It’s the stuff that dreams are made of - wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, living a slower and more meaningful life, setting up roots in a location where the sun shines most of the year…
For Renu Kashyap – stylist, author, entrepreneur and contributing editor to Vogue Netherlands – dreams really do come true. After moving to Ibiza from her hometown of Amsterdam in 2012, her life took an unexpected yet much needed turn. Here, she embraced the island life in every sense of the word and started to not only see the benefits within herself, but also her family and work life, too. “We have been living here for seven years now – we moved when our daughter Skye was two-years-old. Back then, I was just as driven and ambitious as I am at this point but I was also working too much. I realised I wanted a different lifestyle, more living in the moment, more quality of life and time with my family. And that is exactly what our Ibiza life has given us. A more healthy and aware lifestyle, living surrounded by nature and animals. I go to yoga 5 days a week and open my computer at 1 pm. In Amsterdam life was so fast, I didn’t seem to manage to go to yoga every day. In Ibiza, it seems there are more hours in a day, maybe because it has 300 days of sun. People in Ibiza are spiritual, they are positive, and that is very nice to be surrounded by. No gossiping, complaining and always supporting each other.”
You’ll still find Renu’s styling prowess behind the pages of Vogue Netherlands and in various advertising campaigns, but the lightness, freedom and energy in the images is undeniably a result of living in Ibiza and embracing a less chaotic way of life, where less work doesn’t equal less career passion or talent. It’s no wonder that Renu has also managed to publish a book, set up a mother and daughter retreat from home, start a production company and embrace health and wellness as a priority since learning to slow down. Good things, it seems, come to those who press pause…
Read on for more from Renu’s Island paradise, where she talks motherhood, career, fashion and must-visit (and kid-friendly!) Ibiza hotspots.
Tell us about your childhood...
I grew up in a little village close to Amsterdam. I have some very nice memories of my childhood. We were always playing outside. The summers used to be warm and we’d spend our time swimming in the lake close to the house, biking in skirts, and always playing with my little sister and the children from our neighbourhood in front of our family home. The winters were very cold. We’d go ice skating on the lake, make snowmen and have snowball fights. Now the climate has changed and change of season isn’t that big any more, unfortunately. My father comes from India. When he and his best friend graduated from university as an architect, they decided to go hitchhiking through Europe. Jumping on trains and staying in the hold of big ships, eating with the crew. It was 1969 – the summer of love – and it was a very unusual and adventurous thing to do, as they both come from a good family background. I can listen to their stories over and over again and I think that this story has been the foundation of my traveller’s heart (I still think they should write a book about their adventures). Longing to explore the world and a certain feeling for freedom. My mom learnt to cook great Indian cuisine and we would always have dinner parties with a lot of food. She blends and grinds her own spices and I always used to smell them out of the jar and help her in the kitchen. Ever since I was a little girl, I took that tradition from my mom and I love to cook for family and friends – it brings people together. We have a long wooden outdoor dining table, always filled with kids. Having them eating with wet hair, straight from the pool and a towel wrapped around their bathing suits are some of my most happy moments.
How would you describe the Dutch approach to parenting – is it strict/relaxed?
The Dutch are relaxed and openminded in general. I do notice that there is a big trend of living a more aware lifestyle. This translates into a more spiritual way of parenting. I can’t say this is like this in the whole of The Netherlands, but in Amsterdam, where we come from, it is getting more and more common. To let your child blossom freely without judgement, and without a system of punishing or rewarding. I do believe that a child needs structure. And I think that that is quite common among the Dutch. In Ibiza young children go to bed very late. They eat at 10pm, I don’t think I will ever get used to that. Every day at the same time, the Dutch eat dinner at 6pm and most kids go to bed at 7:30pm – I think that that’s a good thing.
Back in 2012, you moved from Amsterdam to Ibiza – what inspired the change? And how has it changed your perspective on life?
We have been living here for seven years now – we moved when our daughter Skye was two-years-old. Back then, I was just as driven and ambitious as I am at this point, but I was also working too much. I realised I wanted a different lifestyle, more living in the moment, more quality of life and time with my family. And that is exactly what our Ibiza life has given us. A more healthy and aware lifestyle, living surrounded by nature and animals. I go to yoga five days a week, and open my computer at 1pm. In Amsterdam, life was so fast, I didn’t seem to manage going to yoga every day. In Ibiza, it seems there are more hours in a day, maybe because it has 300 days of sun. People in Ibiza are spiritual, they are positive, and that is very nice to be surrounded by. No gossiping, complaining and always supporting each other.
Island life looks completely idyllic – in the interests of keeping things real, what have been some challenges of island life?
For us there hasn’t been any challenges really. It sometimes can feel like you are living in a bubble. Everything is beautiful and pretty for the eye. There are no months of dark grey skies or long traffic jams. And we are not exposed to negativity around us. Which is nice, but I need to get off the island now and then to get the inspiration of the city. London, Paris and Amsterdam our my favourites but also Marrakesch is close by. The theater, museums, classical music concerts, the ballet… these are things we don’t find on the island so I do miss them if I have been on the island for a while.
What has been the most challenging part of motherhood for you and how have you overcome any challenges?
What about the most magical part of motherhood - what makes your heart burst with love?
My daughter Skye is my biggest mirror. I think you are never too old to learn and by seeing the world trough her eyes motivates me to learn new things. To be better parents, me and my husband Bas are reading various spiritual teachings and invest in doing self work. It helps us to live from the heart with compassion and empathy for ourselves and for others. We have always been conditioned to react on others, and now we are learning to break these patterns, to look inwards instead of the other way around. It is really exciting to be in that same process together and how to see how this effects Skye. We lift each other up and this way of life really connects the three of us. It basically means there are no conflicts anymore and that everything that happens is an opportunity to grow. We show her how important is to feel, and how to take responsibility for this feelings. It is liberating and exciting to see how we can improve our quality of life and the way we feel about ourselves.
Last week I was tired in the evening after a long day of work and cooking and Bas didn’t feel like eating. Skye saw a small disappointment in my face and said: “Mom, I think that maybe you get the feeling that Dad doesn’t like your food and that makes you feel rejected. But I think that is just your ego speaking, it is not how you really think about it. Maybe it’s just because you are feeling tired.”
When she says these kind of things (she is 9), I know we are doing something right. And that makes me beyond happy. I feel blessed to know how it feels to be a mother, it is the most special feeling there is to me. The greatest feeling of unconditional love.
Talk us through your career – beginning as a fashion editor and now wearing multiple hats from books to B&B’s – what have been some highlights...
Being creative is to me my most valuable asset and which I cherish deeply. It means you can always create something new for yourself. My husband Bas and I both share that we think in possibilities instead out of fear. So if there is an idea, we just go ahead and do it. Moving to Ibiza, making the book, setting up my new project My Daughter and Me (a seven day mother and daughter retreat held at our home in Ibiza), our B&B Casa Amore.
We have been together 23 years and we are a real team. It’s great to live with some one who is equally adventurous and always full of ideas to start a new project. We can sit on the couch and I can come up on an idea like: “Let’s move to Ibiza” or “let’s sell our house and start a B&B in Tulum, Portugal or another amazing place” and he will say “yes let’s do it” . And that is that and we go for it. It is a very free way of living and creating opportunities for ourselves. It feels never ending.
My two highlights would be working for VOGUE, as is the only magazine for me and making my book Ibiza Bohemia. That was a real heart project. But now, it is time for a new heart project, I will share both new projects with you next year.
Failure or criticism are often topics we don’t like talking about – how have you dealt with failure or criticism in your life?
I am coming from an Indian background, this meant that my father could be very strict at times. Study had to come first always. Nowadays, I am very grateful for the drive that his parenting has given me. I am very persistent and don’t easily give up. But together with this drive also comes wanting to be the best. When I was young, I have had times where I could really be disappointed if I didn’t get a certain job. I think it’s part of growing up. As the years have passed, I have learnt to be happy with myself and where I am at. Failure is not a part of me anymore. I believe that closed doors open new ones and that things happen for a reason. I am in a good place.
Workaholics get in a rut of never switching off – how did you learn to switch off and not run at such a past pace when you moved to Ibiza?
My husband and I are lucky to do what we do (Bas is a DJ). In some way our jobs don’t feel like work, because we both do what we love to do most. But because of this it can be tempting to always be working. Living in Ibiza helps me to remind that there is more to life then just to work all day and night. To stay in balance, we both like to start our day with yoga and meditation.
Since I moved to Ibiza, I decided to be more picky with the jobs that I take on instead of working seven days a week (which I was used to do). This gives me time to only focus on jobs and projects that really fit me and to take more time for myself. Reading a book by the pool, going to the beach on a weekday, biking or hiking with the dog, these are things that I never used to do. I recently started swimming with my friend – we are training to swim from the beach to the rock of Benirras. It is quite a workout – an 1.5 hour swim. The views from the water are stunning and it’s a great feeling to be one with nature. It is one of my new resolutions, to enjoy the island’s nature more.
Ibiza life is slower then city life. “Mañana Mañana” is a famous Spanish saying which means tomorrow, tomorrow. I really enjoy if I see an old payesa (farmer lady) in traditional clothing herding her sheep in the countryside close to our house. She is not in a hurry to go anywhere and she is not on her phone, she is with her sheep and that is that. It’s a nice way to reflect and stand still.
When I go back to Amsterdam I see the difference in our lifestyles. City life can be demanding for working mothers. That was one of the reasons that I came up with my mother and daughter retreat ‘My Daughter and Me‘. A seven day retreat to offer city moms, a little piece of our slowpaced life where they can re-connect with their daughter and create unforgettable memories to take home. It will be online in English soon.
Talk us through the process of creating Ibiza Bohemia… landing a book deal with Assouline is something that so many creatives dream of – how did this come about...
When I started working on the book I had just one publisher in mind and that was Assouline. They make the most amazing books about fashion, art, travel and style and for me it felt like the perfect fit. I was aware that it was an ambitious goal but I visioned it to happen one day. I like dreaming big and to think that everything is possible. I did approach one Dutch publisher, but they wanted me to make a book for the Dutch market with just Dutch people living in Ibiza and that was no option for me. One of the first people who I approached was Guy Laliberté (founder of Cirque du Soleil) He is a great collector of contemporary art. He is a true example that everything is possible. When I emailed him, I received a reply from his manager, and she asked me if I could tell her more about the concept of the book and who my publisher was. I mentioned that I didn’t have a publisher yet, but that my number one choice would be Assouline. She came back to me and said that Guy has made a book too, a photography book filled with pictures that capture the beauty and fragility as seen from the universe. Over 300 beautiful images that he took from space (his book is called Gaia which means Earth). She wrote me that this book was published by Assouline and that Guy wanted support my project and wanted to connect me with Martine Assouline. One month later I had a book contract, it was a very exciting time.
The book deal was just one of the dreams that I have had that came true since I came living on the island. I believe that Ibiza is a very powerful island and that it has helped us to manifest and realise our dreams and and I am very grateful for that. That was one of the reasons that I made my book Ibiza Bohemia, to thank the island and give something back.
In Ibiza Bohemia, how did you capture the emotion and authenticity of the island?
Ibiza had the reputation of just being a party island, but I saw so much more beauty around me when I came living here. The white fincas that are set in the countryside with bougainvillea, and orange and lemon trees. The most beautiful interiors hidden by big doors, high up in the mountains.
The way the light falls over the island makes every ride in the car beautiful, no matter where you have to go to. Since the 60’s the island has had a magnetic effect on creative figures, drawing in icons from the world of art, fashion, music, film and literature. A quote from my book by Mouji (owner of my favourite restaurant La Paloma): “I have never see anywhere else in the world with such an incredible collection of people. That is what Ibiza is about”. The book is my tribute and love letter to a magical island and to celebrate the energy of it’s people. I felt honoured to make an archive about such a special island, so I took the opportunity seriously. I had to get it right. I care about iconic photography, timeless images that move you, so always was looking how to make a special image. I think because I am a fashion stylist the images turned out in a certain editorial way. The island is very authentic. Chic but primitive and spiritual in the same time. I wanted to capture this. I trusted on my intuition by making the book. If it touches my heart, then I know it is good.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions of life in Ibiza?
Many people think that Ibiza is just a party island and that is all we are doing all night. But the opposite is true. We love to balance our life. Eat healthy, be fit, and only go to a party if is really worth it. There are the most extravagant parties, that you will only find in Ibiza. Given in caves, bunkers, the forest. All with the most delicious food and drinks, decorations and best DJ’s in the world. You will have a few of these in summer season. Guy Laliberté’s parties (held twice a month at his home CAN SOLEIL) are the most special ones and are just for a select group of people, coming from all over the world. I can imagine us thinking back after many years as if we have been to our own version of Studio 54. I feel very lucky to be able to be part of these kind of experiences. I rarely go to the big clubs. I do see people on the island struggling with the temptations of nightlife, but I never had that. It helps to be passionate about your job, and to have a child also helps – I love for structure during the week.
And there is an idea that Ibiza is only about jetset and superficialities, but the opposite is true. Yes there is a lot of wealth, but it is not so much about being loud about it.
I don’t need as much as when I was living in Amsterdam. We are not exposed to things like in a city, we don’t have a lot of shops. And the weather is mostly warm on the island so you want to dress light and comfortable. The style is effortless and nomadic in some way. There are many creatives with amazing style living on the island, but is is not about showing off head-to-toe designer brands and you can wear what you want. It’s more about being free. There is less of a uniform than in the cities.
Your daughter Skye speaks four languages – how did you raise her to speak so many languages?!
Skye goes to the French school since she was 3 years old. Therefore she speaks fluently Dutch, French, Spanish, English and now is learning Catalan. It is quite common in ibiza that children speak 4 languages. We would like to give her the opportunity to to explore the world and with her languages it will make it more easy to study where ever she wants. Another nice thing that her Ibiza upbringing will give her is that she will have friends living all over the world the she grows up.
How would you describe your personal style - what are some of your favourite fashion brands?
Some of my favourite brands are Jacquemus, The Row, Helmut Lang, Joseph, Isabel Marant, Chloe, Ulla Johnson, Acne and Hermes for accessories.
I like understated, timeless and classic items and they have to be comfortable. I like pieces in monochrome colours like olive, sand, oxblood, camel, light blue, light pink, offwhite, black and beige. I love leather accessoiries (bags, belts, sandals in cognac), and try to find these preferably on for example Vestiaire Collective and not to buy leather new in the store. I like the idea of building a wardrobe to pass on to my daughter. I like traditions. And I like antique gold jewellery. Every year with Christmas, I take Skye to my favourite jewellery store in Amsterdam (Lyppens) once a year. They have a lot of amazing vintage gold pieces and she can choose something for her self – I’ve done this every year since she was five years old. Some other jewellery designers that I like are Wouters & Hendrix, Charlotte Chesnais, Bibi van der Velden and Natasha Collis.
And what about your daughter – has she inherited your strong sense of style?
She is quite a mini me, but in her own kind of way. She knows what she likes and never has been a crown and petticoat girl. I like to see how she put has an outfit together, it’s the same way how I do it. She looks at colours and has an idea of what matches together, but doesn’t like to go overboard.
Working in fashion, you’re exposed to so many new clothes – how often do you shop? Is buying less, but buying better a philosophy you subscribe to?
I care about the environment and about the conditions of the people that make my clothes. So I prefer to buy less and invest in timeless pieces instead of buying a lot and I don’t shop fast fashion brands like Zara. So I think well before I buy something and I prefer to buy on Vestiaire collective than in the shop, so I can give clothes a second life. All the clothes that we don’t fit or wear anymore I bring give away or bring to a second hand shops to give them a new life instead of throwing them away. And I am looking at fabrics made of organic materials. I strongly believe that being a stylist means that I have a certain responsibility in the message that I send out. So I don’t use fur and fast fashion brands that have a bad factory reputation and I like to share my philosophy on buying. Every bit of creating awareness can help.
What are your time management tips – how do you make the most of each day?
Shops close during day time for four hours. Not really handy if you are a stylist. In Ibiza you can’t go for a quick shop. We live in de countryside so it takes time to get things. I decided that I just do one or two things a day. Before you know it, you are in your car all day driving around the island to get things done. So I plan well and stay home a lot. I love being home, it gives me so much peace of mind. You just hear the sounds of frogs, crickets and birds.
Do you cook a lot at home – if so, what are some of your favourite family meals?
I am always cooking, it is my happy place. Cooking is a meditation for me. I am a foodie and can think and talk about food all day. We have a big open kitchen, where we hang out while I cook. Me and my husband eat mostly ketogenic. High in fats, low sugar and low carbs, meaning we eat a lot of heathy fats and vegetables. I make my own bread made out of nuts and seeds, flaxseed tortilla’s, almond flour pumpkin cakes, and we like to eat zucchini noodles and cauliflower rice. Ketogenic means that fat is you fuel, instead of glucose. And our brains love fat, so eating ketogenic will make you feel very focused and full of energy. I am very sensitive to sugar and it makes me very tired. I always used to take naps, but now that is history.
I am getting quite handy in cooking low carb which makes it easy to do, also when I travel. We don’t eat meat, but as we are living on an island, we have a lot of fresh fish so once in a while we will eat fish. I love to experiment with Indian spices. If you want to know more about the ketogenic diet, I would recommend the documentary The Magic Pill on Netflix. I am aware that Ibiza life gave me the opportunity for a big transformation. When I arrived on the island seven years ago I was smoking a pack a day, loving super sweets drinks like Hierbas (a Spanish local alcoholic drink) and was six kilograms heavier. I have never been as fit as I am today, and I am planning to maintain this lifestyle and to get old this way.