What’s in a name?

Thank you, thank you, thank you. For your messages, calls, DMs. For your kind words and support. It means the world to me that you’ve embraced the concept of Sisu & Finn. It is an exciting, albeit very scary, adventure which is driven by wanting to give women of all shapes and sizes clothing options.

Since the announcement, I’ve had quite a few questions about the name; so here is the context.

The last two years have been particularly challenging for me. Through that process I’ve had to look into the black abyss that’s inside all of us and use sheer grit, and determination to overcome the challenges that presented themselves to me. With most things in life, nothing is absolute. So the process continues for me. However, I knew that to support my big, ambitious soul, I needed to create something which reflected me, my passion for pushing boundaries and serving the broader community.

With that in mind, the words which helped create the name were always going to play an important role in the overall ethos of the brand. And when I stumbled across Sisu, it instantly resonated with me and I loved it. It felt right. It’s a Finnish word (hence the Finn) which means stoic determination, grit, bravery, resilience, and hardiness. It’s about taking action against the odds and displaying courage and resoluteness in the face of adversity. Doesn’t that perfectly describe what’s needed to live an authentic life?

It summed up what was required of me the last two years, but on further reflection, my whole existence. Being what society hasn’t considered ‘normal’ has always demanded an extra level of grit and determination. I see that grit and determination in your words and faces too. And Sisu & Finn’s purpose is to help support you; to give you options and to be a place where you can be comfortable to express yourself.

So that my dear (petite, curvy, ‘normal’ and plus sized) friends is how Sisu & Finn came to be.

Feel free to check out the site. As it is a work in progress, feel free to send feedback to info@sisuandfinn.com.au and tell me what you want from the site. And if you agree with the ethos, please share the post with your friends and family.

Electrolysis – what’s it really like?

Last week I wrote about wanting to get electrolysis done on my face due to a hormone imbalance as a result of my PCOS.

I went, I tried it and I am going back for more.

The building for the Advanced Electrolysis Centre was a lovely converted terrace house discreetly located in Paddington’s leafy back streets. I was so nervous because my friend had mentioned the process is quite uncomfortable. Also, the concept of permanently doing something to my body also makes me very nervous – but I am so pleased to take the risk.

As a new client, my technician led me into the consulting room and sat me down to talk through the process and answer any questions or concerns I had. For which I had quite a lot. I was nervous about scarring, pain, the process etc etc. Nerida patiently answered all my concerns and was generally quite lovely. She then suggested we try one hair to see if I wanted to proceed. Surprisingly it didn’t hurt but it was slightly uncomfortable.

As I was happy to proceed she recommended a 30 minute session and take it from there.

Me being me, I asked all sorts of questions about the types of people who visit. I wanted to know the worst case scenarios. Sometimes I just can’t help myself. And, while keeping it professional, gave me some gems. After mentioning that I have PCOS she made the comment that many of her clients have PCOS. Women who have tried all other options but haven’t had any permanent success.

The 30 minutes went much faster than expected, but the process is slow; each hair follicle is zapped separately. And there are a lot of follicles over your body. Luckily, I am only interested in some on my face. She mentioned one guy who had his shoulders done; he flew in from New Zealand and spent two full days with two machines working on him. Now that would have hurt…..

So, because I was happy with the result I decided to go back ! Yesterday was that day….for a full hour.

Please note, that if you’re interested in electrolysis,  research your options before deciding to proceed. Not all electrolysis suppliers are equal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PCOS, hormones and excessive facial hair

This post isn’t my most glamorous….

But for so many women around the world, including myself, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) has many, many unglamorous downsides – including excessive facial hair.

I know my PCOS is going crazy when my facial hair starts to grow very quickly. It’s typically in the same spots; just under my chin and the sides of my face. I pluck, and wax, but within a couple of days the hair is back; and it’s angry. Even though it can be a lot worse it does make me uncomfortable and at times self conscious.

After many conversations with a friend of mine about hair removal for women with hormone imbalances, I decided to give electrolysis a go. Thankfully for me, she has been my (and our!) guinea pig. She has plucked, waxed, done laser and electrolysis; for her, the only treatment which stopped the areas affected by hormones was due to electrolysis. However, it is painful and expensive.

Thankfully my friend researches everything to an inch of its life and has recommended the Advanced Electrolysis Centre in Sydney.

I called to see when the next available appointment was and as I have luck on my side, they had a cancellation and I am going to visit them today. The next available appointment is in three weeks!

I will let you know how I go…..

How to Build a Billion Dollar Business

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Unfortunately I do not have first hand experience building a billion dollar business. However, I do have a weird fascination with following the stories of successful people – how do they do it, what drives them, how do they relax. Recently, hearing from successful women has been of particular interest.

I’ve used bareMinerals but never considered the story behind the empire – until now. I love the passion she has for her business – she started from nothing and sold her company for $1.7 billion!

And even if building a billion dollar doesn’t interest you, I really liked her advice just to get through life!

How to Build a Billion Dollar Business

There are people who do things by the book and go far; there are far fewer who truly go their own way and make it big. Leslie Blodgett, creator of bareMinerals, is kind of the poster child for going with your gut. She created a beauty empire around a single product: A makeup powder made of ground-up, good-for-your-skin minerals. It didn’t catch on at first, so she went on QVC to sell the stuff—when no one in the fancy-beauty-product space had even heard of QVC—declined to do any media training, and yet connected so powerfully with women watching that her line, bareMinerals, skyrocketed into a multi-million dollar phenomenon, with the #1 selling foundation in America. Twenty-one years later, that foundation is still #1 and Blodgett remains highly involved after selling the company to the Japanese beauty conglomerate Shiseido for $1.7 billion in 2010. In the meantime, she also managed to raise a son, stay happily married, and last year even mended a 20-year-rift with her sister Colaine on a Tedx Talk. How she did it—and continues to do it—her way is wildly inspiring, not to mention incredibly instructive:

1. Never Fake It

“I was petrified when I first went on QVC: I was literally sick for the first seven years of going on air—like I would actually throw up before going on. But somehow, in the last 30 seconds, I’d calm myself down, focus on why I was there, and what I was offering—and it worked.”

“I never did media training, and honestly I think that was the key to my success. For me, it’s about settling into what is it you’re going to offer people, and how do you feel about what you’re offering? The minute you’re faking it—being the person you think the audience wants you to be—it’s not real anymore. Your audience will feel it. But even more importantly, you will feel it. Truly. I don’t buy the whole Ted-talk, fake-it-til-you-make-it thing. You have to live with yourself—don’t fake it. If you’re out there long-term, pretending to be someone else in order to get where you’re going, I promise there’s a whole lot of therapy you’re going to have to go through later.”

“I’m lucky I was able to be myself, and have people understand me. Whether you’re doing TV, or an interview, or a big meeting, find your inner strength, find your natural voice—not your professional voice—and people will automatically connect with you. Unless you’re an asshole—I mean, then they might not connect with you!”

2. If You’re Not Valued, Move On

“In the early ’90s, I moved to Baltimore with Proctor and Gamble, working on Max Factor. I’d been there seven years when I found out I was being paid the same as the (male) new hires out of business school; it didn’t feel good. I didn’t last there.”

“Across the country, in all businesses, only 32% of the director-level positions are women; at bareMinerals, 84% of the director-level positions are women.”

3. Be a Force

“I grew up in the ’70s on Long Island. My mom got divorced and was making her way in the world, we were reading Ms. Magazine and all the books about feminism… Women on TV were finding their power, I loved the Enjoli commercial, the Charlie commercials… Really all these women were forces: They said what they meant, they were making things happen—that was the message I got. They had something to say—but they looked flawless, too, and resonated with me. I wanted that.”

“I got to talk with Hillary Clinton, Gloria Steinem, and Caitlyn Jenner, all over a relatively short period of time recently. And I asked how important makeup is, to each of them. I mean, I’m a feminist, I wanted to know. Gloria had this great smoky eye she was wearing—she just looked amazing. Hillary had great liner, and she does a flawless lipstick. Caitlyn, as you might expect, is new to it, so she’s really into it: She has makeup parties, invites all her girlfriends over… It just makes me happy, to continue to see that women can love makeup and be powerful at the same time.”

“I always loved makeup. The minute I found out there was a beauty industry, that’s what I wanted to do. I went to work behind a cosmetics counter—I had applied to FIT for their degree in cosmetic marketing, and you had to get a job at a counter before you could get into the school. And it was very hard to get a job: Basically, I annoyed Bloomingdales until I finally got it and I was on my way.”

4. Enthusiasm is Leadership

“I don’t know if I would ever call myself a leader. I like to win, I like to compete, and I like to get people together, aligned around a mission. If that’s leading, then I guess that’s what I’ve done. I’m definitely an introvert, which is weird, for a leader. It’s always been very complicated for me—it’s hard when you’re a shy person. I never considered myself a salesperson, but all great leaders are selling something—a lifestyle, a belief, an idea, a product… If you believe in something, it’s just not that hard to sell it.”

“So I’m trying to make this not sound corny—and it’s impossible—but I lead when I’m passionate about something. If I can get behind it, that’s when I can make sense. If I have conviction, then people get into it and they want to follow. I listen to myself, then try to lay out compelling ways to win. It’s about creating a common goal, then getting everyone on board.”

“Growing up, I wasn’t the leader of the pack, but I knew how to win: I wasn’t the most popular girl in school, but I lent my dress to the girl who won prom queen, so my dress won. You know?”

“Now I work with a lot of start-ups, both as an advisor and an angel investor. I invest in the ones with enthusiasm: I know they’re going to make it. I meet people who aren’t sure—and I don’t want to invest in those people, I want to invest in someone who can win. If they can get other people as enthusiastic as they are, that’s how you grow a team—that’s how the movement begins.”

5. Love Can Make an Entire Business Possible

“I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and for those 30 years, my husband has been through everything with me. He’s been the total behind-the-scenes guy. A career outside the home wasn’t important to him anymore once this whole thing started. So I’ve had it really, really good—the whole time. When I was traveling for work, he was driving our son back and forth to school, going to the parent/teacher conferences, filling up the gas tank, making the food. The bareMinerals story is as much about him as it is about me. When my son Trent was really young, Keith wouldn’t take trips with me, so there’d be a parent there for every major thing. You don’t always know if it’s going to work out: My kid’s 23 now, he’s an adult, and he’s a good person. I couldn’t have done any of it without my husband.”

6. Forgive and Transform Your Life

“The interesting layer has been my relationship with my sister: We were so close growing up, and as adults we lived 45 minutes apart from each other—and we didn’t really speak for 20 years. It was tragic, but we managed to find the humor in it in our TED X Talk.”

7. Don’t Stop

“Most of the beauty industry works by launching new things and then moving on to the next thing—launching and leaving it alone. But we’ve been launching the ORIGINAL foundation for 21 years! We launched it and then lived with it like a family member. I mean, that foundation is why you’re here, talking to me. So much of the journey was honing in on the epic-ness of it. Corralling and crowd-sourcing women’s opinions, creating a starter kit—that had never been done, going on TV—that was a new thing for prestige beauty products. When you create a product with your customer, it’s not something in a room with a flow chart and a power point: You’re there, in the field, it evolves and expands, and you tweak it based on what’s happening. What remains, consistently my favorite thing, is connecting with people—it’s so motivating for me, to meet women out there and hear their stories.”

“I always wrote a lot of letters, and I still write them—by hand, I think it’s important—to customers. And co-workers. Part of what drives me is the need to know who these people are, how they feel, what they think about the brand…it’s truly the only way. I couldn’t be my best if I didn’t know what the sentiment about our company and our products was. I never delegated the heartbeat of the company to anyone.”

“I guess I am a businessperson, but not that looking-at-a-spreadsheet, cut-costs-over-here kind of businessperson. Of course, we had people who did that other stuff, but it’s never been exciting for me. The way I look at business, it’s about developing big ideas that people can get behind—then you don’t have to do all that other stuff. It’s about knowing where you’re going.”

8. Skincare is (Almost) Everything

“I feel the beauty conversation is always the same—it’s about skin. It’s been that same conversation since I started out, talking to women I didn’t know—now I feel like I’ve known those women for 20 years. Even in my real life, it’s the same: When I’m hanging out with my girlfriends, we’re all talking about skin, what we can do to look fresher, younger, better. We all want to know the answer, we all want the secret!”

“In my experience, once women hit 30, that’s when it becomes more about skincare than makeup. It’s happening now even earlier I think, because women are reading and they know that how they take care of their skin now makes a difference later—staying out of the sun, for instance.”

“I swear I’ve been using anti-aging products since the 3rd grade. I love the whole idea of skincare, the sensory experience, the ritual of using products you love to take care of the way you look. I like that our approach of overall well-being at BareMinerals is the same for skincare as it is makeup: It’s not that you have to look a different age than you really are, just that your skin looks great. I mean, you still want to look better than everybody else, right? But that doesn’t mean you don’t want to be the age you are, the person you are.”

“We’ve done skincare a number of times at bareMinerals, but this time, we’re partnered up with our parent company Shiseido! When you have experts like that, you want to tap into them. Being able to work with the best in world—it’s a totally different realm. Their R & D facilities alone are bigger than a whole office building. You go into their labs and it’s like floors and floors of men and women in lab coats doing experiments. They’ve been working with the ingredient that powers our new hero product, Skinlongevity, the long-life herb from Okinawa, literally for years. They found this herb, which the Okinawans use in food and in drinks, and figured out how to make it work to treat skin—it blows my mind.”

“My work life is totally different than when I was the CEO. I mean, I ran and grew a global company from nothing to…a very large size. For 16 years, every two years we were growing by millions and millions of dollars. In that role, I was with the customers, always traveling, listening to them all over the world, and I’d come back and share the stories.”

“All I do now is the fun stuff. I’m listening again, but it’s more internal, with the new generation of leaders inside the company. It’s so interesting to hear how they think about the company, how they’re cracking the code, finding new ways to engage the customer, sharpen the customer’s experience worldwide, and shaping the vision of the entire company. I love it—it’s something I couldn’t ever spend enough time doing. It’s inspiring to actually shut up once in awhile.”

Sydney Skinny: Bare again

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Sometimes you don’t know how far you’ve developed until you’re tested again.

For me, participating in the Sydney Skinny, was always an experience designed to see if I could shed my clothes (in public!) and be comfortable with it. From my previous test runs, and the 2014 event, the answer was no. With that said, I completed it.

I was nervous leading up to the event. Despite my gym sessions, I felt my body was bigger and saggier than 2014. However, I was determined to face my fears and complete it despite this.

And I had a great time!

One of the elements I really enjoy about the day is the community vibe feeling the day has. Food vans, music, gloriously sunny day and so many smiley faces – it’s designed to relax people and remind people that life is for living and how friggin good that can feel.

This year, I was part of Team Nudie. As I walked over to the tent to pick up my Nudie goodie bag and register, I was horrified to notice that most of the women had their tops off and were having messages painted on their bodies. For those reading assuming they were naked, wrong! There were kids around…c’mon. The bit that gave me the ‘stomach sinking into my legs feeling’ was thinking of the two options I had in front of me – get involved, take my top off in front in front of the crowd and suck it up, or, play it safe and keep my top on (naturally I was thinking ‘I don’t really want body paint anyway’….).

Of course I got involved but farrrrk it was hard. I was nervous for two reasons – one,  because the bra I was wearing  was recycle from a very success date the night before (boom chika wah way) and not ideal for 9am, sunny day wear. The other reason was I would need to put my perfectly imperfect round belly to the clothed world around me. Majorly uncomfortable.

But, I did it as though I didn’t give two hoots. I slowly peel my t shirt above my head, sat down (ARGHH THE ROLLS), smiled and requested the team nudie logo. When completed, I slid back into my t shirt.

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Clearly not me, but to give you an idea…..

Well, I’ve never done that before. And boy, I was feeling very proud of myself.

When the time came, the group congregated at the meeting area. Time for a group picture!

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Then we slowly made our way down the windy, rocky, dirt path down to Cobblers Beach.

And just before we arrive, as because I wanted to, I had a selfie with our team Captain, Tim Dormer.

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When we arrived at the beach, the previous waves were returning to shore in all their naked glory. But in fairness all you see are a bunch of heads bopping up and down on the surface of the water.

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I put my bags down and started chatting with a very handsome 30 something year old man who was telling me how much we was enjoying the day. I was enjoying looking at his bare chest and trying not to look below his waist….oh wait….heyyyyy big boy (unfortunately I don’t have any pics of this to share…)

I stayed clothed for a few minutes, chatting and enjoying…errr looking at the broader view. My breaths were definitely increasing and I started to do the little dance I do when I either need to pee, or I am uncomfortable. I didn’t need to pee….

When the group was called up I slid off my shorts, and my knickers (maybe a g banger wasn’t the most sensible underwear to choose) and finally took off my t shirt and unhooked my deliciously black lacy bra.

I am naked! What surprised me this time around was how comfortable I was walking to the water. I found it a lot more relaxing than 2014, and even more relaxing than having paint written on my back an hour earlier.

Because I like a plan, I decided I was going to take a completely didn’t approach to my previous swim. I am not going to treat it like a race. I am going to slowly make my way around the 900m course. And I did. I chatted with people as I past them, or they swam past me. I was even dared by one of the lifeguards to swim under his board. So I did remember at the last minute to not do a dolphin dive. I was naked but I doubt the world need to see my bent over bottom rise from the clear waters of Sydney Harbour.

As I walked out of the water, it was so nice to be greeted by smiling faces, music and so much laughter.  I chatted with a various people about how amazing the experience is – and how proud of themselves they were for doing it. The beauty of the event is it brings people together for all different reasons. One lady was standing there in all her glory after telling me she was there with her daughter, how her husband wouldn’t have seen her naked for year yet here she was! In front of hundreds of stingers. I think her husband will soon be getting very used to her strut her naked, glorious self around the house. Another guy mentioned he was ok with being naked but wasn’t a strong swimmer and wanted the support of swimming 300 metres at the beach.

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It doesn’t matter what the reason is, I was so proud of everyone who attended – even the amazingly fit entrepreneur who picked up a couple of girls. It doesn’t matter what your reason is, for being there, it’s about getting involved, pushing your boundaries and having fun. And the day represented all of that and more!

Will you attend The Sydney Skinny 2017?

Thanks for Nudie for all the images in this post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Build Confidence

People often make comments about how confident I am. I find this quite amusing, and often surprising. Like everyone I have certain sensitivities but I make a conscious effort to not let my own potentially destructive thoughts get in the way of how I live my life. Am I a master at this? Hells no. But, the thought of living a half life is so sad, that the only thing to do, is live.

So, here are my top tips to be more confident with my body:

Make the choice

Every decision we have in life is a choice. Naturally I’m very curious, and my personality is one which needs to be constantly tested and tested – for this I am extremely grateful. When I have the option to do something I am not comfortable with, there are always two options – do it, or run away. I do believe in knowing when to walk away, but how can confidence ever be built up, if we never test ourselves? I also know that when I don’t do something, I regret it later – and I really dislike that feeling of regret and guilt which sits in the pit of my stomach. I’ve also noticed, that it’s typically after our biggest challenges that I feel the most pride and sense of achievement – which naturally builds confidence.

 

Get a massage

When I turned 18, my sister took me to the Gold Coast for my birthday. At this stage in life, I was not as comfortable with my body as I am now – and I was probably half my current size. We opted for a massage and even today I remember the feeling of shame I had towards myself. How was I going to let someone touch my body – especially my stomach! But, I distinctly remember thinking, ‘But I want the massage…so I have two choices; get on the bed or leave’. I got on the bed.

Did I enjoy it? I did, but I would have enjoyed it more, if I wasn’t so self confident. I remember lying there stiff as a board – particularly when her hands were close to the areas I was least comfortable.

I faced my fears, and realised it wasn’t as bad as I had accepted. These days I love massages and have them often. I strip off with not problems, lie on the bed and wait to be pampered. It just feels so good and makes me happy.

 

Go on a date

I do not believe in looking to outside parties for validation (especially men!) – in the long term it doesn’t work. However, there is something to be said about going on a date with someone who finds you attractive. And there is always someone who finds you attractive! The flirting, dressing up, maybe a vino or two, and the possibility of a kiss at the end of the evening is usually incredibly sexy and very alluring.

 

Look at yourself in the mirror – naked

I am a big believer in jumping in the deep end. Face your fears. Be kind to yourself, remind yourself of your worth, be grateful for what you have and practice. Over time, how you view yourself will change. This can be confronting to some, and I can imagine some of you cringing as you read this; I certainly have friends who would never do this. So if jumping in the deep end doesn’t work, dip your toe in. Who knows….you might realise it’s not as bad as you’ve built up in your head.

 

Focus on your ‘good’ parts

Everyone has a body part they like. For me, I have thick, long hair (despite the fact I cannot control it), tall, long back ( I know, so random, but I seem to always check out my back haha!), fairly good skin and a booty to rival all bootys (it really is my calling card!). When I dress myself, I accentuate the areas I like, and chose clothing that best suits my least favourite parts (STOMACH!).

Also focus on my other good parts. For me, I remind myself of my )reasonable) intelligence, loyal as all buggery, kind, caring, occasionally funny and interesting. It’s important to keep in perspective that the sum of a person is not just their looks. And as a whole, the package looks pretty damn good.

 

Have sex

Having sex is generally good for the soul. Have more of it. And it does make people more confident – including myself. If you’re in the sack with someone, and it’s getting steamy, the person you’re with is pretty happy to be there – otherwise they wouldn’t be there! Personally, I’m not confident at all times, and in all positions; there are (for me) varying factors including who I am with. But, the more confidence you have, the better and more often the sex will be – your partner will love you even more for it!

 

Push your own boundaries

The only way to grow confidence is to continually test yourself and move past your comfort zone. It’s such a cliche, but there is so much truth to it. If there is something you have always wanted to do, swallow your fear and do it. You might be surprised by how you feel afterwards!

 

Building confidence is a decision we all make and like a muscle, can be built up. The more confidence you have, the more authentic and fulfilling your life will be. I remind myself of this on a daily basis.

Fashions of Royal Women: Princess Charlotte

Charlotte, Princess of Monaco

BornAugust 3, 1986 (age 29), Monte Carlo, Monaco
If we are talking about favourite fashionable royals, then naturally Monaco needs to mentioned.
The first time I saw photos of Princess Charlotte, eighth in line for the throne, she was in a magazine (pic below). Her style was so simple. She was wearing a simple black top and her hair, skin and eye brows were perfectly shaped. Make up? Barely any. The effect was mesmerising.
In addition to having the good fortune of being born into royalty, and the perks that entails, her beauty could easily be traced back to her grandmother, Princess Grace aka Grace Kelly of Hollywood fame.
Compared with other royals, I wouldn’t call Princess Caroline a fashionista; her style is simple and safe. She typically doesn’t show too much skin, instead opting for high neck tops/dresses; a style which makes me feel more feminine while wearing.
Royal women are typically photographed in dresses or skirts, but Princess Charlotte can also rock a pant suit better than most! As a keen horse rider, she is also often seen walking around in her equestrian kit. Again, a style which I respond very well too – Ralph Lauren, anyone??
But it’s not just about her clothing; she is often snapped with her hair in a ponytail or a bun. It most likely is styled to an inch of it’s life, but it gives me hope that my choice of hair style can look effortlessly chic!
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