Fiona Myer, entrepreneur and art patron, modelled in Paris before working as a fashion forecaster. After her three children were born, the family moved to Malaysia for nearly five years. There, she worked with artisans around the region, designing products such as linen from Vietnam and wicker furniture from Myanmar...
Returning to Australia, Fiona went on to co-launch the fashion label White Story in 2015. The initial range was founded on the principles of simplicity and purity – a desire to move back to basics. Inspired by her passion for ceramics, architecture, fashion, contemporary art and all things white, Fiona’s brand is defined by its attention to detail and emphasis on tailoring.
And, while her three children have all left home now, they reunite often at their family farm – a spectacular 16-hectare retreat 45 kilometres outside Melbourne.
Here, to celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday, we share the letter she wrote to her children for our book GRACE MOTHERS.
Go to whitestory.com.au
Charlotte Roche & Blossom Roche. Charlotte wears White Story
Top: Gill Myer Archie Baillieu and Victoria Baillieu photographed for White Story’s beautiful Mother’s Day campaign. 10 per cent of retail sales from White Story’s cashmere sweaters sold on May 7th and 8th will be gifted to The Salvation Army. Bottom: Fiona Myer
Darling Will, Ed and Jess,
I am writing to you from the pool house at the farm – the place you know I love. For once, the music is turned down to a whisper, as I sit and contemplate my life and my advice as a mother to the three of you.
Before I start my journey on paper, I want you to know that, individually and collectively, you make my life worth living. I feel blessed to have brought you into this world, into my life, and I can’t imagine a life without you.
If I have forgotten to tell you, you are my best friends, the ones I can trust and rely on, and, most of all, have fun with. No amount of distance will ever pull us apart.
As you know, I have always said life is a journey, not a destination. Don’t wait for the right time to say something or the right time to change direction in your life. You are your own destiny.
Life is hard to explain and even harder to analyse – to know what’s right and what’s wrong. I have spent my life trusting my gut instinct. It’s not always been right, but in the main, it has stood me in good stead.
You have all, in your own ways, taught me more about myself and I thank you for this. My hope is that, as your loving mother, I can leave you with some advice along the way that won’t change your life but might colour your views. It’s the stuff we can’t see in life. It’s the energy between two people that matters. As they say, the context of a good speech may be forgotten, but what will be remembered is the way you made people feel.
To be honest, frank and transparent are values I hold dear to myself.
I am, however, still learning the art of not being too blunt!
Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be included. These days, it’s called FOMO. My advice here is that you can’t be everybody’s best friend. Spend time being a good listener to those who matter and don’t be afraid to give advice. As they say, advice is free, whether worthless or priceless!
I have learnt that you can’t really do more than one job at a time and give it your best. I have found over my life, there have been so many things I’ve wanted to achieve that, at times, I became scattered.
White Story has taught me to stay focused. It is my hope that you three can see that, while it is challenging, it is possible to start an embryonic business at any age. It feeds my soul and makes me feel worthwhile. It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning, while you are all away on your journeys.
However, one thing that remains constant – family comes first. Dad and the three of you have my unconditional love and attention. I want you to know I will drop anything to come to your rescue. A phone call away for advice; a big hug and a full-bodied red if we are together!
In life, everything can be resolved. It usually starts with a conversation. Don’t hold things in. Talk about them, uneasy as you may be. Break up the word ‘disease’ and you get ‘dis-ease’. This is what happens when the mind and the body are not at ease with one another.
Be trusting – most people have good intentions. We can all go through life being wary and trusting no one. This is disheartening and leaves you feeling alone and even in despair.
My life has been colourful and I feel I have achieved a lot. I am forever grateful for that. They say I’m lucky, but I say you make your own luck.
I found what I was passionate about after I left school. Not being good at everything makes the process of elimination a lot easier!
The choices you all have today are endless. Be true to yourself and make sure that whatever you decide to do with your career you are at least 85 per cent happy. If not, change direction. This is not a dress rehearsal and as surely as one door closes, another one opens.
This goes for relationships, too. If you are not more than 85 per cent happy, then have a good look at yourself. Don’t rely on your partner to provide your happiness. Happiness needs to come from within. Your friend, lover, wife or husband should be your best friend. That’s the cream.
As you know, Dad and I celebrated 33 years of marriage last month. I say that knowing we had a little three-month blip… No one’s life is perfect, but life is what we make of it.
A favourite mantra of mine is ‘You are the company you keep’. So if you’re not sure about someone in your business life or personal life, then steer clear of them. Surround yourself with like-minded people who are uplifting and make you smile.
Mistakes? I’ve made a few. Our nearly five years in Malaysia was a gutsy thing to do and left us with wonderful memories of our lives overseas. But if I had my time again I would have resisted the temptation of having amahs [nursemaids]. I am hugely regretful that, despite our best intentions, the amahs snatched our most precious years together. When we came back to Australia, the amahs followed us. Although we spent almost all the time together, it wasn’t all the time together.
Once a mother, always a mother. Slipping into the expat life meant that you, Ed, started school aged two. Although it felt strange, it was the way of life. Not to have you by my side and in my arms at such a young age was a huge regret for me. The upside now is your ability to socialise and build relationships, and get on with people.
Ed, you will stay in my mind forever when you stopped in the street. You were in year nine and asked me, “What do I have to do to live the life that you and Dad live?” Startled and surprised, I said, “Stay hungry.”
I feel incredibly proud to say that all three of you are truly hungry.
You have completely blown Dad and me away with what you’ve all achieved.
Ed, darling, you were always the funny one, the one we could rely on to keep us smiling. Don’t forget that. If you are not smiling and joking each day, ask yourself why.
Jess, darling, girls, and mothers share a bond that can’t really be explained. There really is nothing on earth we don’t talk about, is there. Granny would be forever proud to see our beautiful relationship. You are wise beyond your years. You are my go-to person during tricky times, and I know I can confide in you to offer me an honest yet compassionate opinion. Darling, did I ever tell you that you are one of the funniest people I have ever met? Our trip to Japan will last a lifetime of funny memories.
Will, darling, you are my eldest child, with a steady hand. You are wise counsel and I know I can always trust and rely on you, even if you are slow to get back on WhatsApp! When I think of you, I think of the book Leaders Eat Last. You are resilient and patient. You have found yourself in some rare situations, but kept a cool head and I know this will see you through your life. If I had a dollar for everyone who says they love Will, I might retire early!
To ‘have someone’s back’ is the greatest compliment. To know you all have each other’s back, as well as Dad’s and mine, is hugely comforting.
Finally, I know I’m a nag, but Christmas is Christmas! You know my line ‘Those that play together, stay together’. Please guys, I know it’s a huge journey for you all, but if we can’t all be in the same place for birthdays, then Christmas is non-negotiable. Please can we all be together. So, WhatsApp me on our Family Banter with a yes. Please.