It feels like I haven’t done a Wonder Woman post for ages, I actually forgot how much I enjoy it! Today I have featured Devi Paulsen. I have known Devi for a good few years. She introduced me to Gossip Girl, good wine and entertained me for hours about with her crazy shenanigans that she got up to. She is an incredible business woman, wife and now mommy! I learnt so much from her and I’m sure that you will too.
- Can you tell us a bit about yourself – your loves and loathes, where you’re from, that kind of thing.
I am from Durban, studied in Johannesburg and moved to Cape Town in my early 20’s. Moving to the Cape was THE BEST decision of my life – because this is where I met my wonderful husband Jeremy. Up until a few weeks ago our we only had fur kids (2 gorgeous pooches) – but we recently adopted a gorgeous little girl (human) Olivia – so we are now a family of 5! I turned 40 (eeeek) last year July and was petrified by the prospect of getting to this milestone. But I have fully embraced it and realised how awesome it is to be 40. At 40 you know who you are and are pretty comfortable in your own skin.
I love Africa! It’s a continent of thousands of languages and tribes steeped with culture and history. There are so many contrasts, paradoxes and challenges which is why I LOVE it! I am a sucker for any yummy scrummy food, especially if it’s paired with good wine and I could drink champagne morning, noon and night if I had the chance! My husband and I are fortunate in that we enjoy each other’s company and when we run out of things to speak about – we love to binge-watch great series – particularly on a wet and cold Cape winters day. I am also a definite spa junkie – one of my fav pass times is to visit a spa (especially if it’s topped off or started with a glass or two of bubbles!).
My pet peeves are Afro-pessimistic people; impatient drivers; when people confuse your and you’re; and wet hand-basins and kitchen sinks (especially at spas!)
2. You have had a very interesting career. Would you mind giving a brief timeline from where you began to where you are now?
I studied journalism after leaving school – when I moved to Cape Town I joined a small specialist publishing company where I then fell into events and trade shows – which is now my passion. We owned and organised a number of small conferences and expos globally which took me all over the world – there was a time in my 20’s where I was in New York every 6 weeks which was truly a life changing experience! My love for Africa developed thanks to my super job which took to so many interesting countries in our continent including Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, DRC, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Morocco, Algeria, Nigeria, Tunisia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ghana… shew … to name a few! The business grew as I did and we eventually sold it to an international group.
3. You started your own company a few years ago. What were some of the challenges that you faced that you didn’t initially anticipate?
After the previous company was sold I took a bit of a sabbatical to get married and wanted some downtime to regroup. The founder of the previous company invited me to come on board and start our current business – which I did not hesitate to do! It’s been a roller coaster – of great high’s and a few lows. The biggest challenge has been people. People are the lifeblood of a business and we’ve realised that it’s more important to get team members on board who share the vision and your values rather than who can simply do the job. I am blessed to work with a superb team who inspire me!
4. How has the way that you measure success changed in the last 10 years?
It’s so cliché but as you get older your priorities and success measures definitely change. Fulfilment and purpose are my new missions in life.
- What are your all time favourite make-up, body and skincare products?
Body: Patricia Clark Contour Gel (amazing results!) and Mama Mio Omega Body Buff Exfoliator
Face: Skin Medica eye cream (TNS illuminating eye cream) and Demamalan treatment for pigmentation
Make up: Helio Care SPF 50 tinted sun block (great coverage whilst working as a sun block), Chanel’s rouge allure lip gloss – it’s divine! Besides it being rich in vitamin E and green tea butter to instantly hydrate lips, there are a range of super colours to choose from.
- What face or body treatment is a non-negotiable for you on a monthly basis?
I have 3 treatments I HAVE to do monthly and every second month:
Medi-heel and gel pedi’s- essential all year around especially in Winter.
I also have to go for a proper brow shape –tweezers and I are a doomed pair so I never try and shape my own brows!
Although I love facials – I try and get a back treatment every 8 weeks.
- You and Jeremy decided to adopt, what led you to make that decision and what was your experience of the South African adoption system?
We chose to adopt because we left starting a family until quite late – and wanted to adopt an older child because of the HUGE need in South Africa. Adoption rates are declining by up to 50% each year due to the very bureaucratic, sometimes counter intuitive and very costly processes around this. Nearly 2 million kids are adoptable in SA – this number alarms me. I intend to start writing a blog about the process and our experiences – which I hope will encourage more people to go this route and give some insights into the journey! Watch this space!
- Now that Enthle Olivia is officially your daughter, what have been the biggest things that changed in your day to day life?
- Any funny stories to share yet?
So I have only been a mom for all of 6 weeks now – learning every day. I have realised that you inevitably do become your parents. Both my husband and I both regularly use the choice old staple, “Because I said so…” at least once a day.
My idea of only feeding my daughter a completely organic diet went out the window within 2 days of bringing her home; and I conceded and bought her chicken nuggets and fish fingers. I have also managed to convince myself that tomato sauce is a vegetable.
I have realised that I ‘aint no Martha Stewart’ after I managed to slice my finger open on the blender – whilst trying to make cup cakes!
The compartment in my beautiful Fendi handbag wherein I used to keep my perfume and make up bag now houses wet wipes, a few loose crayons (melting ones), lego blocks and Koki’s plus a few scrunched up pieces of paper!
Realising I know nothing about ethnic hair and being mom to a real girly girl daughter ‘needing’ to get her hair done – I was stumped on where she could have her hair done – close to our home! So one day I swallowed all integrity and pride, asking random strangers in our local shopping mall for the contact details of their hair salon. My friends and husband were floored! But I eventually found a great person who comes to our house to do Olivia’s hair every 3 weeks.
- You had one of the most incredible weddings I have ever seen. I mean, that Hendrik Vermeulen dress was a show stopper in itself! Looking back now, 3 years later, what were some of the highlights for you?
I LOVED everything about getting married. The whole process was so much fun and Jeremy and I made mostly joint decisions regarding the wedding – which made it a celebration that we could both enjoy.I hardly remember the day but was so thrilled to be able to see many of my friends and family that I had not for years! I would love to do it all again!
- Marriage isn’t a walk in the park, what surprised you the most?
I am thrilled to be married – especially to my wonderful hubby. In my 20’s and early 30’s – I thought it was an antiquated institution and had no desire to conform. But now I am older and wiser – I realise that marriage is a special bond – something I could not have explained or imagined before. We still have lot of fun and don’t take things too seriously – although we should be all grown up now – we really aren’t!
- What piece of advice would you give to someone in regards to:
Business/work ethic: The business guru Simon Sinek’s quote rings true for me in my professional life, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”
Life in general: I follow the great Winston Churchill’s pearls in my personal life: “I could not live without Champagne. In victory I deserve it. In defeat I need it.”
Skincare/beauty: Take care of yourself when you are young .. drink loads of water / invest in a good skin care routine / eat well / exercise / get a lot of sleep…because the late nights / no sun screen / all night partying / falling asleep with thick mascara and eyeliner on / cigarettes / booze (except bubbly of course) / not drinking enough water etc will inevitably catch up with you in your later years!
Devi, thank you so much for taking part in this series!
If you know of anyone who you think is inspirational or interesting, please pop me a mail or comment below.