Career 29 May 2019
Today's youth is eager to attain their dream job just after stepping off the graduation stage. For me, a very different journey built me into the entrepreneur I am today, and I don't regret one bit of it.
When I graduated in Hotel Management from Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, I realized my love for hotel interiors and décor enticed my senses a lot more than managing them. And so began my love affair with décor. La Désirade was my first ever quaint furniture restoration workshop for interior design after University. 13 whole years into interior designing, I found my heart pumped in search of more.
I began working as a freelancer at Swiss women's magazine, Femina, to beautify the home interior section pages. In parallel, I explored my infatuation with photography and life as food prop stylist, laying out some alluring, eye-appealing tables. I perused my passion for capturing the essence of a product not only through photography but also with an added touch of graphic design through the incorporation of ambitious ventures, Coucou Clock Agency and Swiss cookbook-- Les Délices de Manuella. My learning curve never diminished.
I continued to keep myself abreast of evolving technologies, literally mugging up the InDesign and Corel Draws of the world. All this was accomplished while I brought up my two handsome sons. After 26 years of navigating in the visual communication industry and my children out of the nest, I packed my bags and boarded on an adventure to NYC at the age of 50.
My quest to know more helped me to pursue the Accessory Design Major at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Just the touch at supple leather intrigued me instantly to continue my focus on perfecting the craftsmanship that strengthens and ensures the quality of this fine material. While a student, I dug up a Yves St. Laurent suede skirt I had purchased years ago for just five dollars at a thrift store. I let my creativity flourish and turned it into a bag. I knew right then and there that I had found my calling! For the next two years, I learned everything I could about leather, how to craft it, and designed line after line in the FIT workshop.
"The yearn for learning more never left me. I was and still am an inquisitive soul. I took up every opportunity that came my way." Photo courtesy of Lioness
My inaugural brand, Samira Buchi New York is an orchestrated outcome of a serene marriage between my creative instincts and learnings at FIT.
You know as they say, “Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?" Hailing from a small town near Lake Geneva called Lausanne in Switzerland, I too, like many others, dreamt of living in the concrete jungle of the New York. Coming from a family of nomadic roots, my childhood revolved around the arts of big cities and the cultural diversities of the places we traveled. I remember visiting New York City in 1979, standing in the middle of a gritty SoHo street, and fancying that one day I would live here. This dream of living in New York never left me.
The yearn for learning more never left me. I was and still am an inquisitive soul. I took up every opportunity that came in my way – from being an interior decorator to graphic designer to prop stylist to photography, not realizing it was carving and sharpening my artistic skill sets, inching me a bit closer to my dream.
And when I finally touched down here in New York and at the forefront of the Fashion Institute of Technology, my lust with the art wanted to relive the second innings of life as a newborn on a virgin unexplored territory. Starting afresh, I saw this gap in the entire accessories business where providing custom-made luxury pieces with functionality and simplicity did not exist here in the fashion capital of the world. This instantly motivated me to go back to school and learn the nitty-gritty of the acceptable and lovable art of New York.
Initially, I believed, as I'm more fluent in speaking French than English, I would come across as a naïve to people in this great city. What was supposedly a weakness in my head, turned out to be my strength. My way of living, my personal style preferences and a cosmopolitan touch to designing my products has in every way come to be loved and desired by many in the United States. This particular transition of thought really shaped my character in New York– to hone every ability with confidence & pride.
The men in my life brought out this confidence in me through their daily inspirations as a young girl and well into motherhood– my father as I grew up, and then my kids who grew up too soon to chase their dreams in Paris and London respectively. Their dedication and faith to achieve what they believe in have had an insurmountable impact on my life that motivated me to leave Switzerland and grab the opportunity of living my dream in New York at the age of 50, which happens to be in an itsy bitsy apartment.
My tiny shoe box type Manhattan loft in Chelsea is a soupçon of my vintage European style. You will find a sense of industrial and rugged vibes– a chariot layered table to store my cookbooks and other kitchen essentials, a dining table of metal feet with bar stools, a décor comprising of Omersa- handmade leather pig footstool from Liberty London, a collage of memories on wooden frame and an incredible view of the Empire State Building from sizable windows. Though I miss waking up to the snow-capped Alps, the New York City skyline is a constant reminder to never stop chasing my dreams.
I'm now working for myself—something many will never experience or fathom. It's like having a luxury of freedom with fear. But no one gets free lunches in life and as a 53-year-old woman with myriad experiences of life, I can certainly say that everything has its pros and cons – but what is constant is the learning. And the desire to learn should never fade!
4 min read
One of the few things I remember from grade school biology is the concept of tropism. In plain language, tropism is the reaction of a living thing, like a plant, towards a stimulus like sunlight or heat. You've likely seen this before but just didn't recognize it for what it was. If you've ever seen the leaves of a potted plant bending towards a windowpane, that's tropism in action. The plant is bending towards the sunlight.
If you've ever seen the leaves of a potted plant bending towards a windowpane, that's tropism in action.
In our everyday lives, we are all inundated with stimuli throughout the day. The driver in front of us that stalls at the yellow light and zooms through the red light, leaving us behind to wait. Or the customer service rep that leaves us on hold for an ungodly amount of time, only for the call to prematurely drop. There are so many examples both common and unique to our individual lives. The trouble begins when we form the habit of responding to everything — particularly negative stimuli. By doing this, our mental peace is disrupted and diverted making us slaves to whatever happens to happen. Much like the plant bending towards sunlight, we oftentimes react and lean into whatever is happening around us. Now take that concept and multiply it by the number of things that can happen in a day, week, or month. What happens to you mentally with so many emotional pivots?
For me, the result is: Restlessness. Anxiety. Sleepness. Mindless Eating. Everything besides peace of mind.
Much like the plant bending towards sunlight, we oftentimes react and lean into whatever is happening around us.
Earlier this year, something pretty trivial happened to me. I'm sure this has happened to you at some point in your life also. I was walking through a door and, as I always do, glanced back and held the door longer and wider than normal for the person coming behind me. My gracious gesture was met with silence — no thank you, no smile, not even a nod. I remember being so annoyed at this travesty of justice. How dare they not acknowledge me and thank me for holding the door? After all, I didn't have to do it. I know I spent the next few hours thinking about it and probably even texted a few friends so that they could join in on my rant and tell me how right I was to be upset. In hindsight, I should not have allowed this pretty petty thing to occupy my mind and heart, but I did. I let it shake my peace.
I've since taken some classes on mindfulness and what I've learned (and I'm still learning) is the art of being aware — being aware of the present and my feelings. Recognizing when I'm triggered towards annoyance or anger gives me the opportunity to take a step back to understand why and assess whether it deserves my attention and energy. We're all human and having emotions is part of the deal but as mindful adults, it's critically important to choose what you're going to care about and let everything else pass along. There are several tools on the market to help with this but the Headspace app has really helped me in my mindfulness journey. The lessons are guided and coupled with some pretty cute animations.
Recognizing when I'm triggered towards annoyance or anger gives me the opportunity to take a step back to understand why and assess whether it deserves my attention and energy.
Over the course of the next week, I'd like to challenge you to pay more attention to your reactions. How aware are you of how you allow your environment to affect you? Are you highly reactive? Do you ruminate for hours or even days on events that are insignificant in your life? If so, practicing a bit of mindfulness may be the way to go.