Kelly’s interview for Les Pionnières

The Pioneers – Can you present us your journey? 
Unconventional. I left our family home at 16 with a head full of artistic dreams. I come from a working class background, and at home, art did not hold an important place. When I arrived in Paris, life was really complicated. I first found a job that I loved in an architecture agency: I traveled a lot and since then I never stopped. Quickly, my dreams as an artist took over and I managed to pay for theater studies by cumulating odd jobs. Hostess, model, extras… as they say in the profession, “I would run the  performance fees” and my rent was often hard to afford. I had the chance to learn a lot, to see a lot of projects fail, to manage some to success. Travel, discovery, learning hold a place of choice in my daily life. I finished my photography training in New York. Then, I needed to leave Paris, to take a distance, to confront myself with loneliness. On my way back I found a husband and since then, we have a family, but also a life full of shared projects: Real Estate, Artistic and Philanthropic.
Tell us where you come from, what motivated your choices, describe your desires and challenges throughout your journey?
I do not have common academic path. I work on instinct, I am only instinct. I quit jobs or changed countries for love stories that, in my opinion, always deserve to be taken seriously. I wanted to see what others think of as a punishment, a must. I had to face my lack of formal education and therefore train myself as I could: read a lot, seek information, work hard to fill the gap. I was lucky to be surrounded by caring people who helped me on this journey. Travel and open myself to the world to discover its wealth. I had to learn to speak English once onsite and by myself. I always thought there was no reason I could not manage something. My father gave me this image: when we give ourselves the means, and we have the appetite for work, things do happen.

LP – Could you tell us about different moments that have been significant and structuring for you and that have a particular resonance today?
Departure. It’s something to decide to leave so young.
The departure of my father then, a shock. I realized all of a sudden that nothing, nobody, not even him would be there forever.

Since then, something has changed, really changed. I realized that my days were running out and that I only had to share them with people I love. We do not have the luxury of time.
Then there was the moment when I became a stepmother, I realized that each of my choices could influence a little being. So, yes, I started to be a grown-up, eat well, stop smoking, and make all kinds of previously unknown decisions.


LP – Is the place of women in the professional world something important for you? How do you see women in the company?
The place of women should be everyone’s place, regardless of gender. It is sad in 2018 to always have to protest. We must continue to assure our choices, at all levels, permanently: Have a job, why this one? To not have one, why? Having children, when? Do not have any, why? I am really desperate of seeing changes to take so long to happen. Women are strong, powerful, women can do anything. As any men. Having to constantly justify, from the day of our birth, irritates me.
(recently I did fire an accountant for misogyny)


LP – Are there people who inspired you at a key moment in your life and made you want to move to where you are today?

Of course, around me, I have incredible examples of strong, courageous women: my sister, my sisters of heart. And my friends, they are few but of superior quality.
My friends too. My husband, of course. My brothers.
But I am impressed by the career of a surgeon named Dr. Lara Devgan, a brilliant surgeon and mother of six children.
I am impressed by Victoria Beckham whom I used as model to dress up at 14 years old and who has become a brilliant businesswoman.
I am forced to admire Jessica Alba for her Honest project as those are values that speak to me.
Or Tata Harper or Emily Weiss.
But also Willy Ronis, Jerome Sessini, Zaha Hadid and more recently I discovered the path of Marc Simoncini who commands respect for his daring!
LP – When you look back on your path, what missed you?

Time, we only run out of time. The rest is only literature.
To say more, sometimes money. But the lack of money induces a high level of creativity.
I remember one evening, in an apartment that I could not afford, eating pasta directly in the saucepan, in the middle of books forest (which was my only possessions) with a friend I love so much.
During that same week, I had to return the key of this apartment because of lack of money. Pity.
In the profession that I tried to tame, often, too often, we are offered “collaborations” (read “work for free”) for the sake of art they say. What a pity that  a landlord never accepted to collaborate for a place to live.


LP – How do you see motherhood? What has been the impact of maternity on your career, your wishes for evolution and more broadly on your life in general? 

Motherhood has changed my life. For the best, my love for our children is second to none. I had no idea that strength did exist. The kind of which we are the only capable of. With maternity come a lot of questioning. For me, who follows my intuition, time consuming reasoning is not on the schedule. I wonder if my children will have the chance to discover a world of freedom. I wonder if children, born somewhere on this planet, will also eventually have the chance to discover the world, without having horrible visa to apply for. I wonder if someday, my kids will see all passports eventually having the same value. I see motherhood as the hand-holder in the first years of life of little pure beings.

I am, we are, with my husband, responsible for presenting them to the world with all the cards in hand to be able to read the world that is offered to them. I also have the ambition to teach them to read, precisely, to rise my math level so they do not ask for help only to their father. I would also like to teach them to love, to be tolerant, to be fair, to be generous and capable of empathy.

For my career, I decided not to pause it, but to adapt so I could avoid nursery and spend time with them. We have created our own company shortly after the birth of our first common child. I am therefore associated with my husband, we work in family and use our travels to bring a selection of the products we love in Lisbon, where we have decided to open our first store, 27 Lisboa. We work with ethical and responsible brands. We try to be very careful in choosing our suppliers and always favor the good. We are also rehabilitating some real estate that we are chasing for together. My husband takes care of the legal and finance; while I manage the restoration work, structural work often, decoration and landscaping.
Our skills are combined. Later, we would like to have a foundation to help women, those who sometimes need it. Children. When the children will be older, I would like to continue my artistic activities, more seriously. But for today, I take advantage of this amazing moment that is early childhood. These hours are precious, the moments spent with family, traveling , together, that I hope will shape their characters.

LP – Have you defined principles to reconcile personal and professional life or do you do things a bit like things happen?
At 6pm usually, we are at our family life until bedtime at 8pm. Then, sometimes, we may take some time our projects, or just go out as a couple!
But we tried to maintain rules to frame family life and professional life, but the border is quite thin.
Sometimes one encroaches on the other. It happens, hardly, but it happens. You have to be tolerant with your better-half.
We have our moments, we are lucky to have our small windows. When we travel, we always manage to have a few hours just for us.
We chose to be married, parents, entrepreneurs … we must know how to set limits. Sometimes if Julien talk about the office during the children’s bath … I do not answer. 🙂
LP – What are your plans, your aspirations for the future?
Travel, we have so much to discover.
Time together.
Create memories.
Write a book.
Learn to ride horse.
Learn to fly.
Learn to speak one more language.
I would really like to be able to help women, those to whom life has not been easy on.
I would love to see the day when women will no longer have to justify their time, like a man: We never ask a man when he goes on a trip for work, if he does not miss his household. Nobody would dare. We do not ask a man who goes to sport who is keeping his children during his session.
I would like my daughter to do what she wants: banker, dentist, lawyer, mother, artist, astronaut, engineer, craftsman, painter, director, coach, restaurateur … and to see she has the same opportunities and the same salary as any other being with the same ability!
I wish my sons were feminists!

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