C O R A

 London | 2018

C O R A

City  London
Age  30
Love life Engaged
Profession Co-founder of sustainable luxury fashion retailer Rêve En Vert
Years in London 5
Location — Studio of Rêve En Vert

T H E  L O N D O N  S T O R I E S

‘I WANT TO 

LEAVE A MARK 

IN THIS WORLD’

  • What makes you really happy?
    “Any time I get back to Paris, I am extremely happy, because I’m drinking wine and eating cheese and walking around the city that I love. The quality of life and the culture there are unparalleled. I studied in Paris, but six years ago I moved to London to get my master’s degree in Environmental Politics and Sustainability, and that is kind of when Rêve En Vert was born. Once my company was set up here, I was pretty much dedicated to London. My other happy place would be at home with my family in Maine in the USA, and living a super simple live there: hiking, walking the dogs, gardening and making dinner with my family. In London on any given night you can choose from 10,000 restaurants to go for dinner, but there is literally one restaurant to go to in my town. Sometimes that is all you really need in life. At those moments I think, why do I live in a city that is so polluted and loud and do I spend so much money on rent and food and do I have to work my ass off in terms of competition? And then I get back to London, where it’s so vibrant and alive and I feel this energy that you don’t get in the country. I would be utterly satisfied if I could live six months there and six months here.”
  • What is your best personality trait?
    “I would say I am very tenacious and resilient. I have never ever taken no for an answer and if something knocks me back, I have an almost visceral reaction, but I am very good at getting back up. In business you don’t have time to hang on to things for much longer, otherwise you’re not going to be able to grow. You can’t be overly sensitive or take things personally; you need some kind of objectivity.”
  • What is your biggest struggle in life?
    “I remember for a long time having this struggle of, Who am I? I came from a little town in Maine and all of a sudden I was living in huge cities like New York, Paris and London. I was wondering, Am I a little country bumpkin from Maine or am I this very glamorous fashionista from Paris? I’m very happy that when I started Rêve En Vert at 26, I had a very clear idea of who I was. My British fiancé Jaimie gave me the confidence to just be entirely who I am and feel really, really loved. Before that, I had realized on my own that I am someone who wants to fight and doesn’t shy away from difficult conversations. As Rêve En Vert came along, I found out that I was someone who wanted to push boundaries. I want to leave a mark in this world. I feel very strongly that as an individual who comes from a loving, supportive family that was able pay for my education and travels, I have an incredible responsibility to give back, which is what I am trying to do through Rêve En Vert.”

  • What is your biggest disappointment in life?
    “That so many people really don’t seem to care about the environment. We are overpopulated and facing an absolute resource shortage, but so many people just seem to go through their day-to-day motions without thinking about the greater picture. This year alone in London we surpassed our pollution criteria for the whole year in four days. We are still more polluted than Beijing. I’m frustrated how hard I have to work to get people to talk about climate change, let alone change their actions. A lot of people go, ‘That is terrible, we should really do more’, but they don’t really change anything. We lead very cushy lives, we like Deliveroo, Uber, SUV’s, full closets and steaks and going on holidays. It is just incredible to me that people won’t consider that their individual actions have an important impact on the world. It really wouldn’t be an big sacrifice if people would eat a little bit less meat or stopped buying petrol cars. I see mothers in Chelsea driving their Range Rovers around the same place the whole time to find a parking spot and I think, What on earth are you in that car for? How, honestly, do you not think a little bit more about the impact that your choices make? This is probably a woman who had been educated, has a good life and access to information, it’s just insane. That always, always disappoints me.”
  • What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
    “Meeting my fiancé. It’s really amazing that I met someone who completely supports me. I always dated the chauvinistic guys with those big personalities who kind of stood in front of me instead of next to me. It’s incredible to meet someone who really feels like a partner in life. My company used to be my whole life and because of Jaimie I feel like I have a better work-life balance now than I ever did.”
  • What is the best advice someone ever gave you?
    “My mother told me never to get married before thirty. She said, ‘You don’t know yourself in your twenties, so don’t worry so much, don’t be so hard on yourself, you are figuring everything out, you are still becoming the woman you are going to be. Make your mistakes, sleep with the wrong men and make decisions like moving to Paris now, because at 45 it is going to be way harder.’ I am so grateful that she pushed me to do anything and everything in my twenties, because I feel that I had a really rich life.”
  • What advice would you give other women in Europe?
    “Stay curious and educate yourself. Don’t just get a degree, but also read the news and listen to podcasts. I’ll bitch about the fact that we are so inundated with information now, but then I stop and think – we are the first generation of women who actually get to know about stuff, so we can do something about it and make our own decisions and fight for change. The minute you stop ingesting information, you lose that power. If you don’t know what you are talking about, you can’t fight it.”
  • What is your biggest sadness in life?
    “That I didn’t get to know my grandmother more. She had Alzheimer’s pretty much from the moment I was born. She was an extraordinary woman who was completely ahead of her time. She once took her six children all by herself on a plane to the Caribbean Islands. She was divorced from my grandfather and had lovers and a crazy house with a monkey and a baby lamb. She was a really interesting, phenomenal woman and I feel I have a lot of her in me.”
  • What is your biggest dream or ultimate goal?
    “My biggest dream would be to have Rêve En Vert be super successful and have international offices. I would like to be able to step back from running the company day to day and be able to do more intimate things, like giving lectures. My ultimate goal is that sustainable fashion in general grows. People often confuse not having enough money for sustainable fashion with ‘I don’t have enough money but I am going to go to Topshop and blow 150 quid on 4 shitty items instead of buying 1 sustainable item that will last for years’. Another dream of mine is having a farm full of rescued animals. It’s going to be a kind of a funny future.”
  • What does London mean to you?
    “I love London for how many different cultures come together. It’s a very lively city, but also calm, because it has this British refrain. But sometimes I do feel kind of trapped here, because I’m constantly around so many people. Then I find myself elbowing people out of my way and being almost rude. In Paris I had the feeling it didn’t matter where I went, everyone looked the same and drank the same wine and ate the same food. But London is so big, here I could stereotype every type of woman if I would go around all the neighborhoods. For instance, in East London lives the artsy, eclectic, very cool woman who would probably wear all black, has a great innovative haircut, a few tattoos and works in the creative sphere. The very posh Chelsea mom would drive a Range Rover, wear a fur coat, go to pilates every morning and have got two nannies, even though she doesn’t work and her three kids would all go to private school. I don’t fit into one mold or the other. I love the creative sphere of East London where I live and work, but I also like to go to pilates and eat organic food. That is the thing about London ‒ because it is so big, you can be whoever you want to be here.”

Photos by Gordon Roland Peden

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