• vanessabelleau

Getting to know me a bit more - The Perspective of a French Business Owner in the UK

Updated: Nov 12

A version of this article was published in the Coven magazine.


Not a writer, more of a speaker


Hello Hello Hello! Wow, if you had told me that I would be writing an article for a magazine before today, I would have told you 'not possible, I don’t write, I speak!'. As a French native, who has lived in London for over 16 years now, I still feel like an imposter and think that my English is far away from freaking fabulous, but we move! Seriously though and before I continue, I just want to say: 'Merci Beaucoup' - thank you very much - for reading, it means more than you know! #IAmNotCryingYouAreLol 😅


Being a French Business owner in the UK


Sapphire, the founder of the Coven, thought that it would be fab for me to write about the fact that I am French and how it impacts how I do business vs. my English counterparts.

What an interesting topic, I said! No, really, I rarely really think about the difference(s) much, really. I just do what I do and work hard to get the best outcomes despite the cultural differences, which do exist. Because I have lived here for so long now, I actually consider myself ‘European’ – well, don’t get me started on the topic of Brexit #IAmNotBitterJustNotOverItYet. By ‘European’, I mean that I have a blended view of the world, I think. I mix, remix and create my own narrative and path. Why? My answer to this question is often #WhyNot?


The Pros & Cons


Being French in the UK is such a privilege, a pain and an advantage all at the same time LOL, and I would not change any of it! I just love it!

A privilege because I get to speak two languages almost every day, which apparently is great for the brain and helps with improved memory, critical thinking, ability to multitask, problem-solving and listening skills.


A pain because sometimes my English is

just sh*t, especially on days when I am tired, which becomes frustrating – I know what I am trying to say, I also know that I am not explaining myself properly or using the right words sometimes in the right context while also knowing that people are not going to either correct me or tell me that they don’t understand what I am saying out of political correctness – a concept that I don’t practice at all by the way. I just don’t believe in it and don’t have the time for it #SorryNotSorry!


An advantage because being a foreigner with an accent that is believed to be sexy has its advantages, and I would lie if I didn’t say that I have never taken full advantage of that belief. I often use the fact that I am French as an excuse for being bluntly honest #NoShame lol!


#TeamTooMuch


I was born in Paris and was raised by two open-minded Caribbean parents, who encouraged me to be myself authentically and say what was on my mind, even if they regretted it very often haha! I never really had to filter myself or pretend to be someone else to fit in the mould. I always say that I am a Curvy French Caribbean woman, who is unapologetically herself and a proud member of #TeamTooMuch – loud, colourful, determined and joyful! To me, life is a dance or a flashmob – I know I am showing my age with this reference haha! Doing business to me is an endless, funky routine. I always try to add a positive spin to most things, even more so now that I am a small business owner. Life is already hard enough, why make it harder and sad? I say what I mean and mean what I say. It is that simple, really.


Joy, Dance and Values


My secret: I use joy as my main delivery style. I am on a mission to impact our world and society and I know that beating around the bush is not serving my purpose, so I just don’t, I just say things as they are always with respect (of course!) and a smile.

Is it because I am French? Maybe! Or is it because I would rather dance to the beat of some Afrobeat & 90s RNB tunes than dance around everything, including difficult topics? Definitely! And believe me, it is not easy every day, but my values are so strong that I am focused on leading with them at the centre of everything I do. If you know by now, you know that I love a quote and this one is one of my favourites: 'the purpose of leadership is to change the world around you in the name of your values, so you can live those values more fully' quote by Stan Slap.


Ooh Lala! 😁


Don’t get me wrong, I will always celebrate my Frenchness because it is a big part of my identity, plus I still love my snails, frog legs, berets, cheese and I do say ‘Ooh lala’!


But I also feel extremely lucky to experience the English culture and showcase to all that despite cultural differences, the most important is to just be ourselves, however flamboyant and clumsy we are!


With love, Vanessa ⭐️

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