Sovereign Magazine SE - June 2019 - Issue 18

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& p u b l i c a t i o n


Web design that’s out of this world. W W W . M T N M E D I A . C O . U K


ave you noticed? Everything happens twice, first in your mind, then in reality. There is absolutely nothing between your thought and the reality that follows once you pursue it (you may call it a “goal”). For most of the time when you fail a goal, there is a space, a void you allow between the birth of your idea and the implementation of that thought, a waiting time called psychological time. Some people even allow this space to expand and the waiting space turns into frustration or even desperation… Inspiration is in short supply. When you meet somebody or read their story, Inspiration strikes, the void is removed, you step into your own power and make things happen! It is the story that you tell yourself when nobody is listening that shapes your life. Nothing else. The standards of your thinking determine the standards of your life. In the end, or right from the beginning, it is the Realm of Thought that matters. We have so much of this psychological time on our hands! Historically, generations after generations of creative people kept their hands occupied instead of dropping this useless baggage and freeing themselves. Letting go of this waiting time gives you the inspiration to start building a better reality instead. This is when your mind takes a focused approach to your own reality, a very narrow, laser-like light into the bigger picture, which penetrates any imaginary obstacle, Valyrian Steel or not. As we sent Sovereign to press, I am confident there is abundant evidence in this June Edition! Sovereign starts this Summer with a colliding bang of Supernovas, it is filled with terrific new business solutions and intriguing stories that frankly, man or woman, you will find it hard not to relate. I hope you will enjoy this cocktail of self-awareness and profound social awakening of highly educated, creative women - an extraordinary wave of emotional intelligence. Through coincidence (let’s admit, it is the Universe conspiring) rather than intention, after launching the March 2019 edition, Elaine Pringle-Schwitter, our Corporate Strategic Partnerships Consultant Switzerland, passionately advocated for a local online group, Women Rock Switzerland, and their founders, Denise and Michelle, to be featured in this month’s edition. Elaine’s mission was to capture the unique essence of not one, but two women who are not standard models, in a single shot! Camera, lights, make-up artists and holding hands included- the perfect picture was shot that day to capture their dual beauty and charismatic energy. What a staggering image! Credit must go to Elaine’s photographic talent. Behind Elaine’s camera lens is a creative genius which opens a certain kind of door that you never have entered before, a door to your own heart. You can read her column ‘Through The Camera Lens’ each month and in this edition she brings you “Her Voice” ( page 106). So, I want to take an unapologetic bow for June’s cover to Elaine Pringle and Darie Nani, our Artistic Director – who’s combined effort captured the essence of Women Rock Switzerland.

So who are the women who rock Switzerland? Denise is a Fulbright Scholar, author, and vocational psychologist and has been gracing world class stages, speaking in over 30 countries. Being a certified teacher, she’s developed real expertise in human development, lifelong learning, and maximizing human potential. She uses emotional mastery to unlock the power of human hearts! Michelle (who’s father passed away suddenly just over a year ago) is building on a legacy that her father created while leading a communications company in the USA for almost four decades. A national-level college athlete, she began her working life as a sports coach at an Ivy League university in the USA. As fêted as she was, Michelle worked harder than she needed to, and she has been ranked in the top 1% of Executive Search professionals in North America. Give her five minutes of your time and she you will give you the world! When Elaine introduced Michelle and Denise, they loved the idea of sharing the opportunity with their members and decided to select 1% of their group to contribute to this edition. They selected 40 rare female mavericks who are self-leading and deliver their unique solution to health, wealth, wellbeing, art, tech, travel, communication and beauty, all the while enjoying motherhood. I am excited to see how they will each adapt to a new, magnificent version of themselves, as compassionate mothers and exceptional women, opening up the home of their big dreams to a wider diversity of professional women. To be featured in Sovereign is to commit to building a world that is inclusive for both men and women of different philosophies, ages, countries and cultures, for the betterment of all. This is how I imagined Sovereign to be: a limitless vault for future memories from millions of people who are closing the achievement gap together. When you are a Purposeful Leader, it is not about standing up for yourself anymore but about an unwavering belief in those you lead, building them up into confident creatives who can deliver their unique solution. If you are waiting to board your flight and reading June Sovereign in either British, Swiss or German Airports business and first class lounges, be ready to face the first wave of 40 Women Who Rock Switzerland. They’ve arrived! As you discover them one by one, you will enjoy their resolute confidence and graceful laser determination to be seen and have their voice heard. Please take advantage of the rich media features and connect with them while still reading their story. What better way to inspire a younger generation of women, our daughters and granddaughters, who, yes, are born to lead, to build their personal and professional success?! Can we, at least, agree that if we really want to inspire them to be more, we must publish their mothers’ and grandmothers’ story first, showing the world what they are made of? I am exceeding the word count again, but I have to say this before I dive into July’s edition: Social edification helps you make a significant difference in your professional game, and it is not the news feed algorithm that matters but the realm of thought shared with millions of people we can inspire together, people who might take a leap of faith and become the Sovereigns of their own life. So, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Women Who Rock Switzerland.

Marina Nani5 Dr. Marina Nani

Editor-in-chief Sovereign- Global Magazine for Executives and Leading Entrepreneurs



GLOBAL MAGAZINE We’ve coined a new industry to introduce Solutionary Thinkers, Executives and Leading Entrepreneurs who create unique solutions to certain challenges, influence prosperity globally and close the achievement gap.

SOCIAL EDIFICATION We live in a world consumed by challenges and solutions are the metrics of progress by which we measure success.

We only introduce accountable professionals with unique talents who are amongst the top holistic solution creators in the world, passionate trailblazers who are driven by their inner belief that delivering value is not about them but about the people they can help. Close the gap between those who can inspire and those who need inspiration.



Dr. Marina Nani Darie Nani

Elaine Pringle-Schwitter

Senior Correspondent, Switzerland

Christian Demetriad

Graphic Designer, United Kingdom

Lesley Calvó

Guest Contributors, Switzerland

26 Know Thyself

Marisa Tschopp

Guest Contributors, Switzerland

Patricia Anne Elwood

Guest Contributors, Switzerland

Gill Dady

Guest Contributors, Switzerland

Ekaterina Kolye & Goar Sanfilippo

Guest Contributors, Switzerland

76 Paying it Forward

Annette Ebbinghaus

Guest Contributor, Switzerland

Sara Aswegan

Guest Contributor, Switzerland

Bianca Kux

Guest Contributor, Switzerland

Grace Leupi

Guest Contributor, Switzerland

Muneera Khokhar

Guest Contributor, Switzerland

With thanks to:

Denise Nickerson & Michelle Guiliano Elaine Pringle-Schwitter - Photographer, Cover Shoot Zalina Wälchli - Makeup Artist, Cover Shoot Darie Nani - Cover Design

Let your story fly!

108 As you like it Sovereign Travel


Do you have a story to tell? We want the world to read it! Get in touch today: Keep reading this magazine with our free digital reader :

Copyright © 2019 MTN Press Limited. All rights reserved. Registered. Printed in the UK. (free download also available)

Women Rock!

Interview with Denise Nickerson and Michelle Guiliano, founders of Salt Consulting & Communications | by Darie Nani


ore women than ever now create their own working life, through entrepreneurship, innovation, collaboration, creating charity projects and NGOs, community building, and the arts. Working around traditional employment models offers tremendous freedom and accelerated learning; however, the entrepreneurial path can be really lonely! Denise Nickerson and Michelle Guiliano, who are based near Geneva, Switzerland, talked with us about how they have designed their own working lives. They also lead a group of thousands of women who, like them, are creating new ways of working and seeking something more when it comes to achievement, career path, and possibilities for better working conditions and professional success. We hope you will enjoy getting to know them and encountering some of the women from their network in this issue of Sovereign. What is the driving force behind your consulting and coaching company, Salt? Denise: We wanted to live and work from the heart, outside constraints of traditional models of education and working that simply aren’t working. We decided that from the beginning of our collaboration, that part of our time, energy, and earnings would always be dedicated to helping others – we didn’t want to wait one minute to make a difference either! So many people say to themselves, “Someday I’ll help others, someday I’ll invent this or that, someday I’ll write my book”. For us, someday is today, every day! In our very first year in business together we ran a local-global fundraiser: providing coaching to 30 women-owned businesses and raising enough money to send 55 girls to school in developing countries through a girls’ scholarship program**. Our professional focus as coaches is to uncover human potential – by connecting people to their mission in life, we heal insecurities and support so much creativity and action. By the end of our third year in business, we created the Women Rock Network. In 2020 we’ll celebrate Salt’s 5th birthday! Michelle: Parents everywhere, like me, have had to make hard choices about when and where they work and how much childcare they can invest in to support their careers. Women often bear the brunt of professional compromises where childcare is concerned, due to the global persistence of unequal opportunities and unequal pay. I sacrificed years of professional life to raise children while my then husband travelled for work 5070% of the time! The pain and insecurity of unemployment and under-deployment of women is real, especially

for the talented, the inspired, the educated, and those with a mission to change the world. It is why true feminine leadership is needed – for men and for women. With our work, we want to equip people to succeed in ways that strengthen relationships and heal social inequalities.

How did you end up working together? Denise: We each had solopreneur companies before Salt. Michelle had an award-winning eco-ethical product and I was a writer and educational consultant. For me, besides my admiration for Michelle, there were two key factors: 1. I became an entrepreneur because I love people and I ended up alone at my computer most of the time – it didn’t suit my personality or my mission and 2. I kept encountering the same human concerns from clients and audiences wherever I went – concerns about emotional intelligence, character, and motivation that coaching can resolve. I felt an intense calling to have more of an impact on hearts and minds. Michelle’s energy and ability to activate absolutely everyone was the perfect complement to my skills. She gives me courage to stand up and lead in ways I wouldn’t on my own. I know she has my back – always! She’s one of the strongest people I have ever met – her resilience and endurance are legendary! Michelle: I have been a coach my whole life, and my previous, product-based business was a self-imposed learning challenge. I learned how to design and manufacture a product and ramp up distribution and sales. Meanwhile, I had been looking for a business partner for years. I wanted to change directions and to support inspiring leaders but I knew I

would need to find the right person to work with. It had to be someone with integrity and credibility. I started to attend some of Denise’s talks and was so impressed with her brilliance and ability to make everyone feel wonderful. She’s extremely intelligent and she simplifies the most complex and emotionally difficult topics with grace and poise. She never compromises her femininity and commands respect through her expertise. I’m so glad we decided to try working together years ago after we both took a Tony Robbins coaching course. We had so much fun studying and honestly, I’ve never enjoyed my work as much I do now!

You both have made a commitment to be more visible, why is that? Michelle: Sadly, my dad passed away suddenly just over a year ago. He created and led a communications company in the USA for almost 40 years. The videos of his creations, presentations, workshops, seminars and the many speeches he wrote that were delivered by business leaders and politicians are not available to the public. He cared so much about his work and his employees and often worked to the point of burnout. We’re looking for ways, like getting on video and our new coaching column, to make a huge impact in a sustainable way. We want to leave a legacy; and, we want to enjoy life now in good health! Denise: We are also committed to “walk the talk!” We ask our clients to let go of perfectionism, to be vulnerable, and to be strong enough to welcome feedback and put it to good use. We challenge people to stand up for what they believe in, and to take ac-

The power of FEMININE LEADERSHIP is available to everyone. Face fear, risk vulnerability, share your gifts, connect from the HEART, own your WISDOM and create PASSION.

- Denise Nickerson


Walk THROUGH the fire. With forged poise and PRESENCE, step into your POWER. Take a STAND for yourself and others.

- Michelle Guiliano


Thanks so much for creating some great opportunities for women entrepreneurs to connect and support each other! I also really appreciate your efforts to share your tips and knowledge to help other women grow their businesses. Well done, ladies! - Becca Rhew

tion to make a difference in the world. We help clients put their work and themselves “out there” for the world to see. Our coaching has more power when people see us making a commitment to face the same challenges. How can we help organizations with issues like leadership and teamwork if we aren’t leading something or living and breathing teamwork in our own work and lives?

Tell us about your women’s network. Denise: We named the group “Women Rock” for all that phrase evokes – from a woman rocking a baby, to rocking the stage, to rocking her career, and her life. It takes courage and authority to “rock” anything. There’s another meaning there too – someone’s “rock” is a strong, grounded, and steady person you can count on. The women in our network lift each other up. They work for the planet and for their neighborhoods. They love their families at home and their extended families abroad. They face challenges and pick themselves up to love and to serve. They support one another in sisterhood, and give each other strength. They know that real success in life can only come when love is the guiding principle. They come from over 60 countries, so truly, they rock the world! Michelle: Women need a safe place where those considering launching their own project or business can get inspiration from others – and where everyone can get kind and honest feedback. We share our joys and struggles and we support each other’s projects. Because the women in the network have so many ties to other countries, it provides exciting opportunities for those members who are scaling up their businesses to reach new markets too! We’ve established group culture with an entrepreneurial spirit and self-starters, people, like us. who embrace technology and innovation, care about quality of life and working sustainably, and are passionate about making a positive impact.

What’s your coaching message for our readers? Michelle: Walk through the fire. With forged poise and presence, step into your power. Take a stand for yourself and others. Denise: The power of feminine leadership is available to everyone. Face fear, risk vulnerability, share your gifts, connect from the heart, own your wisdom, and create with passion.

There is a special energy circulating when women get together and the girls at Salt are creating a build up of feminine ethos and power that can change the world. Congratulations for all you have done and all you are doing! - Patricia Elwood

Michelle and Denise are both originally from the USA. Michelle has two Danish-American sons and Denise has a French husband and two Franco-American daughters. They laugh uncontrollably on a regular basis, sing, and converse about everything while they work on creating, and they deliver heart, soul, and laser focus when they are client-facing. They bring love to all that they do. They have a boutique consultancy, Salt Consulting & Communications Ltd. (, where they live their mission to foster lifelong learning, balanced leadership, and to unleash human potential.

Michelle and Denise work as coaches, facilitators, speakers, and trainers for a select few private clients each year as well as in multinationals, SMEs, UN Organizations, and NGOs. Michelle is an athlete and former Ivy League coach and often speaks about the lessons from endurance sports that can take life, work, and businesses to new heights of success. Fulbright Scholar Denise is the author of Education Guide Switzerland (2012, 2014) and speaks on character strengths, mindfulness, and ways we can all better care for and leverage our brains!

Due to the difficult working conditions in Switzerland as evidenced by the Glass Ceiling Index, Women in Switzerland are planning a nationwide strike on June 14th, 2019. Switzerland comes in at a dismal 26th place of ranked OECD countries for markers of gender equality at work

Through their program Coach Within® they have trained over 100 sports coaches, including Olympians, Olympic Coaches, and National and State-level coaches in human development topics like active listening, empathy, educational pathways for athletes, mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and high-performance culture. Their curriculum has been approved by Swiss Olympic and used to re-certify professional coaches up to the global level through FIFA. Each year, they take between 6 and 15 women leaders with legacy and impact projects on a luxury long-weekend retreat through their program Living the Feminine Future™ with a goal of building an exclusive network of 100 powerful and passionate women leaders and changemakers around the world. This project also includes the development of unconscious bias training programs through story sharing and case studies. Balanced leadership training for men and women about developing the important qualities of feminine leadership can heal the world without devaluing the masculine. You can experience Michelle and Denise’s coaching through their new column with Sovereign Magazine, in print and on-line, called First Class Coaches! Just send in your coaching questions! Those who send in questions, challenges, and ask for advice are also entered into a regular drawing to win a free strategy coaching call with Michelle and Denise. You can also join their online program, The Integrity System™ ( to have access to a life-changing work-at-your-own-pace program providing guided meditations, training sessions, case studies, challenges, and more. Contact them to speak, moderate, emcee or facilitate at your next event – we can’t wait for you to experience the positive energy they bring to everything they touch! Their kind of Salt, well it’s just like stardust! **The scholarship program is through the wonderful global charity Room to Read toward-systemic-change/girls-education-program/



esley Calvó has always been an entrepreneur, starting up and running her own company straight after she left university.

Whilst achieving great success on the outside, on the inside Lesley experienced high levels of anxiety, depression and workaholism. Through her own journey of self discovery and finding ways to align success and happiness, as well as to run a business and thrive internally, she became aware of her unique essence and joined the awakening wave of entrepreneurs who consciously unlock and reclaim the life they deserve. She went back to education, this time with a profound desire to learn who she is inside. Lesley became a Coach, Reiki Master, Hypnotherapist and NLP Master Practitioner and started a practice in London where she helped hundreds of people to change their lives for the better. Here she is sharing her story to help you start your journey of self-healing and self-awakening. This is her story... “In an ideal world, women who are thinking of starting their own business or women who have a business, want to see their business grow to the next level, while having more time and being able to enjoy the process. When I moved to Switzerland, I took a sabbatical to write my first novel and start a family. I finished the novel and my daughter is now older. I felt the need to help people to achieve their dreams again and be of service, helping people actualize this goal of creating balance. The sheer vastness and imaginative potential that life has in store all too often eludes us because of the limiting thoughts and rehearsed self-doubt, which we’ve accepted as our own realities. At least this was the case when I was in the darkest and lowest time of my life; dealing with depression, the dissolution of my parents’ marriage and losing my sense of self and will to live, silenced by suicidal thoughts. Despite this, I was able to complete University at the top of my class with distinction in Jewellery Design in London. Upon graduating, I started my own business, designing and producing high end jewellery; managing to bottle and bury the recurring dark feelings mentioned above, throwing myself into work. My first collection caught the eye of Harrods of London, leading to them buying the entire

Aligning your potential for greatness with your inner authentic voice collection. My business skyrocketed. My company grew to 6 figures very quickly, with my jewellery having a storefront presence around the globe. While trailing my way as an influencer in the fashion and jewellery industry, guest lecturing and judging international jewellery competitions, and consulting for top names such as Vivienne Westwood, Dior, Cartier and Swarovski, I realized that my drive and thirst for success was not fulfilling me the way I had hoped. As my success continued, I looked around at my fellow colleagues and visionaries, and wondered if their definition of success was providing them nourishment or if they felt the same emptiness and void as I did. It was this moment, on a day like any other day, when I decided to take a good look at myself. I realized that my drive towards success and recognition was simply me trying to outrun myself, the suffering self that I believed was long buried and the depression which I thought I rendered manageable. This realization, of a compartmentalized self, resulted in my feeling a deep sense of imposter syndrome. It became clear that functioning and chasing success was not the same as thriving and living a healthy honest life where success, ambition and my inner voice lived in harmony. This ownership of looking inward and letting the healing start from within led me to seek growth and a higher state of consciousness, which organically led to be a Life Coach

Photo credit Alexandra Roth.

and NLP Practitioner, as well as a Certified Hypnotherapist and Reiki Master. The journey of self-healing and self-awakening showed me the power and importance of aligning the inner and outer world, and that true success truly thrives when there is inner peace and self-acceptance. In being an agent of change in my own life, I’ve been able to be a beacon of guidance for other women, helping them break out of their self-imposed mental blockages and limiting mind-sets. Through my one-on-one online coaching I help women unlock their potential; whether they’re thinking of starting their own business, or they have a business and would like to grow it to the next levels, all while creating better time management, more self-awareness and achieving the income they deserve. My services will help you not only grow your business but also to grow the powerful engine from within. My services are online; therefore, you can be anywhere in the world. I currently service clients in Australia, USA, the UK and Switzerland. With my many hats as a writer, mother of a creative and curious 5 years old and loving wife—I am humbled that I have been able to continue to follow my passion and help women entrepreneurs awaken, unlock and claim the life they deserve. As a reader of Sovereign magazine, I am truly honoured to share my story and my mission to help women create the income, conscious life ownership and active impact over their lives that they deserve. Please visit my website and mention “Sovereign Magazine” in the subject heading to start our conversation, as I am offering a limited amount of complimentary 30 min Business Growth Sessions, and let’s uncover your greatness and success from the inside out, while helping you achieve the income and business growth you have always dreamed of.”


The Magic Pot The art and science of feeling confident in your own skin. Interview with Lili Giglia , founder of ESSENTIALLY LILI | by Dr Marina Nani

After much persuasion from her husband that life in Switzerland was great and much safer for young families, Lili left her job in the UK, took their daughter out of British school and join her husband in Zurich in 2012. A very successful financial analyst who worked for major corporations for almost two decades, little did she know that a new life in Switzerland’s fresh air, mountains and natural beauty was the beginning of her new found freedom.


riginally from Australia, charismatic and compassionate, Lili had to find a solution to develop her creativity and entrepreneurial spirit while being the ‘Hausfrau’. This is her story, the story of the Magic Pot!

How did you end up emigrating to Switzerland? In 1990, I graduated from university with a Bachelor of Business (Accounting) Degree. I spent my 20s and 30s working for an Oil company in various departments from Card Services, Aviation, Gas, Exploration to Finance and Shipping. My roles were mainly focused on the finance and performance analysis, as well as maintaining thorough Customer Service for my clients, team leaders and business partners. Whilst based in the UK, I met my husband, and together we began the relocation expedition for his employment. After marrying in 2004, we moved to Dubai where I joined a Logistics company. It was great being in Dubai when the ideas and plans for the Palms were merely drawings and model mockups. We eventually moved for a short time to Basel Switzerland before I was offered an analysis role for a Shipping business based in Sunbury-onThames (UK), where we stayed for almost 2 years. Afterwards, we returned to Melbourne with the intention of being based there after having our first child, as I wanted to have family and friends around to support us. However, my husband wanted to return to the UK, so we departed in 2007 with our 9-month old daughter some 3 days after my sister got married. Whilst based in the UK, I returned to full time work in Exploration and Shipping. We also began renovating our home and recreating our garden.

We had our son in 2010 and I lived in the UK with the kids for a total of 5 years. My husband had moved to Zurich for a 3-year IT project, returning every other weekend. It was hard working full time and raising 2 young children without any family support.

What was the original inspiration behind Essentially Lili? The inspiration for the commencement of my business was based on personal experience suffering with Eczema from 9 years of age. I spent every month being taken by my Dad to see the dermatologists in Melbourne, to find a varying strength of cortisone to help suppress the skin condition. After 10 years of attending specialist appointments, I frustratingly told my Dad I wasn’t going anymore! I felt like they were experimenting on me, taking photos of my hands and skin, guessing what was going to happen next. In my teens, I took my share of antibiotics and the drug Roaccutane to help my skin, only to have a worse outcome. After several months of using these, I had a severe reaction from within which left me swollen, itching, weeping, bleeding and covered from head to thighs in Eczema. My insides were inflamed from the antibiotics, causing other issues with my body and skin. I stopped going to university for 2 months due to the hideous state I was in. I cried so much from the pain I was in and began my quest to find another solution to this terrible condition. When I was well enough, I returned to complete my Bachelor of Business (Accounting) Degree in 1990. Someone suffering with skin conditions like Eczema can become self-conscious and often paranoid, that people are looking, criticising and judging their appearance. I know it happened to me as a child, and I was often isolated or left out, without friends. I believed those kids hadn’t seen it before, and thought I was contagious. Losing my self-confidence caused me to internalise and suppress my feelings, and I became quiet and shy around others, trying to hide behind loads of make-up and long hair. For me, it was horrible going through this during my youthful years, and I totally understand the emotional anguish when someone explains how Acne, Psoriasis, Rosacea and Eczema makes them feel.

What finally led you to start your business? There’s nothing wrong with being a housewife and taking care of your children, but what I missed the most was having my own income and being independent. I had been working and travelling for over 17 years before arriving in Switzerland. For me, who wasn’t used to being at home all the time, this was the hardest thing to get used to, especially with my employment history and experience. When I was looking for ‘what to do with myself whilst living in Zurich’ options, I considered becoming a Brand representative, selling another company’s skincare products. Unfortunately, there was the ‘conflict of interest’ clause which I fell into when looking at the small print of their contract. I didn’t want to be dishonest with myself or my customers, selling products that I would never personally use myself.


As I had already found a combination of solutions for healthy looking skin, I wanted to share this with others. Perhaps many people can use the products purchased over the Beauty counter, or from the supermarket and chemists. However, there were lots of people like me who would react badly to the unnaturally sourced ingredients contained in these products, making us unable to use them without some sort of discomfort. At the end of March 2015, I attended the Women’s Expo in Zurich and spent my time being inspired, making enquiries, and collecting information. A week later I decided to ditch the idea of being a brand ambassador for someone else and make my own brand instead; with the promise it would only contain 100% natural ingredients. I had been making my own face balm for years, which had kept my skin not only nourished but Eczema free. I created a small sample batch of this product, I went to a Women’s breakfast group and distributed them with my little handmade information sheets and business cards. I awaited patiently for feedback to see what they thought of the sample. About a month later, a lady who had been suffering with Rosacea for years messaged and asked to meet me, saying ‘Where can I get more of that pot of magic?’. She told me her story, how much money she had spent buying varying kinds of cosmetics, commercial and pharmaceutical products to help resolve her skin issues. Frustratingly, nothing seemed to work for her until she tried my Nourishing Face Balm. She had used the sample and needed to get more, the first product in years which had calmed, soothed, and help restore that dry, itchy redness that was hiding underneath her make-up. Here was another woman like me, who had tried to hide under thick foundation, looking for the solution in products that only made the skin condition worse. She also told that all these years, she was getting up at 5am to start her makeup routine of hiding her face which was covered in Rosacea. Now with my product, she was applying much less to her skin. I decided to stop wearing foundation altogether as I could confidently apply my skincare products directly to my face and I haven't worn any again since 2015! I found all my commercial brand makeup, foundations, lipsticks, some of which hadn’t been opened but were expired and containing parabens, and I threw the whole lot out. It was worth a lot of money, but my skin felt wonderful without it. I believed this was my new path, a quest to help others feel confident about themselves within their own beauty, whilst being able to take care of themselves in a holistic way.

a ’ m s d W n a a r y G “There is no one-diet-fi ts-all”

Interview by Darie Nani

How pleasurable eating, real, wholesome, yummy food can defy stress levels, weight issues, lack of energy and low sex drive.


anna Levy Hoffmann, founder of Organilicious, is a leading health and lifestyle coach and an expert on living a nourishing lifestyle. Unlike her competitors, her solution doesn’t involve dieting or deprivation, instead she focuses on how to engage in pleasurable eating, real, wholesome, yummy food . Danna offers deliciously sustainable lifestyle-changes, providing women all over Europe with reinvigorated vitality, and smarter eating habits. Passionate about helping clients create sustainable changes in their diets and daily lifestyles, her program is providing women with sustainable nutrition solutions. Thanks to her soon to be a decade of study and leadership in personal nutrition, she’s helping people reduce the stress and exhaustion that comes with body health and weight issues. When not using a personal, tailored approach to help clients reach their goals, she can be found leading events and workshops for companies such as Google, UBS, IKEA and Siemens, on the topics of proper nutrition, vitality, healthy eating and living a renewed lifestyle. A Jamie Oliver Ambassador and self-proclaimed health freak, Danna is a mother of two amazing boys, and the wife of “the most amazing husband alive”.

What inspired you to start Organilicious? My past life was very diverse, including working in gastronomy and catering, being a graphic designer and photographer, and running Miso Cute Cooking - healthy cooking courses for kids (and their parents). I also studied psychology and I’m happy to say that what I do today brings all of my past experiences together in a beautiful way. Organilicious was born out of demand. The parents who came to Miso Cute Cooking courses repeatedly asked me to run courses for adults, and come to their homes to guide them to a healthier eating and living. Although I loved working with kids, I realized that the parents needed the guidance and were ready to receive the help I offered. Many things lead me to where I am today. Most of the credit I always give to my grandmother, whose life revolved around health and food in combination. From a very young age, I knew that entrepreneurship would be in my future. However, discovering that path was a lot more detailed and complex than I expected. At around the same time that I lost my grandmother to cancer, I was pregnant with my firstborn. At the time I didn’t get a chance to make any major changes in my life. Soon after I gave birth, I was pregnant yet again. About two years after my second child was born, I was overweight, depressed, and miserable. It was then that I received the news that my own mother was diagnosed with, not one, but two types of cancer. That was the moment that started me off on a wild journey of self discovery. I was determined to get my health back on track, help my loved ones get healthier, and hopefully protect my little family unit as well. Fast forward a few years later and lots of water under the bridge: I’ve managed to find my health and the passion I need to help other women identify a path that’s right for them also (and help them discover their own bodies and needs).

What would you say is the main benefit to your clients? Typically my clients suffer from high stress levels, weight issues, lack of energy, and/or low sex drive. I tailor a program for each individual, in order to discover sustainable lifestyle changes that increase their vitality, health and self-satisfaction. My goal is to help each individual find the way that is right for them and their own bodies. I truly believe in bio-individuality. There is no “one-diet-fitsall” and not one way of leading your life. Each person ticks differently and I’m there to help each of them discover the path that’s right for them. To truly be healthy and feel amazing in our bodies, we must give it the nutrients it needs, in a sustainable way that doesn’t make us feel deprived. Unfortunately, we are vulnerable to living out the unhealthy habits and conditioning from our parents- this includes what we eat, how we shop, snacking habits, food pre techniques and emotional eating tendencies.

So how does it work? My 6 month program begins with a health history consultation. This is where I get to know my clients, their struggles, and their needs. Following that, every 2 weeks we have a virtual one-on-one meeting, in order to set goals that help them sustainably overcome their struggles. As their accountability partner, I make sure that these goals are not hard to achieve, and are actually being met.

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced thus far? I could name a few challenges, but I think the biggest one alongside finances, would be to believe in myself despite what those around might tell me. Our friends and loved ones often worry about our future, and with that, try to convince us to stick to the conventional way of living - get a job, pay the bills, and stop dreaming. I was determined to follow my dream, and was lucky enough to have a supportive husband who helped me pursue it.

Where do you turn for inspiration and why? Looking at my boys grow, and imagining their future is all the inspiration I need. Guiding them to a well-balanced life and helping them grow to be sensitive and passionate young men, is the reason I wake up each morning and push through. There are many people in my life whom I admire, and it’s hard to choose just one. But first and foremost, must be my mother followed by Greta Thunberg, Michelle Obama and Ellen DeGeneres. All four ladies believe in a noble cause, and don’t let anything get in their way.

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Danna Levy Hoffmann @MisoCuteCooking


Interview with Helena Zachariassen and Michelle Scholl | Dr Marina Nani

“Life truly begins after you have put your house in order”


Marie Kondo

ichelle and Helena met back in 2013. As young mothers and both having recently emigrated to Switzerland, they got to know each other through a shared passion for sports, people and personal growth. Soon it became clear that they both had even more in common, a need to help and inspire others! Helena Zachariassen (left) is originally from Finland, lives in Zurich with her husband and 2 young children and is the Founder of My Happy Home. She is a KonMari Consultant in training as well as a lifestyle coach. Michelle Scholl (right), from the Netherlands, lives in Zurich with her husband and 2 young children and is the Founder of Simply Serene. She is a certified KonMari Consultant since December 2018. Simply Serene and My Happy Home are both KonMari tidying Consultancies, supporting, inspiring and guiding people to organize their living spaces (and lives) according to the KonMari Method™, by simply choosing joy.

How did Simply Serene and My Happy Home come about?

My Happy Home Zurich

Photo credit:

Helena: My own tidying process was such an amazing experience of finding true and pure joy and everything in my life consequently started falling into place. A couple of years ago I turned 40 and reading the book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ by Marie Kondo, was the final nudge to creating my own business. I hope that my clients will also benefit from my experiences in finding the right balance between work and family life as well as finding harmony and joy in our everyday lives through the right amount of tidiness both in our homes and in our minds together with healthy nutrition, exercise and rest. Michelle: My journey also started after reading Marie Kondo’s book and tidying my own home. The effect and results of this process, and the way it reflected on my life, blew me away. It helped me choose and value what really matters to me and what truly brings me joy. It gave me a sense of lightness and calm, awareness and gratitude in living with only those things that I love.

Starting a business is always a challenge, what has been your biggest hurdle thus far? Helena: Getting people to understand the true purpose and philosophy of the KonMari Method™. It’s so much more than just tidying. Depending on where you are in your life, you might be in for an amazing life transformation, if you are ready and allowing it to happen. Michelle: Coming from my background as a social worker, the biggest challenge for me has been becoming an entrepreneur, setting up my own business and all that comes with it. At the same time, it has brought me incredible joy and learning experiences, and has made me feel very proud of my achievements.

What did you do before starting your business? Helena: I hold a Masters in sociology and social psychology from the University of Helsinki, as well as a professional coaching certification. During the past 20 years I’ve worked in different fields of the corporate world, mainly in international business consulting with a special interest in career and personal development and growth. This is what I love the most; inspiring and helping others living a life to their fullest potential. Six years ago, my life truly changed as I became a mother for the first time. This incredible growth journey never ceases to surprise me. It’s a true gift of joy and challenge at the same time. Michelle: I have a background in social pedagogy. As a social worker I worked for 15 years with vulnerable children and their families in the most distressing circumstances. I experienced that asking for help and accepting someone into your home takes a lot of courage and can only be responded to with respect, discretion, and without any judgment. Honing my skills of engaging and listening carefully, guiding where needed. These families have shown me the greatest joy in the simplest things in life.

What would you say is the biggest advantage of the KonMari Method? Helena: If you’re feeling overwhelmed with clutter, either at home or in life in general, we can support in getting your home more organised, simplifying your life, clearing your mind and living more lightly. It may not be apparent until you try it but going through your belongings and at the same time your whole life might lead to substantial, lasting transformations. Michelle: The KonMari Method of tidying allows you to simplify your life and clarify your mind. Many people feel overwhelmed and stressed surrounded by all their possessions. Someone might be lacking gratitude and appreciation for their belongings and someone else might be missing joy in their life. Too much stuff can simply distract you and keep you from living your ideal life. The process starts with visualizing your ideal lifestyle and is based on tidying by category and allows you to revalue your belongings, with emphasis on being mindful, introspective and forward thinking. It’s about choosing joy, finding out what you love and striving towards living your ideal lifestyle.


Simply Serene Zurich

Know Your Price! How the right strategy in pricing can make small and medium sized businesses become sustainable without chasing profit at all costs.

Interview with Janene Liston, the Pricing Lady | by Darie Nani

Pricing is the most important profit driver a company has. Whether the pricing strategy, price setting, pricing architecture, discount structure or communication, getting pricing right impacts the bottom line. Janene is an international pricing expert and one of the most trusted partners for businesses with a yearly revenue of up to 35M USD across many industries. Young businesses hire her to help them price with more confidence, building profitable businesses, that can sustain growth. Established businesses bring her in to help grow their profits and revenue by improving how they manage pricing. Whether launching new products or services, designing a new strategy or improving upon what’s already there, Janene’s approach gives businesses the skills to make better pricing decisions. Raised in California, Janene lives in Switzerland. After graduating with a degree in Architectural Engineering, she relocated to Connecticut in 1993 where she designed all types of structures and buildings, from houses and churches to office buildings, schools and shopping malls. However, it became clear that this was not her true calling. Her change in career brought her to Switzerland in 2001, where she worked in product management and marketing for a large multi national. It was here where Janene first started to understand the power of pricing. When she decided to stay in Switzerland, she took a new job as Global Pricing Manager. It was during this time she became one of the first 60 people worldwide to receive the Certified Pricing Professional designation. She spent years traveling the world implementing global pricing frameworks and supporting the local entities on how to improve their pricing strategy. Towards the end she surprisingly found herself in a burnout. She realized while she loved pricing, that the corporate world wasn't where she wanted to be long term nor who she wanted to be. She left her corporate job and found the courage to take the first step into a better way forward.

You are known for your many talents and you excel at everything you decide to do. Your passion for helping other people made you master your public speaking skills and you became a Toastmasters European Humorous Speech Champion. How exactly did you become the Pricing Lady? When I started my business, I didn’t know what to call myself; a coach, consultant, mentor... none of them seem to really fit and I was struggling with what to call myself. When I was in the corporate world and would meet new colleagues as I travelled, I would introduce myself many would reply with “Yes. I know you. You’re the Pricing Lady!” We’d laugh. The more I thought about, the more I realized that was it. Why not just embrace the name that had been given to me organically?

What inspired you to create your business? Two things. First, one of the things I love about my career is that I’ve worked in so many different industries. I wanted to not just help one or

two companies, but help as many businesses as possible build healthy, sustainably profitable businesses. Second, I’ve seen how smaller and young business struggle with the topic. Starting a business is hard and takes a lot of work. Starting right is important. A profitable business is a healthy one and one that can grow. I love nothing more than helping business owners start right with pricing and build a sustainable business that can grow at a healthy pace.

What has been your biggest challenge in starting your own business? I didn’t understand that starting a business is really about a personal journey. I love learning new things so in many ways I’m in my own element. It’s exciting. Yet I needed to change the way I think and see the world and how I make decisions. Thinking like a business owner is very different than thinking like an employee. When I heard that, before I started the business, I would nod my head knowingly; like I understood but I don’t believe that I truly understood it until now. That transformation is the biggest challenge I have faced for sure. It’s fun, exciting and difficult too.

What is the biggest impact you are making? I’m helping build healthy, sustainably profitable businesses. It’s not about chasing profit at all costs. It is about giving a business the chance to make the most informed decisions when it come to what affects their profitability the most – i.e. prices. Even more, I'm helping people build their confidence as business owners. I see the transformation it brings individuals and companies. It brings me real joy. Pricing is a tool that most companies are still learning how to use most effectively. Often times they are chasing the perfect price (which in to my mind doesn't exist) when instead they should be asking themselves what can this price do for their business. How is it helping the business and its customers? Prices can work for or against a business, my job is to ensure they get it right.

How does it work? It depends on if it’s an established business or a new one. In established businesses we first need to understand the status quo. What are they doing currently? What’s working? What’s not? Etc… Then we start to look at how we can align their pricing strategy to support their overall business strategy. Then we get into the details and build pricing to enable all that. In new businesses the first step is often to help them understand what we’re talking about. Pricing is a much bigger topic than most people realize. You can’t just set a price and expect people to buy. You have to learn how to work with the prices. Most importantly you have to manage them over time. When a business gets this right from the get go, they can become profitable much quicker.

Now that you are the Pricing Lady, do you still miss Architectural Engineering? I wouldn't say I miss the job but I am still fascinated by architecture, especially bridges. One of my favourites is Ganterbrücke in Valais. I wrote a paper about it in University (at that time with no clue life would lead me to live in Switzerland). Once when on a road trip with friends I was driving us to Italy up and over Simplon pass. As the bridge came into view I go so excited and started yelling “my bridge, my bridge.” My friends had no clue what was happening. Just that I’d pulled the car over and was screaming for someone to hand me a camera. So yes, I really love bridges!


Shared Dreams Creating a better reality for orphans

Interview with Jenya Lavicka | by Darie Nani

One day a group of friends were talking about their dreams. They all felt very fortunate with the opportunities life had given them - being born in families that loved them, studying at universities, joining an international student organisation, living and working abroad. However, they all dreamt of giving something back to the society and specifically their homeland of Ukraine, where orphans are much less fortunate. From this shared dream, Children-UA was born! An organisations that runs summer camps for underprivileged children, teaching them to believe in themselves, motivate them to study, explore the world and themselves.


hen Jenya Lavicka, born and raised in Ukraine, relocated to Basel for a new job, little did she know that she would meet the love of her life and marry “the best man in the world” with whom she now has twin daughters. Jenya always chose toys very carefully for her children.​ Playing with her daughters, inspired her to launch an exciting project called “I’ll do it myself busy book”, which is serving two causes: first, it is giving jobs to young single mothers with small children in Ukraine and second, the net profit from these books are founding an educational summer camp.

Tell us more about Children-UA and how does it help orphans?

Children-UA organisation runs education summer camps once a year for underprivileged children from Ukraine, aged 12-15 years old. Children who grow up in orphanages without parents often don’t know what to do with their life, where to study, what profession to choose, or what to dream about. Our aim is to broaden their horizons and raise their motivation to study. We have started this initiative back in 2009 and have organized 7 camps since then. There was no camp in 2014 due to the war in Eastern Ukraine and in 2015 we decided to change the location organizing our future camps in Switzerland. We are currently planning our next camp, which will take place in Basel, Switzerland from July 27th to August 4th, 2019. To fund these camps, I started a new project “I’ll do it myself busy book” - a soft book which helps small children to develop their sensory skills & fine motor skills, which is important for their development.

What is the story behind “I’ll do it myself" busy book? As a mom if twin daughters, I always chose toys very carefully but when I saw a video about a busy book, I fell in love with the concept right away. In Autumn 2015, my two friends Vladimir and Lilya Ivanov from Dnipro, helped me find 3 young widows of war with small children, who were looking for a flexible job at home. They loved the idea of making busy books so together we started production.

What do you think is the biggest impact this project is making? Ukraine has been at war since summer 2014. That is when my family and many other families from Donbass region in Ukraine lost their homes. People were forced to relocate and start their lives again from the ground up. I strongly believe that the best way to help others is by giving them the means to support themselves and this is what “I’ll do it myself busy book” project does. I am very proud that while my children & many others have the opportunity to enjoy these books, women in Ukraine have a job making them. Also, there are the summer camps, and the "I'll Do It Myself" busy books play a huge role in funding them. I am still amazed by what an impact this project has had, not only on the children who play with them, but also on the teens and young people who attend the camps and the families who are able to support themselves back in Ukraine.

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced do far?

The biggest challenge was and still is to sell the busy book at its price. People find it too expensive & often tell me I need to reduce the price. I don’t want to do that because people making these books deserve a good pay. In addition, the handmade product of this excellent quality should not be cheap. It would diminish their self-worth, which wouldn’t be fair.

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How can people support your organisation. Well there are several ways, you can visit our website to get inspired but you can donate, you can become a partner and of course you can buy the book. The net profit all go towards helping the running cost of the camps.

Who is the person you admire most & why?

The person I admire is my husband. This man has so much wisdom, patience, tolerance, love, well thought ideas, that if we had more people like him, this world would be a much better place to live in. I learn something new every day from him, how to be better connected to myself, how to handle stress and deal with daily challenges. He is also a great listener and this is a virtue I am trying to learn more and more myself.


A Soulful Conversation Through Artwork Making art accessible and inclusive to enrich the way we engage with it. Interview with Sève Favre | by Darie Nani

Swiss artist and art historian Sève Favre is a visionary artist who, from her loft atelier near Lausanne, creates not just art, but an artistic experience that is accessible and engaging, a solution to social involvement to make art meaningful and eventful. A game changer in the artistic world, she is challenging the way we create and consume art. Her projects are live artistic works, where the spectator is enabled to engage, have a close look, touch and physically change the original composition of an artwork. Partly inspired by Wabi-sabi and also Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer sprinkled or mixed with gold, silver or platinum powder, a method similar to the maki-e technique, where touching the work is moving and memorable. It is a celebration of atypical things and the richness of their stories.


ève studied art history, geography, and contemporary history at Fribourg University and complemented her degree in arts with a secondary school teaching degree, which enabled her to teach art history and the visual arts in high school for several years. She also spent several years designing exhibitions for the Olsommer museum in Switzerland. Sève continued her education by taking up several seminars and workshops in the visual arts, notably at the Ceruleum School of Art. Currently she is preparing her next exhibition, which will take place from September 25 to December 29, 2019 at the Swiss Museum of Graphic Arts and Communication in Fribourg.

What inspired you to become an artist? Art has always been with me, it’s not a decision I had to make, it’s part of my DNA. I taught for several years Plastic Arts and Art History in an upper secondary school with lots of pleasure. The transmission of my passion truly brought me happiness, and for several years I maintained both careers simultaneously. Working with students inspired my artworks that I create today. Now I devote my time and creative energy to the creation and promotion of my artistic work.

My goal is to engage with the spectator, help them comprehend the artistic process, the questions artists ask themselves during the process of research and creation. I also want them to be able to immerse themselves in the piece.

From your innovative “intervariactives” artworks transpires a sense of golden touch, non-attachment, acceptance of change and fate as part of your philosophy. Ho do these calculated interactions add value to your original artistic message? I create paintings on canvas with three-dimensional elements that the viewer can touch and modify permanently. In my paintings, I concentrate on going beyond this classical frontier between the work of art and the spectator. This was the birth of my artworks “intervariactives” in 2005. I work on both abstract and more realistic themes. From my art work I develop various concepts related to social networks such as #intervariactifproject, #intervariactifserials or #interagisproject. Those that are visible on my instagram account. Consider the celebrity effect. As we see more and more endorsements by public, media savvy figures boosting

art awareness these days, this connection to the artist and creative process is a step towards enhancing sensory experiences and perceptions generated by the paintings, nudging us to consider how we might encounter things not only from a seeing perspective. It's a co-construction. The artist is no longer the sole creator. This encourages the viewer to think about the value he or she wants to add to the artwork.

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced thus far as an artist? The first and most important challenge is permanent and intimate because the creative process puts you in front of yourself every day. Each artwork is the result of an immaterial thought process to which I strive to give body and life. This implies having a strong ability to move from the world of abstract ideas to very concrete and realistic elements of planning and strategy; the realization of an idea to its exposure requires taking on multiple roles. Moreover, contrary to what we may believe, the artist is a true entrepreneur, he needs these qualities.

What is the biggest impact you hope your art will make? The interactivity of my paintings leads its owner to reveal different possibilities, to vary the thought processes, thinking outside the box... For example: a company manager told me that interacting with one of my paintings allowed her to refocus on the present and to lower her stress‌ another liked to be able to illustrate his mood of the day or those of his employees... so the painting becomes a neutral source of discussion, sharing and meeting. Moreover, given their strong identity and the projects related to social networks, it also gives a added value to the organizers of my exhibitions because there is a global and contemporary concept that is linked to the characteristics of the paintings. The curator or owner is truly part of the artwork, especially if it has been commissioned.

Where do you turn for inspiration? My sources of inspiration are very varied. I read a lot of press articles as well as books on psychology, philosophy, art books, novels... in order to deepen my knowledge on social subjects... I travel a lot and I am very interested in the modifications of the landscape either by human action or by natural erosion; which has given birth to my series of works of unstructured landscapes. And of course, I stay connected to the artistic news by visiting exhibitions or art fairs... I am a great admirer of the destinies of all the women artists because they have in the majority of cases had to face and overcome many difficulties to impose themselves. There is often an ability to multiply their roles in them, which is truly an incredible and underestimated richness.


Know Thyself

Self-awareness, a key cornerstone to business success and personal fulfilment Interview with Ellie Isacs, Inner Beauty Advocate and owner of Vivique Hair Lounge | by Dr Marina Nani


he Ancient Greeks’ were the first to say “know thyself”, today we know this notions as self-awareness; it has fascinated a new generations of professionals who, unlike their parents, want more from life than just money and status. In this exclusive interview, we will cover the journey of a young successful entrepreneur, who stepped up to the challenge to re-evaluate her thoughts, experiences, and abilities, to overcome the traumatic difficulties set before her and learned how to cultivate self-awareness as her best asset. She smiles and says : ”Selfish is the new sexy” Creative and multi-talented, Ellie Isacs is an inner beauty advocate, working with women to boost their confidence, teaching them how to shine from within. Having relocated several times in various countries, Ellie loves diversity, communication and people relationships. A single mother of a gorgeous son, Ellie loves to dance, enjoys the outdoors and to relax by the water. Ellie previously worked as a coach and copywriter for women entrepreneurs, looking to create an authentic brand that represents them. She helped many to bring out their beauty from the inside out, to showcase their talents and not be intimidated by the noise we all see on social media today. At present, Ellie owns a hair salon which works with natural, vvegan colouring and styling products, caring for sensitive scalps, beautiful hair and naturally enhanced shine. Her focus is on the individual image of each client, creating a hairstyle which reflects each client’s personality in a unique way.

What inspired you to start a hair salon? After working with women entrepreneurs on their brands, coaching them on how to express their true selves, being who they are (as cliché as this sounds), using fear to their ad- vantage in the online sphere, I worked with a hair salon for their brand and fell in love with the industry. Every customer is unique and their needs vary and the magic that happens from something as simple as a change of hair colour simply fascinated me. I saw how many women go to the hairdresser to run away from their lives, to share a few hours with total strangers who will not judge them, a space where they can be themselves. I was fascinated but also saddened by how much we use hair style and shopping for outer confidence and joy, while so many of us are suffering on the inside. This prompted me to open my own hair salon, where we allow women to relax, be themselves, not be afraid to ask for what they want, be transparent and of course, offer a glass of Prosecco or tea (while we chat about all kinds of things).

I believe society doesn’t teach us enough about confidence, self-esteem, self-love and even the power of being selfish (not self-absorbed). Yes, we hear things like “Put your mask first, before assisting others” but nobody actually urges us to do this in our everyday life. No one tells us how protect and care for ourselves first without harming or taking from others. I firmly believe our children need more understanding of their self, need more self-awareness and will benefit from us, as parents, if we could start fixing our own demons and finding beauty in who we are on the inside!

How did you get to this way of thinking? Getting out of an abusive relationship and leaving my corporate life behind. This was the darkest time of my life so far. I saw so much ugliness and thought I would never be able to see light again. My life was so “gorgeous” on the outside and so terrifyingly ugly on the inside. I worked in a multinational company, for a finance division and I was making a lot of money. I was somebody important, organizing big meetings and running projects, being sought after for decisions at important steps. I was married but unfortunately this didn’t last long. After the pain of the divorce, leaving me with a small child to raise by myself, I met a man whom I thought was right for me, but, oh boy, was I wrong! At home, I was nobody, used and mistreated, lied to, betrayed, manipulated and abused. This relationship was almost the end of me. I ended up in severe depression and deep mental breakdown, going through a forced abortion and losing almost everything. As if overnight, I lost my job, my friends, my life as I knew it… Getting out of this nightmare has been the biggest challenge but also the greatest achievement in my life. I became a different person, a confident woman, a woman who knew who she is, and step by step, learned to appreciate herself. I learned about self-esteem and selfcare from a healthy perspective and ventured into helping other women. I vowed never to set foot in the corporate life again, thus getting away from the type of abuse and discrimination so many people are subject to in big companies today. I vowed never to allow a man or woman abuse me or force decisions against my will.

What would you say is the best part about what you do now? Finding your inner and outer beauty is a tall order! I love helping women and men, who are looking to understand themselves, to find out who the person they see in the mirror really is. Women and men, who for one reason or another feel they are not beautiful, smart or talented “enough”. People, who ( just like me not long ago) can develop the ability to really understand their inner selves, thoughts and emotions in authentic ways and become aware that, they too, deserve a better life.




Lighting The Way For Those Who Can’t See

by Dr Marina Nani

Photo credit Álvaro Serrano


riane Signer has been writing her thoughts, fears and dreams in journals since the early 90’s. A personal development and self-help junkie, she has been working as a creative freelance writer since 2016. A native Canadian, she has found her home in a small town in Switzerland, where she lives with her husband and two young sons. Ariane established her blog, The Shadow and The Shimmer, in 2014. The blog afforded her a space to let out her (sometimes complicated) feelings about being in a long-distance relationship, struggles with alcohol and battle with panic disorder. This year, Ariane compiled some of her writings and published a collection of poems, called Things That Shine.

In Things That Shine, you takes us on a non-linear journey through some of the moments that shaped your life. Writing helped you make sense of the two past decades of traumas and anxious thoughts, ideas and feelings. Your witty humour and refusal to surrender to the dark side, leaves your readers feeling warm and fuzzy, on the inside. Your writing is a testament to the human condition and the depth of emotions women experience becoming mothers and wives. Who inspired you to write and what gave you the courage to embrace writing as a profession? The first quarter of my life was quite…intense. Although I came from a loving and supportive family, I found myself in abusive relationships, suffering from low self-worth, and battling anxiety. Later, I started to self-medicate with alcohol, and that only exacerbated the feelings of isolation and fear. I lived my life in the shadows for years, and it took me a long time to see the light. I am a naturally optimistic and loving person, so this darkness wasn’t serving me. Throughout the ups and downs, I turned to my journal to make sense of my feelings and process my thoughts.

In Canada, I worked in the fashion industry as a production and logistics coordinator. I’m really organized and excel at multi-tasking, so the role was really fulfilling. I was able to communicate and network with people all over the world, which was the best part of the job. I have an academic background in Sociology, so culture, travel and human connection have been big themes in my life. Writing has allowed me to connect all of these passions!

Photo credit Ella Lacey Photography

What did you do before becoming a writer?

What made you change your career? When I arrived in Switzerland, I was pregnant with my first son. I knew that a time-out from the corporate world was inevitable, and it gave me a chance to question whether I really wanted to go back to work in an office. After a second pregnancy, it became clear that I was going to be a SAHM for quite some time, and between naps, diaper changes and meals, I managed to make a little bit of time to write.

What is it about writing that inspires your creativity? Writing has been my passion since I was a young girl, writing my deepest secrets in diaries at the end of the day. I have always turned to writing to help me solve problems, to find solace in hard times, and to motivate myself when I needed a boost. In many ways, I didn’t choose to write, writing chose me! The only thing that took some time was acknowledging that I could transition the writing from a hobby, to a career.

How do you hope your writing will inspire others?

Finally, who do you turn for inspiration when writing? I turn to the great pioneers of the self-help movement. I love that there are so many powerful and inspirational women in this subculture. Some of my absolute favourites include the late Louise Hay, Oprah Winfrey, Glennon Doyle Melton, Esther Hicks and Brene Brown. Reading from their books, or watching them on YouTube gives me such a boost when I’m feeling uninspired.

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I naturally gravitate towards empaths, creative souls and the people who have always been told that they are too emotional. Those are my people! I want them to know that they have a beautiful gift that can change the world. Feeling too much and loving too much can be such a heavy weight, when you see all of the darkness around you. That’s why you need to shine brighter, to light the way for everyone who can’t see!


Thinking BIG

Creating Gl bal Strategies Interview with Brigitte Lawler , CEO of Legend SA | By Darie Nani

In the past year alone, both onstage and off, you’ve impacted thousands of people with your innovative business insights. When it comes to launching a business that is fit and prepared for today’s new economy, what do you believe to be most important? Can you share some of your biggest lessons with our readers? The most important lesson for me was when I realized that being in business is easily possible. I have not had an entrepreneurial background and in the past, I never thought of myself as a “business-person”, but I realized that my perception of what it means to be a business person was wrong. This is the easiest and least costly time in history to start a business and that is because we are in a new economy. Thanks to this technological era, anyone can open a business without having to have massive capital investments for office space, large teams of people and the usual overheads that the traditional approach required. And thanks to digitalization, we have the global market at our fingertips. There is no limit to who you can reach, as long as you have a product or service that is irresistible to the market, because you solve a relevant problem for someone or ideally for the masses of 'someones'. What is needed to start a business is a good idea, a compelling story, a strategic mind, a determined spirit and access to coaches and experts to guide you on the right path.

From your experience, what do you believe separates those who succeed with their goals from those who don’t?

Photo credit: Sean Pollock

Those who succeed have a clear vision, so clear that it is unwavering. The goals they set are fully aligned with that vision and they have laser focus on getting it done. That’s the first sign, and it is usually very apparent when you meet someone because they exude a strength of purpose. They draw you into their story and get you excited even if it is not naturally your area of interest. Those who are successful are people who invest in their own learning, who have great coaches and mentors and who actively surround themselves with positive, likeminded individuals. Successful people build great teams or ecosystems from the very start and leverage on the collective strengths of the ecosystems to grow.

What made you take the leap from a successful corporate career to launching your own business? I have to say that my decision to leave my corporate career was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. I was in a good place - I had a global role in a multinational

group with influence and impact, and I worked together with amazing people. There was no reason for me to leave other than that I was curious to explore what else I could create, and I wanted to design a more flexible lifestyle. At the time, I did not have plans to create a business. I actually thought I would enjoy some leisure time, but in doing that, I fell in love with the concept of our new economy world. I became fascinated by how this era of exponential innovation is bringing new opportunities and possibilities to shape the way in which we interact, the way we work, the way we live and the environment around us. I even wrote a book about that, which hit the best seller list on Amazon within its first week of launch (Humanity through Technology: A Simplified Understanding of Social, Environmental and Economic Change in a Digital, Decentralized World). At the same time, I saw how many people in business struggle to innovate and accelerate their company growth. I saw how many people who like the idea of starting a business are often held back by a lack of clarity as to what those crucial first steps should be. I saw how many established businesses struggle to find the steps that will take them to the next level of results, and to implement what is needed to stay relevant as the market changes. That’s when I realized that because of my knowledge, insights and experiences, I have solutions for them, and then I decided to start my own business.

How has your experience in the corporate world influenced the work you do now?

Having accelerated your growth with the help of some of the world’s top coaches, how do you believe coaching can impact a business’s growth? I strongly believe that without coaching, business growth is severely compromised. It is essential to work with people who are objective to your business yet who are invested in your success. As a business owner, I appreciate being challenged by my own business coaches (I have 3 at the moment). I appreciate having them as a sounding board and as someone who looks at situations with a different perspective. Most importantly, a coach holds you accountable to your goals and is there to step in if you hit a bump in the road. If you don’t have a coach, you are left to figure it out on your own but most people will seek advice from friends or family who are usually not best placed to provide it. Seek-

Photo credit: Elisabeth Fransdonk

One major influence is that I always worked on a global scale in the corporate world, so it is natural for me to have my own business with global reach. I have worked on projects in 34 countries across all continents in my corporate life and I have lived in Africa, Asia and Europe. I understand various markets and cultures and I make sure that my business extends to people in the world wherever they are. I believe that working on a global scale means that I am used to thinking big, creating global strategies and executing with ease. Another major influence is that I am experienced in working in business transformation programs. The services that we offer at LEGEND are not the same topics that I was involved with in my corporate career, but the skills of communication, engagement, strategy, future design and action focus are the same.


ing out people with the right experience, who are where you want to be, is the fastest way to get yourself the result you’re striving for.

Since launching, LEGEND has quickly become quite a name internationally, with clients and partners around the world. When did you realise you had a passion for entrepreneurship enough that you thought about building a business out of it? I had surrounded myself by other entrepreneurs in various business networks and I loved the energy, passion and drive of entrepreneurs. I saw myself mirrored in them. I knew I had found my place. Strategizing comes easy to me and seeing my ideas come to life as I imagine them is simply amazing. Almost as soon as I got started, I could see the potential of this business and I decided to make it happen and create a business that makes a difference and WOW’s our customers.

With many events in the pipeline, what can one expect to take away when they attend LEGEND’s events?

Photo credit: Emma Hollings Photography

We have various types of events at LEGEND with different topics related to Business Acceleration and a schedule for the rest of 2019 including major cities in 4 countries. Whatever the topic and whether you attend a seminar, a workshop or a mastermind event, you can expect to leave with a greater understanding of the possibilities in front of you. You will always be taken through methodologies that work to save you time and frustration of not knowing what to do or how to do it. You will always be given practical tools and techniques to take away and implement, and you will find yourself part of a community of progressive thinkers with inspired ideas and determination to succeed by supporting each other.

Brigitte Lawler is an international speaker, best-selling author, founder and CEO of LEGEND SA. She is on a mission to bring inspired ideas to life by building businesses that matter and thrive in this new economy. The need for innovation in business is more important than ever, and LEGEND ensures your business remains relevant in today’s modern landscape.

9 Out Of 10 Businesses Fail. Be The One That Succeeds!

AT LEGEND, we understand that the landscape of business is ever-changing. Leveraging our signature 3-point Program for business acceleration, we offer multiple live events designed to save you time and money, while taking the guessing out of the game.

Discover the essential tools and trends you need to prepare your business for the new economy market, and ensure you create long-lasting success…


Become the Leading Authority in your Market Increase your Sales & Client Retention Ensure your Business remains Relevant for Years to Come!

To find out more, go to:

at the

Geneva Book Fair

Build children’s confidence through the power of bilingual bedtime stories Interview with Marie-Odile Hussain | By Darie Nani

Raising a bilingual child is especially difficult for expat parents who don’t speak another language themselves. It’s possible to give your child the gift of languages even if you can’t speak French? Here is an inspiring story and top tips from a mother who managed to do just that and inspired by her four children became a published author herself.


arie-Odile Hussain, the founder of Editions Bilingues Hussain, Culture NetWorld, is a mother of four and a woman on a mission to enhance literacy and bilingualism around the world through an innovative and inspiring methodology, helping build children’s confidence.

What inspired you to write books and become a publisher? I always wanted to write children’s books and my children gave me the inspiration to get going and start my own company. Being a former bilingual teacher of French and English and mother of four children, I decided to write and illustrate a story where children can learn a new language. Before I graduated as a teacher from Keele University I studied Marketing at Lille II University in France and Global Marketing and International Communication at Staffordshire University in the U.K. This gave me the skills and knowledge to plan and launch my business. My biggest challenge so far was to find the funding to launch my company here in Switzerland, my new home country, where I have been living for over ten years.

What can you tell us about the methodology you have developed? Since my stories are based on my own concept and methodology on how children could learn a language, I decided to register my own publishing company called Editions Bilingues Hussain, Culture NetWorld. It's mission is to enhance literacy and bilingualism around the world and I do this through a 3 step process that is easy to follow and gives results. -

The first step is to discover the key vocabulary, where the children develop their listening skills in the target language.


The second step is to consolidate their skills needed to engage in ordinary conversations, allowing children develop their reading skills in both languages.


The third step is to develop their autonomy by raising their interest in acquiring cultural knowledge. This helps children further develop their speaking skills in the target language.

At the end of the 3 step methodology, which can be repeated, they will be able to start acting out the story and apply it to real life scenarios. This will enable them to work towards becoming bilingual. In addition to the stories, I’ve designed a bilingual portfolio and a project book with a range of activities and games to support their learning at home and in school. The stories are well-structured around the A1 beginner level of objectives set in the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). Importantly, although the stories aim to be educational, they are also fun, colourful, attractive and definitely appealing to children. I gave my characters a Manga style illustration so that the children can easily identify with them.

What can you tell us about the stories you have created? My stories are set in Switzerland, a small country with four official languages. They are designed for children aged 3 to 10. The mascots are four totem animals traveling in a cuckoo clock. In “Let’s Play with Alligator”, a bilingual pack that appeals more to children aged 3 to 6, the numbers 1 to 12 are used to play traditional games and “make-believe” with their friend Alligator. In “The Magic Puzzle”, a story designed for children aged 6+, each totem animals accompanies each of the four children to help them accomplish their missions. In this first adventure, they are going to enquire about the French and English speaking countries in the world. This story also comes as a bilingual pack for primary schools teaching a language. All stories come with the AUDIO available in both languages.

What has been the reaction to your books thus far? I was exhibiting my books at the Geneva Book Fair this year, in the “Espace Découverte” (Discovery Space). I was overwhelmed by the amount of positive feedbacks and the people who were interested in buying my books. The children really loved the design and the colourful characters. The parents were very open to this new concept and they agreed that their children could definitely benefit from reading and listening to my stories.

What is your main advice for parents who want to teach their children a second language? Firstly, don’t over-think it, just start and keep reading even if you aren’t confident to speak another language yourself. Children keep improving their language skills into adulthood and the sooner they start, the better chances of achieving confidence while communicating. Secondly, remember that words have power, so, avoiding the word “Learn” will make the process more engaging and fun. Associating the language skills with a bedtime story is also a great way to remove some of the anxiety of learning new words. Remember, enjoyable learning is one of the most motivating and empowering gifts you can give a child.

What are your plans for the future? I am currently working on offering French- German and English- German versions by adapting the cultural knowledge of the countries written in the stories to the languages.


<Mothers who code> Solving the mystery of professional success and motherhood (without leaving your child behind).

Interview with Hana Harencarova | By Darie Nani


ana first felt in love with paragliding but little she knew that her passion would take away from home and onto a new life in Switzerland. She met and fell in love with a fellow paragliding enthusiast and after a whirlwind romance she got married and started a family. You may think at this point this is Hana’s story and you would be forgiven as so many woman before her are considered to be just that, mothers and wives, and we are led to believe this is the end of their story. Not for Hana.

Moms learn to code “Once we have children, as mothers, we are expected to put our careers on hold. For most of us, the chances of finding fulfilling employment that allows us to balance our career goals and our commitments to our family are slim. As a mom I realized I need to redefine my professional orientation and soon after the birth of my daughter I started my freelance business as a web designer. It was something I always wanted to do and with all the changes in my life, this was a great moment to do that. Yet I struggled to find the right courses for myself. Especially since I had a young child and whilst there are plenty of options for where to take a young child, finding courses that gave me the flexibility to look after my baby and study was a lot more difficult. So now, two years later, I decided to tackle this problem by starting a coding courses for moms, where they can take their babies with them. This way they can learn new skills without leaving the little loved ones behind. ‘Moms learn to code’ gives young mothers the chance to learn web design and programming skills. I always loved to teach at university, and I missed this kind of personal contact. I decided to empower women in finding their ways into tech. I run courses in Zurich as well as live events, online courses and also give private lessons.”

You have a background in psychology, you are an active paragliding pilot and you even own a paragliding school with your husband. On top of everything, you are creating websites for entrepreneurs and businesses, you teach women how to code and of course, you have a young daughter. How do you find the drive to do so many things at once? I always loved to solve problems. The new ones, the challenging ones. I was bored by the routine and searched for something new. After finishing my PhD. in psychology I was ready for the next challenge. Learning to code gave me the opportunity to merge my psychological and technical skills. Thanks to my psychological background I can analyse and

understand my clients’ needs as a business owner and what their clients are looking for. This enables me to create user-oriented products with a strong emphasis on results.

Sei Online is a web design company. While you create bespoke solutions, there are numerous other businesses which provide similar services. What is unique about your solution? Do you have a different approach? Effective design is not just about looking good. It creates a connection between you and your customers, it builds trust and motivates your visitors to action. If you need your website built from scratch or you want to redesign your current web page to better suit your business’ needs, this is what we do best. Our complete web solutions bring all you need from A to Z. Whether it’s a complex presentation of your services or a simple business web page, we’re are able to make a distant dream a reality. I create modern websites for my clients which create a relationship with their customers. The user experience and technical perfection are in the priorities. The whole process is also designed in a way that the client can to give us as little or as much input as is needed. It’s important to keep the process simple and agile. So I can react to client’s needs promptly and the results are immediate. Thanks to my background in psychology I understand the decision-making processes and the behaviour of the visitors. That enables me to create websites which motivate the visitors to engage with the company. Every customer project is unique and that’s why I love my job. Creating a web page is like a baby being born. Each one is very special and beautiful. And that makes my job so exciting and satisfying. Helping my clients to thrive and free them from the technical struggle by providing them with a high-end online presence which leads to more or better clients.

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced thus far? Balancing the time between work, family and learning. Me and my husband we are both self-employed and we both take care of our daughter so we need plan for who works when each week.

Where do you turn for inspiration and why? Inspiration comes unexpectedly. It’s more about being prepared to listen and write it down than going to look for inspiration. To be honest, I get the best ideas usually during the night or after some good tea. Being free to decide when I work gives me a great advantage. I let myself to be inspired by those random moments and people who come along in my life. This freedom is what I strive to offer to other young mothers, who just like me, have the right to have professional success. Having or starting a family shouldn’t stop anyone from learning to code, starting their small businesses and become successful entrepreneurs.


You have to ask


Functional Medicine: A holistic approach to preventative health means doctors need to look at the patient and not the condition. By Gill Dady B.A (QTS) Dip ION, AFMCP, AIP, mBANT, CHNC


here were many “lightbulb� moments during my years of study and I began to question the current medical paradigm which focuses on treating the symptoms of disease as opposed to asking why the disease had occurred in the first place. Surely it was better to consider the patient as a whole and ask why? i.e. identify the root cause of that disease instead of just focusing on treating the symptoms. I began to realise that because we are all different, the person who had the disease was more important than the disease itself. If we could focus on the individual and identify their specific biological pathways that were imbalanced we could target treatment protocols more effectively instead of just treating the symptoms. This is where Functional Medicine comes in. Functional Medicine practitioners ask why? They spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease. It is an evidence based approach which utilises the latest medical research to inform treatment protocols. Functional Medicine practitioners understand that everyone is unique and biologically different so there can never be a one size fits all approach. Instead the focus is on creating an individualised plan tailored to the unique health needs. To illustrate these different approaches take excema as an example. A traditional doctor will likely prescribe a steroid cream to reduce the symptoms and while that may offer some welcome relief, it is not addressing WHY the excema is occurring in the first place, therefore it will continue to recur. A Functional Medicine practitioner however will ask why. Why is the body inflamed? Why is the immune system overreacting? Then comes the detective work; the practitioner will take a detailed health history including current symptoms not just the skin but also digestive, hormonal, stress etc, a timeline of significant events since birth, family history, antibiotic history and food intake. Armed with this vast amount of information and up-to date research, a skilled practitioner can piece together the puzzle and

identify possible imbalances which may be contributing to the inflammation and disturbed immune system that is driving the excema. Is there a high dairy intake? Is there a fatty acid imbalance? Is the liver working optimally? Are the hormone pathways impaired? Are there digestive issues? All of these and more can potentially contribute to excema and a Functional Medicine practitioner is trained to identify which areas to focus upon. For one person, removing dairy products can offer relief, for others increasing oily fish to improve healthy fat intake may help and for someone else a stool test followed by a gut healing strategy may be the priority. Functional Medicine is experiencing rapid growth in the US and in the UK. Awareness in Switzerland is increasing but there are currently only 5 Functional Medicine practitioners, myself included, in the whole of Switzerland! While patients are becoming more informed about the influence of nutrition and lifestyle on their health, and more research is supporting the power of nutrition for addressing chronic disease many Swiss doctors are still resistant to consider these as part of the treatment protocol as their training has been primarily focused on prescribing medications to relieve symptoms. I am excited to be part of this growing approach but would like to see more Swiss doctors trained in Functional Medicine. I am currently working alongside a doctor who although is not listed as a FM practitioner he applies the principles to his patients. I would love to see more of his colleagues adopt the same approach. Being open to the principles of Functional Medicine is an important step in the paradigm shift required where Functional Medicine integrates traditional Western medical practices, creating a focus on prevention through nutrition, diet, and exercise; use of the latest laboratory testing and other diagnostic techniques; and prescribed combinations of drugs and/or botanical medicines, supplements, therapeutic diets, detoxification programs, or stress-management techniques. My ultimate goal is to open a Functional Medicine practice where patients can find FM doctors, Nutritional Therapists and other FM practitioners all under 1 roof and so have access to patient-centred care to help them to achieve optimum health, not just to be free of disease. After completing a degree in Biology and Education from the University of Warwick in the UK I worked as a teacher and Deputy Headteacher in England before moving to Switzerland in 1999. Having always had a passion for health and food, Gill retrained as a Nutritional Therapist at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in London from where she graduated with a distinction in 2016, She now runs her own Nutritional Therapy practice near Zurich where she helps people address a wide range of health issues; including digestive disorders, autoimmune conditions, hormone imbalance and weight management. She is a Functional Medicine practitioner and also an AIP (Autoimmune Paleo) certified coach.



Photo credit Sandra Dimitri

nne Robley left Canada and moved to Switzerland for the love of a Swiss ice hockey player. When their romance was over, Anne stayed and fell in love all over again, only this time it was with the country that so generously loved her back. She decided she would start her own company and named it in honour of a woman who had given her so much. Shirley’s Girl is an interior design company with a twist; Anne is a Room Whisperer!! She has studied interior design as well as Feng Shui, but it is her innate, natural ability for the feel of a room and her sense of humour and light-heartedness that bring a unique freedom and artistic flare to her projects. Not just typical tape-measure-by-the-book-graphics.

The Room Whisperer

She works mainly, but not exclusive, in the Zürich region, transforming individual rooms, homes, apartments and small offices so that they create a positive energy and help bring more love, laughter, peace and beauty into people’s lives. Her services range from DIY consults, straight design consults and Feng Shui recommendations to complete designing, planning and implementation of projects from start to finish. She prides herself on providing customized recommendations, designs, plans and resources to fit individual desires and needs. “For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in people and their homes. I used to walk around with my mum, at dusk, when the lights go on, but people still have their curtains open, and we would ‘window shop’ and pick and comment on the good, the bad and sometimes the ugly. I still enjoy doing this, so if you are in the Zürich area, you’ve been warned, there’s a décor-stalker out there!! I can also vividly remember how places in my life have made me feel when I was growing up and believe this gives me my love and bias of colour and 50/60/70s retro… though living in Europe has definitely had an influence on my taste, especially the French and Scandinavian styles”.

Photo credit Sanaa Al Mur

Interview with Anne Robley, owner of Zürich based interior design company, Shirley’s Girl. | by Dr Marina Nani

For over 30 years Anne was a dental hygienist while designing and renovating home interiors, apartments and even furniture as a hobby on the side. Shirley’s Girl marks her first foray into the entrepreneurial world, spurred on by a good friend who insisted she ought to charge for her work. A concept Anne felt was quite strange to begin with, as she puts it “It didn’t make sense to charge for something I loved doing”. It took some encouragement (and probably a little arm twisting) to convince Anne that

her talent for interior design was a gift which should not be squandered. She needed to step out of her comfort zone and look at her hobby as a serious proposition. “As much as I enjoyed working in the dental profession and loved being engaged in one on one relationships with my patients, it did take its toll on my body. I have suffered, at times excruciatingly, from chronic back pain as well as RSI on the entire right side of my body. I was having an especially hard time with the pain and doctors were all saying the same thing... that I needed to stop and change careers and I was encouraged to explore other lines of work. I was turning 50 and I thought, I can either play it safe living out my life until retirement in a dental office with less physically demanding rolls, like reception and consults, OR I could completely change directions and career paths and do something totally exciting (and scary!). I founded Shirley’s Girl as a way to share my gift to help busy, stressed women to create beautiful, personalized and really comfortable/feel-good rooms to live in, but really anyone who wants a change in their home space, small office, or even life, could benefit from working with me! Many people don’t realize the subtle influence a room has on our subconscious, or they get used to it, like background noise that you only notice when the noise is gone! I have a sense of that energy in a room and I alter it by moving or changing objects around and working with colour, textiles or materials that help to enhance the positive feeling and create the right energy. I am helping with long standing irritants in your home that still need fixing or changing, with the frustration of things staying the same, with the lack of time to make any changes, with a void of imagination or shortage of ideas and knowledge on how or what to do, with the feelings of being overwhelmed from too many choices so there is no coherent plan for what you really want. I can even help to some degree, with feelings of unease or of being ‘stuck’ as Feng Shui can help toward business success, love-life/ partner attraction or health. I use this natural ‘room whispering’ ability, my joy of transforming things into beautiful versions of themselves and my sense of lightness and fun, to create unique places of beauty and function that people love and are happy to come home to!”

Why Shirley’s Girl?

Transformations for your h’OM’e Photo credit Mardiana Sani

I named the company after my mother. She is the person I admire most in this world and the most amazing and courageous woman I know. She is stylish and beautiful and has always kept a great sense of humour, been honest and true to herself and been brave enough to do what was necessary to overcome the many hardships in her life. She is my beautiful, feisty hero and I strive to be Shirley’s Girl not only in name but through my actions and integrity as well. To be brave, gracious, generous, and love life and live it to its fullest! shirleys.girl.interior


How business games and team work help you build a cohesive team. Interview with Katerina Georgieva | By Darie Nani


he most effective teams in the world, don’t just ‘happen’. They are build by good leaders understanding that a cohesive team is worth so much more than the sum of its parts. Official reports bring a new light on psychology and neuroscience, and have at their centre the importance of Mental health and Wellbeing, and how colleagues’ emotional status determine the performance of a business. Work absorbs more than any other activity in our life and recent studies suggest that for some people those are the most stressful moments in their lives. As a results, lack of openness and trust in the workplace have huge impacts on productivity. These studies show that the most successful companies invest in developing individuals and a culture of team work by encouraging practical management, leadership and personal skills. However, it is not enough just to create the structural conditions so that departments and their employees can interact smoothly with each other. The circumstances must be created so that the employees really want to do so.

Photo credit: Victor Sabev

“A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other.” Simon Sinek Katerina Georgieva of Catalyst Switzerland, thinks of her life as a series of social experiments. She developed a passion for experiential learning games and a fascination for human behaviour. Reflecting on the team building experiences as an opportune environment for people to bond, Katerina believes that every single participant plays a vital role in the success of their team. Developing individuals and a culture of team work in any organisation requires practical management, leadership and personal skills.

What can you tell us about


Photo credit: Nadya Andreeva

Our company is behind all Switzerland’s great team building experiences. My husband has been a part of the network for over 8 years and I like to organise events. We have talked about extending the Catalyst Global network in Switzerland for a while but we doubted that we can make it. The birth of our daughter changed my whole perspective on life and gave me a different meaning and courage. We have decided to

settle down in Verbier for good and that’s how we started Catalyst Switzerland. I love what we do now, and who wouldn’t, we play games for a living ! I have always considered myself a contemporary nomad and while traveling around I have done quite a few different things, from renting video tapes to organising high-end weddings. I have worked as a secretary, international tour guide, conference organiser and a wedding planner. I have travelled to over 40 countries and I lived in 5 of them. I consider myself the luckiest girl in the world!

What makes Catalyst unique? Different team building programs focus on different practical skills. Deciding on the skills you want to develop in your team is critical to choosing the right program and its ultimate success. We deliver over 130 impactful programmes to create high performing teams. We are so proud to be part of the Catalyst Team Building Network, the largest community of team building providers in the world. We love interacting with our audience, inspiring the achievement of delegates and helping to create change in your organisation. We deliver proven team building activities and business training games upholding the Catalyst Global standards of excellence. Our team building experiences have lasting outcomes and are fun and engaging!

With such a vast knowledge on the subject, what would you say are the most important aspects of building a successful team? To mention just a few we can start with good cross - functional communication, collaboration and creative thinking. Collaboration is the process of working together to generate ideas and solve problems together towards a shared vision. In an interdependent organisation, it is the key to creative thinking and vitality important to getting the best results for solving complex problems. For it to be successful it is imperative to identify when and how to collaborate. This comes with practice. Research shows that collaboration is most successful when it involves people with a range of work styles, differing values, as well as, cultural differences, education and work backgrounds. These people will bring truly different thinking and as a result a problem will be approached in a multi-faceted way. For it to work at this level effectively, however, trust and mutual respect is imperative! To be a great leader you need to communicate clearly with your teams and this works best when you really speak the language of your listeners. Everyone needs to be on the same page so don't shy away from giving explanations in more ways than one if you have to. Start with the big picture and then divide the information into sections. Listen to your team and make sure they understand, ask questions and give feedback. Again this is all about clear communication!

Photo credit: Victor Sabev


Helping Patients Around the W rld Own Their Health By Sara Aswegan, Chief Commercial Officer & Managing Director Backpack Health SĂ rl


dvancing research, support and treatment for chronic health conditions has always been my passion. Helping others with their health began when I started with Bayer in the field as a representative in the chronic and serious conditions of infectious disease, cardiology and endocrinology therapeutic areas. I continued my career in industry in various positions, most recently I dedicated the last 12 years with a focal point in the global rare disease space. A native of Iowa, I studied Business and Communications at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and began my career as a pharmaceutical sales representative. Through my years in industry – both in the field as well as in headquarters - I learned invaluable leadership, business and communication skills which enabled me to build a career leading teams focused on developing comprehensive strategies, with a particular focus in rare diseases. While serving as part of the HGT leadership team for Shire, I arrived in Switzerland nine years ago for what was intended to be just a short assignment. During this period, I fell in love with the people, the beautiful surroundings of the Swiss mountains and countryside and decided to make Geneva my home. I took up positions in LSD-MPS II and GI Franchises, serving as Vice President Product Strategy Team Lead. I then went on to work for Ultragenyx Pharmaceuticals as Senior Vice President of Commercial, Global Strategy. In the last few years I began consulting for patient foundations, biotech/ pharma companies entering the rare disease space and also for Backpack Health, assisting the company in shaping its business strategy. When I first learned about the company and their work in the rare disease field, my interest

was immediately piqued. I took them on as a client, and I was impressed by both the high calibre and passionate team and their product, recognizing its immense potential to empower patients to own and control their own health information. My deep understanding of rare disease and expansive relationships across industry, academia and patient foundations especially suited the mission of Backpack Health. After about a year of consulting with Backpack Health, I joined the company as Chief Commercial Officer and Managing Director, with my home base in Geneva. Together, our team offers patients around the world (with a focus on rare disease communities) a centralized platform where users can securely store, manage and share their health data. With the ability to translate their health information into six different languages, the platform allows users to engage with their complex medical teams, family as well as travel more easily, without the burden of lugging around heavy binders filled with their health documentation. The mobile tool not only empowers patients by placing them at the center of their health with full access to their own information, but it also connects users to patientspecific registries and provides critical resources specific to their own needs. By way of these patient registries, users – with consent – are also able to contribute their de-identified data to advance medical research, helping pharmaceutical companies better develop treatments and cures. What first struck me about Backpack Health was how it brings together the pharmaceutical industry and rare disease foundations to truly empower their patients and families affected with rare and chronic conditions. Had Backpack existed when I was leading the teams at my former companies, it would have made a huge difference. The ability to augment personal and non-personal outreach to educate, engage and empower patient communities is powerful, and in so many languages. The multi modal, complete and compliant solution allows pharmaceutical companies to interface with individuals and families while contributing to the breakdown of the inherent data silos which exist, allowing more robust data to support advancing research efforts. The contribution of patient reported data offers these companies a clear view into the daily lives of patients, such as symptoms of disease and current treatment, providing key insights. Together with our Product, User Journey, Project and Patient Advocacy teams, we have users in over 80 countries worldwide, all of them empowered to be their own health historians, whether they are individual users or part of a larger care team. We reach patient communities worldwide – some as small as 25 members, and others with well over 15,000 members. Our users love Backpack Health, as evidenced by their consistent use of our platform with over 77% using Backpack Health at least twice per month.


The information, education and resources that partnering foundations provide to patient communities using Backpack Health has proven invaluable on many occasions. The stories shared by users exemplify how Backpack affects their lives. In one instance, a user was unresponsive in a foreign airport and emergency responders were able to access her secure Backpack Emergency Share Card, providing responders with her health information in their local language, Portuguese. Her emergency card gave a high-level overview of her rare condition, providing the responders with the correct approach for managing this episode and allowing them to treat her properly. Each day since I decided to take the plunge and join Backpack Health’s team last June, I am invigorated by Backpack Health’s mission to help patients with rare and chronic conditions around the world and its commitment to fill patients’ unmet needs. The spirit of the people on our team together with the progressive approach we are taking to become the leading innovator in digital health makes my work at Backpack Health meaningful and thrilling on a daily basis. My days are filled with attending medical conferences and patient advocacy events, meeting with clients, or video conferencing with colleagues and clients from my office in Geneva. Since joining Backpack Health, I have reconnected with many former colleagues, clinicians and patient advocates to spread the word about Backpack Health as a solution. As a non-native living in Switzerland, I am also a Backpack user and find it very useful to have my health information instantly translated to French and other languages as we explore the country and the whole of Europe. It gives me extra comfort and confidence as an expat abroad. I am proud to lead the Backpack Health SARL and bring our platform to individuals, families and clients in the region and beyond.

Sara is a seasoned healthcare executive with over 20 years global experience in empowering patients, creating connections, and enabling advancement in research for rare and chronic conditions. She is also an advisor to startup biotech companies and patient organizations, volunteering and consulting to continue her mission to make a difference in rare diseases. Sara serves the team at Backpack Health from its Geneva, Switzerland, office where she resides with her partner, Brian, a diplomat dedicated to humanitarian work. Together, they are committed to making a difference in global health.

Performing and Approaching Life Calm and Confident by Annette Ebbinghaus


am a high energy person and have always lived my life at full tilt! I was a competitive track, middle distance and long distance runner in Canada up until the age of 28. It required great discipline as throughout this time I studied and worked as a Civil Engineer, building bridges and tunnels, and also completed a Masters of Engineering while working full time. I moved to Switzerland in 1993 and have since moved continents 3 more times, twice with two young children. When I returned to Switzerland in 2005 it was a challenging time for me. I had some underlying health issues and being uprooted from my support network at this point in my life sort of unravelled me. I knew it was time that I learn a form of contemplation or meditation outside of my prayer life and my long contemplative runs. Thus I began my Sophrology journey.

What is Sophrology

Watch the video >> Truly Balance was started in 2008 and it began when I combined my bodywork expertise with my newly acquired certification as a Sophrologist. Take advantage of our offers by visiting out website!

Sophrology is about discovering one’s consciousness in a state of peace. It is actually referred to as “Happiness Training�. The technique is a from of dynamic relaxation. It involves various movements with phases of standing and various seated positions, tuning into body sensations and awareness, and uses visualizations of positive experiences. Advance levels include sounds and deep contemplation of the origins of life and our human essence. I mastered Sophrology quickly as I am a visual person and am a person of motion and as a an athlete have a high level of body awareness. While studying Sophrology I instantly felt my mindset shift to a level of acceptance and joy at where I was in life, in that moment. I wanted to bring this to the other people around me that I could see were also struggling with the upheavals of life.

beChill: Happiness training for the next generation My true passion is working with young people as I have been mentoring adolescents most of my professional life. In 2008 I began working in schools in the Lac Leman region of Switzerland teaching adolescents how to manage both life and exam stress. Collège du Léman was where I began and I developed my own program with Sophrology as the foundation. Over 10+ years of work has cumulated in my beChill Courses and Workshops that I teach in schools and publicly. As time has progressed I have worked with hundreds of adolescents in the region in group settings, one to one and in camp settings. In 2014 I was asked to teach at the only English speaking Sophrology school in the world, the Sophrology Academy, located in the UK. Here I teach future sophrologists the ins and outs of working with adolescents and am an active mentor to students.

“Sophrology helped me concentrate on what is important. I argue less and feel more confident about school” 14 yr. male

beChill Trainers Several of the Sophrologist that I have taught have asked me to teach them my complete system and this has culminated in the BeChill Training program for sophrologists, coaches, counsellors, teachers and therapists that work with Adolescents. This Training program is being launched in the Fall of 2019 in the UK. beChill Trainers will be trained and supported through the beChill HUB to teach beChill Exams and beChill Life courses which have their foundations in Sophrology and also utilize aspects of the other modalities that I practice. I believe my work is critically important as I am working in the mental health industry. 50% of people with a mental illness developed it before the age of 14, 75% by the age of 24* which is around the time the brain completes it development and is considered to be mature. Often there are no real signs that this may happen, however when the adolescent brain is exposed to prolonged periods of stress, the very structures of the brain are affected. We are all well aware of the 24/7 communication and information overload that has taken over most of society and the pressures to be accepted into top universities. This has not done the adolescent brain any favours.

Reaching 1 million adolescents by 2030 My goal is to be able to reach and positively impact 1 million adolescents by 2030 through a network of beChill trainers around the world. Help me to reach my goal by becoming a certified beChill trainer! If you have an adolescent child that is a high performer in school or sports? Sitting exams or finding life a little overwhelming? Then beChill is for them!


Time to Change The Inner Narrative How superwomen treat themselves and each other

Interview with Anne Ferguson, Chief Gatherer, Mama Mentor and Podcaster at MamaFuelTM | By Dr Marina Nani


nne Ferguson has come a long way from the corporate offices of the global communications and healthcare firms where she spent the first few years of her career. After becoming a mother and retraining as a yoga teacher, Anne learned (the hard way) that being a superwoman and trying to do it all isn’t good for anyone. As a result of her personal experience, she decided to help other mothers learn to treat themselves kindly, and created MamaFuelTM, an amazing community where mothers feel seen, supported and connected to themselves and to each other

How did you come up with the idea for MamaFuel? Following years in an international role, I stopped working to have my first daughter in Spain, where my husband was living. My first delivery was deeply traumatic and the PTSD and anxiety that occurred right after the birth drove me into isolation. We quickly moved to Geneva, and despite speaking French fluently I found my supermama tendencies and the local culture made it difficult to integrate as much as I’d have liked. I retrained as a yoga teacher and built my own yoga business, offering yoga and community to international mothers in Geneva. It quickly became apparent that the need was even wider than yoga and meditation – women needed a place to gather, a safe space to be real with each other and more than anything else, an environment that’s judgement-free and supportive

Photo credit: Karen Yeomans (

How does MamaFuel help women to overcome the struggle of isolation and feeling overwhelmed? Mothers often take on much more than is healthy for them. We try to be all things to all people and end up overwhelmed and exhausted. When we remember that our needs are important, and start putting ourselves first, we begin to feel better and calmer. MamaFuel helps mothers to remember to put themselves first. When I started offering workshops, there was nothing like MamaFuel in the Geneva area, and very little offering globally. Local workshops eventually grew to become a global community of mothers under the MamaFuelTM brand. Many other mother-focused organisations have cropped up since I founded MamaFuel, which is fantastic. I’m thrilled to see more and more women supporting each other! MamaFuel is a community-focused business that supports mamas who are feeling isolated, overwhelmed and unhappy in their mothering. Many of these mamas are raising

their families far from the people and places they come from, of- ten following their partners to an international posting and can easily become isolated. We give them a place – virtual and in person – to gather, speak freely about their experiences of motherhood and build beautiful relationships with other women. Mamas come to us feeling alone and concerned that their mental and physical wellbeing are under threat. After a few months in the MamaFuel universe, women realise they’re not alone, that others are treading similar paths and facing similar challenges, and we find solutions together. Often the simple act of gathering with others and speaking their truth begins the healing process. MamaFuel mothers learn the importance of putting themselves and their needs first, irrespective of what others think. By reclaiming time and space for themselves, they foster an environment where they and their loved ones can be happier. Whole families shift when mama goes from unhappy and overwhelmed to more fulfilled, lighter and more joyous. Kids feel an invisible weight lift and families enjoy themselves and everything flows more easily.

So how does it work exactly? We offer a monthly membership for mamas around the world, in which they gather weekly, participate in an expert call every month and in 2019 will meet in the real world. A series of workshops is in the works for Toronto in August, Geneva in June and October and possibly the UK later in the year. The mamas build such tight connections online and they’re excited to hug and become even closer in person!

What would you say has been your biggest challenge since deciding to become an entrepreneur? The learning curve has been immense: from learning all the technological aspects of setting up an online and in-person business, doing everything from marketing, content creation, web design and logistics myself until very recently; the challenges sometimes seemed insurmountable. Creating products and experiences, establishing a social media following and showing up for my clients whilst simultaneously staying healthy and being here for my kids remains the biggest challenge.

What would you say is the biggest impact MamaFuel is making for its members? Mothers who try to be all things to all people all the time end up feeling alone, despondent, discouraged and resentful. In many cases, the mental wellbeing of these mothers is affected, and they lapse into anxiety, depression, and can turn to numbing behaviours. That obviously has a negative effect on them and on their families. In some cases, marriages break down, serious mental illness can take hold, relationships suffer, and international postings can fail as a result of mama not receiving enough support. The consequences are far-reaching, because there’s a deep emotional impact as well as often financial and logistical strain when the hub of the family (aka mama) breaks down. Helping our mamas overcome all of this is the biggest impact we can make and my proudest achievement!




Equal access to healthcare though education, health literacy and increased patient involvement in the area of digital health Interview with Debra De Silva-Sun | By Darie Nani


Health Economist with a physiotherapy background, Debra De Silva- Sun is a volunteer representative with the Swiss branch of the EUPATI (European Patient Academy), conducting an awareness campaign to encourage increased patient involvement in the area of digital health. A passionate Patient Advocate, Debra’s focus is on education and training to increase the capacity and capability of patients to understand and contribute to medicines research and development and also improve the availability of objective, reliable, patient-friendly information for the public.

What inspired you to be a Patient Advocate? I think one of the main things is I enjoy interacting with people and communicating with them. I also found that sometimes, having some compassion and taking time to explain benefits, exercises, the pathologies and the diseases leads to better cooperation from the patient. However, over the years, I realised that education and health literacy has been lacking on the part of the patients, and some patients find it hard to trust healthcare professionals after bad experiences. Patients do not know how to access information, and sometimes believe in fake cures or believe that placebos and medications are pushed by big Pharma. I am very keen on promoting value based healthcare (where patients have a say of what health outcome measures help them), on monitoring health with digital apps and system and the use/promotion of blockchain as a tool in the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare on the whole. This matter is close to my heart as I have experienced being a patient, as a family member of a chronically ill patient, as well as a healthcare professional. I am keen on encouraging increased patient involvement in different areas of healthcare, as they are the main stars in this arena. I have had clinical experience in working directly with patients, within healthcare facilities in Switzerland, Singapore and Australia, and have seen the impact of what happens when patients are unable to receive equal access to healthcare (perceived or otherwise). I feel that as there should be someone out there campaigning for the patients, and also for making digital health accessible to everyone, especially those most disadvantaged (the elderly, the homeless, the unemployed, the refugees, the lower and middle income families who may not have the technological advantage). In saying that, digital health policies need to be developed in a way which follows the code “Do No Harm�.

How did you get into this field of work? I come from Singapore, and have a Bachelor’s in Physiotherapy in Perth, Australia, a Masters in Health Economics and Policy in Lucerne, Switzerland, and I am now doing a PhD in Health Economics and Policy at the Lancaster University. I have lived in Basel-Stadt for the past 10 years. My main motivation for doing health research in the digital health, health policy and reimbursement area, and patient advocacy is due to the passion that I have for patient centric health care solutions in the current volatile business and political climate. As a part of my interests in combining PhD, digital health work and patient advocacy work, I am interested in knowing more about digital health policies and the surrounding bioethical challenges faced. Policy making is essential to the whole process. However, coming from a clinical point of view (as a physio and patient advocate) I feel that more needs to be discussed in terms of reimbursement and strategies and data ownership and privacy issues, especially with the advent of a global market influx by the Pharmaceuticals, Medical Technology industries, as well as Start-ups dealing with advanced technologies/wearables/health data at the moment.

What defines your work as a Patient Advocate? Being a patient advocate is about Connecting the dots and making the patients a relevant part of the conversation (in any conversation) with other stakeholders such as doctors health economists, pharmaceuticals, reimbursement agencies, digital health start-ups, computer analysts, machine learning scientists and clinical trials supervisors. I now work as a Health Economics , Outcomes Research and Health Systems Analyst with a blockchain/ digital health company to understand the digital health ecosystem. This company, DIGIPHARM, is a value based healthcare reimbursement blockchain platform. I also am doing a PhD in Health Economics and Policy to study the policies and impacts of value based pricing on reimbursement, with a focus on digital health technologies.

What is your vision for the future of healthcare?

I would also like to develop my project idea, 'The Red Thread' which aims to provide measurements and fittings of 3D printed prostheses for children/teenagers/young adults who have been affected by amputations in war zones (see video).

Where does this passion for patient advocacy come from? My mother. For her tireless efforts in advocating for the renal patients, any friend or relative who needs medical advice, assistance or wound care. She has worked as a nurse since the 1970s, and has made important contributions to the renal community in Singapore and Malaysia.

Photo credit: Benny Ang Photgraphy

One where patient are put at the centre of medicine. Where information is easily accessible and also safeguarded. Where different health care providers communicate with each other and the patient at every step of the process. Where big data, AI and advanced manufacturing like 3D printing can deliver innovative, safer and more effective treatments.


A Sustainable Approach to Personal Hygiene What does it take to inspire more people to make the right decision to protect their health and our planet? Interview with Gabrielle Lods, Founder, Green Condom Club | By Darie Nani


abrielle Lods, a 34 years old Swiss entrepreneur, grew up in Rolle and travelled a lot as a child. After graduating from EPFL (BSc Chemical Engineering) and ETHZ (MSc Management, Technology and Economics), Gabrielle worked in sustainability and knowledge management for both Toyota and DuPont. As she started her journey towards impact entrepreneurship, she became a digital nomad for 3 years. She is currently based in Geneva, and travels regularly looking for good winds for kite-surfing and a quiet place to practice yoga. Her dream is to create a positive impact. As she launched Green Change Sàrl, she hoped that her venture will inspire more people to make the decisions to protect their health and the (finite) planet we live on. Her dream was to make a positive impact and when she launched Green Change Sàrl she hoped that her venture will inspire more people to make the decisions to protect their health and the (finite) planet we live on.

What does your organisation do? Green Change is behind the brand Green Condom Club. We manufacture, sell and distribute vegan condoms without toxic chemicals. We are completely transparent on the ingredients we use (unlike the other manufacturers), do not use animal products and produce condoms which are fragrance free.

How did you come up with the idea for a vegan condom? In the summer of 2015 I had a conversation with some friends about all the toxic chemicals contained in tampons and pads and the dramatic effect they have on women’s’ bodies. Then we stopped and wondered about men. While discussing products that could appeal to a male demographic wanting to reduce their exposure to toxic chemicals, someone suggested condoms. It turns out that condoms manufacturers do not report their ingredients, potentially harming people with allergies and encouraging a lack of transparency. We were horrified, so we set out to change that! After looking at the multi-step manufacturing process, it was obvious much could be done to improve transparency and non-toxicity.

What do you think is the biggest impact a vegan condom will have? The biggest impact I believe is that people with sensitivities or allergies to traditional condom components now have a safe alternative. Also, providing vegans and people who want to lessen their dependency to animal products with a common consumer good they can both trust and afford, while it matches their values, is equally important.

In terms of use is there anything different for the consumer? No, it is exactly the same and this was very important. A vegan condom works just like a regular condom and is just as safe, with the same industry certification (CE and ISO4074). What is different is the composition and ingredients. We are also one of the few manufacturers who are totally transparent about the ingredients we use because we believe consumers have a right to know exactly what is in the products they are buying.

Tell us more about Green Change, what else does your company do? Our project began back in 2013 with a line of sustainable hygiene products starting with cloth diapers. Again our focus is on sustainability and reducing waste. Our cloth diapers are available under the 'Sustain a Bum' brand ( and after its success we have now expanded into additional products lines, such as our vegan condom, menstrual cups and lubricants.

What has been the biggest challenge in launching your own business? Bootstrapping is really a lot of effort. Launching an entire brand from scratch is definitely a challenge but I learnt so much in the process. Now the team is growing and it’s really rewarding but demanding to coordinate everyone’s efforts while staying lean and agile.

What are your plans for Green Change going forward? The plan is to expand and solidify our distribution network in Western Europe (we are now in some Leclerc supermarkets in Paris as of last week!). We will relaunch our lubricant both in sachets and bottles this summer and have plans to further diversify our product range around sustainable sex.

What is your vision for the future? My vision is a world where everyone uses sustainable products, produce no waste and consume as few resources as possible. I believe the path we are taking as a species, by destroying the ecosystem, is harming our ability to survive on the planet and we have reached a point where we can no longer ignore the problem. I choose to address this issue by selling waste reducing/ organic/practical and cheaper alternatives to common products.


Sparking Emotions with Perfume Art Creation and Kolye Jewelry By Ekaterina Kolye & Goar Sanfilippo

The key to finding something you love is all about sparking emotion. The joy that can be created through exploring emotion and stimulation of the senses is both exciting and fulfilling. And that’s why Ekaterina Kolye of Kolye Jewelery and Goar Sanfilippo of Perfume Art Creation built their businesses using high-quality products to truly spark joy in peoples’ lives.


ewellery and fragrance are two very personal things. From buying a piece of jewellery and thoughtfully gifting it to a loved one to choosing your favourite scents to combine into a beautiful perfume, the process is fulfilling and joyful, but also requires us to use our senses to make the right choices. Whatever reason you decide to purchase a perfume or piece of jewellery, there is always an element of evaluation through the use of the senses. After all, fragrances and scents can trigger wonderful memories from family, friends and loved ones sharing special moments. From rich woody notes that take your mind to the middle of a beautiful pine forest to subtle cotton-soft scents that remind you of fresh linen, choosing the perfect fragrance is a sensual, personal experience.

KOLYE JEWELRY Ekaterina Kolye, owner of KOLYE, is a gemmologist and board member of the Swiss Gemological Association. This invaluable role allows Ekaterina to stay at the forefront of the industry, ensuring that she is up-to-date with the latest developments in the jewellery industry, in turn giving KOLYE clients access to a closed circles of exclusive gemstone and jewellery experts. Ekaterina is passionate about KOLYE and the high-quality, unique pieces that she produces. Having spent years working for jewellery brands and gemstone dealers, she has extensive experience in high-quality jewellery and gemstone trading. Thanks to this background, creating KOLYE has been the perfect opportunity for Ekaterina to work with the worldwide network of contacts that she has built up over the years. Ekaterina directly visits mines and ethically sources gemstones, choosing only the best stones and best jewellery crafters to produce exclusive, bespoke jewellery. Therefore, KOLYE clients benefit not only from a high-quality piece of jewellery to treasure for a lifetime, but they also benefit from the investment, as the gemstone increases in value over time. If you already own a piece of vintage or well-loved jewellery, Ekaterina can breathe new life into it, too.

Whether your ring is missing a precious diamond or your necklace needs updating, this process inspires clients to reminisce about past memories and cherish well-loved pieces once more.

PERFUME ART CREATION Goar Sanfilippo, owner and initiator of Perfume Art Creation, has the passion for fragrances and art. Her company seamlessly combines both aspects, producing authentic fragrances and art creations. Goar’s fragrance, called Creation, is based on the Galimard products. Already recognised as an intangible cultural heritage of France, the perfume industry in the Grasse area was officially declared as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2018. Goar took over the distribution of Galimard Perfumes in Switzerland two years ago. For more than 272 years, Parfumerie Galimard has been following the same trusted traditions to guarantee the perfume’s fine quality. Just as it was the case all those centuries ago, Goar’s source of inspiration is the natural resource of Grasse, including jasmine, rose, lavender and orange blossom. The artistic origin of fragrances inspired Goar to create the Contemporary Art Seasonal Exhibition, which opened in December 2018 for one year at Château Gütsch Red Carpet Gallery in Luzern. Free to attend and open every day, it houses fragranced painted creations, allowing attendees to not only visually explore the artwork but also smell it, allowing for holistic stimulation of the senses. Goar is also opening a gallery, The Perfume Art Creation, which people can visit to create their own unique fragrances, carefully and thoughtfully choosing notes and scents that evoke personal emotion and feelings. Opening its doors for the first time in November 2019 in a 300-year-old traditional Swiss House in Sennhofstrasse 21 (8125 Zollikerberg in Zurich), this unique experience should not be missed. Both Ekaterina and Goar are passionate about sparking emotion with their products. They recently hosted a luxury workshop about fragrances, jewellery and their intertwined histories. This presentation focused on colours, and explained how fragrances can be linked with colours, which are then paired with particular gemstones. If you’re interested in purchasing products from Ekaterina and Goar’s companies or simply want to find out more, visit their websites to delve deeper into their unique, inspiring stories. Follow Kolye Jewelry on Instagram and you’ll be dazzled by the beautiful gemstones Ekaterina sources from high-quality mines. The Perfume Art Creation offers a luxury scent experience, ensuring the high quality and originality of every fragrance.


Learn to Move Mountains Compassionate problem solvers experience flow in action through social innovation, resilience, hope and entrepreneurial skills

Interview with Elaine France, Founder, Flow In Action | By Darie Nani

“We are at climate tipping points that are calling on us to do things differently; to embrace being fully human, to reconnect with ourselves, others and the planet that supports us, to understand what it is to flourish.” - Elaine France

Tell me about you, what did you do before? I am a coach and consultant specialising in resilience and entrepreneurship for sustainability. I live in the Swiss Alps, in Valais. This is my base and I travel for work within Switzerland and overseas. I’m from the UK and spent my career in London, working on social change in government advisory, NGOs, public sector and social enterprise. I came to Switzerland to visit some friends in 2011 for a two-week ski break and have been here ever since. My passion is connecting people to their wellbeing, so that they are happier and healthier and have the tools to create solutions which sustain people and planet. My first professional qualification as a librarian, taught me to show people how to find answers. This has been the foundation stone of my work in strategic business development for social change.

What inspired you to set it up? What lead to you starting this business? Connect:

Having spent 17 years living in London, I needed to be in nature. I wanted to stay in the mountains because that is where I experienced wellbeing, flow, joy and resilience. So, I took a leap of faith, started to explore these concepts and how they linked to taking action for the planet,

changing how we consume and do business…and that is how it all started.

Tell me about Flow In Action. What problems are you solving? Who benefits? How does it work? Flow In Action helps youth, educators, leaders and entrepreneurs as global citizens, to take action for the planet. We give you the tools to experience ‘flow’ - the pure joy of creating solutions - to become compassionate problem-solvers in your communities. First, we connect you to your wellbeing to increase your creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship skills; and then show you how to imagine and build projects and businesses, designing them around what we know increases flourishing of people and planet. It brings together my 25 years of social innovation expertise with Positive Psychology tools, to place flourishing at the centre of making positive impact for people and planet. We all want a happier and healthier planet, so designing lives and businesses around flourishing, is better economics for everyone. This does not come from consuming more but from learning how to love yourself first, so that you become

open-hearted, connected to others, spend time in nature and recognise your interdependence with it. You have to practice wellbeing, in order to know how to create really authentic, powerful solutions around it. This comes from being deeply connected to your unique blend of imagination and creativity - as your life purpose, empowering you to be that problem-solver.

You also do a lot of youth work, what can you tell us about it? Globally, children and youth are stating their anxieties about the climate catastrophe. I work with them to increase their wellbeing and mental health, through Learn to Move Mountains® activities which connect them to their unique blend of creativity. Empowering them as problem-solvers for the planet, regardless of academic ability. It is breath-taking to see them play with ideas when I set them innovation challenges around the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The approach embeds resilience, hope and practical entrepreneurial skills for taking action as global citizens. The positive impact is immediate, there is such contagious joy as they generate solutions in these ‘change-maker spaces.’ I work with schools, partner with UNCTAD in Geneva to deliver workshops to inspire youth entrepreneurship, design curricula and innovation challenges, and train educators as changemakers, to facilitate activities for healthy campuses. And I go into innovation and entrepreneurship educational settings, incubator and accelerator programmes and businesses, to run ‘resilience for the innovator and entrepreneur’s journey’ workshops and 1-1 coaching. Turning an idea into a self-sustaining business is full of challenges. Having the technical solution is essential but it is the human element – ditching your ego, being open to learning, knowing how to overcome failure and set-backs, practicing flourishing – which keeps you moving forward to succeed. It is a groundswell of more love as a social mission, the start of change, the seed of incredible ideas.

What is the main source of inspiration for you? Being in Nature is my inspiration and where I get my best ideas. I go ‘mountain energy bathing’ by taking a walk every day and most evenings. And being connected to friends and family. Relationships are the lynch pin in our wellbeing, so talking, having fun, sharing our lives is fundamental to our wellbeing. I am inspired by so many people who dare to be authentic, who create the space for others to have ideas and be open-hearted.


Talent takes time to mature, just like a good wine! Sometimes you have to unlearn everything you thought you knew about yourself, if you want to Master Your Life by Bianca-Janina Kux


was 39 years old and it struck me that I was in a job and career I did not enjoy. It had always been my dream to have my own business but I literally never knew the best time was to start. When you are comfortably snuggled up in the corporate world, the push to step into the unknown is rather small.. and this is how most people think. Especially in Switzerland, where we have only 16% engagement rates according to the Gallup Global Workplace studies. Which means most people prefer to do a well-paid job even though they do not enjoy it. It’s all part of a wider culture which encourages people to focus on their weaknesses vs. focussing on their strengths and as a result, people work jobs that do not fulfil them. Understanding that it’s not you who needs to change when the environment around you is not working but instead it is that very environment that needs changing is an important first step.

Now, I am a Strengths Based Leadership Expert and I support leaders to understand their uniqueness and create a successful and happy life from there. Most of us have been taught all our lives that we are not enough, that we

Photo credit: Christina Pörsch

That’s not to say the corporate world doesn’t provide an opportunity for personal growth. Being a Dale Carnegie Trainer I had already discovered one of my natural talents to inspire people through my positivity speaking. Leading the Rich Women Cashflow Club, in cooperation with the Institute of Financial Education, for 2 years I helped women to get a better Money Mindset and this helped me develop my own confidence to launch my business. I wanted to bring positivity into this world and help people become aware of the 'diamond' they have inside of themselves, giving them a way out of becoming someone they never wanted to be.

need to improve in areas where we do not excel in. We have never been taught what it feels like to focus on areas where we naturally excel in, to improve those skills and talents and to follow a career based on them. For some individuals it is therefore like a process to remember who they really are (or forget who they thought they are). It’s a lot like rediscovering themselves and stripping off the competencies that we have learned by being observant of ourselves and acknowledging what it is that makes our heartbeat go faster, discovering the things that put a smile on our face. In essence, most people have no idea what it is they are really good at because we are taught to focus on the gaps, on what is missing and what needs improving. All this leads to is frustration, unengagement, a sense of unfulfillment and often-times burn-out. People quit bosses, not jobs, as we know. Therefore, it’s is key that leaders start their Leadership Journey with themselves and then inspire their team to do the same. This is my contribution to building thriving workplaces and happier people who can shine. Self-Leadership is a vital part of being a great leader because we all lead by example. Now don’t be fooled, founding your own company is a challenge. No one ever checks in with you, there are no deadlines unless you make them and you are wholly responsible to stick to them. Being able to think for yourself and ask yourself what is it that makes you happy is a pleasure and a challenge at the same time. You have total freedom to create the life of your dreams but when you never learned to dream to begin with, it can feel like you are learning to walk for the first time. Learning how to trust yourself is not easy and this can be a real hurdle to overcome. Speaking from my own experience, this has been a huge thing for me (as I like to turn around fast results) and sometimes this is not possible when you are out there alone. However, good things take time ( just like a good wine) and learning how to trust in the process is all part of the journey, but I promise you, it is worth it!

Bianca Kux, originally from Germany, lives in Switzerland since 2004. Holding a Business Administration degree from Bamberg University, Germany, she has worked for the Migros Corporation for 4 years and afterwards changed sides from the Big Label industry to the Personal Brand side of the economy. At Johnson & Johnson she worked in International Sales & Business Development and trained International Sales teams for almost a decade. It was then when she faced her biggest challenge in her working career and started training as a Dale Carnegie Trainer to become a Gallup Strengths Coach. Bianca helps people monetise their unique talent and master their life. Find me on


Excellence and Innovation in Swiss Beauty Care Interview with Ilona Emanuelsson, Co-Founder, Teaser | by Darie Nani

Ilona Emanuelsson grew up in Palanga, a small beach and spa resort on the Baltic Coast. When she moved to the capital city, Vilnius, to study at the College of Arts she could not leave behind her passion for health, food, spirituality and beauty. She moved to London for a year of studies at the Academy of Vidal Sassoon and she never returned home. During her time in London, Ilona oversaw a Virgin Spa and contributed to the launch of a day spa chain with A list clientele. After living in London for almost a decade and finishing her business studies, Ilona developed her entrepreneurial skills, a keen eye for details and a sense of curiosity for better beauty care solutions.


lona relocated to Switzerland as an aesthetics expert and soon realised she couldn’t find some of the best professional and beauty products available back in London. An entrepreneur at heart, Ilona identified a gap in the market and decided to bring these products to Switzerland. Together with two other amazing women who are her business partners, Zeynep and Antigone, Ilona launched an innovative beauty care business called Teaser. As with any success story, the driving force behind Teaser is the people, to be more precise, three Womenpreneurs with different backgrounds and experience who are sharing the same values and vision for the company.

What inspired you to create Teaser? When I first moved to Switzerland, I was surprised I couldn’t find any salon that worked with the brands that were known for their efficacy and quality that I was used with in London. I was looking for a beautician and hairdresser for my personal use and after trying several I was left disappointed‌ I realised that, possibly, many other internationals and expats living here are facing same challenge. @teaserbeautysupplies teaserboutique


Initially Zeynep and I were planning on setting up our own Spa in Geneva and we were very close to signing a contract. However, on the same day I gave birth to my daughter we received the news that the Spa contract was sold to someone else. Initially we felt let down but no news (however bad) could ruin the joy I felt that day! As the saying goes 'everything happens for a reason' and a year later we knew it was a good one when we secured a contract with Lycon Cosmetics. That's when we decided

that Teaser would be a professional beauty supply business with one of the most innovative brands in the world for beauty professionals. Another reason is that I enjoy making others feel good about themselves, I genuinely like to see people succeed. It is very fulfilling to help others look and feel great. In Spring 2012 we introduced Lycon wax with a 2-week tour of Switzerland by Lydia Jordane, CEO and Founder of Lycon Cosmetics, who created the famous wax in 1978. We led seminars and training sessions and the interest in Lycon was huge. Teaser was born!

How did you meet your business partners? One month after moving to Switzerland I met my first business partner Zeynep Akten Platel. We met through A Small World forum for women entrepreneurs and since we were both new to Switzerland we were investigating how to start a business here. We clicked immediately and our interests and values matched. We decided to go for it and somehow it naturally happened. We had a good feeling about this. A few years down the road we met Antigoen Puech through some close friends. With Antigone's background in business and experience in Cosmetics and Perfumery industry, we instantly realised we can do so much better together, so Antigone joined Teaser as an equal partner shortly after that. We take our business very seriously and it’s important for us to have a good balance for professional & family life. I think we all spotted the same gap in the Swiss Market and were lucky enough to meet and start this venture together!

How does Teaser operate? We share our expertise with Professional beauty care products and anti-aging technology in the Swiss market. We work B2B with Hair and beauty salons, Spa’s, Beauty Boutique stores, Hotels and gyms. We carefully select and bring the best product and train business owners and aestheticians how to give customers the ultimate experience and increase salon/spa profitability. We identified a series of challenges that almost each beauty salon is facing in marketing, sales and training; for example, knowledge of salon marketing and product merchandising and sales is almost non-existent in most cases. We also create solutions to fix the lack of advanced treatment training in salons.


We also import and distribute professional beauty products for salons, luxury spas, fitness centres and operate as the sole agent for international body care and grooming brands that have a reputation for excellence and innovation. Our services include brand introduction to Swiss territory, marketing & PR, sales and distribution. The brands we introduce have products that are best in category because this is what we promise to our clients. Also, working with the brands that are respecting our environment is a must for us.

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced thus far? The biggest challenge I would say is lack of communication between the French, German and Italian speakers within Switzerland. It’s almost like working in 3 completely different countries within one. In addition to that, building a sales team in this industry has been quite a challenge. All three of us are mothers with different backgrounds but we share same values and vision for the company. We dedicate ourselves 100% to our business and at the same time it’s important for us to have a good balance for professional and family life. It’s a constant struggle with yourself, the feeling of guilt that you are neglecting your family time or the business, that you are not giving your full attention to one or the other.

Where do you turn for inspiration and how do you unwind from the stress of running your own business? The person I admire most is my mother. She is a genuine woman, everything she does comes straight from her heart. Her energy is just amazing. I keep wondering how she does it, she never gives up and always has hope. My family helps me slow down and take a break from technology. Traveling and exploring new Spa’s gives me new ideas; I have a good eye for details. I also read a lot and practice yoga and meditation to ground myself as I can get easily distracted or overly excited!

A Female Insurance Broker in Switzerland An entrepreneur who lives with her cat by Lake Geneva and doesn’t need to be ‘somebody’s wife or secretary. Interview with Jenny Goodwin, founder of Inswift Sàrl | by Darie Nani

Jenny Goodwin left Manchester (UK) fifteen years ago and in 2009, she founded an insurance brokerage for expats. Inswift Sàrl is a young brokerage business on the Swiss Riviera, working with different insurance companies to best tailor the needs of the English-speaking community throughout Switzerland. More often than not, she is asked if she is somebody’s wife, or secretary, so here is the story of the only woman to own her own firm in a male dominated industry.


hen you meet Jenny it is easy to see why so many expats come to her. She is kind, informative and straight talking, a trait many expats find pleasing, especially when they need no nonsense advice on something as important as health insurance. Jenny takes pride in her work and she is determined to make sure anyone who walks through her door walks out with the best coverage possible as well as being completely informed on the subject. However, for all the great work she does, Jenny still has to fight for recognition amongst her professional peers. Living in a country where insurance is still dominated by men in suits, she constantly has to remind them that she is no one's wife or secretary! We met up with Jenny to find out more about her success and how she came to be the go to insurance broker for English speaking expats.

What led you to the decision to start an insurance brokerage in Switzerland? Fifteen years ago I became a resident in Switzerland and like all residents, I had to take a health insurance policy out. I took the most basic coverage without thinking any further. Not long after, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis which confronted me with my lack of coverage and knowledge of the health insurance system as a whole. Despite being a fluent French speaker, I was surprised to learn how much I had missed and at how much I could have done differently. A chance meeting with a friend in early 2006 was a turning point in my life. He owned an insurance brokerage company and explained the ins and outs of the Swiss insurance system to me in detail. It made me wonder how many expats face the same challenges when they come to live in Switzerland? What’s more, it made me determined to do something about it. I started working for him and eventually decided to go solo in May 2009. + 41 (0)21 944 29 91

Inswift SàRL, CP 231 1814, La Tour-de-Peilz Switzerland Contact Jenny by telephone or email or drop into her offices in La Tour-de-Peilz where her team will be happy to discuss your individual requirements in a relaxed and friendly environment.

Ten years down the line I am happy that I can help people start their new lives here in Switzerland, understanding their insurance needs from the get-go and sparing a few headaches in the process.

What is the biggest impact you feel you are making? Some insurances are compulsory in Switzerland and need to be taken out from the day you register in the country as a resident. There is a lot to think about when moving to another country and insurance is only one of them. Not only are there all the different insurance companies and options to consider, but also most of the time there is a language barrier to deal with. The first problem I help people solve is finding the insurance based on their needs that fits their budget and I explain all the options available in a language they understand. I also help with any existing policies that are in place by explaining them in detail and finding a more suitable and cost-effective coverage once people have been established here for a while. Although more and more companies have more documentation available in English, my clients appreciate having everything explained to them in plain English. People’s insurance needs change over time and my company offers a continued support during those changes. Inswift also works with businesses, solving their insurance needs too. Again, depending on the type of business you are looking to start (limited company, independent, etc.) there are compulsory insurances which have to be put in place. Whether an individual or a family, a small business owner or a freelancer, everyone has their own personal insurance needs and we can help set those insurances up or find better deals for existing policies. Finally, for people looking to stay in Switzerland long term, Inswift can provide expert advice for their long-term pension needs.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced thus far? The insurance industry in Switzerland is predominantly male which presents plenty of challenges to a female business owner. At industry conventions and meetings I am often asked who I work for, who’s wife am I and/ or who’s secretary I am. Reactions to my response of me owning my own successful business are generally those of surprise. Another challenge is that I am the sole decision maker in my company. On the positive side, it means I can be very responsive to different issues and demands. However, I sometimes miss having colleagues to use as sounding boards on major decisions.

What did you do before moving to Switzerland? In England I worked as a payroll officer for various multi-nationals. It was never my passion but it allowed me to pursue my interest in music in my free time. I took a few years off to pursue it fully. It was a lot of fun with some amazing experiences of festivals, TV appearances, studio recording, radio interviews, etc. A lot of life-long memories and friends were made along the way. I will never regret taking a few years out of my professional life to fully experience this.

What are your passions outside of your work? I am a huge music fan and have an extensive collection of vinyl records. I also enjoyed sports, especially cycling, I even done a solo cycle around Lake Constance, it was absolutely brilliant and would recommended it to anyone! Due to health problems, I had to stop those activities, but hopefully I'll soon able to pursue them again. I also paint - mainly abstract. It's a relatively new passion but one which allows me to totally disconnect from my business when I need to. Finally, I have a love for language (I speak fluent French and English) and I am currently learning my third, German!


How medical murals have a bodily effect on patients and are actual means of better health and recovery. Interview with British Artistic Entrepreneur, Laura Cotton | by Darie Nani

For British artist Laura Cotton, facing white walls while recovering from a tragic car crash in a hospital in the Bahamas, marked the beginning of a new journey into her artistic genius. After fifteen years of unbearable memories, physical pain and emotional trauma, Laura decided to transform pain into joy, helping patients reboot the healing process through the power of colour. When she established the Paint a Smile Foundation in Geneva, little did she know that her new approach to medical murals was not only a bridge between the medical care and the artistic flair but a holistic solution to healing, better health, joyful living and a therapeutic tool widely recognised by the medical world.


aura’s inspiration comes from many years of suffering and each project is a powerful synthesis of colours and hope emanating effortlessly within the hospitals’ once white walls. Her vision has already turned around 191 hospital wards, retirement homes and specialised institutions throughout 18 countries, into vivid and compelling art that has overawed, to the delight of patients, residents, medical teams and visitors alike. The 52 years old, born in London, raised and educated in Switzerland (where she has now settled with her children), Laura will celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Paint a Smile by aiming to complete 200 projects in 20 countries, in 2020.

“Make your difference colourful!” Why Paint a Smile? Surviving the car crash that took my sister’s life in 1985 lead me down a path of despair for 15 years. Survivor’s syndrome, guilt, incapacity to find space within to grieve and move on...the works. I was traumatised and gravely haunted by the long white corridor my sister was rushed down on that gurney, surrounded by doctors running in white gowns in the dark of the night. Since 2000, Paint a Smile permanently transforms the bleak bareness of medical environments into worlds of colourful therapeutic surroundings. To date, 191 projects are completed in hospitals, retirement homes and specialised institutions throughout 18 countries worldwide. Our trained artists carry out the work without disturbing the daily routine. Caran d’Ache is our worldwide colour partner. Our goal in 2020 is to celebrate our 20th anniversary

by completing our 200th project in the 20th country.

What led you to the decision to start this foundation? Looking for a corner in a round room to put down my load obviously wasn’t working. One day, I opened my kitchen cupboard to make lunch; all the products where staring at me with their colours, shapes, logos and marketing power. Which ones would I mix? And suddenly I knew. I had to transform the surroundings for others in hospital to transcend my memory. I had to surpass my story and change it for others. Giving them what I didn’t have was my salvation. No one in hospital should be staring at white walls.

What’s the top challenge you have faced so far? Firstly, linking the artistic, medical and finance worlds at Paint a Smile’s core was a definite challenge! Secondly, meeting unethical people who claim to work to help others when sadly there is no real empathy within them, in a work area made for honourable people. Thirdly, in 2009 when my daughter died, I fed my grief to empower Paint a Smile further and not relive what I’d already known. Although I always miss my sister and daughter, I now think of them in a colourful way. It strengthens me to help others. Today I am beyond my own “colourful therapy”. Paint a Smile’s recognition as a therapeutic tool by the medical world is tribute to my initial goal. I am solving an existing problem and insufflating humanity back into corporations. It’s exhilarating to know that Paint a Smile impacts thousands of people I will never meet. Seeing a CEO cry during a project inauguration is evidence that Paint a Smile sends us all back to Humanity.

How does Pain a Smile work? When I began in 2000, little research existed on how hospital stays impact the mind, no matter the length of stay. I was told Paint a Smile was “a sweet idea” as back in those days the focus was solely on the illness, not the patient’s state of mind and how they could actually work together for faster recovery. Today, paediatric wards take surroundings into consideration though sadly too often still, many architects care more for their creation over its impact on those who will spend time in it (patients, families and staff). In an ideal world, when designing hospitals, retirement homes or specialised institutions, medical staff, altruistic architects and Paint a Smile should sit together around the same table.

What is the biggest impact Pain a Smile makes?

71 Photo credit: SergeMacia

Paint a Smile’s work is, beyond the obvious, specifically designed to facilitate communication between staff and families, alleviate fear and reassure. Custom made to suit the needs of each ward and its specific pathology with precise medical directives, our creations are light, fun, educational, interactive and colourful. For our elders they stimulate in order to revive senses, memory and dignity. In specialised institutions, designs are closely and carefully created to help prevent crisis, to soothe, bridging the often non communicative world patients are facing for life.

What motivates contributors to take part? When inspiration is built on trusting those you delegate to, you can build anything. Our amazing trained artists share their gift and are rewarded with an immense sense of worth. Sponsors and donors, private or corporate, are overwhelmed by the impact of their donations. Paint a Smile’s out of the box personalised “à la carte” functioning brings a CSR initiative to a powerful marketing, communication level well beyond expectations. It federates employees and bosses on the same level. I admire every single sponsor or donor, regardless of their initial motivation, for taking part in bridging our individualistic modern money making industrial society with the simple reality of all being human equals when in hospital, with one simple ingredient: colours. Keeping Paint a Smile in check as the middle tool between the white walls and the funding is equally inspirational, creating more space to personalise each project.

Watch Laura's interview on RTS.

Funders may choose the hospital or ward to offer their project to, and equally remain anonymous. The motivation can be personal, CSR, publicity or all in one. Either way Paint a Smile’s goal is reached.

Who is the person you admire most and why? Paint a Smile’s President, Nicolas Killen, directs my personal story along a constructive path, enabling me to share Paint a Smile worldwide with strength, honour and ethics. I couldn’t turn the 191 locations’ barren walls to life or deliver the last two decades of healing, recovery and growing without him. Have a project in mind? Why not connect with Laura directly!


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Paint a Smile's mission is to reduce anxiety and de-dramatize hospital stays. We help transform cold and impersonal environments into colourful and welcoming worlds where patients can escape and dream. Help us by making a donation, becoming a Partner, supporting a project or becoming an Ambassador. Visit for more information or follow us on social media!

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Paint a Smile Foundation

Here & Now with Kim All things to do with wellbeing through reflection, creation and evolution. Interview with Kim Alixant | by Darie Nani

Kim was born in Vevey, in Switzerland. She lived in eight different countries on four continents before settling in Lausanne. The cultural diversity of these early years provided a rich foundation that Kim continues to draw upon to this day. Passionate about ‘all things wellbeing’ Kim is creating “savoir vivre” and “savoir-être” experiences for people who want to explore their true nature and unleash their evolutionary potential.


fter graduating from Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne, Kim completed more than 600 hours of yoga teaching and energy training, soon after launching her own brand, 'withKim'. Providing yoga classes for adults and kids, energy healing, exclusive events, retreats and seminars, event planning and running a consulting practice seems the right thing to do “Here and now”.

What inspired you to create withKim? I always felt that I had an entrepreneurial spirit: I love creating, exploring, building, shaping, and putting into action concepts and ideas. Meeting extraordinary people along the way is definitely an aspect I really enjoy! I grew up in Gabon, Oman, Holland, Abu Dhabi, Canada and France and spent six months in Spain as well as the USA during my studies. withKim is my first complete entrepreneurial adventure since I graduated from EHL (Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne). I have to say that the four years at EHL prepared me well to launch my own business, through extensive class studies, applied to many student projects and internships. My internships in Barcelona, and then in New-York, made me acutely aware of the need for “something” to help people caught up in the never-ending daily whirlwind; I just didn’t know what exactly that was and whether I could help. I was really amazed to see how it all came together as an organic structure

which is very diversified and complementary! When I graduated, I took a course for yoga training in Bali. I needed this time to integrate and reflect upon those past four years. Having no return ticket, I backpacked in Asia for four months, and at some point, I felt as if all my experiences, notions, and conceptions met in one place where my passions, studies, and capabilities merged. It suddenly all made great sense; how I could put together something that could be of service to myself and to others. I was ready to come back and start building what quickly became withKim.

What would you say makes withKim so appealing? I had the opportunity to live through several intense experiences that made me deeply aware of the pure magic of life and the evolutionary potential that resides in every living being. Having taken the time to extract shareable concepts from these personal experiences, I am now very happy to be able to inspire and guide in a way which respects every individual, and allows them to grow and transform to live a life at ease. It is about experimenting connection, selfawareness, mastering a “savoir vivre” and “savoirêtre” which have accompanied me throughout. Today, it allows me to better appreciate the issues that many of us are confronted with. My wellbeing solutions provide simple creative services for guiding and inspiring people to be who they are, shine from the inside out, in alignment with the values of respect and authenticity. People facing existential challenges engage in activities ‘withKim’ on the physical and spiritual levels, which create encounters rich in transformation. I accompany individuals, groups and corporations through the process of Reflection, Creation and Evolution, whether private or professional.

You are a great believer in connecting with nature, why is this important to you? Nature is a great source of inspiration. Coming back to the essence of life, cycles, movement and balance. Nature is where it all resides. Physically being in nature, hiking, strolling or even simply observing reminds you where you belong and makes you feel part of it all, stimulates your creativity and resets your energies - it allows you to soften even more inside, and it then reflects on the outside!

withKim daily well being WithKim


You seem to have a great admiration for talent and creativity and much of what you do aims to bring this out in people. Why do you think expressing your authenticity matters? I admire the uniqueness of many individuals, and I keep being inspired by people I meet. We are all artists, creators and actors of life. I find it is fascinating to discover the talents which reside in each and everyone of us. Being authentic is simply being who we are and this helps us connect with our inner light. We are all unique and this is a gift. Come and discover it for yourself withKim!


Paying it Forward Life fulfilment through Compassion and Love in the Swiss Alps By Grace Leupi

Looking at my little boy, only 9 months old, his angelic smile, I can’t help but remember the dark times when I would constantly need to tell myself that I will make it, that I will not disappoint my family in the Philippines. It was 13 years ago when I ended up stranded in China, with no job, no home and no visa. How time flies!


hen I arrived in Wenzhou, China, I was an innocent single mom, scared and helpless, and already had the worst trials in my life. Having no one waiting for me at the airport (as promise), it was hard to understand what’s next; clearly, the agency who sent me didn’t really care for what would happen to a young women who doesn’t have any money, who doesn’t speak the language or know a single soul in a foreign country. As nobody in the airport spoke English I was eventually sent to a police station and after 6 hours of waiting, someone finally came to welcome me. I was so grateful, I was about to sing in a band, nothing else mattered, I didn’t complain... Little did I know that only a week later, my contract at the hotel would end and we would lose our livelihood. The agency didn’t care to find us any new gigs and we took our separate ways. I was now an illegal immigrant in Shanghai… All I could think was my little son, left behind with my parents in the Philippines. I couldn’t go back and ask for more help from my family, they needed my help. I tried to hide my tears, but I couldn’t stop crying… I will never forget when a local, a total stranger, gave me a roof above my head, to call it home for a few days… When I was losing all hope and I was ready to be deported to the Philippines, I found a job as a singing cook in Changzhou. I grabbed this opportunity and my new employer took care of all legal proceedings and changed my status while in China; for about a year I did not have any income, even though I was working day and night, my meagre salary barely covered the legal costs and living expenses. I have faced many challenges and I worked hard for all my dreams to come true. Somehow, for reasons beyond my understanding, I never lost hope even during my darkest hours, I believed (and I still do) there is always a bright side to every story. During those hard times, a true angel appeared and changed my entire life: my soulmate, who was destined to be my husband. It’s unbelievable how we've met and fall in love in a faraway land, and how after more than a decade we still love each other, living our magical time together, each day! Our love story begun in China and the rest is history. My husband changed my entire life, his love for me is unbelievable.

As I am looking at our little boy, I can’t wait to tell him how I married my Prince and how true love is not just a Fairy-tale! I am grateful for the wealth of life lessons I can take from my past, and I totally understand that everything that happened to me, happened for me. Especially when I moved to live in another country, in the Alps, where I am happily married to an amazing man, the father of my child, who is my true inspiration and love. I learned a new way of life since and running my own business, is taking my life to a whole new level. There are things that Filipinos women, just like me, can also learn from the people of the Alps. Living in Switzerland has taught me a lot about the meaning of life, not only from a consumer experience but as a woman who lives in a compassionate society. Once I’ve met the right people who believed in me, I learned through their own example, and they inspired me to expand my horizon. I decided to pursue and develop my event organizing skills and challenged myself to create life changing experiences for other expat women in Switzerland. The “Red Carpet Grand Entrance” and “The Dolder Grand” are always sold out. In parallel with red carpet events and Gala Evenings, I run Deco Rentals and Deco Service, providing full deco services, event planning and event renting services, where my focus is to create a turnkey solution for my clients who host events. I love my business passionately but what really makes me happy about my business is that proceeds go towards helping people who experience tough times, just like I did. Homeless people, typhoon victims, school supplies for the poor children, or slippers for those who walk barefoot. I grew up in a poor family, so I know how it feels to have nothing and I want to help them as much as I can. I believe I was destined to meet the right people along the way; for without my husband, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I learned from him that helping one another without expecting anything in return, makes the world a better place. In the end, we are able to find smarter ways on how to make the most out of our life and I hope my story will inspire you to start your own business and help others who are less fortunate then we are. Grace Leupi is a business woman, event organiser and philanthropist. From her humble beginnings in the Philippines she has emerged as one of Zurich's most loved personalities. She is the first Filipino woman to successfully organise a gala event at the Dolder Grant without any sponsors. She describes herself as an "all round woman: organizer, decorator, singer, performer, dancer and host". Since leaving China, Grace has travelled to over 55 countries and some 300 cities. She also runs a Boutique shop and Hello kitty House Museum. Her proudest achievement, however, is being able to support her parents back in the Philippines for whom she bought a home.


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A psychologist's reflections on consciousness and artificial intelligence. by Marisa Tschopp, researcher at scip ag and ambassador for Women in AI Switzerland.


hat is human consciousness? Can machines be conscious? The new research area of machine consciousness wants to shed light on this enduring myth, integrating a myriad of ethical and social implications that come along. Various scientific disciplines join the debate, from philosophy to physics, contributing valuable insights to the puzzling and fuzzy question, if machine can become or in fact already are, conscious. When it comes to brain and cognition, research and development have made great progress reconstructing human neuronal structures. Yet in the end one question remains: what brings life to this physiology? How does the nervous system manage to create consciousness through its functionalities? A very old, traditional myth of humanity, the classic mind-body problem, which keeps fascinating humanity for decades. The fire about the mind-body debate is rekindled, when it comes to the question, if consciousness can be attributed to machines, the more they resemble human architectures.

On Consciousness: Human and machines When it comes to consciousness, mystery is still the name of the game. Clearly, no acceptable framework exists by now, only many ideas, for example the materialistically coined idea, that the brain creates consciousness as a form of illusion. Zimbardo and Gerrig define human consciousness as a state of recognizing inner states and the external environment (2008). Fundamental areas of research in psychology are: Content of consciousness, functions of consciousness, sleep and dream, as well as, altered states of consciousness (hypnosis, hallucinations, drugs, and so on). The role of consciousness can be explained through the lens of the evolutionary perspective as the “survival of the fittest�. Creating consciousness featured new skills such as restrictive reception of information, selective memory and planning function, with the objective to interrupt actions and consider alternatives and consequences (Zimbardo and Gerrig, 2008).

Looking for physical explanations of consciousness, David Chalmers, Professor at the New York University, sees consciousness as some kind of anomaly in sciences: We experience nothing better than our own consciousness, yet there is no objective explanation for it. In his book, The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory, Chalmers not only works on a theory towards human consciousness, but also discusses the chances and conditions if and how machines can be conscious entities. Using the example of Information Integration Theory of Consciousness (or Theory Phi according to Tononi, 2004), he explains that a system with a high degree of complex information processing analogously is conscious, which consequently also accounts for computers with strong artificial intelligence. He is convinced, that humanity will have a definite model of consciousness at some point of time, but this requires open-minded researchers with radical ideas, courage, and maybe a hint of insanity, who are willing to engage in constructive controversy. Scientific research on the topic Machine Consciousness (also called Artificial Consciousness or Digital Sentience), has approached the topic with diverse frameworks of multidisciplinary perspectives. This area of research is in a pre-paradigmatic stadium and hence in a state of exploration, where radical exclusion procedures are counterproductive (Gamez 2008). Gamez differentiates four distinct areas of research on machine consciousness, which move along the continuum of human-machine-comparison: from reproduction and emulation of human behaviour and architecture to the creation of real consciousness as a biological phenomenon. He keeps scientist on board with his fundamental argument that, there is no legit reason, why the physical structure of a computer is less likely to create consciousness, than the physical structures of the brain, keeping in mind the prerequisite that consciousness is a biological phenomenon and not a spiritual or an illusion (2007). On the other hand, J. Searle arguments, that a machine will never have a mind or

consciousness, because “understanding” is always only simulated. The logic of computers follows a pure formal structure (syntax), which orders symbols according to clear rules and hence only emulates understanding. In contrast to humans, with a mind and consciousness, who are able to attribute meaning and content to words and language (semantics).

CONSCIOUSNESS: Download Error 42. If we don’t understand how human consciousness is produced, then it makes little sense to attempt to make a robot phenomenally conscious. (Gamez. S. 892, 2008) Is that really the case? I am not sure about this statement. I believe it is quite reasonable to research both, because even if there are no developments in the area of machine consciousness, or it is proven that machine consciousness does not existent, it will definitely contribute to the knowledge and frameworks of human consciousness. This will hopefully lead to beneficial developments in the field of health as well as politics and jurisdiction. More knowledge about the benefits and functions of human consciousness, will lead to building better machines and systems, which in turn will serve humanity for our and future generations. What do you think? About Marisa Tschopp Marisa Tschopp is a researcher at scip ag and ambassador for Women in AI Switzerland. Her focus is on conducting research about AI-based systems from a humanities perspective, with a wide range of questions related to psychological phenomena, governance and ethical implications. As an organizational psychologist she has experience in social and educational institutions with specific passion for digital teaching-learning trends, and has been teaching in several higher education institutions in Germany and Switzerland. She published various media articles, books, and papers and is a frequent speaker on conferences and events worldwide. Marisa holds a Master’s degree in Psychology of Excellence in Business and Education from the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, Germany as well as a BA business degree, focusing on market and consumer psychology. About scip AG The Titanium Research Team is the highly independent for-profit research department which explores essential issues and innovations in the field of emerging technologies. We pursue an interdisciplinary approach comprising technical and non-technical considerations to guarantee the preparation of our customers in the best possible way. Our research endeavours include a range of projects tapping into various activities such as knowledge building, education, training, consulting and technical & non-technical development. We want to build knowledge, strengthen collaboration between research, industry, policy makers and users in order to explore and comprehend the nature of digitalization and emerging technologies. scip AG is a Swiss company providing consulting services in the field of cybersecurity. Security is our business.


Best Mommy Hacking Secrets to Combat Overwhelm and live a meaningful life Interview with Mirsada Hoffman | by Dr Marina Nani


n American living in Switzerland, Mirsada Hoffmann is very passionate about empowering women to be and feel their best. As an expat mum of four kids herself, and with a husband who works and travels extensively, Mirsada always had a strong network and community around her but she wasn’t happy and fulfilled. Being a mother has always been an important priority for her but deep down inside she felt something was missing but like most mums, she was always putting everyone and their needs first. Being everything for everyone left her feeling lonely, angry, stressed, worried and lacking in self-confidence. She often wondered how did she end up in this situation? Being the person she always said she would never become. This led her to start on a journey to reconnect with herself and clarify her purpose in life. Accountability was that missing key and once she started to give herself permission and create accountability, her goals and dreams started taking form and shaping a new reality. In the process, she realised that she created a transferable system for accountability. She didn’t start big, and her motto was “small consistent steps toward a better, healthier, happier life.” Mirsada owns a coaching business that focuses on helping moms who want to rejuvenate their passion for life and say “YES” to themselves.

Staying at home but searching for something more What inspired you to create your coaching business? For more years than I care to count my happiness, confidence and self-esteem suffered. I knew what I wanted but couldn’t get organized or motivated. I was putting everyone ahead of me and my dreams. Before I took back the control of my life and destiny, I was constantly feeling defeated, weak, powerless really. At that time, I felt like I had no control over the things that were important for my dreams. I spent many days and nights frustrated with my inability to do the things I really wanted while spending all my time doing everything for everyone else! Yet, I was fiercely determined not to get lost in the weeds of life because I knew that life is really worth LIVING and I didn’t want to be a bystander who was taken with the crowd.

What led you to the decision to start your coaching business? Before becoming a mom, I had a very successful career supporting families caring for aging parents and then transferred those interpersonal skills to fundraise at the lop level for meaningful and impactful organizations.

When I became a mother, I was driven to share my knowledge and passion with other moms. Motherhood is hard work that can often feel unappreciated and undervalued. I want to support other moms in realizing and respecting their importance and impact while also realizing that giving SO much of themselves is not only harmful to themselves, but their children and their husband too.

“I want you to wake up excited about the day ahead.”

What problems are you solving? I work with moms who suffer from dissatisfaction and fatigue reconnect with themselves. As mothers we have been trained to put everyone first, yet, secretly feel frustrated that we have to bury our own needs and desires to take care of everyone else’s needs. I help moms who love being mothers but feel burned out by motherhood. They are searching for more enjoyment in life while rediscovering their sense of purpose. These moms are struggling with a wide range of feelings like frustration, anger, resentment and lack of purpose. Feeling their efforts are going unnoticed and like what they are doing isn’t impactful and doesn’t really matter. We all want to matter and feel like what we do makes a difference. I help moms realize that by burying their needs and desires they are actually harming their families as well as themselves. By the time a mom comes to work with me, her confidence has been suffering for some time. I work with moms on creating new routines and dynamics that increase their confidence and their personal satisfaction. Resulting in more happiness and harmony in all aspects of their lives. I work one on one with moms to personally address their individual needs and support them in the best and most impactful way.

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced thus far? As moms we are so focused on taking care of everyone else that we don’t see how our behavior is setting bad patterns for our children. For years I thought giving my whole self to my family was a beautiful sacrifice. It wasn’t until I was on the phone sobbing to my mom that I started to realize how harmful it was to me. It has been challenging to get other moms to fully understand how their self care is not only a bad example for their kids but sets up poor boundaries that harm the whole family.

What is your key message to our readers? Photo credit:

You may feel frustrated and discouraged wondering when you are going to get it together to make your dreams a reality; I am here to tell you, there are women who not long ago were just like you, but now they feel invigorated, energized and accomplished. By taking small measured steps they took control, pushed through fear, gaining courage and strength discovering they could do it. YOU CAN DO IT TO. You have what it takes to gain a fresh perspective, you may just need a little kick start.


How to continuously create a space of internal zen and happiness. by Muneera Khokhar My life in Switzerland began in 2009. I am from London, where after completing my first degree in Business and Management I continued on to do a Masters in Organisational and Social Psychology at the London School of Economics. Having worked in the field of Management and Finance for seven years, my husband and I decided to move to Switzerland. We arrived in the summer, luggage up to our ears, me waddling along pregnant with baby number one and our pet meowing from inside her bag. Forward to today and its a different story. I am the owner of a small niche design and styling company, MKK Styles, a mum of two beautiful crazy little boys and a wife to an incredible man. As a woman, you play many different roles and go through many different stages in life. Women are individuals, mothers, wives, teachers, friends, lovers, home makers, money makers, you name it! Women play these different roles every day but what happens when these roles end? What happens when the curtain comes down on that particular stage of life you were enjoying? As a woman I moved through all these different stages in my life, I survived the world of City Finance, tick done! Together with my husband we built a beautiful home for our family, tick, done! The boys were growing up and going to full time school, tick, done! I realised that my place in the world was changing and I had to figure out where I fit in. As so many women find, these roles change, and sometimes with such speed that to stay ahead of the game you need to figure out (and figure out fast) what you are going to do next. Don’t get me wrong, the “next stage” is different for every women, and each woman has her own needs and desires of what they want to do, but whatever that is, I know each woman has seen it coming, and experienced that “what’s next” feeling! What happens when the curtain comes down on that particular stage of life you were enjoying? My husband would leave for work every morning, the boys would go to school, even the dog was getting bored of me….and there is began. A few weeks later I was doing different design and styling courses in-between school runs, making sure the fridge was always stocked with food and laundry was done! At the end of the day that’s life and some roles stick around longer than others. I realised, it’s not about what you do or what you achieve, it's actually having the will to do it. So after numerous ba-

bies, cats and dogs I decided it was time to move onto the next stage in my life. This courage to reinvent myself and accept my truth is the essences of MKK Styles. MKK Styles helps their clients achieve those beautiful spaces you see in the magazines, we have worked with clients of different styles and dreams and have loved each and every project. For me the ethos and business model behind MKK Styles is not just about creating that beautiful space, it’s about creating something internally for the client. That change in colour, a de-clutter or even new decor can start a change in the clients mindset and outlook. It’s amazing what a tiny change to your space can do to your well being, your peace and happiness. It’s this change that I hope to create in my clients. For MKK Styles it’s not all about the space but understanding the people who own that space! Today my life is full of mood boards, furniture shopping, cooking, cleaning, kids' activities, and trying to keep it together! It's full on and super hard juggling family life with MKK Styles, but it’s another footprint I can be proud of! I am still that full time Tiger Mum, taking them to school, picking them up, shouting at them to push their opponent down at their judo tournaments, while in my head wondering if the midnight blue sofa I picked up for my client, will work well with the gold trim curtains… Launching my interior design company was about overcoming battles to find myself, be strong and feel empowered. It was my own story of “If you want more, be more”. I believe that if you want something, it can be done! It doesn’t matter what path you take; it’s about having the courage to make the next step and keep moving! Whether it be a new course, a new house, new country, new baby, new career. Women are strong powerful creatures who can sail through all their different roles and stages of life and come out winning. Every woman juggles with their different roles, and it’s the highs and lows that come with this, the late nights, the early mornings, working through the boys tennis matches, or taking them to yet another furniture store! At the end, no matter what stage of life you are at or what role you are playing, it’s about creating something from nothing, no matter how scary that seems to be and how afraid of the unknown you are .... Knowing that you can do it is what really matters. This is a women’s privilege, and all those women who change their world are a testimony. It’s to all those women that I say “ Keep going!!! You are amazing!” It’s to all those women who want to start something different, I say just do it as we all started somewhere! I truly believe it’s not about what you have achieved but actually your desire to achieve what you set out to! This month I am turning 40 and I can definitely say I don’t have everything laid out in stone but for the moment I am pretty good at juggling!


A Capsule Wardrobe a Day Keeps The Blues Away 27 Items for women on the go! Interview with Nadia HARTZER AUSTIN, Fashion blogger and personal stylist | By Dr Marina Nani

Fashion Blogger Nadia is a visionary and a diligent stylist with several years of experience in the fashion & luxury industry. Over the years, she has developed a precise understanding of the suitability and unsuitability of various clothing items as different styles come in and out of fashion.


orn and raised in South Africa, Nadia moved to Europe in 2004 where she lives in Zurich with her “gorgeous and unbelievably healthy husband”. She has a background in sales yet she never enjoyed the corporate culture. Once she entered motherhood she decided the time was right to bring her passion for fashion, creativity and sales experience into a business that lets women be glamorous and save time! She has created many general wardrobe capsule guides and has helped many clients privately to improve their wardrobes. Nadia attained hands-on experience in style consultations, revamping clients’ wardrobes and providing customised personal styling advice. Her creative vision and eye for detail are necessary attributes in the fashion retail industry and her blog Nadisheart is the culmination of her passion and skills - giving women everywhere the benefit of a personal stylist!

What inspired you to create your business? I love the look in a woman’s eyes when she knows she looks good. She walks with confidence and carries herself with a self-assured presence that puts others at ease and allows her to be fully present in the moment. It is much more than the clothes we wear, but I’ve found that to be a great starting place. I started my career in personal styling in 2015. My passion for the fashion industry changed my course from being a model to learning all I can about personal styling. In 2017 I completed my personal stylist education at the School of Style in New York. Since then I have helped many women to discover their style and created capsule wardrobe guides to make getting dressed less stressful for my clients. I am also the girl behind the blog NADISHEART. Here I share my outfit and style tips among other things. I created different “capsule wardrobe” guides for different seasons to help women get dressed and shop in a fun easy manner. I provide free consultations and I create bespoke solutions to encapsulate a personal style to match my client’s personality. As much as I loved modelling I just didn’t want to do it anymore.

There is no satisfaction from modelling, and it was very frustrating for me. I didn’t want a 9-5 job either. I had to start to looking for something else that would make money but also stimulated me and made me smile. This led me to finally get a formal education in personal styling. I also wanted to do something creative on the side that I was comfortable and familiar with and that is why I started blogging. I have been in the fashion industry for a while and this is what I knew and where my knowledge lies. I have a passion for this industry. I wanted to use the knowledge I have gained from my experience to be creative but also to help others.

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced thus far? Making money from blogging is not easy, actually it really is a challenge and if you are doing it only to make money you will burn out. It needs to be a passion before a business in my opinion. Being able to write about what I love and my knowledge I have learned over time is an outlet for me. Getting paid for it is a bonus.

What is the biggest impact you are making? Some Women are just too busy to get a personal stylist, to find the time to come in and consult them, it is an absolute nightmare. My services are tailored for women on the go who want to look good and have confidence in what they wear but don’t like or have time for shopping or appointments for personal consultations. I help them remotely by creating bespoke solutions for their wardrobes and giving them style consultations that are easy to follow, season after season.

How does it work exactly? I create "wardrobe capsules". These are easily to follow style guides for different seasons. For example, my Summer 2019 trend and current wardrobe capsule guide. I have spent countless hours of research to tweak a current and classic capsule to make getting dressed easier and to get rid of the cliché of “I have nothing to wear”. Women can then use the capsule to form their own look without the stress. In this guide you get 112 Casual and Smart Casual looks with only 27 items of clothing and shoes. I have created a classical casual capsule wardrobe that would suit any age, body shape & size and you can easily tweak it to suit your style further. The colour palette I used was blue as my base colour and then coordinated it with white & beige for the essential items. I added pink as an accent colour. How is my capsule collection different from a usual minimalist capsule? I tweaked it to add fashionable items that are trending in summer 2019 and mixed it with classic items that you will wear again next summer. The best thing about it is that you already own many of these items. You can also click on the links to take you directly to where to buy the things you do not yet own. It all goes back to saving time and not having to go hunting for the items. You will never have to wear the same outfit twice. I also added all the shoes and accessories you will need and your choice will determine how dressy and smart the outfit is. You can check out the Summer 2019 capsule yourself on my website. Have fun with this guide and post your outfits on social media! Other fashionistas can then discover the way you jazzed up this capsule and tweaked it to make it your own.


Travellers Guided By Working Mums Interview with, Nathalie Sassine-Hauptmann | By Darie Nani

Nathalie Sassine-Hauptmann, one of the most experienced and trustworthy tourism service provider you can come across, is the founder of Her company combines the best of what the internet has to offer with the best of humans who could guide and inspire you to adventure into the unknown.


n Italo-German only child born in Paris, raised in Zurich, Nathalie lives near Winterthur with her husband and her two children, aged 10 and 15. Providing her clients with a memorable experience even before leaving the comfort of their home to adventure into the magic of a new destination, she understands travellers’ different needs, “as varied as the grains of sand you’ll find at the seaside.” What is remarkable about Nathalie’s story is her own journey and her sheer determination to help other women who just like her, love being with their children but don’t want to be “stay at home moms”. A glimpse at the Swiss Labour Force Survey 2018 (FSO) shows that the employment rate of mothers with children under the age of four is much higher than nine years ago. Nathalie offers Swiss mothers the option to work from home and eliminate a long commute, the balance of work-family life is no longer a dream but a reality. In this exclusive interview you will be inspired to discover not only exclusive destinations but your own destination a woman who, just like Nathalie, can rock the world. Why not start today?

You offer Swiss mothers the option to work from home and eliminate a long commute, which really helps the work-life balance. What made you take such a leap of faith and provide employment for stay-at-home-mums? Our team consists of 12 women (11 mothers) in sales and 2 men in the back office. Though it was not a strategy, I soon realized that the way we work as a remote team is perfect for Swiss mothers. In Switzerland – especially in the countryside – the options for day-care as still very much lacking. So, mothers are often forced to be SAHM (stay at home moms). Our travel experts (most of them have been working for more than 10 years in tourism) can work from home so they can be there for their children when they come home at lunch. Not offering these wonderful women the chance to work from home would be a great loss not only for our clients but for our society also.

What led you to the decision to start an online Travel Agency in Switzerland? Funnily enough, it was sort of by accident! One of my friends needed a new website so me and my husband (who is also our digital chief at made her one. She decided it was

“to fancy” for her clients (Travel Agencies in Switzerland are still not very open to online, I am afraid) and so we started our own thing. We just had to change the logo…

That's quite a big leap to take, did you have any experience in the tourism industry? Yes, I had been working in tourism for quite some time already and realised that most of the big players in Switzerland missed the online train. So, people started to turn to platforms like Expedia & to book their holidays. However, many of them felt unsure by the myriad of choice and annoyed by the amount of time they invested to find that dream destination they were after.

Still the travel industry is a hard nut to crack and as you said, large multinational platforms dominate the online space. How does stand out? I’m glad you asked! At we take a personal approach, the internet may be a world of opportunities but there are just too many possibilities to book your dream vacation. Our clients come to us because we streamline the process for them and take the guess work out of finding the best destination and deals. How to know what is the best value for money offer, the right destination for you? This is where we help. We might offer you something you had never thought of, a city trip to a town you had hardly heard of and where there is no mass tourism. In many ways we have combined the service of a traditional travel agent with the functionality and choice of booking online. The benefit is that clients still get the best value for money but save time and get personalised travel plans. We make the process as simple as possible. As a client, you simply log on to our website where you can fill in a form with dates, what you are expecting from your vacation, any special needs and wishes, everything that is important to you! We then put together 3 to 4 offers from which you can choose or you can go for another round.

What if you don’t know where you want to go exactly, do you create holiday plans without a destination? Actually yes, on you can get inspired with different destinations and our provides you with cool travel accessories for you and your family. At present, we are working on a new platform where this will be promoted on a bigger scale.

What do you think is the future of travel and how do you see going forward? Photo credit: Stefan Baumgartner, rgb photo

Well I think personal interaction and service are the future, in many ways we seem to be coming full circle. We started with the personal touch of traditional travel agents, then we moved on to the great choice and freedom offered by online booking. Now we crave the human contact once again. It won't be the same as it was of course, the future will be about bringing those two things together. At we are already doing this and will continue to adapt to what travellers want now and tomorrow!


Jung, Spontaneity and Creative Instinct by Patricia Anne Elwood, Jungian analyst, Lausanne, Switzerland.

In our age of compulsive attention to technology there is a risk of loosing access to spontaneity and creative instinctive sources.


ome teachers say that young children don’t draw or paint spontaneously anymore. Recently collaborating with a group of teachers who complained of this specific lack in children’s interest, spontaneity was encouraged and alternatives presented. Consequently all the children engaged in an amazing and dynamic process. This can happen because spontaneity is natural and instinctive and can be retrieved at any age or stage of development. Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychiatrist, devoted his life to exploring the psyche. Delving into the depths of his own unconscious his main access, apart from dreams, was through spontaneity. Jung himself drew, painted and sculpted all his life. Every stage of his self-exploration was accompanied by the taking up of pen, pencil, brush or chisel, and plunging again and again into this zone of unknowing so as to allow the unconscious to have its way through spontaneity. Jung admits he didn’t always know where this would lead him, but he distinctly felt that despite a lack of rational understanding, he could follow the intuition that his drawings were highly significant. During the period in his life when he lost all outer orientation he turned inwards and began drawing mandalas daily. Jung, in his own process of maturation evolved from a rational thinker to an open-minded intuitive who became capable of apprehending deeper feelings, without a need for understanding. He even welcomed the place of not knowing with curious enthusiasm. As regards the mandalas he had not fully realized the effect and what they eventually led to but he assiduously persisted in his drawings. Jung professed; “we must let things happen in the psyche... there are things in the psyche which I do not produce, but which produce themselves and have their own life.” Eventually through dreams, drawings, active imagination, his mandalas and his spontaneous activities, Jung came to the centre in himself.

Carl Gustav Jung, 1875 - 1961 For information on courses contact:

Jung’s methods produced a template for patients, friends and collaborators in his time. He encouraged those around him to follow a similar path towards “the Self” through all forms of spontaneous drawings and paintings. Many of his friends and contemporaries became passionate followers involved in what was at the beginning of the 20th century an exciting avant-garde movement. His work and research provided a paradigm shift into an innova-

tive approach where new ground was broken and hitherto mysterious dimensions were brought to light. Jung attributed the greatest importance to the image itself, believing that once emotions take form in images the conscious mind can actively participate in recycling the energies attached to the images and subsequently return to a state of equilibrium. He says “To the extent that I managed to translate the emotions into images- that is to say, find the images which were concealed in the emotions- I was inwardly calmed and reassured.” In Liber Novus, his famous Red Book, he declares: “The wealth of the soul exists in images.” This was Jung’s personal credo. Jung describes different levels in the unconscious; the personal level, which refers to personal experience, and a deeper impersonal level, belonging to the mind bank of humanity which he called the collective unconscious. For Jung the collective unconscious is the realm of instincts and archetypes. What do we understand by instincts and archetypes? What is their relationship to each other, and their function in the psyche? Instinct and archetype influence each other intimately. Instinct is responsible for the activation or triggering of a mode of functioning; the archetype is the pattern or underlying structure that the mode of functioning falls into. Jung explained instinct as being a set of accumulated, inherited patterns which no longer require learning in order to be activated. We have only to observe young children who, at the sight of certain gadgets, have an automatic ability when it comes to technical skills, even where no learning has taken place. The gadget provides an image, which activates a process, which is triggered into action. Jung defines instincts as “motive forces”. Instinctive perception activates, patterns in the psyche unfold, leading to a release of psychic energy and a feeling of flow, advancement and especially leading to renewed ideas and inspirations. Spontaneous drawing gives access to this instinctive level in the psyche which allows for creative progression. The knowledge that spontaneous drawing provides access to the psyche and can even produce processes that are unexpected for the conscious mind remains mostly unrecognised. And yet many great artists, inventors or inspired writers sought access to spontaneity. Jung says; “If there is a high degree of conscious cramp, often only the hands are ca-

pable of fantasy; they model or draw figures that are sometimes quite foreign to the conscious mind. These exercises must be continued until the cramp in the conscious mind is relaxed, in other words, until one can let things happen, which is the next goal of the exercise. In this way a new attitude is created, an attitude that accepts the irrational and the incomprehensible simply because it is happening.” What is important in this approach is the dialogue that one may establish with the unconscious. Spontaneous drawing from a Jungian perspective is not confined to any age group; it is universal and can be addressed to any person, of any age, sex, cultural background, or religion, and goes far beyond childish expression. The interpretation is however a science and an art. As a science one needs a basic understanding of the structure and dynamics of the psyche as well as experience with symbolism and unconscious processes. As an art it requires experience and encompasses all the functions of the psyche, feeling, thinking, sensation and intuition. Jung says in his famous Red Book, which I prefer to call “Liber Novus” as he himself entitled it: “scholarliness is not enough, there is knowledge of the heart that gives deeper insight.” It is this knowledge of the heart that one must open to so as to be able to grasp the mind in the background that is expressing itself through the drawing. This is an acquired art that goes with self-development and empirical experience. Letting go of the thinking mind to reach the level of the irrational pre-logical mind is what Jung had to do and which he advocates. In the autumn Routledge & CO.UK are publishing; A Jungian approach to spontaneous drawing, A Window on the Soul. This book follows a Jungian approach and includes an introduction to the psychology of Jung. The aim is to encourage others to access their unconscious through this simple method. It is also meant to provide a tool for those working in the helping professions who need to refresh their therapeutic proposals, and as an alternative to a purely rational approach. The fact that spontaneous drawing is accessible to all beyond age, culture, religion, and often even beyond pathology means that it may be applicable in many domains. One specific aim is to provide an authentic direction for self-development or diagnostic insight in certain pathological cases. It may be explored and tested in an endless variety of fields.


Building Early Confidence & Social Competence Modern family life is changing, the traditional model of having one parent stay at home to look after the children is simply not realistic nor sustainable. So while the change of pace is staggering, the need for parents to ensure their children get the best early years development is now more important than ever. by Priscilla Bernarda Otazo, founder of Frida Kinderkrippe | by Dr Marina Nani


hile many mothers are prepared to leave their jobs and careers behind to take care of their children, they may have no choice but to go back to work. The stress and anxiety around whether or not pre-schools can give their children the same level of care and attention is not to be under estimated and parents everywhere struggle to make the right choice. It is not hard to see why, they hear that educators in pre-schools aren’t engaged, that teams change continuously, and they aren’t sure of the values and education their child will get if they leave them. I know this because this is exactly what I experienced when I gave birth to my daughter. I was juggling a full-time occupation, organizing family life, study and work. I prepared myself to enrol my daughter in a nursery school starting from 18 months and finished my University’s Master degree in Pedagogy, Sociology and Sinology. I appreciated it very much but I also regretted my decision when I heard news of maltreatment or negligence or of fights between children, which happened from time to time. It occurred to me that these educators in the team were each very different with regard to commitment, engagement, education and professional competences. This is one of the most fundamental aspects for us, to ensure that not only do we give each child the full attention they would get from their parents but also that parents are able to understand how we do this. Our educators are carefully screened and selected for their values and their skills and their passion for the development of children. We use comprehensive methods that resonate with the personality of the children, by knowing, observing and recognizing their strengths and support them in finding new possibilities and help grow their confidence. The children get the best start to a unique meaningful, fulfilled and happy life as they build responsibility, agility and relaxation knowledge, nutritional balance and self-efficacy.

So 15 years ago and after a long career in different corporate and political positions around education, I made the decision to leave it all behind and I founded Frida Kinderkrippe. Looking back I can see I decided from the first day after having become a mother to give my daughter the most effective support, hoping she would become the self reliant and strong-minded young woman she is today. Now a young woman aged 22, she has a great study / work life in balance with her social activities, and I admire her for her decisions taken so far! What I learnt through these years of family life and work is that strong beliefs are instilled in children from a very young age. It is important for them to spend time with their peers and the more they do so the more they find out who they are. At Frida Kinderkrippe we help find self-efficacy in young children. Through observation and self-reflection of their own interest every child learns to gain the confidence to expand their horizons. The work we do with every child is a personal and very unique process of supporting the individual development on the path of self enrichment and personal growth. We offer a quiet and tranquil environment for infants and children in which they can develop at their own pace to become independent personalities. Infants are strongly tied to their closest caregivers therefore we take great care in the daily growing relationship of the child and a single caregiver and a gradual introduction of other infants to form close groups of children. In the daily routine, we place special emphasis on the promotion of creativity, of their natural and cultural understanding and social competence.
 During music and drama activities, the children learn to express their ideas, fantasies, desires and emotions in a playful and constructive way. We also devote time to the outdoors, so children can learn how to connect to and respect nature. As I already mentioned, parents also need to be aware and understand what is happening in their child’s daily life and our team regularly organizes information evenings for parents on educational and health issues, celebrations and receptions. Literature, art and music. Priscilla Bernarda Otazo was born in Switzerland to Bolivian parents, Carmen Luz and Eduardo Jaime. She has over 25 years of experience in early education. Starting from planning and conceptualizing a nursery school near Zurich, responsible for the vocational education of the nursery school apprentices. She has held positions as counsellor for the early education for the Liberal Green Party and No. 1 candidate for the city parliament. She holds a Masters in Education from University of Zurich where she became responsible for the blended learning in the Master of Advanced Studies of Education for vocational and high school teachers. She has educated hundreds of students, apprentices and children in University courses, in vocational training system and early education. +41 43 321 97 29


The Integrity System


Denise Nickerson & Michelle Guiliano are creating online programs to meet the demands of the 21st century on a boutique consultancy which is growing beyond live meetings and events. Their first program to launch is a lifechanger called The Integrity System™. They told us why they created this program and how it can support everyone in developing the right mindset, attitude, and the emotional intelligence it takes to sustain motivation and experience grace while achieving our dreams! Are you thriving in your life and in your personal development? The World Economic Forum reports that you need skills like these to thrive in 2020: • Creativity • People management • Coordinating with others • Emotional intelligence • Judgement and decision making • Service orientation • Cognitive flexibility

Would you like to strengthen these skills rapidly while achieving goals you set for yourself? The Integrity System™ takes you through a researchbased process that can be used rapidly or in an indepth manner, entirely at your own pace and on your schedule. You’ll use it to work on your goals and develop important skills as a delightful side effect of the process. People are so busy, especially the talented and accomplished clients we attract – and many are suffering from stress. We have developed this tool to aid in decision making, relieve stress, and to help people make the most of the education and training they have already received. We have used it with our high-end coaching clients for years and now we’re making it available to everyone!

So how does it work? The system is based on ten questions that you ask yourself and answer in depth, situation by situation. What’s wonderful about it is that you can use it repeatedly for each goal, dream, challenge, problem or issue you want to work on. Concretely, when you join The Integrity System™, you have access to it to use whenever you would like. As people use the questions again and again; the pace at which the System is used can be adapted (slow or fast) to the situation at hand. We’ll have live Mastermind meetings for those who have used the System as the community grows.

What’s inside? The Integrity System™ has fifteen guided mindfulness exercises or meditations, over a dozen case studies, videos, suggested writing exercises, worksheets, challenges linked to the questions and ten in-depth training sessions. It’s a coaching process where you decide
























how intensely you will work through the program as needed for your personal situation. It’s your virtual team and a positive force to serve you.

Who is it for? It’s a program for women and men who want to make a difference in the world and to live fully and authentically, regardless of their current life situation. It’s for people who have never benefitted from coaching and would like to try it out before making a commitment to a more expensive program. It’s for those who have extensive personal development training who aren’t using it – who have lost motivation in work and life. It’s for anyone who has a problem to solve or a dream to build. It’s for people who want freedom from spending time on the wrong things. It’s for people who know that living with integrity feels amazing.

How do I sign up? It’s easy! Head on over to today. Life will never be the same.

Class Coaches


Do you need an outside perspective on a situation in your work or life? Are you facing a slump in motivation? Do you need help with a decision? Are you dealing with an issue that you just don’t know how to handle? Would you benefit from new ideas? If you answered “Yes!” to any of these questions, then Denise & Michelle are here to help! Sovereign Magazine is introducing a new coaching column – where you can submit questions about your team dynamics, your business, your next steps, and your big dreams for positive impact in the world! You can ask any question about your personal and professional growth and development to help you live better. You can sign your question or submit it anonymously. Each month, we’ll select the best questions for our First Class Coaches to answer. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely road; but, you might be surprised how many others are dealing with something similar. Write in, and not only will you get a boost of positive energy, so will all of our readers. Your authenticity can help many!

Living the Feminine Future Seaside Retreat For Women Leaders





Creating the Ripple Effect Evidence that Outdoors, Inner belief and SelfAwareness boost your energy level and cap burnout. Interview with Sally Dibden | by Dr Marina Nani

Many executives and professionals who are at the peak of their career find themselves feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. A lack of energy makes them take a look at their lifestyle and seek changes to boost their energy levels and get their ‘Joy de vivre� back. However, is drinking plenty of water, eating healthily and exercising really enough to boost your energy level and surpass burnout?


ally is a Health and Life Coach for High Achievers and her speciality is preventing and reversing burnout through energising and resetting both body and mind. She helps her clients and patients develop deep self awareness and a bespoke set of tools for consistent and sustainable results. She has identified that the common denominator is usually the unrelenting and cumulative pressures of stressors at work and home, and created a ripple effect solution to the range of common symptoms experienced by driven people, particularly women. She helps clients get to the root of and resolve this array of symptoms, which range from anxiety and weight gain, to hormone imbalances, physical pain and personal issues. Sally lives with her husband and children near Geneva. She loves all things outdoors, from paddle boarding and lakeside yoga in the summer, to skiing and snowboarding in the winter but her true passion is helping women, who, just like her, deserve to have it all. In this exclusive interview Sally is sharing her own story, a story of alignment with her values, beliefs, actions and emotional intelligence.

The World Health Organisation declared stress a 21st century epidemic a couple of years ago and you support leaders and achievers to enjoy great energy, health and confidence despite their busy schedule, responsibilities and our fast-paced era. Can we address and eventually even reverse the trend? Sadly burnout, anxiety, hormone havoc and other stress related physical and mental health issues seem to be all too common. It seems to have become a collective myth that sacrificing our health, happiness and true values is the price one must pay for success.

Gradually my clients understand themselves at a deeper level,

Photo credit Jack Ward

Through bespoke private coaching, workshops and retreats, I help my clients and patients not only heal this belief and their particular health, hormone or personal crisis, but grow and thrive as they start to realise there is invariably a more sustainable, healthier and fulfilling way to both live and work.

body, mind and soul. In doing so they not only restore great physical and mental health, they become more efficient and productive and are able to confidently step into their true potential and purpose. The ripple effect simply means they increase their performance across ALL areas of life important to them. What’s more is that they inspire those they lead to do the same. Women CAN hold a high-level leadership role and enjoy great relationships. They can maintain professional careers and be great mums also. They could also enjoy a sense of inner peace from being a dedicated stay at home mum if they so desired. So long as their life is aligned with their values and what they truly desire.

Our brains are wired to solving problems and it seems that you connected the dots between logic, scientific evidence with creativity and self-awareness to keep your energy high for consistent success and surpass burnout. Your business The Wellbeing Consultants, delivers unique methods that go way beyond eating and exercising well to integrate the body and mind for maximum health, happiness and high performance. What inspired you to create your practice? The most inspiring phase of my life was definitely when as a 17 year old, I spent an unforeseen gap year in the French Alps. I fell totally in love with skiing, snowboarding and France! I loved the way the people I met in the resorts were following their passion. From having little clarity about what I wanted to do, my vision suddenly became crystal clear – I would set up my own physical therapy practice in the French Alps. After my inspiring gap year, I returned to England and university and met my husband, which whilst great, also put a bit of spanner in the works of my plan! He was a pilot committed to the Royal Air Force, hence after graduation we then lived in England and Scotland where I worked in the National Health Service, RAF and various clinical and managerial physical therapy posts alongside completing extensive post graduate training. Throughout his time in the military, my husband and I maintained our vision, that once he left the air force, we would head to France or another country where the outdoors lifestyle played a big part of daily life. Fifteen years and a few twists and turns later, The Wellbeing Consultants was eventually born! It started as I had imagined, as a small sports and spinal physical therapy and pilates practice, from my home at the foot of the French Alps. It has developed significantly since then (both online and in Geneva, Chamonix and London) but the original vision was from this spark. The Wellbeing Consultants was created when the children were toddlers, from a small practicing room at home. It was born out of not only the vision, but also the convenience and decision to be around at home whilst the children were young. I always intended to grow the business alongside my children.

How did your own health and wellbeing journey shape your practice? Photo credit Christine Juette

Ironically it was sorting out my own health! Despite all I knew, the reality was I found myself with adrenal fatigue - a form of burn out.


In my mid-thirties, I was just about juggling everything: growing my business, making friends, being mum and wife, keeping fit. Then my husband reached Captaincy in the airline he was now working for, and with this came training and a base away from home. Simultaneously a close family member suddenly became ill, and I spent so much time and energy devoted to their care and wellness, that mine was put on the back burner, until I hit crisis point. I became exhausted, with a string of symptoms from headaches and mood swings, to slow to heal injuries, digestive issues and anxiety. I hadn’t really connected the dots until then, but the reality was the chronic stress had created hormone havoc and I was suddenly in early perimenopause with adrenal fatigue! I was my classic client: always busy, chronically sleep deprived, addicted to sugar, exercise and work. Whilst I had great friends, with my husband frequently away, I found myself over stretched and isolated. I became aware that whilst I found time for sport, I otherwise found it really hard to relax. I also became aware that I seemed to be surrounded by emotional drama! It became apparent that I was holding onto old stories and resentments which were contributing to my depletion and creating problems in my relationships. The solution became far more complex than eating and exercising well. The missing pieces for me were to let go of those old stories and beliefs and becoming more emotionally masterful. Alongside this, I started to understand the physiology of stress and hormones and learnt the tools required to keep healthy cycles in each.

How did this impact the way you treat your clients? I soon realised that my local physiotherapy caseload of thirty to fifty year old Geneva based expats weren’t recovering from their injuries and pain as quickly as my air force and sports caseload had. It was clear that these patients were under an immense amount of pressure at work and home. They were highly driven and motivated with what I was asking them to do, but invariably they were crazy busy, time short and overwhelmed with all they had to fit in. They were also living away from their home communities which, I realised contributed significantly to their stress levels and hence played a huge role in their recovery. I soon realised I had to be looking far more holistically to get to the root of my patients pain. I gradually added further certifications in nutrition, holistic health coaching and spent over 3 years qualifying as a transformational life coach. The process took me to a depth of knowledge and self-awareness I hadn’t realised I needed personally to heal, grow and thrive. My new certifications and experience enabled me to expand working online, which meant I could work privately or in groups with clients via conference calls from the other side of the world. Interspersed with getting out the house to in person consultations, workshops in organisations, schools and retreats, this gave me the freedom and work-life balance so important to me. My current clients tend to come to me physically and emotionally exhausted. They’re often on the verge of a crisis such

as burnout or a health scare and they realise that they finally have to take their health and personal needs and desires seriously.

What are the main solutions you create for your clients? I help them reset their bodies, minds, hormones and life. They often have an array of seemingly unrelated symptoms ranging from anxiety, headaches and weight gain to brain fog, back pain and other stress related or hormonal or personal issues. The common denominator is usually the unrelenting and cumulative pressures and stressors at work and home. From performing at work, to nurturing our relationships, looking after themselves and parenting – it just gets too much. Actually our bodies and minds are fairly well equipped to cope with short bursts of high stress such as moving house or having a baby. However the chronic daily micro stressors from work, relationships, kids, finances etc become unsustainable without certain tools and strategies in place. To the human body, stress is stress which means be ready to run away from the lion. Hence at a hormone and physiological level, if we’re pumping out the stress hormones such as cortisol too often, our systems literally get depleted. I help my clients and patients implement a bespoke set of tools to maintain physical and emotional equilibrium. This helps them stay well, make decisions and deal with challenges better so even when they’re surrounded by uncertainty and stress, their bodies and minds start to respond, as opposed to react with a stress response. Alongside I help clients release what is no longer serving them to lighten their load and reset new aligned beliefs and habits so their baseline resilience level increases.

Where do you turn for inspiration and why? These days first and foremost I turn within – to my own intuition and nature for inspiration. I invariably get the best ideas whilst I’m walking, doing yoga by the lake or skiing in the mountains. I’m also an avid reader

and podcast listener so I start most days by reading a few pages from an inspirational book. I often listen to podcasts in the car whilst taxi-ing my teens, or if I need some motivation to exercise! New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been my recent source of admiration. I found the way she showed up with such courage and compassion at a time of national crisis with the attacks an example of brilliant conscious leadership. Her communication was smart, held a strong yet compassionate message. She led from a place of love not fear. We really need more conscious leaders in the world and I feel strongly that women have such a great role to play here. They often find it easier to leave their egos out of the board room and communicate courageously and openly so everyone can show up inspired and attain their full potential, as opposed to getting sucked into negative work politics. They often facilitate collaboration over competition which tends to facilitate much

healthier progress all around. The why behind my business these days is actually to help create a generation of healthy leaders and achievers, who inspire through conscious leadership that does NOT require burning oneself out! No one can rise to their full physical or emotional potential if they’re running on empty. I believe this will have a massive impact on our next generations. I also believe such training has a real place in schools too, where from an early age, children need to be taught to tune in and understand the needs of their bodies and minds alongside simply learning how to pass exams and perform. Overall those who live on purpose and hence maintain a level of work life balance are inspiring to me. We can be passionate about our work, I certainly am, but life is invariably about more than that. To me when we know who we are, we can live on purpose and thrive across all areas important to us, most days.

What does it take to raise a confident child?

The “village” of nannies who bring the magic to your child’s life. Interview with Tanya Jeannet | By Dr Marina Nani


hen Tanya Jeannet had her second baby, she struggled to source a nanny in Switzerland. Managing work and childcare was taking a toll on her wellbeing and Tanya decided to launch a nanny agency in Switzerland called Rockmybaby® in November 2012. Initially Tanya launched Rockmybaby® in Zurich but soon she had to fulfil a wider demand and her client’s needs, and she upscaled her business model throughout the whole of Switzerland in 2013. Rockmybaby® has fast be-came a leader in its field in Switzerland and continues to expand and develop, serving parents and nannies and managing their expectations with bespoke childcare solutions for babies and those who love and care for them.

What gave you the courage to launch and expand your business in the whole of Switzerland? I identified a need as a mother and I could relate to all those families needing support. I am an expat Swiss mom with no family infrastructure and therefore relate to how hard it is doing it alone and I wanted to provide a support to families needing relief and help as I did and still do!

What makes your business so desirable by both parents and nannies? Rockmybaby® has fast become a leader in its field in Switzerland and continues to expand and develop, ensuring we are able to serve our clients and nannies accordingly and to the best of our ability. Rockmybaby has been described as having a “high touch, personal service” by our clients and our aim is to provide a superior

service with the utmost integrity and value. Striving to help families find their perfect nanny, childcare and private household staffing solution - saving you the time and effort of recruiting privately whilst giving you peace of mind as we do thorough background checks and screening. We assist with full recruitment process from sourcing, interviewing, screening and background checks as well as assistance with the employment contract and assisting families to set up the correct employment relationship with regards to payroll and insurances, pensions and taxes etc.

What problems are you solving and what are you specialties? We manage recruitment and placement of nannies, maternity nurses, housekeepers and other household staff. Depending on our clients’ needs the placement could be permanent, temporary, full and part-time live-in and live-out. Quite often we provide Emergency Placements, Babysitter Placements, Proxy Parents, Maternity Nurses and Aupairs. Many mothers are going back to work or just need support at home as quite often, especially with international families , they do not have the family infrastructure to support them in childcare, as they say, it takes a village to raise a child - we help create that “village” for them. We are also aware that parents just need some time off and going on a date night could be a bridge too far! We have an online booking system operating 24/7. All our sitters are personally interviewed, referenced checked and vetted.

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced thus far? Time as always – trying to balance family life and work but as the kids are getting older it has gotten easier. Working for yourself does not necessarily mean more time for your family, just that you can structure it the way you want which gives a lot of flexibility and allows me to be there for me kids when they need me.


How to bring back your life’s Sparkles Interview with Victoria Sparkes | By Dr Marina Nani

A Senior lecturer and Research Fellow at two UK Universities, with a Masters in neurological rehabilitation, a PCGE and a Doctorate in Education, mother of three teenage girls, Victoria Sparkes has lived in Switzerland on and off since 2001.However, teaching in a non- English speaking University wasn’t an option and when relocating to Switzerland the language barrier imposed severe restrictions on her employment options.


decade ago when she moved back to Switzerland, she decided to give her new home a vintage look. Victoria loved revamping furniture, but the process of painting was time consuming and often messy – sanding, priming then painting usually with an oil-based paint - and she also found the paint fumes uncomfortable. Looking for an easy solution to painting these pieces of furniture, she came across Annie Sloan’s paint which can be applied directly onto most surfaces, from metal, to painted wood. This allowed Victoria to take her creativity to a total new level, but little did she know that paint is her new found passion and freedom! At the time it was difficult to find Annie Sloan’ paint in Switzerland and she approached Annie to bring the brand to Switzerland. Since then, Victoria started to import and sell Annie Sloan products to interior boutiques and shops in Switzerland, in addition to representing the brand locally. Inspired by Annie Sloan’s vision, Victoria is sharing her new found passion for decorative painting. In this exclusive interview Victoria is sharing her remarkable story with a selfless desire to inspire us to be creative and adventurous with our own colours, to help us bridge the distance between pain and paint, just as she did.

What led you to the decision to start this new business? My French and German were not of a high enough level to be able to teach or supervise research students in a non-English speaking University. Also, I had three children and my husband travelled a lot with his job. I needed something that would fit in with the family as settling my girls back into Switzerland was my priority, although I missed the cerebral part of my work life. Discovering this brand afforded me an opportunity for a new experience. I’d never started a business before and neither was I an experienced interior designer or logistics expert. These points made it a challenge for me, but one I could enjoy Search Annie Sloan Switzerland

without being over-run by juggling childcare and family life too strenuously. It was essentially like taking a hobby and turning it into my business.

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced thus far? It must be language. As part of my role I train new stockists in the techniques we use with the brand, so they can improve their business by running their own workshops and being knowledgeable about the paint. In addition, dealing with customs, logistics companies and traversing the three Swiss languages has been challenging. Finally, the cost of marketing, advertising and generally brand promotion in Switzerland is limiting. I had to engage in these gradually when I was able to afford to do so. Being patient was quite a challenge.

What was your solution? I think in starting a new business there are always problems which you didn’t anticipate initially. The process involves working as clearly through them as possible. In my case I find dividing a bigger problem into component parts which I can influence individually is enormously helpful. I am happy to say that for most problems we encounter we have tried and tested solutions. Currently the retail market and high street is a difficult environment for retailers, since many shops are now purely online and are able to cut prices due to their lower overheads. The competition is now unevenly weighted.

Who are the people who benefit from your solution? The people who benefit mostly from this business are small independent shops. The ethics of the brand I import is to support small independent businesses rather than large retail franchises or chains, or purely online shops. This means that women like myself, who have a dream of having a business which can be organised around homelife, can create this without the worry that there will be a chain next door undercutting their prices. The brand offers support and good communication for the shops that we sell to. Social media, updates of products and techniques are all available to foster the feeling of a community. All our stockists respect each other greatly and support each other’s business success.

Where do you turn for inspiration and why? There are many sources for inspiration: my husband for his experience in logistics and business in general, social media for creative ideas. Annie Sloan herself is the ultimate inspiration as the person who invented Chalk Paint almost three decades ago. The success of her brand has grown exponentially and her reinvention of ideas of how to use the product keeps the creativity of the brand alive, flexible and unique. Considering she heads up a huge enterprise, she is always available to contact directly, and she knows and hand picks all of her worldwide stockists herself- personal touch goes a long way.


Back to Basics

Dream, design and discover manual skills! Interview with Zsuzsanna Varga | By Darie Nani

Originally from Hungary, Zsuzsanna Varga has lived and worked in many countries throughout her life. A creative entrepreneur, Zsuzsanna accumulated a vast expertise mainly in adult education and training. She worked as a language teacher and examiner for many years before finding her new passion, wood work.


hen she relocated to Geneva with her husband who is working for the Red Cross, Zsuzsanna started looking for an urban workshop so she could have access to tools and machinery for her latest project. Although she wasn’t able to find one, Zsuzsanna discovered a lot of interest in the idea on social media, and in 2016 she decided to bring a generation of tech wizards back to basics. Since then she has become a DIY advocate and created a new urban workshop, Knock on Wood with the support of two co-founders, Sebastien Vigny and Sanna Takala. Most recently, Knock on Wood has been awarded the G'INNOVE fund by Geneva City Investment.

For most of your working life, you have been teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) in adult education and in Panama you even set up a language school. What inspired you to change course and become a DIY advocate? My father, who worked as a chemist, at the age of 40 decided to learn woodworking and became a professional joiner. It changed his life. He was so happy to work with wood and do this grounding work. It never occurred to me that I would ever do anything similar. When I have bad moments or want to give up, I always think about this. So while I was looking for a job in Geneva, suddenly I found myself spending less-and-less time writing CVs and submitting applications and more time organising public wood workshops. I suppose I reached a point where I simply just had to admit that I found my new passion in doing so.

How did the idea for Knock on Wood come about? I was looking for an open workshop to cut my wood for a project but it was really difficult to find one. I asked around on Facebook and to my surprise many people joined the thread in showing the same interest, I decided to validate the idea. I looked for co-founders and woodworking professional to join the project and the rest I suppose is history!

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced thus far? Geneva is the most complicated place I’ve lived in so far. It’s a “railway station” of people moving in-and-out. Therefore, we have a very divided society between locals and internationals who do not interact with each other. There are many reasons for this. One of which is the language barrier; one has to speak not just good enough but excellent French to be able to approach local people. Also, international organisation have very few, if any, local activities, resulting in two islands without a bridge connecting them. We’d like to offer woodworking, among many other benefits, as a way to connect people too. The happy faces I see when people walk home so proud and satisfied with their own creations is priceless. Nothing compares to knowing that a first woodworking project will be valued and even worshipped by somebody. So whatever the challenge, it is worth it!

How does Knock on Wood work?

In the case of children, as Craft Educations is replaced by robotics or technology classes in modern education, we offer programmes to schools and families to learn crafting and practical skills. Woodworking shows children what it takes to make something by hand. It develops their handeye co-ordination, motor skills and communication skills via collaboration. We organise courses based on the attitudes of Nordic/Scandinavian education systems, we also do summer camps as well as offer tailor-made programs to schools which are open to incorporate woodworking into their curriculum as tool to connect academic knowledge to practical skills. For adults we offer either skills-based courses where they could learn the basics and walk away with nice end products, or offer open workshop sessions where they are coached individually in their own projects. It is for everybody regardless their age, gender, education, language or cultural background, that's what makes it so special. It is also very beneficial to children with certain special needs problems, sufferers of burnout, designers who have no access to workshops, crafts enthusiasts who are on a professional mission in Geneva and all those who want to learn in a safe environment.

We provide all the infrastructure; tools, machines, material and professional assistance to people who primarily work in offices and live in apartments, to use their hands again, build something or renovate rather than consume.

Who is one person you admire most and why?

If one had to purchase everything that’s needed for a project, it would become a very costly hobby. With us you have it all to launch a risk-free start. Burnout is a very common problem and connecting to one of our basic skills; using the hands as tools proves to be a grounding experience helping those who are effected.

Ana White, a self-made woodworker and influencer inspires not only me but many DIY builders. She shares her knowledge and encourages everybody to get started as the time and energy you dedicate to making something yourself will pay off. She inspires many women too to step on territories that used to be predominantly male.


availability and be briefed about her concept. To be honest, I didn’t think too heavily about the work Winnie was doing, but more about the technical aspect of the shoot and the scope of the work required. Winnie has now successfully ran three seasons of the Her Voice event and the fourth season is, as they say, loading…. I want to go back to the beginning. The first season. The first ever Her Voice event. I was still in my mode of technical shots I needed to get to satisfy Winnie. So I arrived and walked around the venue, making mental notes about angles and the images to make. In parallel, the audience predominately female were arriving. A sizeable number indeed. This event was adequately advertised on social media, so there was a sense of what was to come. There were eight speakers, some known in the Swiss community and others not so well known. Videography services were provided at this first event and you start to notice the anticipation of the audience. Winnie, her usual calm presence, carefully introduced herself and greeted as many people as she possibly could. Her assistance and helpers were there to ensure that the audience and especially speakers were welcomed, seated and directed to the conveniences as and when required.

Through the camera lens: Her Voice

By Elaine Pringle-Schwitter

“Stories have the power to transform peoples lives. Stories create change in the world. Stories become our legacy” -Winnie Ojanga , Founder Her Voice


et me tell you about a remarkable woman who is not only an award winning fashion designer, who not only does many hours of tireless charity work but has also started a movement in Switzerland that is now replicated by many because we are in an era where this is so needed, so desired and women want their voices to be heard. Winnie Ojanga is a Kenyan born mother of 2 who, over a decade ago, followed her husband to be to start a new life in Switzerland. The full details of her remarkable story will be told I’m sure, but I would like to concentrate on her recent years in Switzerland when 2 years ago she developed a platform for women to have a voice and tell their story. She aptly called it Her Voice. Winnie states “Stories have the power to transform peoples lives. Stories create change in the world. Stories become our legacy” As an event photographer, I’ve been there since the inception when I received a call from Winnie to check on my

I, as per usual, was fiddling with my various lens and doing test shots in preparation for the speakers. I was prepared and ready to do a good job for my client. After the introductions, the first speaker came on. The speaker was a petite, unassuming woman originally from China who walked on stage and sat on the comfortable sofa some distance away from the audience. We all expected her to stand close and directly in front of the audience in a presentational form, but no. Instead she sat and almost as though she was meeting a friend for coffee in a very relaxed and nonchalant way. Legs crossed and one leg flapping as she held the mic in an extremely casual way not directly up to her mouth. None of this bothered me as it makes for a good shot and will be one of the images that told the story of the event or so I thought. She, the speaker, started her story tentatively. My thoughts were I need to capture the audience and their gaze. Ah yes, that will make a good shot to add to the final count of images that will be batched over to Winnie. The speaker voice was extremely soft and she was hesitant and sighed a lot. For me this was great to capture the facial expressions of the audience members and even the fellow speakers who were waiting for their turn at the front row. Then she went into her story. Her harrowing and deeply disturbing story about growing up in an extremely abusive home in another region of the world and barely surviving the ordeal. Tears were streaming down her face and you could hear a pin drop as she gave the audience a vision, a snapshot of her life that I believe most in attendance couldn’t possibly imagine. Think of all the types of abuses a poor little human being can endure. She was it. Without realising, I had stopped making shots. My head

was turned to her, even though my whole body and camera was positioned at the audience. I started to do that clever thing she managed to get the audience to do – temporarily live her life and image or even try to guess what we would do in a situation like that. Oh, how incredible. How incredibly sad. You think as an event photographer you have seen it all, been there done that and know how to deal with situations. Little did I know I was getting emotionally involved in her story, showing complete admiration in her sharing her life with us and just captured (not photographically) and captivated by HER VOICE. This was the only time in my photography career, I can remember halting a shoot temporarily….. and I was ‘filling up’. That was the sagacious thing Winnie had developed. A platform for women to tell their story, a platform to share their story, a platform to hear their voice. What a powerful thing Winnie had created. One attendee commented that it was like being at a United Nations event. So many women originally from the different corners of the globe descended to this Her Voice event to hear each pre planned story by the speakers that were promoted for the event. Despite the fact that the speakers were from different backgrounds and up-bringing, they all congregate to sympathise and even empathise with the stories being shared. Every event photography assignment teaches you something. No matter how professional you are or think you are, when a story is being told that touches your heart, your very core – you stop and listen. I now understood what Winnie was trying to do and successfully as well. Get you the audience to not only comprehend what these speakers were saying but to image and live it temporarily. There are many women out there like the first speaker. They have all got their stories. Many unfortunately will never be heard. Winnie wanted to create this platform where those who would seize the chance, got up, owned the microphone and told their story so that we the audience could hear Her Voice. Now as the official photographer for her events and with an understanding of Winnie’s goals, I am able to get the images and videos that Winnie needs to reach a wider audience than that which was actually at the Her Voice event. Now, we are heading towards season four and the planning that is involved in this. Winnie and I work well together and have built a good solid friendship and working relationship. I know what Winnie wants and need from an event shoot. I know what to expect from one of her events. Something as powerful and gripping as what Winnie Ojanga has constructed, i.e Her Voice event and community, will inevitable breed similar type events. Others will use this model, her brand and slightly amend the title but they cannot clone the atmosphere that Winnie brings to these events, the empathy that Winnie has and the trust that these speakers have with Winnie in order to share their stories. I have seen it first hand, how Winnie wins the trust of people and how through her own integrity, life and story she is able to provide a virtual and physical hug and support to these women. Effectively, here in der Schweiz, there is only one Winnie Ojanga and one Her Voice event. I suspect I will be telling more event stories in the future about Her Voice. The very nature of this means you never know the content of the next story and how that will affect the audience or even the event photographer.


As you like it

Sovereign Travel’s first story in the English Castles Series By Dr Marina Nani

Sovereign travel is our new thing. We’re in love with English Castles and the story behind them. The beauty of living at the beginning of third millennium in the United Kingdom is that we enjoy a history that makes us proud! Whether you are local to this small island, living in a big city or just visiting the UK, there is a never ending fascination to learn from the magnificence of English Culture and Heritage.


othing could be more rewarding than showing you around another lifestyle available, where you eat, sleep and breathe high-end, the sovereign way. Enough said, we want to share those places with our readers and connect you with the people who make it happen. We hand-pick the castles that we visit and whether you’re booking for the very last minute or planning your summer or winter sojourn ahead, chances are we’ll receive the royal treatment. We discovered Studley Castle while writing an article to celebrate Shakespeare’s 455 birthday on 26th April this year.

Studley Castle- 180 years in the making Set in an 1830s manor house, this upscale country hotel is 4 miles from Coughton Court (dating from the 15th century) and 13 miles from the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. Breathtakingly beautiful, with serene views onto green fields bleating of spring lambs, the castle benefits from a masterful restoration (£54 million) which makes this location the flagship of the Warner Leisure Hotels Group. Once owned by the Lyttleton family before being bequeathed by Philip Lyttleton to his niece Dorothy, the building was designed in Gothic Revival style by the renowned theatre architect Samuel Beazley, and was completed in 1836 but it has never actually been used as a castle. The vision of Francis Lyttleton Holyoake, high sheriff of Warwickshire, started with £120,000 budget (£14.5m today) and was an extraordinary home to his family. After seven decades of decadent living, Francis’ dream came to an end and he was declared bankrupt. Lady Warwick purchased the building and transformed it into Studley College in 1903 and the castle was used as a horticultural training establishment for ladies until early 1960s, and later as a Marketing Centre for Rover. In 1969 the building gained its Grade II* listing, and in 2006 it was converted again, this time into a country house hotel.

A MUST HAVE EXPERIENCE Away from it all It’s Shakespeare’s county and Warwick’s castle, The Wolds and Tea Rooms of The Cotswolds, and walks through the ancient Forest of Arden Start the day with a perfect English Breakfast- to die for! With everything that is on offer, you could escape the online life,

but have no fear, Wi-Fi is free and if you really want to give a miss to the great outdoors, there are flat-screen TVs and stunning garden views. I was promised Free amenities including breakfast, diner and parking but I received so much more! There’s also a wood-panelled lounge/bar serving light meals, and an elegant restaurant. Market Food offers a delightful range of classic British and European menu, which during my stay had an abundant Chinese selection I did not expect- just to wow me again! Other facilities include a fitness room, a sauna and a business centre, as well as exclusive meeting/function rooms and more than 20 acres of gardens. Imagine! I’ve searched every nook and cranny, the view from the tower, and while I’ve got lost each time I tried to find my way back to my Sovereign quarters, I enjoyed it all, and I hope you do too! Restaurants, Bar, Holiday shop and spa areas have a unique contemporary style and the attention received while residing in my own Castle suit was a pleasant surprise. Designed to suit a younger crowd, this Castle has it all! I must congratulate the Team Studley for creating an oasis of total relaxation in the most divine natural setting. Make no mistake, when Francis is looking down on you, he can’t stop smiling!

JUST A STONE’S THROW AWAY: Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Walk in the Bard’s footsteps and build up the full picture of the man and his sonnets with access to his family home and the places most important to him. From his childhood dwellings and the Jacobean interiors of his daughter’s home, to his mother’s Tudor farm and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. Get exclusive discounted entry to five unique properties in and around Stratford-upon-Avon. Tickets are valid for 12 months.

Experience the Cotswolds This area of outstanding natural beauty has an abundance of stunning villages to explore, with quaint country pubs, gorgeous tea rooms and stunning views that roll on for miles. There is a three-stop tour that includes a visit to Broadway, Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-on-the-Wold. Coach travel is included. Departs from the hotel at 10am, returning by 4pm. This tour costs £19 per person. Reserve your place at time of booking, or visit the Shop on arrival. (prices correct at the time of printing but check before you make your bookings.)

The Arden Way Winding its way for 26 miles, this footpath traces the old byways of the ancient Forest of Arden, believed to be the setting for Shakespeare’s As You Like It. The marked path cuts right through the castle grounds. Turn right towards Ullenhall and it's old parish church, or left takes you through woodland and water meadows towards Coughton Court.

Castle Room - from £89pp Book direct at Team Studley created a great experience during my business travel. I arrived the day after the grand relaunch and despite the fact that they were double booked, I was given my own Castle Room. Enjoyed talking with the ladies from the Castle Shop and took much inspiration on how to get to know the Castle and explore the outdoors. Designed to suit a younger crowd, this Castle has it all! A heartfelt thank you!









fabulous at fifty plus

Sovereign Magazine takes note of women and their achievements in this summer’s edition. Time to celebrate the Divine Feminine, big numbers and the joy of being fabulous throughout your entire life. Do you know a fabulous woman? Tell us about her for a chance to be featured in the summer edition of Sovereign Magazine.

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