rare
blooms

Stories of resilience and transformation from our community.

Saavan Sagar

Saavan Sagar

Photographer, founder, and model Saavan Sagar on the desert, resilience and her routines.

Q: Tell us about your morning routine.

A: I start every morning with tea to warm up for the day - usually Yerba Mate and then I will do a New York Times word game of some sort!


Q: And your wind down routine?

A: My wind down routine varies but usually includes some type of mental dumping so that I can have a clear mind and plan for what my tomorrow holds. I tend to get bursts of creative energy in the evening so I like to capitalize on that by writing down my ideas and exploring new projects.


Q: How did you get into photography?

A: I began shooting on my fathers old film camera as he is a photographer too. There is so much agency in photography which is what is what kept me hooked and excited about it. Film is also such a fun way of learning the craft because it reinforces delayed gratification and welcomed accidents that can turn out so compelling!

 

Q:What keeps you connected to the work and how do you find beauty in the everyday?

A: All the things I love about photography are so cliche but I guess that just makes them true; I love capturing feelings in my work - a quiet beauty that can be captured in a moment and relived forever.

 

Q: What does resilience mean to you and how do you nurture inner fortitude?

A: Resilience to me is the practice of continuing no matter the circumstances. I run into tons of roadblocks as a creative and that just needs to become part of your process. I think reorienting your work or yourself when you have setbacks is an important way to push yourself and become more connected to the world and your art.


Q: What do you think about when you imagine the desert?
A: When I think about the desert I think about so many different ways the desert can feel. I grew up spending my summers and winters in Taos where my sister was born and where my grandmother lives. Northern New Mexico is such a different desert than the central California deserts I was raised around but they each have their own beauty. Deserts are so interesting because they can be sparse, lush, hot, dry, rainy, and quiet and loud all in one day - that diversity is so inspiring to experience.


Q: What do you look for in a natural fragrance?
A: I love all my fragrances to remind me of a memory whether that be an experience, place, person or time.


Q: Which notes do you gravitate towards when choosing a fragrance?

A: I love wood notes, musk and minerality in my fragrances. I love when there is a subtle sweetness while staying robust.


Q: How do you scent AYOND Eau de Parfum on your body and within your space?

A: I have been using my fragrance when I need a little boost mentally. I love that the fragrance is grounded and uplifting and it lingers in my space and on my clothes in such a beautiful way.

 

Q: How do you reconnect to yourself in a busy city like New York?

A: My friends and family are the most grounding part of my life no matter where I have lived. I take so much pride in my community that I have built around me in all the places I have called home. People always make a place special and even in the busy world of New York, the vibrancy and care I can draw on from my friend is what keeps me going!

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Kristen Blue

Kristen Blue

Arizona based sound meditation teacher on the mystery of the desert.

Q: What is real beauty to you?⁠⁠

A: The sublime experience of the grand and mundane. Nothing is insignificant.

Q: ⁠⁠What is your morning routine?

A: With juggling a business, early morning is the only time I get to myself. I try to make it to a 6 AM pilates class and do a quick Wim Hof breathwork meditation session to ground my mornings. I put on Ricari Studios compression suit to help with lymphatic drainage. For skincare, I wash my face with the Metamorph Cleansing Balm, then use a red/amber/pulsating light Nuface device which has given me incredible results with an autoimmune disease related issue I've been experiencing. While working with the redlight, I read my Sonhab emails to plan craft chocolate production for the day. Then I use the Nuface microcurrent device to sculpt my face. I follow that with patting on Taos Blue Day CreamThe smell envelops me, connecting me with the earth.

Q: What is your idea of a healing space?

A: Spending time in nature. I love hiking and camping and bringing the High West Skincare Set with me.

Q: What is a sound bath and how does this create a healing space?

A: Soundbaths are an aural, physical, and mental experience in which you receive the sounds in a meditative state and feel the sound vibrations within your body. Depending on the instruments played, those vibrations can feel quite strong. Sound meditation can be a healing experience as a form of self care, exploration of consciousness, restorative yogic sleep, and to allow for space and time to process and release emotions. Some instruments can provoke a stronger emotional reaction while others can put you in a deep and restorative state of Alpha, Theta, and Delta brainwaves.

Q: How does the desert inspire you?

A: The desert is a place of duality. It is a wild landscape with a thriving ecosystem of plants and animals, but it is also a harsh environment. The monsoon rains and the smell of creosote rejoice as waterfalls form on ancient red rocks. In the Southwest, there are so many hidden beautiful mind bending landscapes, sacred areas. You are rewarded with solitude in otherworldly places if you are willing to venture down remote dirt roads and hike across rugged landscapes. This is what called me to live in the desert.

Q: What do you think about when you imagine the desert?

A: Mystery and vastness

Q: What does resilience mean to you and how do you nurture inner fortitude?

A: The biggest trauma in my adult life radically changed my perception of myself, my voice, and my own power. I had to use my voice as a tool to seek justice and reclaim my power. It was the hardest and most terrifying thing I've ever done but the strength I've gained from speaking out continues to shape me and shows up in my work. Resilience can mean facing your biggest fears - while absolutely terrified and walking directly through the fire to make it to the other side- in a new form, stronger than before. This experience led me to practicing sound healing and starting my bean to bar chocolate business. They started as therapy for my own healing- in physical, mental, and spiritual health. They're now my art and love letter back to the world.

When Kristen travels she take her AYOND routine to-go with High West Skincare Set.

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Maida Branch

Maida Branch

Artist and farmer Maida Branch opens up about her roots in Northern New Mexico.

Inspired by her family and the land from which they came, Maida Branch founded MAIDA in 2017 - an online collective of Indigenous and Indo-hispano artists.

Q: What makes someone or something beautiful?

A: Effortlessness is always so beautiful to me. Maybe because that’s what nature does so perfectly, so stunning in its naked state, always purely itself.

Q: You have an online shop dedicated to indigenous artists that nurtures sustainability on a sociological and environmental level. How important is mixing in vintage items with a modern creation from an artist? What draws you to both types of objects?

A: I’m drawn to pieces that look like they could be from thousands of years ago or made today. Aside from a select few pieces, I’ve designed or co-designed most of what’s sold. Often I think of a lesson or something I’m learning in my life I’m reflective of and how I wish I could wear something that represented that story and carry it in my life in a physical way. I take the steps to create it so I can have it as a totem and so others can too. Designs can also be very functional in their purpose like a series of churro wool blankets I’m working on. They’re inspired by designs from the Martinez Hacienda in Taos, NM. Josh Tafoya and I hand dyed the wool with plants foraged from the land where my partner and I live. A piece inspired by something quite old, for our everyday use today.

 

Q: What does does resilience mean to you?

A: I describe my project MAIDA as ‘a love story, a coming home story’ this is a reference to actual homecoming that is a response to Pueblo land being taken from us due to Spanish and American colonization and settler population of New Mexico, it’s also an internal reference to displacement and home being within us, wherever we may be. I speak to this from my experience as a Indo-hispano woman whose native heritage is directly related to forced slavery and the intermarrying of Pueblo women to Spanish men. My grandparents grew up farming and harvesting their animals as a means of survival in Dilia, near Anton Chico, New Mexico, once a known genízara community meaning that of mixed native slave descent. I’m two generations removed from living back on the land, my parents grew up in the big city of Santa Fe. The survival of our people and our culture despite all of the forces at odds with our existence is the definition of resilience to me.

Q: In a world that is increasingly experiencing climate anxiety. How important is transparency and what is a sustainable process when creating in terms of people and plant?

A: I’ve been thinking a lot about our obsession as people with our own immortality and our presence on this planet in perpetuity. I feel inspired by the fact that nature knows exactly what to do always, despite our belief that we have some control over it. We often think of ourselves as humans as separate from nature, I hope to compliment what nature already does so perfectly by living more in alignment with its teachings and cycles, and I hope to share this through MAIDA by highlighting humans that culturally already practice ‘sustainability’ and have for millennia. MAIDA work comes directly from the earth and when we’re gone it will be given back to the earth, like adobe houses or clay objects, silver, and wool - they’ll return to where they came from but support and compliment our existence while we’re here.

Q: How has living in the desert shaped your relationship with the world, are there examples of resilience that you can share?

A: My partner and I talk about how people reference the desert as if it’s just one thing. People who move here often say they were ‘called to the desert’, but in many ways New Mexico is so varied it can hardly be just that. If you want the desert Georgia O’Keeffe has popularized you can have that here, but what I think is beautiful about where I’m from is that it’s really uncategorical. Where I live now, I’m surrounded by Ponderosa forest, tall mountains and in the summer green green pastures, in the winter in moments it looks like a village in the Pyrenees, we don’t have the ocean but somehow we’re in rivers and swimming holes all summer. 

But perhaps a characteristic that references resiliency that I’m most proud of in being from the desert, is that resiliency is demanded of all things here, its plants, animals, and people. Historically, we have always been self-sustaining and independent, dependent only on the land and its gifts, knowledgeable of how to survive even in the midst of what some would believe as lack. Deciding to come back home years ago and creating MAIDA required me to get really clear about my values, my relationship to place and my ancestors relationship to place one of the most important, that’s become a compass and led me right to where I always wanted to be. It took a lot of figuring out what I didn’t want to discover what I do, coming home feels like resilience to me, and has been the best decision I ever made.

Q: What is your skincare routine?

A: As a little girl I tried to emulate everything my mom did, and watching her wash her face each night, and look so soothed as she put oil of olay on her skin, I’ve always associated the beginning of day and end of day skincare time as important rituals. Since using Ayond I’ve been admiring its simplicity and a really powerful affect. I was drawn to the intention around ingredients and desert botanical focus. Looking to medicines that are directly from ones environment makes most sense to me.

Maida is seen with the Resilience Collection.

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Carmen Nash

Carmen Nash

Artist and interior designer Carmen Nash takes us to her sacred space where beauty and storytelling meet.

Q: How has resilience played a part in starting your business?

A: I had to learn the entire business of vintage furniture resale and develop an eye for quality vintage without losing the message and aesthetic of what I knew I wanted my brand to be. The most difficult aspect for me was that I couldn't find anyone else doing the exact same thing as me. Initially this made me think I was doing something wrong and that I should switch my curation style to be more on trend. But I was bored with that and it didn't speak to me as a creative. Being resilient enough to push through my insecurities really paid off in creating something signature and unique.

Q: ⁠⁠What is your morning routine?

A: Self-care is something that is very important to me but can also be tough to come by. I love combining hot showers with metamorph cleansing balm for a rich and relaxing showering experience. Also, I love to indulge my skin in the rock rose face serum slowly massaging into my skin and breathing in deeply. The best start to my day as a busy entrepreneur and mom.

Q: What does real beauty mean to you?

A: Real beauty for me comes from my faith in God. How I view objects and put them together is only how I articulate the feeling I have in my soul stemming from my relationship with him. When people enjoy the things I style and put together I hope that they feel the deeper meaning behind my art form. Beauty for me was not always felt on the exterior as a woman of a darker complexion. But through my faith and my art I unearthed something deeper and intrinsic which makes me feel more beautiful the more I pursue it.

Q: What do you look for when picking a piece for your store's collection?

A: When I am picking a piece for my store's collection I look to tell its story. Much like dating I'm initially very attracted to the outer appearance of the object. The shape of it, the texture and even the material all play a part in the initial attraction. However, the deeper beauty is really why I buy the object. The way the object speaks to me as an artist plays a significant part in the selection process.

Q: What does a sacred space look like for you?

A: A sacred space for me is a dwelling that I have slowly and lovingly put together. Collecting items that touch my soul and delight me when I wake in the morning and when I lay down in the evening. I love to combine elements of nature like fruit and plants in a space and use aromatic oils to heighten all senses.

Carmen is seen applying Rock Rose Face Serum.

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Home Phuangfueang

Home Phuangfueang

Artist and Photographer, Home Phuangfueang on the power of quietness in Arizona.

Q: Where do you draw inspiration from when designing?

A: Nature and my surroundings. I recently moved to Arizona after living in bigger cities like Bangkok and New York. The quietness is teaching me much about myself and what I would like to create.

Q: ⁠⁠What is your daily routine?

A: As young parents and business owners, my wife and I have found it difficult to balance taking care of ourselves. Finding enjoyment in small rituals during my morning shower are very important to my sanity. The relaxing scent of the Amber Elix Oil makes me feel deeply moisturized and ready for a long day. It’s great after shaving. In the evening after my son is asleep I wind down by massaging the creamy Metamorph Cleansing Balm into my skin and let it sit for a few minutes before melting it off with a hot washcloth. I then follow with the Rock Rose Serum which has a most dewy texture, and finally seal in the moisture with the Amber Elix Oil before my head hits the pillow.

Q: What does does resilience mean to you?

A: I am a full time father and trying artist, as well as a foreigner in this country so the need to be resilient is always with me. Resilience means to continue learning, growing and living no matter what because our future depends on it.

Q: How has living in the desert changed your life and how you see things?

A: The forms and smells and the natural design of these open spaces have opened my eyes and mind. I want to work with my hands more, to make shapes and feel natural materials. Growing up in the city I never saw the skyline, now I feel like there is no limit to nature and space.

Q: What role does place/location play in your creative projects?

A: It’s everything for me. I grow and change so much each time I experience a new place and it makes all the difference in my work.

Home is shown using Amber Elix Face Oil.

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Chloe Hayward

Chloe Hayward

The Brooklyn based director and writer speaks to creativity in times of uncertainty.

Q: What is your creative process?

A: I’m inspired by many things, but over the last year I’ve felt really connected and nourished by the deep friendships with the women in my life. I love the two hour phone calls about little kernels of thoughts and ideas. They help me tease out things I’ve been thinking about and it becomes really electric, we share and grow together, there’s a lot of support there creatively, things like, “oh, you should read this book, you should see this documentary, you should check out this article.”

Q: What is your daily routine?

My morning routine is rinsing my face with cool water and a gentle cleanser, then I use the Ayond Rock Rose Serum, let that soak in and then do a nice wake up massage with the Ayond Amber Elix Oil. It’s a great texture for massage so you don’t drag your skin. Then I’ll put on SPF, at least factor 40 come rain or shine. I also wear a hat most sunny days because I don’t want to damage my skin, that’s my best beauty tip! In the evening I’ll wash off the day with the Metamorph Balm and then I always follow it with a session of my Nu face mini. I swear by it, it’s totally transformed my skin. It’s so relaxing to watch a film and sit with it, I wake up de-puffed in the morning if I do it at night.

Q: How have current events shaped your storytelling?

A: A lot. I’ve become a bit averse to meaningless superficial things. I need to be moved, it’s like I’m addicted to feeling an emotional reaction to something otherwise I’m just not interested. After the last year, I think we all want to connect deeply to one another.

Q: What does real beauty mean to you?⁠⁠

Real beauty is something for yourself from a genuine place of how it makes you feel. It’s internal more than external. The really beautiful women I know are purposeful and passionate about the things that they love.

Q: What is your ultimate goal with your artistry?

I want to make work that is truthful to the human experience, that’s vulnerable and honest. I want people to feel something after they’ve watched one of my films, like “Oh, I’ve felt like that, I thought it was only me that felt that.” I want to make people feel less alone.

Chloe is seen using Amber Elix Face Oil.

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Kayten Schmidt

Kayten Schmidt

The Los Angeles based artist on real beauty and inspiration.

Q: What does a sacred space look like for you?

A: An elegant hotel room, I am my best self in a hotel. My mind is so clear when I'm alone in a hotel room, it's both a necessity and a luxury to sleep in one as often as possible. A space that I am not allowed to clutter or neglect.

Q: What does real beauty mean to you?

A: Real beauty means doing whatever you need to feel beautiful. Everyone has something beautiful about them. The right song, the right company, the right sheets or trousers or coat or shoes. The right gait when you walk. The right scent. You'll know when you land on it. I believe less is more when it comes to beauty, clean skin and makeup for fun. For me that is washing my face, putting on a rich cream like the Taos Blue Day Cream and a little red lipstick.

Q: How do you find inspiration when starting a project?

A: Writing and looking at a lot of imagery. Writing out the concept. Inspiration is a constant stream to tap into, it's finding the concentration and focus that is the challenge.

 

Q: How do rituals shape your day?

A: Rituals are a new thing for me, I am resistant to routine to a fault. I rebel against everything for no reason. Rituals are so important though! With work I've gotten into a flow and a ritual of archiving and going through my archive which takes forever, but it feels so right in my brain that I'm now addicted to doing a bit each day. It feels ritualistic bc it's a little pointless and redundant yet I want to do it just for the sake of doing it. On Mondays my boyfriend and I try to go for sushi in Little Tokyo for lunch and plan the week, a shared ritual.

Q: ⁠⁠What is your morning or evening routine?

A: Morning I wake up and make some Mariage Freres Tea, very strong. Then I start working in the morning light if I'm shooting or I catch up on email stuff. At some point I wash my face and put on a ph balancing toner and a face serum like Ayond's Rock Rose, my skin is fairly oily so I don't need much during the day. Then the day sort of flies by, I work out in the afternoon/evening, usually a neighborhood run or walk. Then I'll shower and this is where the real moisturizing begins, starting with Metamorph Cleansing Balm in the shower, and a mud mask on my pores. Afterward I put a rich cream on my face and a dab of Amber Elix oil on my face and generously on my décolletage and the tops of my arms and sometimes on my stomach. Then to bed early. Sleep on a silk pillowcase it really helps with wrinkles.

Shop Kayten's routine with the Resilience Collection.

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Kim Mupangilai

Kim Mupangilai

The Belgian Congolese architect paints a story around the importance of healing spaces.

Q: What does a sacred space look like for you?

A: Sacred space to me translates to ‘home’. Not so much the physical space, such as a house but more so the feeling. Home to me is a feeling of belonging, where my heart feels comfortable with all its surroundings. A space where I feel safe and secure and where I experience emotional warmth and the freedom to express myself, because my ideas and attitudes are in sync with those who I share ‘space’ with and that to me is sacred.

Q: ⁠⁠What is your morning or evening routine?

A: As I strongly inherited my love for skincare from my grandmother and mother, I take great pride in saying that I have had a skincare routine since I was 15. My typical morning routine consists of damping my face with cold water and microfoliating it with a concoction of Japanese rice powder, followed by patting my face with a blend of three skin-softening acids. I let it dry for a minute or two to then spray my face with rosewater. Once my face is hydrated, I then apply a vitamin C serum followed by the Taos Blue Day Cream, which makes my skin feel so hydrated and refreshed. My final and last step is applying 2-3 drops of the Amber Elix Face Oil to create that extra dewy look which leaves my skin feeling nurtured and looking glowy.

Q: Where do you draw inspiration to design?

A:  From the small and grand things in life. It can be as simple as seeing a certain composition created by shadow play on a walk with my partner to traveling to a different country and experiencing a different culture. Overall, I believe most of my inspiration comes from experiences in my daily life and not so much from books or the Internet/social media. The beauty of inspiration is that it is everywhere around us and we don’t always have to google it.

Q: What does resilience mean to you?

A: Resilience to me means to not be afraid of failure when you are trying something new or when you are just working towards your dream. There will always be things that don’t meet our expectations along the way. When we see other people “got it right” the first time, it’s most likely preceded by mistakes that we don’t see. Because failure is more certain than success, standing up after a failure is a much more important skill to learn than preventing the failure itself.

Q: Where do you draw inspiration from when designing?

A: When designing, my first inspiration comes from the client I’m creating for. Paired with the idea of bringing one’s private home into existence as well as opening it up to others as a space almost perfectly coincides with how I like to think about a space. By not only understanding the environmental aspects, I translate space, shape and form through understanding what one values in life. With the purpose to then better grasp and shape an interior, so that the interior reflects them. I’ve always been driven by the interior and the psychology of it, so when I design, I seek a balance and assemble both worlds—the interior space and the mind space.

 

Shop Kim's routine with Taos Blue Day Cream and Amber Elix Face Oil.

 

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Quenton Stuckey

Quenton Stuckey

The modern dancer and singer opens up about resilience and accepting yourself.

Q: What was one defining moment for you, in your life?

A: ⁠⁠Coming out to my father was definitely a defining moment for me. My dad is a preacher, so you can imagine the challenges growing up as a closeted black queer. I spent years living in my truth without him knowing. I felt I was strong enough to carry my pain and resentment. I was wrong lol. A series of events eventually lead me to discover that although I was living my truth to some, I was never going to accept or love myself until I confronted the person I needed that love from the most.

Q: ⁠⁠What is your morning routine?

A: I usually wake up at an ungodly early hour(not on purpose). Meditate or wash the dishes from the night before while listening to a podcast. I then do my skincare which starts with a cleansing face oil, the toner that all the girls foam at the mouth about (P50 1970), and then two-three drops of my Amber Elix Oil. I finish with an SPF.

Q: What does resilience mean to you?

A: I actually have been meditating on this for weeks and I'm not totally sure. To me, resilience is being black. It means adaptability, flexibility, and determination. This could be the dancer in me, but I think it also means conditioning.

Q: What is your idea of a healing space?

A: A good bath, a trip to the sea, riding in the car with your friends while listening to any throwback, and the feeling you get when you laugh so hard you can't breathe.

 

Q: What is real beauty to you?⁠⁠

A: Real beauty is anyone not pressed about how they are perceived, and my mother's smile.

Quenton is pictured with Amber Elix Face Oil

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Sissy Chacon

Sissy Chacon

The Los Angeles based stylist shares her feelings on beauty.

Q: What is real beauty to you?⁠⁠

A: I think real beauty springs from kindness, knowing who you are, and loving unconditionally.

Q: ⁠⁠What is your morning or evening routine?

A: I use a microcurrent device and red light therapy a few times a week. In the morning, after washing my face with warm water, I apply AYOND Amber Elix Face Oil to my face, neck, and décolletage followed by spf 30-50, and very simple makeup.

In the evening I wash my face with AYOND Metamorph Cleansing Balm, followed by the Amber Elix Face Oil and moisturizer.

Q: How important is the relationship of design and its environmental impact on the world to you?

A: It is important to me, so I am grateful for those who offer a product designed with low environmental impact so I have more opportunities to choose the least harmful option.

Q: What does resilience mean to you?

A: To me, resilience involves a lifelong cycle of factors, choices, redemption, healing, forgiveness, and responsibility. I think it goes hand in hand with having good character.

Q: What is your idea of a healing space?

A: When I can’t easily access a lush verdant forest on a tropical island, I resort to my own head for a good old fashioned attitude adjustment. I’ve worked hard to build a decent toolbox for that.

Q: What was one defining moment for you, in your life?

A: I kept a secret of a traumatic experience for decades. I was a child and didn’t understand the experience the way I would later in life. Understanding it came in stages, and over many moments of revelation as I matured and my awareness deepened . I carried it in silence to protect the people the women I loved most in my life. Only this year did I begin to put together how I still repeat certain patterns to this very day. I have come to believe that I redeemed that trauma for a good life. And I like the person I am. I appreciate how it shaped me. I can be of good counsel to myself, I am skeptical and cautious, I have developed a rich inner world, and I feel a sense of responsibility and protection to my creative community, even if from a distance. I don’t define myself by my trauma though, but by my authentic self and my character which were unearthed by that moment, only understood over a lifetime, and surely to be understood with greater depth and clarity throughout my remaining time on this planet.

 

Shop Sissy's routine with Amber Elix Face Oil and Metamorph Cleansing Balm.

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Francois Nadeau

Francois Nadeau

The Martinican model based in Paris is our first Rare Bloom.

AYOND is perpetually on a mission to explore dualities, defy limits, and challenge conventional notions of beauty and gender. In our new Rare Bloom series, we honor personal stories of resilience and transformation, and celebrate unique journeys toward transcendence. Our first Rare Blooms debut is with Francois - an AYOND muse and someone dear to our heart.

Q: How have challenges shaped you? ⁠⁠

A: Challenges have proven to have a positive effect on me. It’s a chance for growth. Especially during Covid when we are all facing so many restrictions it has actually helped me to realize how important it is to be able to adapt and evolve.

⁠⁠Q: What does resilience mean to you? ⁠⁠

A: It is about recovering from adversity -- showing elasticity -- especially when you find that being resilient is hard at that moment. ⁠⁠

Q: When was the last time you pushed yourself out of your comfort zone? ⁠⁠

A: I try to do this everyday. Being able to learn and expose myself to new things is extremely important for my well-being.⁠⁠

Q: Where do you go when you need soul nourishment? ⁠⁠

A: I am originally from Martinique, so naturally it is the beach. It is the most peaceful place where I can be alone with the ocean and the sun. I also use prayer as a way to gain mental fortitude. ⁠⁠

Q: What is real beauty to you?⁠⁠

A: Real beauty is an aura of kindness and a good heart.⁠⁠

Francois is pictured here using Metamorph Cleansing Balm.

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