Interview: Expat, blogger & entrepreneur Cyndie Bowen
Creator of lifestyle blog ‘Mademoiselle Slimalicious’, Cyndie Bowen, has more than a few achievements against her name. Born in France, she then lived in four different countries across the globe, winning her the ‘Young Expatriate of the Year’ award in 2011.
Now she has launched ‘Europe in a Box’; an organisation bringing the produce of France to Australian doorsteps. We spoke with Cyndie about missing her pays de naissance, travel, and starting up a business downunder.
Cyndie, how would you describe yourself in three words?
French, organised, passionate.
Did you always know you wanted to live overseas? What made you decide to leave France initially?
I’m from a small town in France and when I was growing up I never thought I would live overseas one day. Things changed in 2005. I had to do a mandatory internship overseas as part of my degree. I went to Morocco; it was my first time living alone in a foreign country and it ended up being a fantastic experience!
You’ve won the award for ‘Young Expatriate of the Year’ in 2011. Give us a brief summary of your expat journey from France to Australia – where have you lived?
I was born in Paris and grew up in Carcassonne, a small medieval town in the south of France. I spent a few months in Morocco in 2005 and moved to London once I graduated from university in 2006. After working three years in England, visiting over 30 countries, falling for an Australian, and teaching French in Japan for seven months, I finally relocated to Sydney in 2009. By the age of 26, I had successfully relocated to four continents, worked in France, Morocco, England, Japan and Australia.
You grew up in the South of France, but have lived all over the world. Do you ever feel homesick for France? What things in particular do you miss about your home country?
I miss my family and friends a lot. I also miss the country itself, its landscape and history as well as the gastronomy (food & wine). But I love Australia, it’s a fabulous place to be, I really enjoy living in Sydney and have never been happier! Over the years I feel less and less homesick. Keeping myself busy helps!
Tell us about the moment you came up with the idea for your new venture, ‘Europe in a Box’. What was your original motivation for developing it?
I had been thinking of starting an online business for several years. For a long time, I wasn’t sure what I actually wanted to offer. I attended a professional blogger conference in October last year and I found my inspiration there! After several months of hard work and planning, Europe in a Box was officially launched on 6 February, 2013!
Europe in a Box promotes cultural diversity through a love of food. A percentage of each sale goes to ‘All Together Now’, the only charity in Australia dedicated to erasing racism.
The subscription box concept is booming all over the world, especially in the US and also in France (there are over 100 different types of box membership available there). I’m proud to be one of the first to introduce it to Australia. I’m confident it will become even bigger here!
People are looking for new experiences, and that’s what I’m offering them through imported food, cultural & educational information, and discovery. The convenience of receiving curated products straight to your door is also something consumers will now be able to enjoy.
Have you always been passionate about food? Tell us about your earliest memories of food in France.
I’m sure everybody at My French Life would agree: French people are obsessed by (good) food! We wake-up on the morning already thinking of what we are going to have for dinner! I have always enjoyed cooking, although I can’t pretend to be a chef and I’ve been making French crepes since I was very young.
Quality and authenticity are very important to me when it comes to food and that’s why all of the products I include in the monthly Europe in a Box boxes go through a careful selection process.
Between ‘Europe in a Box’ and writing for your lifestyle and health food blog, you also work full-time – you have a very busy life!
How do you manage your time? What was it like getting a start-up business off the ground with so much going on?
One of the advantages of working as a Project Manager in my corporate life is that I have developed good time management skills! I’m a fairly organised person so that helps. My blog ‘Mademoiselle Slimalicious – a healthy lifestyle inspired by French culture’ is a way for me to share my heritage and my passion for food & health. I consider it a hobby.
What are your plans for the future? Will you live in any other countries, or have you settled in Australia? Why?
I have settled in Australia (for now). I’m marrying an Australian next year (the wedding will be in France!), and we’ve just purchased our first home in Sydney. We may go back to Europe later on – ideally I would like my children to grow up closer to my family; we would especially like to live in Switzerland.
Thank you Cyndie, for speaking with MaVieFrançaise®. It was wonderful getting to know more about you and your new business venture in Australia.Image credits:
1. Europe in a Box, by Cyndie Bowen
2. Cyndie Sand Desert, by Cyndie Bowen
3. carcassonne, by karawho
4. Sel et Poivre, via tripadvisor.com.au
5. Cyndie Carcassonne, by Cyndie Bowen