett

The stars of my second Fabulous Females Interview series are mother and daughter, Marilyn and Jacynth Bassett.  Ahead of a weekend when mothers take centre stage it seems only appropriate to put the spotlight on a very special mother-daughter relationship which lies at the heart of Jacynth’s online fashion business, the-Bias-Cut.com

For those unfamiliar with her story, Jacynth followed in her mother Marilyn’s footsteps to pursue a career in law, but after graduating from Cambridge was struck by her mother’s frustration at her love for style being squashed by the fashion industry, with offerings of dowdy and unflattering garments for her age.

A lover of clothes herself, Jacynth set out to tackle the ageist attitude inherent in the fashion world and has been flying the flag ever since for style at any age, with her carefully curated contemporary and stylish collections.

There is no doubt that Marilyn is a source of inspiration for Jacynth on many levels and having met them both I can vouch not only for their unique bond, but for their shared drive to stand out in a crowd and really make a difference.

Marilyn fought hard to prove herself as a highly competent City lawyer at a time when men were very much the dominant figures.  Similarly Jacynth will not allow herself to be defined by her age and is a vociferous campaigner for the modern midlife woman.

Although Marilyn and Jacynth answered the interview questions separately there is a thread of similarity in some of their answers that made me smile and I hope it does you too.

  • Who is or was your role model?

Marilyn : I don’t have one and never have. It’s not something that ever occurred to me to have, although I always had a close relationship with my mum.

Jacynth : I don’t really believe in ‘role models’ purely because everyone has strengths and weaknesses and everyone is flawed, so it can be dangerous to put someone on a mental pedestal – for both individuals involved. But I hugely admire and am inspired by lots of different women for different reasons and of course I’ve always looked up to my mum. She is incredibly selfless, and I’ve really respected her for her ability to be a very successful career woman, whilst always putting her family first in every way.

  • What motivates you?

Marilyn : Achievement and the view that if something is worth doing its worth doing well

Jacynth : Opportunities

  • What are the values you hold dearest in life?

Marilyn : Family, health, integrity, kindness

Jacynth : Family, health, love, integrity, and kindness

  • What has been your biggest challenge so far & how did you overcome it?

Marilyn : Establishing myself as a respected and well regarded in-house lawyer in the City at a time when it was a male dominated environment. I worked hard and became the first female senior executive in my company before going on to bigger and wider roles there and elsewhere in my field.

Jacynth : When I really think about it, it’s running the business. It’s a challenge every day and the lack of certainty and stability can be difficult at times. But strangely it’s not the obvious answer to me, probably because a) I enjoy it and b) it’s permanently ongoing. So rather than a challenge per se, it’s just my life!

Instead, my first instinct is to say my Cambridge interview. It was hugely intimidating and I felt way out of my depth. I remember sitting in the waiting room with everyone around me reading books, calculating sums and muttering under their breath and I just sat there with nothing, admiring my new D&G shoes! Then I managed to spill water over one of my interviewers…. It’s probably the most terrified I’ve ever been, but I got through it by just being myself and trusting my instincts. Since then I’ve always told myself, if I survived that, I can survive anything professionally that scares me!

On a much more personal note, it would be coping with my long term mental health issues and the death of a close friend at 17. I can’t say I’ve overcome them, but I’m working on it with help and support and through being kinder to myself.

  • What is your proudest moment?

Marilyn : My proudest moments have definitely been with regard to my children.  But, as far as my own achievements are concerned, a standout is when, as a young woman, I stood with my husband in the Pacific Ocean off Taihiti and realised I had been able to pay for that holiday myself as a result of my own hard work, whereas my parents had paid for previous long haul holidays.

Jacynth : That’s a tough one. I’m very self critical, so I often struggle to be proud of myself. Although I am pleased with the success of the Ageism Is Never In Style badges. The idea came to me one evening, a few weeks before London Fashion Week and they’ve been a much bigger hit than I thought. It’s been really rewarding seeing how many people love them and hearing of the conversations they’ve sparked. I saw a school friend the other day who had hers on her bag, and she said lots of people had stopped her to ask about it!

  • What motto do you live by?

Marilyn : It’s never over until the fat lady sings! That’s closely followed by: “Don’t panic Mr Wilson”!

Jacynth : Anything can be fixed, except death and taxes. (Not quite Benjamin Franklin’s exact words but I prefer this version!)

  • What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Marilyn : Realise that brains are valued as much as beauty and what hard work and application can achieve; and don’t worry about what other people think.

Jacynth : Try to relax and find pleasure in the things you love.

  • Who gave you the best advice and what was it?

Marilyn : My father said always be polite to people and treat them well as you would wish to be treated; you never know when you will be glad you did.

Jacynth : Trust your gut – my mum.

  •  How would your friends describe you?

Marilyn : I really don’t know and suspect that might depend on how and when they became my friends. I’ve been told I’m intelligent, interesting and amusing and I think others think I’m thoughtful. Otherwise you would have to ask them.

Jacynth : I always find this question difficult as I probably see myself totally different to how they see me! But probably outgoing, chatty, ambitious and quirky and hopefully loyal and supportive.

  • What makes you laugh out loud?

Marilyn : I rarely laugh out loud though it doesn’t mean I’m not amused. I think it’s usually my mood more than anything that determines it. I certainly laugh out loud on the rare occasions I get one over on my children, such as when they believed my husband and I were carrying a couple of hundred toilet rolls (long story!) when on our way to meet them at one of the world’s top restaurants.

 Jacynth : A lot of things, but especially weird, inside jokes between me and my boyfriend

  • What would your autobiography be called?

Marilyn : Ups and downs!

Jacynth : The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

  • What does midlife mean to you?

Marilyn :  Being fortunate to have the time and money to travel, indulge my interests and develop new ones, and reconnect with old friends as well as making new ones. These are the pros but inevitably there are the cons associated with getting older and of no longer having my parents around.

Jacynth : I’m not there yet, but I see it as hopefully a time I will feel confident and content with myself and not care what others think.

  • What would be your desert island essential?

Marilyn : A foolproof escape plan! Failing  that, a well stocked non fiction library.

Jacynth : Practically speaking I would take an axe so I can build a hut, eat, and build a raft if I want to get off it. If we’re talking ‘luxuries’, a playlist of my favourite music I can dance to.

  • What makes you feel fabulous?

Marilyn : Beautiful clothes and wearing the wonderful eclectic pieces I have bought from the-Bias-Cut.com.

Jacynth : Putting together an awesome new outfit.

  • In your own words – a fabulous female is….

Marilyn : …”a woman who feels good about herself, lives life to the full and doesn’t care what other people think.”

Jacynth : …” someone who knows herself, and supports other women.”

 

the-Bias-cut.com is not just a fashion destination, it is an online community of women who refuse to be invisible.   If you want to find out more about their clothes and movement Ageism Is Never In Style you can follow them here:

Twitter : @the-Bias-Cutcom

Instagram : @the_bias_cutcom

 

Editor’s Note: To find out more about Jacynth’s stance on ageism in the fashion industry please take a read of her earlier Guest Post “Why Does Style Change At 50?”

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Fabulous Females Interview – Alex B

Fabulous Females Interview – Alex B

In a year synonymous with celebrating the achievements of women, today I am launching a new series on my blog which will feature interviews with Fabulous Females on their motivations, their challenges and of course all the fabulous bits in between.

First on the pedestal is 60 year old model Alex Bruni, aka Alex B.

Renowned in the fashion world for her distinctive long white hair, Alex has represented some of the top fashion brands worldwide and appeared on the front cover of many of our favourite and leading fashion magazines.

With such fabulous fashion credentials, it is perhaps not surprising then that Alex is featured  in the documentary film Timeless Beauty (2018), which takes a look at fashion and changing ideas of beauty together with a host of ‘atypical’ models.

There is, however, more to Alex than meets the eye, it’s not all long silver hair … she is truly a woman of many talents and that is not any exaggeration.

Previously a university lecturer, Alex holds a PhD in art history/archaeology and although she does not practise, she is also a trained dance and movement psychotherapist.

If that is not enough, when she is not modelling Alex also writes her own blog The Real Does Not Efface Itself  and is currently writing a book for the  global fashion series of Bloomsbury Publishing, based on research she has done in Indonesia as a Fellow at Ecole Française d’Extreme Orient in Jakarta.

Phew!  She is truly a fabulous female in my eyes and because I know the answers already, I challenge anyone to find a better motto to live by than hers…. over to Alex

  • Who is your role model?

I find the idea of role models a bit overrated. One is often consumed with the idea of emulating someone and that can foster envy and jealousy.  Throughout my life there have been people I have looked up to and no doubt there will be others in the future, but the real role model is the one within. In my opinion it is mandatory that we should respect ourselves.   Somebody told me once, that if you set yourself the highest standards, people will look up to you. Always wear your invisible crown, in other words ….be a queen.

  • What motivates you?

I like challenging myself. I have to admit I am very competitive but over the years I have learnt to compete with myself alone and developed self discipline as a result. Telling myself “I want to achieve this, let’s get to work”  and giving myself goals, is the best motivation. It’s fun. It can be anything. I recently set myself the goal of mastering the splits and I have achieved it. Add to this, I am ready to die any time and I mean it – in the knowledge that I have attempted to make the most of my life, with whatever I have been handed out.

  • What are the values you hold dearest in life?

Self respect, courtesy, commitment, compassion, gratitude, integrity, tolerance and patience. I try to practise these virtues but patience is the most difficult of the lot.

  • What has been your biggest challenge so far & how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge was completing my PhD which required extensive travel to remote areas, to study the iconography of narrative reliefs found on ancient Indian and Javanese temples.  This was made harder by the fact that early on into my journey I split up from my husband and thus travelled  throughout Asia on my own with a toddler in tow.  Believe me a woman travelling alone with a child on a shoe string budget does not have it easy but I did it, through sheer determination. After completing my PhD and working as a researcher, the trips we undertook over the following years until my son was about ten years old, were very formative for both of us and I often have to remind myself of that when I feel particularly low. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

  • What is your proudest moment?

This may sound very clichéd but my proudest moment was holding my new born baby in my arms. Even after three decades it is my most precious memory.  It was a difficult birth because he was a breech baby, but the moment he was given to me I was the happiest and proudest woman on earth.

  • What motto do you live by?

Acheronta movebo . The longest version is ‘Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo’ which is what Juno says in Virgil’s Aeneid. Taking some slight liberties with the Latin, it can be translated as ‘if I cannot bend the will of Heaven, I shall dare to move Hell (the Acheron)’. Heaven and Hell can be open to interpretation.  Freud used it very aptly in the “Interpretation of Dreams.” It is more than a motto. It is a mission statement with regard to my life and how I want to live it.

  • What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Learn to recognise envy and jealousy, your own and that of others’ towards you and side step it as insubstantial.  Know that nothing ever stays the same, things are constantly changing. You cannot control what happens to you but you can certainly control the way you react, so learn to be more in control of how you respond to people, situations, obstacles and challenges.  It is a lifelong lesson.

  • Who gave you the best advice and what was it?

Something that Marcus Aurelius said in the Meditations which my Latin teacher in high school was fond of quoting “We are each of us stronger than we think”.

  • How would your friends describe you?

I think they all have a different view and opinion of me! Basically they must like me or they would not still be my friends .

  • What makes you laugh out loud?

A clever joke, a punchline. Not laugh out loud as in RLOL but it certainly makes me smile.

  • What would your autobiography be called?

I would not write an autobiography. I would regard it as a waste of time. I would write my own epitaph but since I want to be cremated and have my ashes scattered at sea  there would not be much point.

  • What does midlife mean to you?

Just another moment, another phase in my life. I was a baby, a child, a teen, a young woman and midlife is something that happens and then changes into old age, unless you die before getting there.

  • What would be your desert island essential?

Oh dear this is a difficult one. If battery power and Wifi were not an obstacle I would like to have some classical music to listen to and would take my iPod with a playlist of my favourite composers, foremost among them Mozart. Then several books, say ten  –  please do not make me agonise now on which ones and a mix of essays and novels but that would require a lot of thinking and rethinking before arriving at a final selection. A bikini (although I may not need it at all) and a small mirror, to look at myself from time to time and a pair of tweezers, not to pluck my eyebrows but because tweezers are always useful and I always carry them in my bag.

  • What makes you feel fabulous?

A post workout shower (or bath if I want to indulge), clean hair and a big smile .

  • In your own words – a fabulous female is ..

”a woman happy in her own skin.”

 

What do you think of Alex’s motto?  If you have enjoyed reading her story please let me know in the comments and if you want to continue to find out more about her you can follow her here:

Twitter : @AlexB244

Instagram : @alexb244

 

Editor’s Note : Photos courtesy of Plume Creative

 

 

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