I've decided to celebrate International Women's Day for the entire month of March.
Throughout my ten years in the fashion industry, (before I started making jewellery), I met some insanely talented women whose work ethic, style, creativity and energy always stuck with me. Over the years, I watched as they worked their way up in their respective industries; quitting jobs, moving to new countries, taking on new roles, nurturing teams all while creating a home in a new place.
I wanted to explore what home means to these women, what rituals they have to stay grounded, and how they remain connected; to partners, friends, family, colleagues and most importantly, to themselves. Here's part one.
INTRODUCING ERIKA GERAERTS
Alicia: What do your pals call you?
Erika: Fluff, Eri, Ek, E.
Alicia: What do you do?
Erika: I'm head of Fluff – we're a beauty brand; a Casual Cosmetics company telling the world that beauty is more than makeup.
Alicia: Do you have a fave biscuit?
Erika: I was never really a biscuit person until I discovered the Peanut Butter & Miso cookie from Falco Bakery on Smith St, Collingwood. Now I hate myself.
Alicia: What's your Sun/Moon/Rising sign?
Erika: I have no idea. I'm a Gemini.
Alicia: Seriously? Pls text your mum ASAP and find out what time you were born...
Answer: Sun in Gemini, Moon in Scorpio and rising in Gemini.
Alicia: Any books you've read that fucking moved you?
Erika: Too many;
• The Hard Thing About Hard Things
• What You Do Is Who You Are
• When We Were Young
• Be Here Now
• For Esme, with Love & Squalor
• How We Are Hungry
• Just Kids
• The Courage to be Disliked
Alicia: Fave childhood memory? What keeps you connected to that experience?
Erika: It's hard for me to think of just one (if any) however I remember skiing with my parents and brother and sister - or being back at the lodge and feeling warm and cosy and drinking hot chocolate and having my hair braided. I have always loved the snow.
Alicia: Describe yourself in 4 words.
Erika: Airy, Stubborn, Resilient, Quiet.
Alicia: As a teenager, where did you think you'd be at 30?
Erika: Writing. And owning a dog.
Alicia: Has your personal definition of what it means to be a woman changed since then?
Erika: I've always struggled with calling myself a woman – I'm not entirely sure why. Age is a strange concept for me but one that I'm curious about – I love getting older. Being a woman is beautiful and terrifying all at once. I'm learning to be softer and slower and more vulnerable, communicate better, and trust myself. I am motivated by many incredible women in my life who do many different things, and most significantly, the ones who enquire about themselves.
Alicia: I've watched you evolve over the last 11 years, what would you say are your three most significant accomplishments – personal or professional?
- Vipassana and what it started for me
- Seeing a Psychologist
Alicia: What values do you live by and how do you integrate these into your work, brand and career?
Erika: I always come back to: Patience, persistence, kindness and curiosity. High integrity, high intelligence and high initiative. Love and permission; equanimity.
Alicia: How do you prioritise your mental health and wellbeing? Do you have any rituals or non-negotiables that keep you focused/balanced/not overwhelmed with the state of the world?
Erika: I made a decision a few years ago to never say "I didn't have time" and to instead say, "I didn't make time for that". It holds me accountable. These are the things I currently make time for and prioritise: mediation, yoga, walking, wine, tea that never gets drunk, psychology, reading, morning coffee and writing, important friends and family, the beach.
Alicia: Is there a defining moment in your life that changed the trajectory of everything you thought you wanted?
Erika: Starting and leaving frank body in the space of three years can only be summarised as a speed bump – one that I didn't slow down for, until after it had happened and I was out of control. It made me stop and think what I wanted for my future, and the legacy I wanted to leave through my work. Since then, every decision I've made has felt like I'm much more in control (despite the stress and chaos) – and more aligned with my purpose.
A recent (short-lived) breakup made me confront my fears and the ways that I was getting in my own way both personally and professionally. I dove pretty deep into further self-enquiry including Ayahuasca, but more importantly seeing a psychologist – and the realisations I have had since are really changing the way I look at myself and my relationship to others including my friends and family, and the way I communicate with them.
Alicia: Sustainability is a fucking broad term that's evolved and morphed drastically over the last few years. What does it mean to you?
Erika: I don't like the word sustainable because it feels unattainable. It's also finite. Like there's no more work to be done – and yet there's always work to be done, for all businesses and humans alike. We are all indebted to this planet, we must think about treading lighter, and slower. So I like the word responsible, or responsibility more. I feel a big responsibility with Fluff to create fewer, better products that carry a message for consumers, one I hope is worth sharing: that beauty is more than makeup. That we don't have to be consumed by consumption. Less is more. Slower is faster.
Alicia: I have this vintage lamp at home with a warm, yellow light globe that makes me feel mushy and cosy. In winter it's super comforting for me. What things make a place feel like home for you?
Erika: Big windows, high ceilings, floorboards and lots of mismatched chairs around a dining table that no one sits at and instead chooses to eat cheese and drink wine on the floor. Books, cosy couches, incense, plants, candles, records, no shoes.
Alicia: What does the world need more of?
Erika: Awareness. Compassion.
Alicia: What are three things you learnt about yourself last year?
- I'm traumatised. We all are.
- I'm resilient.
- I love growing old.
Alicia: Greatest advice you've ever been given?
Erika: You never get what you deserve, only what you negotiate.
Alicia: I've decided my word for 2020 is accountability. Is there anything you're focused on for 2020? Is there a word that sums this up?
You can find Erika here
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