[box]Designers recognize potential the second they enter a new space. With confidence they understand exactly what they can make a room…become. “What do you see that I can be?” is what a spiritless space will ask. “What am I missing that will make me be complete?” is the question it begs us to answer. I’ve come to understand the many similarities between a designer and a mentor, and today’s guest writer KNOWS those similarities inside and out. We are very pleased to introduce Jen Duchane who graciously wrote this piece about mentoring in the design world.
Jen Duchene focuses on her book, Le Chic Cocoon: 7 steps to Creating Your Selfish Space, which encourages women to create spaces that truly allow them to BE THEMSELVES. It’s a fascinating study in how designing the right space can help you grow into the person you are meant to be. As if that’s not enough, Jen offers coaching programs for polite women to find their seat of power.
Designers like Jen are the allies we need for Designing the Next Generation, Over My Shoulder Foundation’s national conversation about mentoring in the design world.
-Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founder and Executive Director [/box]
On Why I Wrote Le Chic Cocoon, the Book about Creating Space that Mirrors YOU
Why did I write Le Chic Cocoon? What tall tale spun, enchanted me enough to break a spell of years? I think I was born a dreamer and a scribe. A biddable child, wanting to please and to be enthralled.
It’s an odd coupling to be both a leader and easily led. Down the garden path. Wanting only to go merrily on my way. Designing in mud, sticks and paint. In my teens I devoured every book I could lay my hands on, lost in a dream world. Drawing floor plans and moving furniture.
At twelve I was reading adult books. Dipping into the world of pen and page. I soon discovered Virginia Woolf, and hung onto the grace and grief within her prose. I had no sacred space of my own, no secret castle I could conquer. Years later when the life I lived crumbled, I discovered a secret covered in bramble. Joy and the ability to cherish my own dreams, to open my heart to me. The stranger, my hero who had lived invisible within.
I had woven a wall of fear, scared to trust even myself. Virginia was right, walls are necessary to flourish within. We need a sacred retreat of our own to cherish our inner wildness. To surrender to our desires. Of course being in the decorating business I knew that not just any room would do. It needs to express its owner. To be both talisman and essence. That very secret walled retreat needed to be a jewel box and barred against the well meaning. A caterpillar may crawl in, gasping for a martini, and a butterfly would emerge, life and the room deliciously evolved.
On How I Started Mentoring
My membership in mentorship began before I knew what a mentor was or why I would need one. I found guidance between the sheets of book, in the comfort of paper and ink, in plans and budding rooms. My parents opened up my imagination to worlds beyond what I could see. School, life and my beautiful child. Travel, conversation and a curiosity.
How I Find My Mentors
When I decided to change the way I did business, I found a mentor. As I grow, there they appear. A shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold, an ear to listen in. Precious both in their belief in me, and the confidence that comes from having unconditional support. Having someone who has traveled my path. Not too far up ahead on the road. Someone who can coax me forward when I start stumbling. Those days when I feel helpless and hopeless and wonder what the point is. When I want to hide under the bedclothes. Too scared to try something new. The negative tailspin that crumples the butterfly wings, because someone told me I sucked.
About the Polite Woman and How I Mentor HER
I started Le Chic Living andThe Polite Woman’s Power Rules because I realized that the women I guide need boundaries. They want to ask for what they want, in a way that keeps them safe, free to express their own voice.. To be able to say no without being a bitch or feeling guilty or mad or sad. To create a life of elegant passion, so that these women can feel safe, accepted, loved, and deeply content. Having a room that feels right and cherished is a powerful tool. I mentor women and girls who need a little guidance in the creative fields or to find their seat of power.
We all have our myths and our mentors. I prefer to choose mine with deliberation. Some have been long term and some fleeting. Building my life and my own Le Chic Cocoon means starting from scratch. Even if I am going to use some or all of what I already have, I still need that talisman to create the essence in the room. The raison d’etre that spills out beyond the walls. Bringing in the light and the view. Using every piece of real estate with intention. Every surface designed to please and reflect me.
I know that creating a space without, to reflect and support what I hold dear within, is the most rewarding boundaries I will ever build. Every step to the door of my lair, every yes, and each helping hand is all part of the grand design of life.
Joie de Vivre,