Women: Following their Dreams #2 – Flavia Julius, wife, mother, traveller, author, artist
Can you believe it’s been a month since the first interview of my new series Women: Following their Dreams? In case you missed it first time round my aim in doing this series was to, once a month, introduce you to many and varied women who all have one thing in common, they have been brave enough to follow their dreams. Maybe you might be inspired by one of their stories, maybe their story will strike a chord with you, maybe what they are doing is something that you would like to do too, maybe you will find a new interest, talent, idea or realise that these woman are just like you and me and the only thing holding you back is you. So grab a cuppa and take a seat and see where this series might take you.
Women: Following their Dreams – Flavia Julius
This month we are talking the very talented and beautiful Flavia Julius. Often you see someone in the distance (as you drop the kids off at school) but you have no idea what they are doing when the gates shut and off everyone goes about their day. I met Flavia at the girls school and was blown away by what I found out once we got to know each other, most definitely a woman following her dreams. I’m delighted that she agreed to share her very interesting life with us.
Flavia working on her “Jaguar” canvas
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from, how did you end up in Sydney?
I am from Brazil. I am very close to my family, they all live in Sao Paulo, and it can be a bit hard sometimes living so far away! But I love Australia and can’t complain at all about my life here. I ended up in Sydney because I married an amazing Aussie guy. We met on the Amazon in the middle of nowhere, so I guess it really was meant to be!! We have three beautiful, bilingual kids, 8, 5 and 2 years old.
Carnival times at home, even Batman joined in
Before moving to Australia, marriage and family what did you do?
I worked for seven years at an advertising agency in Sao Paulo, from when I started University until I was 24. With the money I saved, I started travelling the world – that was always my plan, I am passionate about travelling! I lived for six months in London, five months in Calgary (Canada) three months in Queretaro (Mexico), two years on the Gold Coast (this was before I met Andrew). I travelled around the world, went to all continents except for Antarctica (definitely on my bucket list!). After so much travelling, I started writing for Brazil’s largest travel magazine, called Viagem e Turismo (Travel and Tourism). I also kept travelling whenever I could, and taught English in Sao Paulo as another source of income. After I met Andrew and moved to Australia, I kept writing for the Brazilian travel magazine, and also worked as a journalist at Retail Media, writing for an industry fashion magazine called Apparel.
Are you still writing for the magazines now?
If I travel to an interesting place I might pitch the story to them (as in the Brazilian travel magazine), and if they are interested I write.
You have recently published a book, congratulations! What is it about? Will it be published in English? Any plans for another book?
This is my second book, the first one was published eight years ago. They are both travel books, published by Panda Books in Brazil. The first one is called “Viaje Sozinha”, focusing on women travelling by themselves, and the latest one is called “Os Destinos das Comissárias de Voo”. I interviewed flight attendants for this one, and the book lists 50 places that women should visit, recommended by female flight attendants, with lots of personal stories as well, and interesting facts about the places. It’s unlikely they’ll be translated into English, but you never know! And yes, I always loved writing… I think I’ll probably write another book, but not in the near future, as it’s so time consuming, and with little kids around, very hard!
I so wish I could read Portugese. Am also even more in awe of Flavia now because I didn’t know that she had written 2 books!
What an inspired topic, I’d love to read about that! What are your top 3 picks for places that women should visit?
That’s hard.. I always struggle to choose favorite places, as I love them all! But I’ll say Alaska to start with. Arriving in Alaska coming from the remote north of Canada is just an exhilarating journey. It’s all so far away from everything, there’s so much sensational wild nature, and if you are lucky to see the northern lights… Say no more!
If politically things are settled, go to Egypt. For Cairo’s energetic chaos, for the unbelievable monuments, the desert, the Nile…
A safari in Africa is also a life changing experience. Watching the animals moving freely in the wild is so breathtaking. South Africa and its Kruger Park is the obvious (and great) option, but there are so many possibilities in other countries if, again, the political scene allows.
Sorry, I’ll just add a bit more, as I can’t help myself… For a woman who hasn’t traveled much these three options might be too hard to start with, so for a very standard yet delightful route I love France and its gorgeous little towns… And just to finish, a desperate plea for Syria, such an amazing country with the most lovely people, suffering so much now.
I know that there is a lot that goes into it but just briefly how do you go about getting a book published?
I was lucky to be invited to write my first book, because it can be very difficult to break through. However just like anything, you need to try, don’t be upset when they say no, try again, and be ready to adapt if it comes to it. I took so long to write my second book that I had the time to have two children in between!! As a result, I had to change the original text a few times (and that’s hard, as you have to give up precious things you wrote, or at least you think are precious!!). I had to be flexible and persistent at the same time.
So, not only are you a published author but you are also a talented artist. When did you start with your art?
I always loved art, and I started doing oil painting when I was twenty. I took a painting course with a very talented Brazilian artist for about four years. It wasn’t a formal course, I would escape from work and do two or three-hour sessions weekly. When I started travelling I obviously stopped going to this artist’s studio, unfortunately I lost contact with Magda and don’t even know if she’s still alive. (She wasn’t young). I kept painting whenever I could as a hobby. I did do three small exhibitions in Brazil, but it was always as a hobby at that stage.
When & why did you decide to take it further and move from doing it as a hobby to full time?
Andrew and I always thought of having a business that would connect Brazil and Australia. At some stage we had a small shoe business, where I designed shoes and had them made in Brazil, but it was a capital intensive business, too much for us at that time. I like painting as a business because I can do everything, if the product is not right I can change it. As for when I decided to take it further, after (finally) finishing writing my second book I thought it was time to give writing a bit of a break. Because by then I had already painted Rainforest (which hangs in our living room), mixing Aboriginal art and Brazilian scenes, I thought I’d take it more seriously, as it pretty much just felt right, the connection I always wanted was there: Australia and Brazil brought together by my own hands…
Where do you get your inspiration for your paintings from?
I used to paint impressionist style. When I moved to Australia, however, I fell in love with Aboriginal art. I just love the dots!! But love as well the whole concept of Dreaming. Painting is my way of bringing Australia and Brazil together, because I can paint Brazilian inspired things, and Australian inspired things, and use loads of very bright and colourful 3-D dots. It’s a bit cliché, but I do love soccer, carnival, samba, bossa nova. I try to bring music and dance to my paintings. Nature definitely inspires me, as do big cities… I believe every place in the world is interesting somehow, and I like to think of a place and make an interpretation of it on canvas.
All things bright and beautiful here! Love them all
I’ve never seen you without your signature red lipstick, is there a story behind that?
I’ve been using red lipstick since I was 14!!! Red lipstick and curly long black hair. Always the same! I guess it can be a bit boring for people that have known me for a long time, but everyone is so used to it that people think I am sick or very tired if they see me without the red lips!!
What are you reading right now?
“Runaway”, by Alice Munro. It’s a great book, but unfortunately I am reading it very slowly as there’s just not enough time to do it all!
So just on that…you have 3 children, you write, you paint, you are involved at the school, how do you manage to juggle your time? I’m hard pressed getting out the door in the mornings!
I do everything else when the kids are sleeping! And they have Brazilian blood so don’t sleep much. Actually they are not too bad, so when they sleep I try to read, paint, write, eat chocolate, etc, etc! James is only two, so when the girls go to school he’s definitely the priority. When I help at school he’s normally around! He still has a sleep at lunch time, so that’s a bit of “free” time. It’s madness, as you know!
What’s your favourite family meal?
It’s a Brazilian dish called “feijoada”: black beans slowly cooked with sausages and different cuts of meat, cooked for hours, and served with rice, kale, and other accompaniments, including lots of caipirinha, the Brazilian national cocktail. In Brazil, Saturdays are traditional for feijoada, we have it at lunch time and hope for a siesta afterwards!
Thank you so much Flavia for sharing these pieces of your life with us today. I am full of admiration for everything that you have achieved and that you really are following your dreams.