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Heidi Fossali Founder SIRÓ Cashmere
ML: You were born in the UK, lived in the US for many years and then moved to France. What is your connection to Monaco?
HF: My connection to Monaco began when I was 18 and spent 7 months in Monaco.
I left my hometown in the South West of England and took a bus, then a train, a ferry and then another train down to the South of France for a “summer adventure”.
I talked my way into a job at the Fairmont Hotel (the Loews back then) as a cocktail waitress and had the most amazing summer. I not only fell in love with Monaco but also with a man working at the hotel pool and spa … 10 years later we got married in Los Angeles but that’s another story … We lived in LA for ten years and then came full circle back to Monaco in 2005.
ML: How would you compare the healthy outdoor lifestyle of California to Monaco’s wellness scene?
HF: I’d say the healthy outdoor lifestyle of California, which has a similar climate, is almost identical to the wellness scene you find here in Monaco. In LA, I used to run on the beach in Malibu, I did my workout in the gym overlooking the ocean, I passed by the organic juice bar for my wheatgrass shot, took weekend hikes in the hills, climbed the trails on my mountain bike, I enjoyed yoga classes on the water’s edge and attended weekly fitness bootcamps…. I do EXACTLY the same here in Monaco.
ML: Fitness and fashion have always played a part in your life. You’ve been a certified trainer, completed a 3-year beauty, makeup and hair design course in the US, and studied fashion retail, buying, and merchandising in London at college. Did you have an ultimate objective in terms of a career?
HF: It wasn’t until I had studied and worked in each arena – Faces, Fashion and Fitness – that I realised how passionate I felt about each of them and so decided to create my own consultancy as a Lifestyle Beauty Coach.
I have always had this built-in mechanism and desire to want people to feel beautiful, and that can mean different things to different people. It could be a gorgeous new red lipstick for your grandmother, a flower in the ponytail of your toddler, a wig or Pucci headscarf for a cancer patient, the latest pair of Nike trainers for your son, a first bra for your 11-year-old, losing 10 kilos for your Dad, a new haircut and colour for a sleep deprived Mom and so on.
My ultimate goal and “raison d’être” has always been to help, show and teach others to recognise their own beauty, to feel confident and to love themselves.
A career goal would be to head a team and visit schools, hospitals, retirement homes and even create and broadcast TV show with online Vlogs around the world promoting self-esteem and self-confidence, simply working from the outside in.
ML: You also offer Teen Development Workshops, the inspiration of which came from raising your two daughters. Tell us about the programme and what you see in the young women you help.
HF: I certainly wasn’t always confident and even now, sometimes, am not. I feel, due to life circumstances, that in the last five years, I have tapped into an inner strength that I never knew I had before, although I must admit I do also preach to my teens “Fake it until you make it’ as a back up!”
The inspiration for my Teen Development Workshops and the creation of my brand, TeenLifeStudio, stemmed from wanting to share my gathered life knowledge and experience with my two teenage daughters plus my desire for them to reach their potential, to feel confident, love themselves and truly find their “WOW” factor in life.
I wanted all teens, not just my own, to have the same opportunity to discover life skills, to know that first appearances do matter, and the first 10 seconds do count.
Alongside an academic education, I strongly believe that in a competitive world, personal presentation and communication skills are very important.
Teenage years can be cumbersome, complex and sometimes confusing. Lack of knowledge alongside the media pushing hard for their attention, can make it difficult for teenagers to make informed choices.
I believe that communicating with our teens during this period of their lives is crucial, and the avenues of conversation keep the subjects of trust, respect and responsibility free flowing.
ML: So what do you cover during TeenLifeStudio Workshops?
HF: Everything from meet and greet, first impressions and body language, to healthy food choices for your body and brain, skincare routines, fresh face age-appropriate make-up, clothes for your body type, body care and the importance of exercise. I created a Starting School, not a Finishing School.
I am passionate and feel privileged to stand on this platform to perhaps make a difference in a teen’s life, and I truly believe that the driving force is to teach teens that they must learn to love themselves and then the world will love them back.
ML: You launched your company SIRÓ, a luxury cashmere brand. Where did the idea come from?
HF: Besides true love, financial freedom and longer legs … I realised my frustration each morning as I opened my wardrobe. I wanted a simple, sexy, luxurious item of clothing that would “take me anywhere”. As a result, SIRÓ, cashmere was born summer 2016.I designed a capsule collection of luxury silk/cashmere tee-shirts here in Monte Carlo. I chose to produce the collection in Italy using the very best 100% Loro Piana silk/cashmere yarn.
The colours of the collection are inspired by the beauty of where I live here on the French Riviera: Sand, like you’ll find on Pampelonne beach in St Tropez, azure blue teal that you see in the Mediterranean, burnt orange and coral red found in the façade of the fishing villages along the coast, violet from the lavender fields and a lime green like the pine trees that scatter the hillsides.
Each tee-shirt has a message of love stitched inside to whisper to you each time you wear yourSIRÓ cashmere. The tee-shirts feel super light and soft, they are luxurious yet practical, comfortable, simple yet chic, a staple in your wardrobe – your go-to reliable “best friend” or, say, your “Luxury Basic”.
I handcrafted the boxes that deliver your tee and even created a SIRÓ scent that I add to an embossed card with my handwritten message when you order online.
ML: SIRÓ is an unusual name. What does it mean?
HF: The name SIRÓ came from the word SIROP, the sweet, colourful, sunny summer syrup you drink or drizzle on your ice-cream in the summer. I took away the P and added an accent on the O to add a Mediterranean slant.
ML: What is the next stage for SIRÓ cashmere?
HF: I have very exciting plans to develop SIRÓ cashmere both here and in the US.
The next stage is a casual SIRÓ SPORT tee-shirt collection in bamboo/cotton that I have designed, plus the launch of my winter collection in Loro Piana 70% cashmere: 30% silk.
I have also designed and produced a unisex Luxury Travel Set that includes a sleep mask, scarf, cardigan, and slippers – all 100% cashmere and with a cashmere travel bag.
My true immediate goal is to research and find a business partner to work with me on all areas of development, the brand is growing quickly and I need a co-pilot.
ML: What’s the most challenging part of branding SIRÓ cashmere?
HF: I chose to structure SIRÓ cashmere as an online boutique and brand. I did this for two reasons. First so I could keep the retail price for the customer as low as possible. Loro Piana silk/cashmere is an expensive yarn therefore my production prices are high. A retail mark-up could be up to 300% so my simple, luxury basic tee-shirt would not be commercially viable in retail stores. The one exclusive location where you can find SIRO cashmere is at Grace Belgravia in London.
Secondly, I wanted it to be a year-round global brand. You don’t have to wait until you arrive in Monaco, St Tropez or even London to buy a tee-shirt in a high street boutique, buying online makes it available for everyone anytime. However, my biggest challenge is that customers cannot touch the product and won’t really understand the wonderful quality and the luxurious finish until it arrives at their door.
ML: Why should everyone own at least one cashmere item?
HF: I believe that cashmere is luxurious, comfortable and timeless and for those reasons I am sure we all desire to have cashmere in our wardrobe and home. It could be an item of clothing, a blanket on your bed, cushions on your sofa or even curtains in your bedroom. No matter what or where, cashmere is a simple luxury.
ML: Where do you find inspiration for designing your SIRÓ cashmere collection?
HF: My inspiration is slightly self-indulgent. I created SIRO cashmere with my female intuition and knowing what we women want. I designed the tee-shirt collection for us all – I cut the V-necks a little lower, I made the tee-shirt length a bit longer, an ‘off-the-shoulder’ for those with a little ‘ooh-la-la’ and made 3 different arm lengths to compliment all arm shapes.
I even stitched inside each tee-shirt a message of love, in French or Italian, so you are reminded you are loved when you wear your SIRO.
ML: What is the best/hardest part of ageing as a woman?
HF: Now let me be clear, the ONLY good part about getting older is the power you feel from experience, knowledge and fearlessness! I say to all women out there: Rock what you’ve got. I’m a passionate, positive and creative person. I expect a lot out of life and strive to be courageous, authentic, empathetic and happy every day, I also feel vulnerable, fragile and fearful in similar measures.
I want to inspire women out there to celebrate the best version of themselves – ultimately to ‘feel good in the skin you’re in’.
ML: What’s the best piece of advice another woman gave you?
HF: I have two actually. People will believe you if you believe in yourself” and “She who dares …wins!!
ML: In one word, how do you hope others see you?