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Canadian-born writer and fashion blogger, Cee Fardoe made her first trip to the French capital in 2001. Since then, she has traveled between Canada and France almost annually, stopping off in quite a few other countries along the way. She founded Coco & Vera, an online destination for smart, stylish women who want to infuse a bit of French je ne sais quoi into their everyday lives in 2010.

Interview

Your brand and style are influenced by Parisian culture, where did this love of Paris come from?

Paris was my first love. I went to a French school growing up, and Paris was the first place I visited without my parents, as part of a school trip. I was 15. Up to that point, I had been convinced that there must be more to the world than the small city I lived in, but I had yet to find any evidence to support that belief. Paris was the city that proved me right. It was, up to that point, the only place I had been that felt truly different. And it encompassed everything that I thought was important at the time, much of which still ranks high on the list of things I look for in a city; elegance, glamour, intellect, a deep appreciation of history and amazing shopping.

How would you summarize your style and what is your main influence when you’re generating creative thoughts and ideas?

Pretty simply: if it comes in black, white or grey, I’ll wear it, whether it’s a leather jacket, a jumpsuit or a muumuu. I believe life is about experiences and, to me, life without style isn’t worth the trouble, so I apply the concept of being open to anything in my wardrobe – except when it comes to colour. Bright hues have never been my thing, although I have tried them too – just to be sure! (In fact, I once wore orange, turquoise and gold all at the same time. It was, in a word, ridiculous.) As for influences, they come from everywhere. I’m inspired by music and books and foreign countries. The things that pique my interest are sometimes totally inexplicable, even to me. But I think that’s the essence of creativity – the act of taking something and making something else from it, something that isn’t recognizable and is truly your own.

What is your philosophy when it comes to what constitutes good style?

For me, people can’t be categorized as having style or not having style, so much as they can be characterized as understanding the importance of having style or dismissing it as unimportant. A first impression is a powerful thing, and style plays a huge role in the impression you make. Not everyone loves hearing that, but it’s a reality we should all accept. Clothes are how we tell the world what we love and believe in, which is why fashion should never be dismissed as frivolous. Knowing your style is about knowing yourself, because style is a visual representation of your personality. When you know who you are, you’ll know what you want to wear. And as you evolve, so will your style.

Were you always passionate about what you do?

What is now my work began as a passion project. In the early years of fashion blogging, collaborations were almost unheard of – I remember being shocked (and thrilled!) the first time a brand offered me a product for free. I absolutely never imagined that I could someday make a living from writing about what I wear. I persisted with the long hours because I love what I do. And while I can make a living from blogging alone, after spending a year focused solely on that, I found it wasn’t for me. That was probably the biggest hurdle that I’ve had to face; recognizing that turning something you love into work can suck all the joy out of it. In 2013, I turned my focus back to having a professional career and blogging. This has given me a lot more freedom to pursue projects that excite me in both areas, rather than simply taking on work because I have bills I need to pay.

How has your business evolved when you reflect on the past five years?

In the past five years, my business has become a business. I got into the fashion industry out of a simple desire to carve out a small niche for myself, with no real expectation of where it would lead – primarily because the decision to jump in was an impulsive one. I’ve gone from simply photographing what I’m wearing to working with every brand that approached me (out of an irrational fear that all brands talked to each other, and refusing one collaboration would result in no further proposals) to valuing authenticity above all else in everything that I do. That means carefully weighing the pros and cons of every opportunity that comes my way, and while I recognize that hard work played some role in my getting here, I remain deeply grateful that I’m fortunate enough to be able to say no to things that don’t feel like the right fit for me.

What was the last collaboration you did for work?

Usually I have multiple projects on the go at one time, but the one I’m most proud of is a collaboration with Bikini Village, which required me to appear in a two-piece swimsuit on Instagram. That’s something that millions of women do every day, I know, but the truth is, I haven’t worn a two-piece bathing suit since I was in my early 20s. Working in fashion has been about so much more than wearing clothes for me – it has pushed me to take risks and given me the confidence to let go of self-conscious hang-ups in ways I know I never otherwise would have.

Coco & Vera - Cee Fardoe Portrait

Which TV Character do you most relate to and why?

Miss Fisher in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. She’s stylish, mature, uninhibited, controversial and unashamed of it, utterly modern, clever and always up for a bit of fun. Basically, she’s everything I aspire to be when I grow up.

What is your biggest Accomplishment?

Accomplishments are hugely relative. I’ve had so many amazing opportunities come my way thanks to Coco & Vera, but to be honest, it’s often the most insignificant things that are the most exciting. Yes, I loved visiting CHANEL at NYFW. And I remain awed every time a brand I love reaches out to me. But the accomplishment that still stands out the most goes back to my first year of blogging. These days, my audience numbers are somewhere around 40,000 people, but I distinctly remember the day my blog reached 50 followers. I had been working away for six months, labouring largely under the assumption that no one would be interested in what I had to say. Fifty sounds like such a small number now, but at the time, discovering that a full 50 people were paying attention and, beyond that, were enjoying what I was doing, gave me an incredible boost. I’m not sure anything else will ever surpass that.

Is there any advice you would give yourself when you were starting out?

If I had to go back and do everything over again, I would take time to refine my website, my photography and my brand before launching. I am very much a dive in head first kind of person, and luckily back in 2010, you could launch a successful blog without appearing particularly professional. But I’ve had to do a lot of work to refine everything, from my brand to my style, over the years while keeping my site and social media running, which means all the tweaks have been highly visible. If I were to start again, I would make sure I knew exactly what I wanted to do before putting myself out there.

She is a voracious reader, champagne enthusiast, a collector of beautiful things and the proud owner of an almost entirely monochromatic wardrobe that she recently managed to pack into a single (albeit very large) closet.

Neighbourhood

It’s clear Cee Fardoe’s love for Paris is evident in her brand and her everyday life. We asked her to share some of her favourite places to visit while in Paris.

La Palais Royal

This is a true hidden gem in the centre of Paris, directly across the street from the Louvre but hidden well enough that it took me years to fully discover it. A café called Le Nemours partially conceals the entrance to what was once the home of Cardinal Richelieu. Inside, there are beautiful shops like Serge Lutens and Gabrielle Goeppert, as well as the iconic Colonnes de Buren, the Theatre Nationale, a breathtaking rose garden and the trendy Café Kitsune. Scenes from the movie Charade were filmed here in the 1960s.

L’Appartement Sézane

I’ve been an avid fan of designer Morgane Sézalory’s collections since they were sold under the name Les Composantes. Much has changed over the years, and what started as an online shop has grown exponentially. Most of the highly coveted pieces from monthly and permanent collections of clothing, shoes and leather goods can now be purchased in person at the immaculately designed L’Appartement Sézane, which is worth visiting for the Instagram photos alone. The Sézane Café next door is the perfect spot to take an aprés shopping break – and the coffee is free!

Le Saint – Régis

Paris is a city that sets the standard for café cuteness, and yet, Le Saint-Régis on Île Saint-Louis manages to stand out. The eye-catching black facade and unobstructed view of Notre-Dame Cathedral from the sidewalk seats are what draw people in, but the smooth café creme and flaky croissants are what keep me coming back. (And the view, too, I admit.)

Coco & Vera

Through it all, she has kept her job in the corporate world and, most days, can be found at her desk in her home office with a headset on, typing furiously. She has exactly no spare time in which to cultivate any hobbies, unless daily yoga and obsessively scrolling Instagram count, but that is exactly the way she likes it.

She currently lives in Winnipeg, in an apartment that is just large enough to house her extensive collection of shoes and handbags, where she works in partnership with her husband, Ian Lloyd, creating beautiful images and sharing the sometimes less than glamourous but always pretty funny stories of what it takes to capture them.

Cee Fardoe Interview.

Canadian-born writer and fashion blogger, Cee Fardoe made her first trip to the French capital in 2001. Since then, she has traveled between Canada and France almost annually, stopping off in quite a few other countries along the way. She founded Coco & Vera, an online destination for smart, stylish women who want to infuse a bit of French je ne sais quoi into their everyday lives in 2010.

Style | Vol.1

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