Alex and Emma are two of our Sassiest Mamas 2016
Belgian born Alex and French mama Emma are better known as the dynamic duo behind ‘So Chic‘, a series of pop-up fashion sales and lifestyle events which offer a carefully curated selection of preloved designer clothing and accessories plus beautiful pieces all the way from the boutiques of Paris. Together they have changed the way that over 6,500 women in Dubai shop and wear – turning a passion for fashion into a hugely successful business while juggling 5 kids between them (Alex is mama to Larissa, almost 6, Charles aged 3 and Maxine aged 15 months while Emma is mama to Matteo aged 9 and Alice who’s 6 years old). And all while looking effortlessly stylish!
Tell us about your business and why you started it.
Alex: So Chic is a fashion pop-up concept selling preloved designer clothes, bags and shoes for women and for a fraction of the original price. So Chic offers a large selection of fashion treasures from the most stylist wardrobes in the region and the best designer boutiques in Europe but presents also many unique brands from Paris previously unavailable in the UAE. We organize private sales 4 to 5 times a year in different places in Dubai but So Chic is permanently located at Blanc d’Ivoire, so our clients can come and shop at their best convenience.
With Emma, my friend and partner, we decided to organize our first sale because we were just missing the brands we loved from back home. It’s very difficult to find the same selection than in Europe or it’s quite more expensive. We didn’t set out to start a business but the response after our first sale was so positive that we decided to keep going.
Emma: When I arrived in Dubai I found it difficult to find the style and brands I used to shop. Alex and I met quickly after we arrived and started only few months after we met! We found out many women had the same struggle. After many weeks asking around: where di you buy this, where can I find that… we realized the only way to put our hands on the items was to go in the closet of our friends and convinced them to sell it;-)
It happened that many women were interested to sale as they could offer to buy a new wardrobe with the budget they could earn… So Chic was launched!
We now organize 5 sales a year where we present the new selection. We have a corner in a boutique where you can meet us and bring your selection, meet us and shop. We also bring back from Paris brands that are not in Dubai. So Chic is a selection of French fashion, new and preloved at a decent price;-)
What kind of cake would you order for your birthday?
Alex: If you really want to make me happy, you can order a raspberry & chocolate wripped pavlola for my birthday! It’s a gorgeous cake-shaped with meringue (and some fruits “pour la bonne conscience”)
Emma: Full chocolate of course!
If we handed you a concert ticket, who would you wish it was for?
Alex: Radiohead or Depeche Mode.
Emma: David Bowie.
What colour do you wear the most?
Alex: Mostly black and white colour but I brought from Europe a lot of denim clothes!
Emma: Black, brown, white… they are colors right?
When did you last cry?
Alex: Last month for the first steps of my little one Maxine.
Emma: At my cousin wedding this summer! I always cry when people say “yes, I do”! It is my romantic side!
What’s the best thing you can cook?
Alex: A typical Belgian desert: the tiramisu with speculoos! My secret: I don’t put any alcohol and coffee so that suits for the whole family.
Emma: I am not very good in the kitchen but I know how to cook blanquette de veau like nobody else.
Where do you get your hair done?
Alex: I’m going to a French lady, Valérie, who’s doing the best blond highlights in town! (read our Sassy Mama guide to highlights for a little more info!…)
Emma: I just tried the Keratine treatment when in Europe and I am so happy about it! In Dubai I go to Valerie, the French hair dresser! My hair always been such a stress as I have a lot with curls!
What do you feel have been your biggest achievements both in your personal life and career so far?
Alex: My biggest achievement was to start So Chic in 2014 and got pregnant few months later! The work increased together with the fatigue, but I never gave up as for me I had 2 babies; Maxine and So Chic.
Emma: In my personal life, I would definitely say my kids even if I know the work is not finished yet as their education is an everyday job. In my professional life, I have been following my husband around the globe since 13 years and being able to reinvent myself and find the right job or open a business as So Chic has been a real achievement so far. I always wanted to be independent and have my own activity. It is quiet challenging when you change country every 3 or 4 years!
As a child what did you dream of being when you ‘grew up’?!
Alex: When I was very young I wanted to be florist, few years later I decide to be a surgeon (although I am scared when I see blood) and then I decided to be a singer (Which I am very bad at)
Emma: I wanted to be a lawyer since my very young age! I went to law university and worked in legal for many years.
If you had 3 wishes what would they be?
Alex: More kindness and respect in the world, Good health for all my family and friends, More hours of sleep and ME time. I know, it’s more than 3 wishes 😉
Emma: I want my kids to stay kids! Times go too fast! Stop growing! No seriously, I wish they grow up as great persons, I wish they could be happy in their life.
Make this planet a safer and clean place for my kids wherever they choose to leave. I am not an ecolo fighter but I hate to waste water and I can’t stand people throwing garbidge in the street for example. I try to educate the kids a lot about this, we can still do so much at our level, tolerance, respect and behavior.
Stop struggling so much, feeling guilty and enjoying more Dubai! It is more than 3!
What does being a Sassy Mama mean to you?
Alex: To be a Sassy Mama is for me a kind of Superwoman. I have always been full of admiration of those women who can combine both their personal life and their career which by the same proves that you can still be a good mum while having an interesting job
Emma: Being recongnised for what you do is always very motivating and being part of this amazing community of sassy mama in Dubai is also a great recognition of what we have tried to achieve with So Chic and as mums as well!
Alex: A glass of a good white wine after my kids went to bed…And enjoy the silence!!
Emma: A big plate of pasta at Bianca at box parks, the best Italian in town but terrible for a diet! But as every body says, French woman don’t get fat!!! No??
Tell us about a typical day?
Alex: All the Bouvy’s family wake up at the same time around 6.30am. My lovely husband drop Larissa at school and I drop the 2 youngest to the nursery. I try to plan some meetings at the Starbucks before the opening of Blanc d’Ivoire at 9am. Then I work until 2.30pm at the shop before leaving to pick up the 3 kids. Some afternoons are dedicated to their after school activities & homework and others to So Chic depending the work load. In the evening, I love to spend time with my hubby and/or friends. If I’m not too tired, I may read for a bit (a book or the social networks) but usually I feel asleep as soon as my head hits my pillow.
Emma: There is of course a very big routine during the week days when you have kids.
6:30: My kids wake me up as they come in my bed in the morning and won’t go for breakfast until I am with them in the kitchen!! I am complaining every morning but I know I will miss it when they will stop doing it!
6:45: they finally take me out of bed! Up and in shower very quickly. Just time to throw something on me… no make up, sun glasses will be fine! We then have breakfast together and try to get ready in time for school!!! I don’t know how we manage but we have the same scenario every day: repeat hundreds time: put on your shoes, FINISH YOUR BREAKFAST… HURRY UUUUUP! I go with my cup of coffee in the car and take them to their class.
7:30: they are in class. Or maybe 7:35…
I am not the kind of mum that arrives quietly at school in time! We should get up earlier in the morning or be more organized…, but…well…we’re working on it. Sort of.
8:00 : I am back home and get myself ready! I read my email, check insta, facebook…I like this quiet morning moment when I am alone at home before the So Chic day starts!
9:00 : I meet the rest of the So Chic team every day at Blanc d’Ivoire and the day is full of meetings, selections, depends on the So chic planning. Each of us have a specific role but we are used to share and discuss all decision together. It is usually very intense as we are all mums and need to leave early for the pick up time.
We usually don’t take time to have lunch or a proper break as we have to maximize the few hours we have between 9am and 3pm.
2:45 I pick up the kids from school and my other day can start! Why do they finish so early???
I take them to activities, help with homework… with my phone in my hands and computer opened. They hate it but I try to explain them I should be in an office and not at home. Since I choosed to be with them, I have to do both but they complain a lot about the phone ringing and me asking them to be patient before they can have my attention again…
One day per week, I don’t want them to have anything and when the weather is cool enough, we go to kite beach and spend the afternoon together. Matteo is a big fan of the skate park! He could go everyday if he could! Alice and I go the beach! It is a fab day and I really try to do it every week. I really try!
7:00 We have dinner. I try to have my dinner with them, sit and share what happened during the day. I like this moment even if I would like to stop saying: shoulders, hands, eat properly, seat down, finish your plate, let your sister talk… when I think about it, it is abolutly not relaxing but if I miss dinner with them too long, I miss it and they start to behave like monkeys! And you know for a French mum, behaving when you eat is a must!
7:30 Bedtime means helping them putting their pyjamas, brushing teath… and of course the bedtime story. I read only in French to them. My husband reads in Italian and they have to read English by themselves.
8:00 Finally I can go back to my laptop and phones and finish my day with So Chic! Since my husband is travelling a lot and is not often at home during the week, I start working again after 8pm when kids are in bed and phone stops ringing!
Or I call my friends in Europe and have long chats with them. I miss them a lot and stay close to them by calling often.
I also go out a lot for So Chic but try to stay home at least twice a week or I get too tired and can’t be efficient at home or at work! I need a lot of sleep!
During the week end, I like everybody to be relax, no time, they can stay in pyjama till noon! We usually go to the beach or have some frinds at home for a BBQ and enjoy the garden and swimming pool with friends. I like the slow rhythm during the week end as my weeks can be very hectic!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given in your personal life and career?
Alex: Positive and creative thinking! Believe in yourself and in your abilities.
Emma: Stop it if it doesn’t make you happy anymore. It helps putting things in perspective. Sometimes, we don’t even know why we go on and we usually think we have no other choice. Most of the time we are wrong.
What do you most enjoy doing as a family in Dubai?
Alex: Spending time at the beach with the family and friends and in the desert during the weekend.
Emma: I love the break time we have during the week end. As my husband is a big fan of kite surf, we go to the beach a lot with friends or just the 4 of us. It feels that we have a small vacation every week end. It makes a huge difference to start the week again.
What is the ‘best-kept’ secret in Dubai, or something fellow mamas should know about?
Alex: “The Journey” and the “Skate Park” just next to it. Maybe not the “best-kept” secret in Dubai anymore, but still the best and perfect play area for kids!
Emma: So Chic;-) but is still a secret?
If you were on an island and could bring only 3 things (family not included) what would they be?
Alex: Fresh water, great books and good music!
Emma: Sun glasses, bathing suit and a good book! At the end, this is the only things I should have bring to my trip in Zanzibar this summer. I did not use anything else!
Describe your style?
Alex: I would say classic and natural!
Emma: Bohemian chic, Parisian, very French!
Tell us something funny that your kids have said or done?
Alex: When Larissa, my oldest one, organised a “So Chic Sale” with some of my personal clothes in the compound.
Emma: My kids are not shy at all and they continuously speak to every body. Alice can seat next to an adult on a banch in a park and start a real conversation: what is your name? how old are you, where do you live, do you have kids… and she can go on for hours! People are usually quiet surprised and amused, especially because she does that since she is 3 years old!
Matteo is not shy at all ever and is a real show off!
How do you juggle work and family?
Alex: In the morning, I work at Blanc d’Ivoire with Emma and the team until the school pick-up time, after that I try to spend some quality time with the kids and hubby when I come back home. I am more to prone the quality over the quantity when it comes to family time.
Emma: That is a big issue! I try to work a maximum when they are in school but it does not always work like this. This year,I will miss their birthday because I need to go to Paris for selection… this is what I hate the most but I won’t give up! I need to be active and I know my kids are proud of what we have achieved! They are very supportive, they want to help and love to be So Chic kids! I guess there is no solution. Everyday is different and everyday I try to do my best… I also have to find time for my husband who can complain even more than the kids about me being busy!
A huge thank you to Monica Chindalia for the beautiful pictures of Alex and Emma.
To book a photoshoot visit facebook/monicachindaliaphotography