Ten Things About Gaelle Beech
I don’t really like to talk about myself and despise having my photo taken for that matter so the team thought it might good for me to give you an insight into the real Gaelle by doing this exercise.
1. I was born and raised in France in the suburbs of Paris, at a time where the streets were open for kids to play freely and our neighbourhood was a colourful multicultural place full of beautiful African women in their traditional dress, North African delis and small restaurants full of spices, sweets and exotic fruits that a tartan skirted Parisian like me found most exciting. My faraway dreams must have started then. I was mostly desperate to have my hair braided like my friend and get out of those itchy tartan and stiff Mary Janes.
2. At 16, I found a school exchange program to Australia for the summer holidays. That was the year Crocodile Dundee came out and my parents were terrified. I ended up in Cottesloe, Western Australia, and went down to Eagle Bay, when there was only 3 houses there and met this young man who was care-taking one of the 3 houses. 5 years later, we got married and now have 2 beautiful daughters; Maddy, 23 and Sasha, 18.
3. During those 5 years hiatus, I battled eating disorders and severe depression. What I have learnt from those years, in and out of hospitals and youth mental health clinics:
- Never to be judgemental because everyone has a story you might not be aware of.
- That story doesn’t define you, instead what you choose to do with it does.
- After being weighed, measured, analysed (these were the early years of anorexia and bulimia studies so I was part of an early study) weight is just a number for others to put you in a category. So many times, I have heard from customers: you have no idea, you are skinny! I tend to answer "I am not skinny, I am happy."
- Mental health issues are not curable. You just learn to work with them and around them. You have good days and bad days but as one of my last doctors said, "Life is not made to be comfortable, life is to be lived. Go out there and find out for yourself. Worse case scenario you will come back."
4. When I got out, I got a 4 month temp job for Hermes in Germany doing their gift wrapping initially while trying to grasp the language. Toughest first month ever. I didn’t understand a word, got bullied by a staff member and didn’t know a soul my age. But, I got a room on a university campus, learnt to drink like a true German and met amazing new friends from all over Europe. At the end of the 4 months, I got offered a full-time job and the manager Frau Steinhausen taught me everything there is to know about running a successful luxury store. Most of all, I discovered craftsmanship at its finest; from leather-craft to silk, porcelain to crystal, watches to fine jewellery. After 3 years and a prospective offer to manage the store, I left the country to reconnect with an old love in Australia.
5. As a teenager, I told my dad, "I will never work in fashion, go to business school or be an accountant." I wanted to be a vet!
I ended up doing the all three of those things.
6. I worked for Polo Ralph Lauren for 8 years as a state manager.
What I have learnt from it:
- How to build a strong and loyal team around you. These are the people you will get help from in tough times and those you will celebrate the successes with. They are also the people who will give you the best constructive criticism.
- A strong brand comes with a strong story. It will inspire the team and your customers.
- You haven’t seen the power of retail (especially fashion) until you have survived a Boxing Day sale. This lead to my first thoughts of using fashion as a powerful tool to change lives if used in the right way.
- To begin change in industry like fashion, there is no better way to learn its successes and failings by working in a very well oiled business.
7. My biggest weakness is my inability to say no.
My thirst to learn, my wish to help someone in need and my desire to push even individuals I have just met reach their true potential has often lead me to overcommit. Still learning…
8. I tend to get easily excited. All you need is to tell me an idea or even a problem. That is how I got into planning the first Fairly Fashionable Design Challenge, as a way to raise awareness on the working conditions of garment workers after the Rana Plaza disaster, and The One Stitch At A Time fundraiser for the Nepal earthquake victims. It is also how The ANJELMS Project started in Bali when I started dreaming of using traditional batiks and ikats to allow my Balinese friends children to have the same opportunities as my children.
9. I would be the worst client for Marie Kondo. I like collecting; from textiles to suitcases to ladders …. My husband is worse than me. He is a stonemason and collects stones, gemstones, all type of verge throw out materials and old machinery which he repurposes into unique furniture and art pieces. My eldest daughter Maddy, who is a fine art graduate, takes from both of us.
10. At the end of the day, it is comes back to one word: LOVE.
Love what you do. We only have one life to live.
Love your family and your friends by telling them and by showing them every day . The small everyday things matters just as much.
Love life itself because it allows you to lead your life respecting others and our planet, so be kind to both.
That is all from me!