For Maison Balzac founder Elise Pioch, the simple life is also unmistakably chic and idyllic. The reconverted church located on the Hawkesbury River she shares with husband Pablo and four year old daughter Loulou acts as the perfect retreat to escape the hustle and bustle from Sydney life, and is undoubtedly the inspiration for many of the heavenly candles and scents in the ever-growing Maison Balzac collection...
The ex-fashion buyer has mixed business and motherhood since she was newly pregnant, and there are no signs of slowing down now that her beautiful range of candles extends to hand wash, scented matches, glassware and exciting collaborations with the likes of Doctor Cooper. We recently caught up with the impossibly stylish French creative to talk about the challenges motherhood brings when living away from family, how unwinding and switching off is easier said than done, and why getting back to basics – bush walks, cooking and dancing – all make up her dream day with Loulou and Pablo at their riverside country home.
What does being a ‘mama’ mean to you?
It means being strong and loving and to receive strength and love from your child.
What has motherhood taught you?
It taught me my own limits many times; I thought I was invincible before. It also taught me to be in the moment without attempting to multi-task. I wish I could say it taught me patience…
What advice would you give to your younger self?
To believe in myself instead of continuously doubting. But if I were more confident I would not be me anymore!
What has been the most challenging part of motherhood and how have you overcome any challenges?
Many challenges are yet to be overcome, but the most difficult for me has been the relentlessness of having a baby and the lack of family around me. Now that Loulou is at preschool, I have breaks every day and we are moving to France for six months to catch up on love and family bonding.
What has been the most rewarding part of motherhood for you?
To keep her alive! It felt like every minute could arise life-threatening dangers so I’m proud nothing has happened. Any cuddle, kisses or compliments from her is a golden nugget that I lock into my heart. These are my daily rewards.
What are your daughter’s greatest qualities?
She is empathic, caring, one with nature and as kind as a child can be (she can be cruel too!).
What makes you laugh?
Her words are so wise and surreal… she makes me laugh with things like ‘is today tomorrow?’ or ‘how many days until Chacha (our cat) becomes a person?’.
What are you most proud of in life?
To have given birth (I was so scared!) and to have created a successful, growing business from nothing when I was one month pregnant (without knowing I was).
How do you unwind?
I don’t! This is my biggest problem. I am unable to switch off. If I could, I would have a day per week without looking after my family or the business and would go for a walk, meditate, read a book, order a hot chocolate and drink it slowly, watch a movie and have a nap.
What is your favourite current candle to burn?
Describe your dream day at The Church…
It starts with cuddles with Loulou and Pablo in bed then continues in the kitchen with French crepes and freshly squeezed orange juice (there is a farm near us). Then we head off for a bush walk, discover some insects under the leaves, spot a wallaby and return home for home-made spaghetti bolognese (her favourite dish). In an ideal world, we all have a nap in front of the fire… then we wake up to have more crepes as afternoon snacks. We go out to collect wood and small branches, pick some vegetables or fruits in season and come home to bake a lovely supper (chicken soup would be my pick). We dance to the sound of Shake it off or Roar (4-year-old hits) and go to bed exhausted!
About the Atelier x Grace collaboration:
Atelier/Child founder Jessica Baird Walsh and The Grace Tales founder Georgie Abay have launched a collection of MAMA & MINI sweaters for mother and child, with 10% from the sale of each sweater being donated to Unicef to support their work helping children in Syria. The crew neck navy cotton cashmere blend sweaters feature the words MAMA & MINI and are a celebration of mothers and their children around the world and a reminder that every single mother and child deserves a chance. To shop, go to www.shopthegracecollection.com