Moments of Sense & Style
THE BIG QUESTIONS
WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSIONAL TITLE?
Founder of Moments Of Sense & Style and carer extraordinaire to my partner Rob.
TELL US MORE ABOUT WHY YOU STARTED THE BUSINESS AND THE CONCEPT? WHAT DO YOU DO ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS?
Life changed for me exactly 3 years ago. On 27th September 2014, Rob suffered a near fatal brain haemorrhage and stroke. To make things more complicated, we lived and worked in Hong Kong but this all happened on the second day of a holiday in Sydney. Life changed instantly. We went from being high flying Design professionals, working hard and playing hard, to dealing with intense trauma. It’s been quite the journey to get this point. We had to move back to the UK for family support and although I did try to maintain my old role, I had to give up work to support Rob in his recovery. The business idea came to me at my lowest ebb; unable to find work, I decided to create something beautiful out of the darkness. It started with a blog, a Tumblr and it went from there.
Moments Of Sense & Style, MOSS, was conceived after life took an unexpected turn; our world was turned upside down. The old adage rings true. A rolling stone gathers no moss. Our life before was hectic and always on the move, urban nomads, never still. Life and tragedy made us stop; stop rolling, time to gather moss, take roots. Each product developed is considered and true to our ethos; created with grace, magnifying beauty, luxuriating in simplicity. Simplicity is the essence of our life as it is now. Take stock of the little things, those precious moments. Embrace your senses and do it in style.
We launched with The Foundation Collection, scented candles and followed with the Odyssey Collection, luxury hand bound notebooks. Each product is integral to our story; the scented candle of each destination, the notebooks and drawings lovingly and proudly made in England. We are more than just a scented candle, more than just a notebook; more than just a brand.
My main role is a full time carer to my partner, Rob, so no day is the same. I manage the business needs around us. Flexibility is key and I work around our life as it is now. My day generally starts with checking emails and processing orders that have come through the online store. As it’s solely me, I wear many different hats throughout the day, covering everything from PR to admin, to heading to the post office.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO DO WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD AND WHAT CHANGED?
I floated a little and covered notions of fighter pilot to dentist when really small! Yet I knew I wanted to pursue the Arts quite early on; our school was near to Ravensbourne College Of Arts, now part of University Of the Arts, London. I had the pleasure of modelling the Fashion Graduate Kids collection around 6 years of age and that seems to have sown a seed. I was in awe of the process; being shown the drawings, being in the studio for fittings to the final show; seeing it all from start to finish. A project on David Emmanuelle who designed Princess Diana’s wedding dress, aged 12 further fuelled my curiosity with Fashion and Style. My Great Aunt was incredibly stylish too and dressing up in her wonderful wardrobe added to it. As a teen I wavered; notions of Graphic Design as I got into music and then the pressure to follow an academic route, lead me to my A Levels. It was halfway through these that I realised I had to follow my gut, much to my mother’s disdain and applied to Art School.
WHAT ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS DO YOU HAVE?
I took an Art Foundation at Camberwell College Of Arts, before gaining a Bachelor of Arts in Textile Design.
WHAT’S THE BEST CAREER ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
Work hard and be nice to people. People always remember how you made them feel and it’s something that has stayed with me. Seems pretty simple, yet as folk get promoted and work their way up the ladder they seem to forget they were once at the bottom too.
WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL AND WHY?
My mum, for her strong work ethic and curiosity. She overcame adversity and abject poverty through education and constant hard work. Moving to the UK in the early 70’s from Mauritius was tough; as part of the Commonwealth drive, she was one of many who were encouraged to come to the UK to bolster the workforce. She faced prejudice on all fronts and bravely married an Englishman at the peak of cultural shifts in the mid 70’s. Mum strove to give my sister and I a better chance in life, in a different culture and language to her own. She worked tirelessly in the NHS until her health deteriorated, yet retains a joy of learning and provides unconditional love to whomever she meets.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR CURRENT WORKING ENVIRONMENT?
I am forging a future that works with our life as it is now. It’s unconventional, but as I heard Jeremy Iron’s boldly stating on the BBC 6 Music this afternoon, “life is for living”. If I can earn a living, establish a future for ourselves and enjoy what I do all at once, then I have it made.
WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE ABOUT YOUR DAILY WORK ROUTINE IF YOU COULD?
I would love to see how far I could get, if the business was my sole focus. And I am sure, in time I will.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF PROFESSIONALLY IN FIVE YEARS’ TIME?
I don’t have such a strict and determined vision these days. In the past, I was quietly confident, determined and driven about where I was going and what I wanted. Yet the past few years of trauma have made me appreciate that no matter how much you plot and plan, life can change in a heartbeat. Your dreams and plans thrown to the wayside and having to start from scratch. It’s good to have goals, yet strive forward with an open heart and fluidity. Nothing is set in stone. Nothing lasts forever. Saying that, I do have ideas for the future of MOSS; to have more product lines, be more established and to one day have a store as well as a larger design studio. I wish be in a position to support others who have suffered similar life changing experiences to us, whether it be workshops or as employees.
DO YOU FEEL YOU CAN BE THE SAME PERSON AT WORK AND IN PRIVATE?
At the start of my career, I used to try and maintain a work persona, be what I thought the workplace wanted or needed. Yet as the years have gone by, I realised that to truly lead and manage a team well, across cultures and languages, transparency and integrity are key. Lead by example and be true to who you are; life’s too short to wear masks. And the best connections are made when you are genuine and ultimately comfortable in yourself.
WHERE AND IN WHAT ROLES ARE WOMEN IN THE LEADERSHIP STRUCTURE AT YOUR COMPANY?
For now, the company is me, myself and I.
DOES DIVERSITY MATTER TO YOU?
Absolutely. Not just from a cultural, gender perspective but abilities and backgrounds too. I am British, from a culturally mixed background which means over the years, I have suffered diversity issues first hand. And now, it matters more vehemently than ever, as my partner Rob suffers Aphasia which impacts his speech, reading and writing, as well as suffering from limited mobility. I am witnessing societies hang ups and downfalls when it comes to attitudes to those who who suffer any form of disability. I feel passionately that everyone has potential, something to offer, if only given the chance.
HOW GOOD IS YOUR WORK LIFE BALANCE?
At present, boundaries are extremely blurred. My role first and foremost is a carer. I work as and when I can and slowly there is a shift towards me having more time to focus on the business. In time, it will come. However I essentially grab pockets of time around Rob’s needs.
WHAT QUALITIES DOES BEING IN YOUR ROLE NECESSITATE?
A sense of humour, resilience, bravery and a big heart. But most of all determination and strength, to weather any storm, be it health or business.
ANY FINAL COMMENTS?
Life is short. You’ve only go so long. Find your purpose, fuel your passion and do so with an open heart and mind, doing your utmost to play the cards you’ve been dealt, as best you can.