Inspiration Tuesday: Julie Beun

In light of International Women’s day..I wanted to share my admiration for this wonderful and extremely fierce woman I met whilst presenting my first collection at OTTAWA FASHION WEEK. She’s a kind, creative, funny and super adorable woman <3 A mother, a journalist, a storm (in a massively good way), an inspiration, Julie Beun is a force to be reckoned with. I asked her to give me some of her time and answer a few questions so that we all have the chance to get to know her more and pick at her brains!!

Beun_4585 By Michelle Valberg websize

1-What inspires you in life?

Life inspires me. Strong, determined people who have faced setbacks inspire me. I am inspired by people who are good, kind and generous to their fellow humans no matter what, but who stand firm on what they believe in and what they value. I am inspired by my children, who despite the mistakes I’ve made, are astonishingly bright, creative and dazzling creatures. I am deeply inspired by women, particularly minority women who overcome massive obstacles. Women like Maya Angelou make my heart sing. I don’t know if this is all because I was abandoned at birth (and adopted into a wonderfully inclusive, multiracial family), but I particularly value those who generate positive energy, regardless of what colour skin is or what man-made beliefs they hold. I always tell my kids to seek out those with a different vibration than themselves, people from different cultures, races and spiritual inheritances. If we seek only those who resemble us and reflect us, we are but one note. If we seek out other vibrations, we live amidst a symphony.
2- You’re a busy bee…how do you manage being a kick ass mum and an awesome writer all at once?

It’s about living in the moment, constantly. I try to plan forward and be organized, but I do better by the seat of my pants. My assistant wishes it was otherwise, but….As a result, my approach to parenting is ‘maximum impact, minimal harm.’ I yell at my kids, I swear like a trucker, but I love them fiercely and they know it. I am not very good about making them do their chores, but I insist they know who to cook, how to keep themselves clean and how to ask questions. Aside from that, the adults in their lives—me, my hubby and my ex—are all ‘big idea’ people, so we’re constantly challenging them, discussing life and asking questions. Fortunately, my kids have responded to that. Unfortunately, they also talk as much as I do. And they’re smarter. So.
3- We’re all human…when the blues kick in, how do you manage to get back on track and push yourself to move forward?

I never compare myself or my life to anyone or anyone’s life. So I don’t envy anyone, because I’ve seen firsthand that the poorest have rich lives and the richest have shockingly shallow ones—not all, but enough to know that comparing yourself or envying anyone is a foolish pastime. The other thing is that I only do thing that are fun. By fun I mean engaging, challenging, interesting TO ME. Keeps it real.
 Also, I have had a challenging life and if I were to go into it, you might say, ‘Oh, wow, how did you manage to be so positive and upbeat after so much loss and violence?’. Truth is, we all have shit in our lives. My life had some spectacularly cataclysmic moments, but I can’t say someone who lives a saner life suffered any less, because their frame of reference is just different. How can we compare? In science, you must compare like with like in clinical trials, but in real life, who is the ‘control’ and who is the ‘subject’? Impossible and ridiculous to think that’s a thing. Plus, I’m an aggressively curious person and always wondering about the next story, the next cool thing. I think life is full of wonder and stories. As a journalist, I’ve made my career out of telling them all, the good and the really really scary and awful. I think they’re all part of the human tapestry, so I relish them all.
4- Your motto: ‘‘Accuracy, integrity and a little bit of attitude’’ tell us more about that:

When I first started at People magazine back in the early 90s, accuracy and integrity were the two key ethical values we cherished. We had a rigorous fact checking department, an absolutely rigorous editing process and an environment of mutual criticism that was very healthy and more than a little terrifying at times. Leave your ego at the door, mate. We believed in accuracy and integrity as the hallmarks of good journalism. It was a Time Inc thing. I’d already been a professional journalist for years before I started with Time Inc, but the years I spent there were the most formative of my career. I refer to those years still, although they were taxing, anti-family (I often worked 24-hours covering breaking news) and at times, utterly disemboweling if you had an ego, even a shade of one. You had to be absolutely confident in your skills as a journalist, yet absolutely willing to have your work put through the shredder, because you knew you were going to learn something invaluable. I loved it all, especially the other warriors who felt as I did about what we were doing, telling stories about the ordinary people doing extraordinary things and the ordinary details of extraordinary lives, as we put it. So, that’s where my motto came from. Accuracy, integrity and me—a little bit (or a lot) of attitude. Because you can’t go through that sort of ‘blow torch to the underbelly’ as we called it, without developing a healthy attitude!
5- Finally, what advice would you give to girls struggling with finding themselves and their career path and how can they remain true to themselves whilst hustling:

Ha. This is an entire book on its own, but number one? Shut up. Open your eyes. Listen. Learn. Don’t pretend or think you know everything because you were brought up with the internet at your fingertips. Life is happening around you, and the internet and the content therein is only someone else’s interpretation of what’s going on. Go out there, figure it out for yourself. Travel widely. Learn two languages. Study art and history. Listen to tons of music and find out what inspired those songs. Be confident in what you know, but be willing to learn at all times. I’m 50 and still find myself wandering into the weeds. Surround yourself with people smarter and kinder than you, then absorb all you can from them. Listen to people a bit older than you, they know more than you think and will provide invaluable context for how to go forward in the world. Don’t distain the friendship of older people either—I surround myself with hot young minds so that I may be influenced by them and they may learn from me. I want them to be the architects of a better world, so they need to know what has come before them. Finally, love wildly, deeply and passionately but never to the extent that you lose yourself. I have done that, too, and it took years to reclaim who I was.

I wanted to ask many more questions, but this post would have been 10 pages long. Julie is not only a wonderful woman, but she is a kind, raw and genuine human being and I absolutely admire her vivaciousness. She’s very energetic and you can definitely see that in meeting her and in her work.

Hope y’all took a little something out of this and don’t forget to stay true to yourself and shine!

Cheers xo


Design Fashion

#tbt to when I launched my first collection…

Not to make this post suuuupperr long, but here’s a condensed version of the facts and steps on how I decided to become a fashion designer. Back in 2008, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Modern Languages & Linguistics. I was excited to be part of the adult world, as I knew exactly what I wanted to do…and that meant translation (at the time). A year into the work field, I was like that’s it, this is not me! this is impossible! I’m unhappy….and then flash forward  to when I figured fashion design is the way to go.

Getting into fashion was the best decision I ever made at 21. I knew then and there that life is all set for me. It took me 13 months of intensive work, blood (literally), tears, amazing friendships and experiences to get me the diploma. With great distinction, I became the designer I knew I could be. I was young, hungry and extremely ambitious to get into the industry. I was eager to leave my mark despite the fact that everyone thought I was mad for getting into this field while wearing my veil. Don’t get me wrong, I never thought my veil would ever stop me from being awesome or kick ass and I never saw it or used it as a handicap. I always knew that I wanted to be a girl boss and let me tell you (very humbly) that I did that and so much more. I managed to launch 3 lines on my own and get contracts and even start my own online shop…

So today, I am sharing with all of you my experience as a fashion designer. I launched my first line in 2013 as a tribute to my voyage to Morocco, the land of Saharan beauty <3
It was crazy, surreal, exciting, humbling, scary, chaotic, and the list goes on. I will never forget the adrenaline I felt backstage, watching the girls parade my dresses with poise and finesse (Gosh they were all super sweet and adorable!!!). I felt like a proud mama, letting her babies go off into the world on their own.

I never in my mind have imagined to be there, backstage at Ottawa Fashion Week. It was so surreal that the next day I got sick; literally and psychically sick. I was beyond words. Everyone who ever shut me down and told me to not even think about designing was wrong and I made it. It was a moment of glory and pride for me and for my family. I want to thank everyone who didn’t believe in me, because if it wasn’t for them, I would never have had the guts, the power, nor the energy to push and achieve.

So here are some of my pieces:

David Kirouac Photography
David Kirouac Photography

To design is a beautiful art, but it’s a tough art. It’s very demanding in a fulfilling way. Long hours go into making garments. From the pattern, to the fitting, to the adjusting, to the sewing and to the very last detail put on the last minute backstage..everything counts and everything makes a difference. There is no room for error and no time to waste. Let me tell you that I didn’t truly believe in myself until the next day, when I saw the reviews. They were positive, constructive and just very touching. I cried, and cried hard. Knowing that I actually made a dream come into a reality gave me the necessary push to keep fighting.

David Kirouac Photography

From that moment on, I vowed to believe in myself and do everything I wanted to do. Anything that scares me, I do it! Anything anyone tells me I can’t do, I do it! Ain’t no time to waste!!! Life is too short to sit and wallow. We must always have the courage to fight for what we believe in and follow our dreams. I was very hard on myself growing up, always told myself I wasn’t good enough, always pushed myself to the limit. But now, I have come to an age where I can say, good job Iman! I achieved a lot and I am proud of every effort, every step and every mistake I took to get to where I am today. I am fierce, I am powerful, I am limitless and I am woman. I guess what I am trying to tell everyone out there with a dream is; go for it!! Do not let anyone put you down. And the negativity, use it, take it in, turn it into fuel to keep pushing yourself to another limit and to another level. Never be afraid to make mistakes, as they are part of the beautiful process and journey to achieve personal greatness and to reach your goals.

Keep shining peeps and be who you are meant to be, fully and apologetically.

Cheers xo