2016 went out with a bang. I had an entire full page feature (en français) in the December issue of Vivre Paris! My face in print! Talking life, work, and my favorite places in Paris. It was a legit 1.5 hour interview with the journalist (Anne Le Mouellic) and a photographer (Charles-Henri Dannenberg) came too! My life is un peu compliqué to explain, so I was thrilled how it came out. Look for the cover with a wintery illustration and “un hiver Parisien” in red type. I was also excited to see Marie-Anne Bruschi of Re-Voir Paris featured inside too! I know people tend to turn to blogs and Instagram for inspiration, but Vivre Paris is one of my favorite publications for everything Paris from the selections, to design and photography. It always feels fresh and focused. You can pick up a copy at a green newsstand in Paris or subscribe online.
What’s in store for 2017? Some changes. My word/theme for the year is “pivot.” I love what I do, but want to continue to make some tweaks to continue to focus on my end goals. I’m feeling alive and inspired from new discoveries and potential opportunities, so on verra (we will see).
I’ll announce it officially soon, but I’m currently developing Navigate Paris, a new website to house all my Paris offerings (tours, experiences, guides and tips). It’s still being tweaked, but you can check it out online at navigateparis.com. I’m really looking forward to taking on more of what I call Research Trips, which are intensive half or full-day experiences in the city to help businesses, organizations and individuals to explore an interest, theme or trend.
In non Paris related news, all of January I’ll be giving feedback to all projects updated in all of my Skillshare online classes, if you’re looking design a map, make a travel poster, learn InDesign (short or long form), rethink a presentation, or update/redesign your résumé or CV! There are a bajillion other awesome classes too if you just want to learn something new in the New Year.
Très Belle Année!
Often I take for granted what I do and how I travel. Then someone asks what my job is and for some reason it feels like an uphill battle to explain what are ultimately fairly simple concepts. It makes me wonder why we complicate things. Then I realized that so much is engrained in our heads just because for so long processes have been done a certain way. That brings us to tourism.
This morning I had a conversation over DM with Vayable CEO Jamie Wong that got me thinking. I had shared this piece on Rue89 which featured Vayable, and where I was quoted [Chrome or Google Translate if you don’t speak French]. She was surprised the article was as positive as it was (the fear is always that people will see a service like this as commercializing human relationships – which I had never considered). But then I read the comments [bottom]. Ouch. I’m not sure if the comments were aimed more at the journalist’s reporting or the nature of Vayable, but I thought I’d use this opportunity to respond as I’ve been pondering how we travel a lot lately.
The way I travel.
I was lucky enough to be born into a traveling family where regular trips were the norm, not a special occasion. Every spring break we’d visit somewhere new (Hawaii was my favorite as I got to plan the trip a bit with the help of people I met in an AOL chat room), and every summer go to Boston to visit and stay with family. On my first trip to France when I was in high school we stayed with old family friends. This opened my eyes to traveling and learning the mundane things from a trip to the local boulangerie to the novel [to me] concept of putting flavored syrup in your water. Sometimes the most mundane things have the most lasting impact – and some are more meaningful than others.
To this day when I travel 90% of the time I stay with friends. Yes, it’s far more cost effective, but it also gives me an insight into the place, and the joy of face-to-face contact (I spend a lot of QT with my computer). There are services like Airbnb, but this is kind of how I’ve always traveled.
Life in Paris
Without intentionally trying, Paris is one of those things I’ve become an expert on. I probably have 30-40 friends and family pass through the city every year (yes, some closer than others, but still a pleasure to have a friendly face from home, and we bond in new ways as we re-connect on my turf). In June I had 15 visitors in 2 weeks (I barely survived!). I also have friends who have friends, and they are often connected to me. I created my Visit Paris page to help keep myself sounding like a broken record and answering the same questions over and over. All the information is one place and everyone wins!
The irony of having visitors all the time is Paris is that they’re on vacation (mentality: splurge!), while you live here and don’t necessarily have a disposable income, while trying to juggle work and life. Before you know it, you’re becoming a personal concierge to every friend and friend of friend coming to Paris, just because you’re awesome. Alas, despite living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world I still have bills to pay.
The Business Model
The internet has taught us bad habits. Now / free / give / me. Bloggers + creative types are asked all the time to work for free, but somehow you’d never ask your dentist, lawyer, or accountant for favors of the sort (yet ironically, they tend to have really ugly websites and probably can afford to work for free). Quite frankly it’s exhausting sometimes and an uphill battle to explain to people and educate them on why they should value you. (secret: They’re probably not your ideal client anyway).
So when I heard about Vayable, I immediately appreciated that it was a start-up with a business model for the user. (I can’t tell you how many times I get “offers” to write guides to Paris giving away all my favorite places in exchange for “exposure”; the irony is that if you follow my blog, twitter or instagram, I am happy to share and that information is readily available). Between rent, expenses and student loans, working for free is not an option.
But that being said, I see my blog as my free model, and my tour offerings as my paid model. I’m not forcing you to take my tour, but we do have a lot of fun. Thankfully the people who take my tour leave much more thoughtful – and positive – reviews than those reading Rue89. I always find it fascinating that people are so quick to judge without doing their homework or trying something new. I’d kill to be a fly on the wall and see how they travel, or to see what they do for a living. I’m fortunate I love what I do (at least when I feel like I’m not being taken advantage of, and properly valued).
You can also find me inside the new issue of Dabble, a Canadian online magazine focusing on design, travel and food where I was featured in the “I dabble in…” column. You can pick up a few random facts about me – full size – right here. A big thank you to Ashley Ludaescher of Chasing Heartbeats for the photos for this feature.