message from UnFrench Donna (Dizzy)!
Taking a mere blog from 'flat' to 'fab' requires, not just me, but many other equally talented ladies too! I get that, I know you all do too. Whatever it is we are doing in France, we need each other. Strong women like us lead naturally. together we are quite unstoppable, but we must not loose sight of why it works and how?
Building this community and brand, requires a lot of energy and gumption! I knew that, when I decided to take the blog further and make it a BRAND. I knew without a doubt, I would need a great team that had my back and I, theirs. I admire everyone in the team individually and they each bring something unique to UnFrench. I also knew some of you would fight me, try to own me and some scoff at my attempts, but ultimately we would settle down to the task and make it happen. That's team work. So after a bit of a rough few weeks, I decided to force a break. Remind you why we are here, together, doing what we do? It's not about us, it's about them, this virtual community we have built!
It's been fast and intense, I know........chill a bit. Unwind, put your phone down and enjoy your own reality for a while. You've earned it. Soon enough we will be in to the long dark nights together. So please, have a final fling! Get out and walk it off! We will absolutely be here when you get back.
I truly believe 'we are better together', to deliver a diverse and welcoming community. Empowering and supporting each other! There is no competition allowed. We just clap each other along the way. As much as we all hate rules, I believe we need a few guidelines to keep us on track and to continue offering the same warm environment for our fellow women (and the odd brave chap) in France and around the world.
Amen to that Sisters!
This 'movement' evolved by sharing and giving people what they want! A safe place to land, a giggle or two along the way and that must always be at the centre of everything we do.
Sharing, I find sharing, easy. Maybe I was one of those toddlers that actually loved to share and make people happy? Not everyone does, I know. I love seeing other people be successful. I love reading about their journeys. Sharing, does not mean I want to loose what I built or loose control. It means I welcome you to join me in this adventure. We work together.
I find the 'people pleasing' often quite emotionally exhausting, don't you? Lots of differing personalties. I can't please them all, all of the time, but I can try to find a middle ground, a common ground. I feel I do my best in that regard and will continue to do so.
I believe, I've said this before, that in my experience so far (which is now many years of community blogging), not everybody will get on and certainly not all the time, but I believe they should at least try. The issue with many strong, clever women in one group is often the lack of balance. We/they have to learn to balance their wants and needs with mine, the brand, own businesses/families and everyone else in the team. We are all trying really hard to make our virtual work space fit everyone. It takes a willingness from all to play nice. We must do it from the heart and employ some brain power to balance it all. We must offer friendship to each other. I've never understood how people can decide they dont like each other without walking a mile in their shoes. Every single person I know has a ton of emotional baggage. It's expected, accepted and celebrated. We wear our wounds with pride. We have our own stories to tell. Each and every one is as important as the other.
Equally, I'm very aware not everyone will like me. I can live with that. It's not that I don't care or it doesnt hurt....I mean I am human after all, right? No, I just know my limits and I also know by now, not to make what other people think of me, my business, because it isn't. I've learnt the hard way.
Being an EXPAT or migrant is tough. Its a small community and let's face it ladies, we do need each other for:
I have travelled the world and experienced loneliness and isolation of the toughest kind! I don't want you to! I'm sincerely hoping you find your like minded buddy with us?.
One of the biggest problems in any fledgling brand is the way people behave towards each other. Everyone has a right to feel listened too, valued and respected. Everyone. Doesn't mean they will get it all their own way, but it does mean they will be taken seriously by me at least. I'm no Mother Theresa but I do aim to be better and try harder every day.
Not everyone will be your best friend but we must all learn to admire the good in people. Everyone has something to offer. Open your eyes and really see.
I'm a big believer in lifting my fellow females up, finding them somewhere to fit in, giving them opportunities to be heard and I honestly feel that there is room for everyone in UnFrench. There are very few exceptions to my rule. I'm not about exclusion unless I really have to. We don't have time for angst, bad tempers, sulking, politics or religion do we?. Please say no! Sure we all have off days occasionally, pull up those big girl pants and carry the fudge on!
Encourage, suggest, don't demand. Use those god given gifts wisely and carefully.
There are no crystal balls in UnFrench. Got a problem? Just spill, already!
In our team and community, no one person is above the other and I will not rule with an iron rod. I will just quietly let it be known what I feel is right. At the end of the day the integrity of my Brand is at stake and I won't risk it.
My door is always open for discussion or virtual tea with hugs. Always. Even if you leave, I will leave the door open and the light on.
Get it? I'm not going anywhere.
My biggest piece of advice to anyone building a team, is 'think before you speak' especially when tired, fed up or feeling rather put upon. Take a break. Don't react with a big stick and wound for the sake of it. I think we all know it doesn't have the desired effect and a few hours later we all feel a bit daft. I'm making this, UnFrench policy from here on.
Opinions are great! Of course! Bring them on! I will try to listen to all advice and all ideas. I may chew on them for a while. I also might take the best bits and make informed decisions, it's not always gonna go the way one expects. Someone is always going to feel like their feathers are been ruffled purposely. Rarely will it be so, if indeed ever. It's not how I operate.
It will all be okay in the end, I promise you. I'm still learning, so are you and we collectively should not be embarrassed about that, at all. We can all learn from each other. So much to learn.
I do feel my ladies disappointment, keenly, when I go my own way, but I do try to ensure they know why I've chosen a particular path. I want to be fair and open. I don't want a perfect community, I want a happy one.
My team and members are my biggest asset. They bring colour and difference to the table every day. I don't personally want to be centre of attention every second of every day. I have other fish to fry. I'd like you to shine too.
I decided to become the face of this new BRAND and now the brand comes first. Absolutely. After that it's about the individuals. I do all I can to ensure the BRAND is protected. I get up every day ready to roll with the punches and look at new ways to grow and move forward. That may mean unpopular decisions have to be made. Thats life, that's business. It most certainly will never be personal.
Don't get me wrong working with women, is mostly pure joy! I wouldn't have it any other way. We aren't clones of each other obviously! We don't look or think like twins, clearly. There's a lot of to discover about each other and we all need to employ tollerance, acceptance and a lot of love.
I don't particularly like working on my own, never have. I also don't know any successful brand that remained 100% in the hands of the founder. Founding something is just a starting point from which to build. If I'm lucky I know what's coming. Stupid, I'm not.
I work much better with a positive buzz around me.
UnFrench has grown very quickly and established itself as a Women's Community in just a few months. A supportive network. So, I've decided not to offer advertising in the future. I do not want to dilute what we have built. There's enough advertising being thrown at people day in day out! We are on overload. Let's face it we need a break from all that. However, we will be looking to offer merchandising later next year! After all, we do need to earn a crust and support the French economy in the process. I won't apologize for that but I'd like us to be ethical and responsible too.
We like wine and the odd profanity, we hear you. We are not aiming to be corporate perfection, far from it. In fact, I will tell you all now, that the day the Brand is bland and corporate I will be walking out of the door! That said, we do need boundaries and to know when to stop. We need to be aware of the image we are promoting. We need to operate responsibly.
I'm writing a book as you all know and hope to take it on the road with some of the team. A chat, music and cooking show. We will also always offer our community blogging space. I'm not and have never been frightened of lending a hand or sharing the spotlight. Everybody needs a break at some stage. No one would give me a chance, back in the day, so I aim to make sure I don't make the same mistake. I will reach out and help you when I can.
We are evolving and have been moving a little too fast. I would like to slow it down a bit. Take a breath. Consider the path we are taking and how?
I do and will reward success and hard work, but I won't reward being put in a position where my time is spent soothing many ego's. At the end of the day when it stops being fun for me and or you, there's something wrong. I don't need fire starters or control freaks, I want intelligent, kind women who have my back and will roll up their sleeves and join me in the mud. Be with me not against me.
In other news, we are hoping to introduce podcasts soon and will be interviewing lots of wonderful ladies from our community, aiming to be the 'LOOSE WOMEN' of France and beyond. I think we are being shown the way by you!. I built it, they help me, you lead it and we follow. Thank you for that.
First, I have to get back to France, be back in the thick of it all, get settled again and so, for now, I'm not in any hurry to bomb headlong into things I can't manage from here. There are things to do first. It's a process.
I hope we've often brightened your days, offered you a safe harbour and given you a little inspiration along the way and I really hope you stick with us for the ride ahead, but most of all I hope you continue to believe in TVUFWS!
Time will indeed reveal all, but to the wonderful team behind me, I thank you, you rock, each and everyone of you, every darn day!
Enjoy your rest.
Keep calm, keep smiling and pour me a glass of something for goodness sake!
See you Monday, big knickers on. Be good!