Tess van Buel, an aspiring jewellery brand owner, talks to LocalBini about her passion for fashion, travelling, and her undying love for Paris!
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am originally from Switzerland, but I moved to Paris when I was 18 to study fashion. I studied at the French Fashion School ESMOD and graduated in 2014. During my time at ESMOD, I did my specialisation in accessories. My intention was to start my own jewellery brand after graduating, but I decided I needed more technical experience before taking on such a challenge. So, I enrolled to do a Masters degree in gemology. That is what I’m doing right now, while I am also a bag designer for a brand.
Would you say that fashion is your passion?
Yes, exactly. That’s why I moved to Paris in the first place. I used to come here at least three times a year as a child with my mother. In my eyes, Paris was, and always will be, the best city in the world. Moving from a small village in Switzerland to Paris was the “American Dream”, or rather the “Parisian Dream” for me.
It was always my intention to do my studies here. I remember sitting outdoors -because everything in Paris is outdoors- on the terrace with my mother and looking at everyone’s clothes. All the girls were prettily dressed; it was magical. People were always well-dressed and, in my eyes, it all seemed very “high class”.
When did you first realise that you wanted to work in fashion?
I wanted to work in fashion ever since I was ten years old; it was my dream. Of course, there is a big gap between a childhood dream and the reality of working in fashion. When I was a child I enjoyed playing with my dolls and dressing them up in different outfits. I also loved looking at fashion magazines. To me, fashion can be expressed in two ways: either through the clothes themselves or through fashion magazines. I always loved going through all the fashion magazines, especially Vogue, and looking at all the beautiful pictures. As I said, the world of fashion was magical to me and full of sparkle.
You mentioned that there is a gap between your childhood dream of working in fashion and the reality of it. Could you explain what you mean by that?
Well, I was thinking more about the mood, the atmosphere of this world. People in fashion school tend to be very competitive. And for someone like me, coming from a small village where people are friendly to each other, it was a big adjustment to make. Also, people often don’t realise how much work it is. You go to H&M or Zara and you buy a sweat for 20 euros and consider that expensive. But the truth is, now that I have experienced first-hand how much work goes into making a sweater, I’m thinking that if I made such a sweater, I would sell it for at least 200 euros.
So, I take it that you are happy with your life Paris. Would you ever consider moving back home?
Well, the problem with being an expat is that you never really feel at home. Even though I absolutely love Paris, it is not my home. Switzerland is my home; that’s where my family and friends are. But, whenever I go back to Switzerland, I find myself missing the vibrancy, the energy, the dynamic pace of Paris. It is a city where you can do anything at any time. You can go shopping late in the evening; you can try 100 different restaurants in just one month. After living in Paris, I couldn’t go back to living in Switzerland, at least not at this stage in my life.
But, it is all about finding a balance. There is both a good and bad side to living in a big city. I do find myself occasionally missing the quietness, and the clean smell of Switzerland. Sometimes I just feel this need to go home, to go for a drink in Lausanne, to visit the mountains, or to run outdoors. That’s not really something you can do in Paris.
What about other countries? How often do you travel?
I actually travel quite a bit. This year, I went to Munich and Portugal in February, to Morocco in April, to Dubai in May, and Bali in June. I also went to Portugal again during the summer and was just in Spain last weekend. Also, I might by going to Brazil at the end of the year!
Oh, so you really love travelling!
I do, I love to travel! Every time I have 100 euros to spare, I just check what can I do with it. I look at tickets and I just book. I’ve been to Belgium a few times, to London, to Italy, to Spain…I just love to travel!
What is it that you love so much about travelling?
To be honest, I really like airports. I always get stressed when I travel, so I always arrive at the airport early. If I need to be at the airport two hours before my flight, I arrive two hours before my flight and not a minute later. Whenever I am at the airport, I love looking at the departure board. Since I always arrive early, I take some time to look at all the different flights. Seeing all those destinations, New York, Los Angeles, Bangkok, it really gives me a sense of freedom; I feel like I could go anywhere. I also consider myself quite lucky to have a Swiss passport, because I can go almost anywhere in the world without needing a visa. That’s something people often take for granted.
What’s your ultimate travel goal?
One thing that I would really like to do is to just go to the airport one day, with my little suitcase, turn to the departure board and pick a number. Then I would see that number ten on the board, for example, is Stockholm and book a flight to Stockholm, just like that.
That sounds like a bucket list item! Finally, how did you decide to join LocalBini? What made you want to become a BiniGuide?
I wanted to become a BiniGuide, first of all, because I love Paris. It is an honour to have the opportunity to share my passion for this city with other people. I think that travellers who arrive at Paris without knowing the city can sometimes end up hating it. They think it’s not very friendly. I don’t want Paris to be seen like that. I used to say that Paris is my first love; for me, it goes above men. Of course, it has at times betrayed me, but I am still in love with it. I want to help people see Paris the way I see it.
The second reason I joined LocalBini is because I wanted to meet people from all around the world. I think that, if you don’t have a lot of money, meeting people from different countries is the easiest way to travel. People just love to talk about where they come from. When you ask them to tell you a traditional meal of their country, or where they go for their Sunday coffee, you get to travel with them and see their country through their eyes!