With most of the world stuck at home for weeks on end due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, a lot of the isolated are tearing out their hair trying to keep themselves sane from all the news, social distancing and homeschooling. In the last few weeks, we have been interviewing women of different industries, nationalities all over the world to bring to you the best tips for self-quarantine and working from home because life goes on even when the world is under siege from this deadly virus. Whether you’re a mother juggling between working from home and keeping the kids entertained, or stuck in a foreign country alone fearing that going back home might bring something nasty to your family members, we hope the series ignites positive energy and brings practical tips that can guide you through this journey.
We shed some light on the situation in Milan, Sydney, Seoul, New York and Shanghai last time. This week, we’re honoured to be interviewing Julie Shah, a Paris based CEO and founder of an international brand management and sales representation company — Jules & Co. Speaking from St Remy de Provence, Jules talks us through her pandemic-daily-routine.
Where are you right now and what do you do?
I moved from Hong Kong 4 years ago, and since this time am based in Paris with my husband and daughter. During these years due to our businesses, we are in Hong Kong for about 2 to 3 months normally out of the year and then I frequently travel to the Mainland & Taiwan. I own a company building sales for French, UK and Australian brands such as Cire Trudon, Lumira, Sana Jardin, Saltwater Sandals, Assouline and Nasomatto. I am ex-fashion but got so fed up with fashion about 5 years ago, so I shifted to supporting brands that have a strong ethical component and are for the happy home & happy family.
What is it like where you are right now?
We are currently in Provence, near St Remy de Provence, at my father-in-law’s summer home. It’s our happy place, my husband for a few years has been cultivating about 700 almond trees and harvesting them by hand and making almond butter. So we had the idea early on to hide out in Provence during the weeks of the peak in France—we can always barter and trade almond butter in the new world regime. I am very concerned about the impact of the virus and children (this keeps me up at night, the impact of women and children who are already marginalised in society) — and of course the impact on my own daughter, so we have the ability to be in the sun and breathe. I want to bottle it up and send to our loved ones.
What is the biggest impact the virus has had on your every day, social or work life?
Work since 20th January has been stressful, I thought I would go on a sabbatical, but it’s actually been the most work I have put into my business since the early days setting up. My goal is to continue to pay my staff and keep my brands selling in China throughout this time—happy home happy family—this is a good sector to be in now and in the future. But now the reality is the supply chain, it’s taking an enormous hit so come end Summer I may need to pause sales. Yet I can use this time to make my brands and business look to lessen our environmental impact (logistics is not environmental). I have been angry at the logistics supply chain for many years, so time I take action.
After I had a child, my social life went from 150% to -150% so for this we do not feel an impact. Every day it’s quite intense with homeschooling and work, I feel nothing can be perfect or near perfect. My daughter and I are going out daily for runs, we have a limited distance we are allowed to run due to restrictions, but we see no one and can both clear our heads.
Are there any positive things that you have discovered or seen people take up?
I am hopeful that the world resets and that so many people want the reset. Revolution! Let’s go!
What is your top tip for self quarantining during this period?
My daughter and I miss my mom a terrible amount, we are used to being with my parents quite a lot in the year — so each night my mom calls and reads my daughter a story. Its become our time together.