Keah Lan

I first met Keah Lan in person on a hot sunny day in the summer of 2020, in between France’s two lockdowns. I picked her up from the train station and brought her back to my home for a warm “live” conversation over coffee and a couple of slices of a carrot cake that my little girl and her friends had made the day before. 

Keah moved near the seaside in lovely Cros-de-Cagnes after the birth of her son Matisse. She and her husband, who is from the South of France, had been living in London and decided to chose a quieter and simpler life with more sun.

In 2018, the couple learned their son had sensory difficulties – sounds, sights, smells, textures and tastes can create a feeling of “sensory overload” – which meant that they had to relearn everything they knew from scratch to support him. “Intuitively I knew,” Keah admits, “but it wasn’t until we saw the French doctor that it became real.  A period of mourning followed. I think fathers process it much differently as my husband only came to accept the diagnosis one year later.”

In her new life on the French Riviera, Keah, who grew up in South Africa, started spending a great deal of time outdoors and discovered that nature is indeed our greatest healer. 

In London, she had set up “Keah Lan Mobile Healing,” a platform to bring health and wellness to busy, stressed and time constrained-city folk. Nearly twenty years later on the French Riviera, she has rebranded the business as SENSES and recently held a reflexology workshop at the International School of Monaco’s wellbeing day.

“I luckily did not have to change my business much but I did have to navigate myself. Immersing into the French community is very important, not just learning the language but also supporting  and working alongside other local businesses is key to opening doors.”

Some women leave their full-time job to start their own business to have more time to spend with their children. The reality is that a home business can also turn into a full-time gig and that work-family balance is harder to manage than anticipated. For Keah, being a mom has definitely made her better at being an entrepreneur. 

In the year of Covid and confinements, she has learned to prioritise her mental health and wellbeing as a mom. “Far too often we put the needs of our family before our own. We become so absorbed by the responsibilities of being a joyful wife, mother, and homemaker that we neglect to adequately tend to our own personal health and wellbeing.”

2020 came with its load of challenges, more than any normal time, and Keah bravely admits that she had a near mental breakdown. 

“Have you ever had a panic or anxiety attack? Multiply that by ten!” is how she describes the experience. “Suddenly, out of the blue, it hits you. Recognising the body’s warning signs early on is important but once you reach the point of breakdown, by falling very ill, remember that this is the body’s way of trying to jumpstart the healing process. I work a lot with this now in my offerings to clients and provide tools to help them.”

The global pandemic has not been kind to small businesses, and Senses has had to completely restructure the business, moving from providing at home and outdoor wellbeing to live Zoom classes online. Keah had to adapt and learn quickly. She created a library of classes online (including a Women’s Circle, €8), where workouts and wellbeing help to bring the five senses into harmony to heal the mind, body, and spirit. The classes provide a transformative and sustainable approach that nurtures and, most importantly, leads to lasting change. A lot of her private clients have decided not to proceed with online and will wait until classes are resumed in person. A few still join our mat classes which provide them with a sense of community .

About “failures” and “wrong paths,” Keah talks about trying to do too many things at once, putting too much on her plate, pouring from an empty cup, always saying “yes” and having become completely run down emotionally and mentally.  Ring any bells ? A big lesson she learned and is still learning is to ask for help, to reach out to the community. 

Keah’s nugget to take away from all of this is that it’s about progress not perfection: to take it one day at a time, to find time to breathe and be grounded.

As researcher and author Brené Brown would say, “We can be courageous through discomfort.”

About Caro Cuinet Wellings

Kerri Moss Beaumont

New Yorker Kerri Moss Beaumont ran her first business at the age of eight. “I was desperate to buy Jordache jeans and my parents were having none of it.” So she started Radio Red, selling homegrown tomatoes over the summer. “I’d fill my Radio Flyer red wagon and walk around the neighbourhood pitching my grandmother’s Italian pasta sauce recipe that needed $5 dollars worth of tomatoes.” Sales were so good that Kerri bought buy two pairs of jeans – at $42.99 each.

From a young age, Kerri understood sales was about knowing what the consumer wants and needs and then working out the difference. “You could say this stuff is in my blood. My Dad was Director at British Airways for Sales and Marketing for years and we used to go and look at toothpaste and figure out the trends on packaging and how they would shift product using discounts. To this day, I’m obsessed with stalking supermarket shelves.”

Kerri launched her “second” business, Naughty + Nice, in France in 2018, although she’d been toying with the idea of an organic juice business for a while.

Since 2013, she had been giving juice to her yoga clients on the Côte d’Azur when she was visiting from London. “Many would joke about throwing in some tequila post-yoga. And so the seed was planted for a ‘Detox, Retox, Repeat’ idea of a cold pressed organic juice that doubles as a cocktail mixer.”

Then in 2017, Kerri and her “very English” husband, Ian, took their four daughters – Lauren is now 14, Daisy 13, Coco 11 and Tallulah 9 – sailing across the Pacific Ocean on a small sailing yacht. “During that year, we were fortunate enough to enjoy loads of fresh produce and cold pressed juices and it highlighted the importance of nutrition for the whole family. From travelling, we also realised how cocktails are made of processed junk and most drinks on the supermarket shelves are also pasteurised and full of additives.”

The following year, the family relocated permanently to Valbonne. In May, Kerri was on Eddie Irvine’s yacht during the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix for the official launch of Naughty + Nice. “Nothing can wholly prepare you for starting your own business, especially in France. A director of Carrefour who is a client and now a friend told me that in the U.S. people would say Naughty + Nice is delicious, whereas in France they say ‘That’s not bad’ even though they mean the same.”

As a woman running a business, she finds the French “slightly antiquated and old fashioned but once I realised I wasn’t going to change the system, I worked out how to make it work for me.”

With a busy household (there is a boy dog to keep Ian company), you’d expect lockdown to be tough but Kerri admits, “It was similar to being on a 60-foot sailing yacht for a year as a family. When you are in ‘isolation’ – our longest sail was 15 and a half days from the Galapagos to the Marquesas – your emotions are on high alert and anything that has been repressed will rear its ugly head. On the boat, and during lockdown, we encouraged the girls to journal and to talk to us. And we reverted to the sailing attitude Chez Beaumont, getting up with the sun, eating healthy food and listening to music with lots of nice wine and good films.”

During the first lockdown, Naughty + Nice was delivering every day, which Kerri shares was a lifesaver. “Being out and making people happy was divine. For example, we delivered to Bill in Monaco who turned 100, that was a very special moment indeed.”

The fruit and veg organic juice company also donated drinks to the Lenval Children’s Hospital in Nice, and in Cannes and Mougins. “I thought that those on the front line would really benefit from a natural energy boost and immunity protection. Word got out … so we ended up shipping to hospitals up in Paris, too. In Monaco, the hospital wasn’t accepting donations due to Covid restrictions but the Red Cross team was great and we gave when we could over several months.” When Kerri received a letter in July from Prince Albert thanking her for her initiative and support, she “immediately called my Mom.”

For Lockdown 2.0, Kerri says she’s using food as medicine and doing a juice and raw fruit fast for the month of November. “Well … until Thanksgiving! I figure a whole body and mind reset is the best way to approach the restrictions.” She adds that as her family has been separated from most friends and other family members, they are hugging at home even more. “This habit started on the boat and is really in full swing now. It lifts the spirit like nothing else.”

Kerri is also using lockdown to work on expanding her business across Europe, starting with the U.K., and will be fundraising in early 2021 through Crowdcube. “My solid education and undoubtedly my ad agency days at TBWA\Chiat\Day in NYC and M&C in London have given me skills that enable me to get the marketing sorted in an efficient and effective way. And I think that Naughty + Nice has taken off so quickly because we are relatable, fun and we don’t take ourselves too seriously. In today’s world this can be worth its weight in gold!”

On top of raising a family and running a business, Kerri is dedicated to sports “I’m pretty sure my Dad had me throwing and catching a ball before I could walk.” At 11, I started running before school with my yellow Sony walkman and a tape of Tracy Chapman and Paul Simon. I would get out before the sun was up. I’m the oldest of five kids and the house was always mental in the morning – so this was my way of finding peace.”

Kerri has run a few marathons – “there’s nothing like London” – and recently entered the world of multiday stage racing, competing in the Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica and training for the Everest Trail Race, which was cancelled this year. “The way the body can adapt is all about the mind and I absolutely adore it. The 250-km Marathon des Sables was a beast … I was that person in the First Aid tent on the first day as I forgot my inserts for my trainers so I had blisters all over both feet. And I mean all over. On the second morning I could barely walk to the open air loo and I remember thinking not crossing that finish line wasn’t an option. So I put mind over matter and pushed on.”

As a young girl, she always wanted to run marathons. “And I wanted to be a pilot. One down, one to go!” Kerri Moss Beaumont laughs.

Photos byTatiana Trunova and art direction and stylist Sam Lord.

Juanita & Taylor Viale

We have spent the better part of this year staring at Covid figures and graphs, and hearing about how care homes have been particularly vulnerable to the virus. It is easy to forget that it is not just the elderly living in assisted accommodation. The story of Juanita Viale and her disabled daughter Taylor is one of hope.

Born in Los Angeles, California, Juanita Viale was working for a Stanford-funded startup in San Francisco when her dad passed away. She decided to relocate to Costa Rica and settled in Tamarindo on the Pacific Coast, known for surfing thanks to the 1966 Robert August documentary classic, Endless Summer.

By 2007, she was living in San José when her youngest daughter Taylor suffered a brain hemorrhage at birth leaving her permanently disabled. Juanita and her husband decided to move Taylor and her older sister Isabella to France the following year. “My now ex-husband’s grandfather welcomed us with open arms to his 30-hectare vineyard, Coteaux de Bellet, behind Nice, and I stayed there for the next nine years.”

Taking care of the girls, especially with Taylor’s needs, was a full-time job but after a four-year hiatus from the work force, Juanita managed to land a gig in her field of communications and marketing.  “On my second day of work I was already in Monaco on the air at Riviera Radio giving weekly property reports, a vast contrast to being a stay-at-home-mom.”

While her marketing consulting and coaching business grew, her marriage, unfortunately, did not. By the autumn of 2019, Taylor moved into a center for severely disabled children in Saint Antoine Ginestiere, in Nice, operated by the Lenval Foundation, coming home on the weekends. During this same period, Juanita moved around 40 kilometers behind Nice to live in a forest.

“I found my French version of Costa Rica! As I live on a 7-hectare forest my lifestyle is pretty isolated, so when the first lockdown happened, nothing really changed for me since I live and run my business Marketing & Mindset Coaching from home anyway.

Taylor is allowed to come home weekends for this second confinement.

“However, the challenge was with Taylor. Under strict confinement restrictions she was not allowed to leave the center since they were all vulnerable. I didn’t see Taylor for two months with the exception of daily Facetime calls. She held out fine for the first month, but showed signs of depression the second month, which is when Facetime calls became a lifesaver.”

While this weighed enormously on Juanita’s heart, the good news was that it was clear that her daughter Taylor was more aware of her surroundings than the family realized.

A few days prior to France’s second lockdown announcement, Taylor was hospitalized during the weekend for fatigue and no appetite. She was tested immediately for Covid with a negative result.

Juanita wasn’t allowed to visit because she hadn’t had a Covid test. Rapid testing is reserved for the patients only so when the hospital offered to give her a regular test, the results wouldn’t be ready before 48 hours. By that time Taylor would already be out of the hospital.

While Juanita “completely understood” the situation, this was the first time Taylor had to be alone in the hospital. “Even though I have full confidence in the nurses to be with her, knowing she was alone did not sit well with me. However I had no other choice but to surrender that worrying thought and replace it with the gratitude I have for all those doctors and nurses who take such great care of the children at Lenval.”

With this second lockdown that took effect October 30,, Taylor is able to come home on the weekends. “Such relief! But for Isabella, 18, who is going to school and doing her internship in Nice, it will be her first lockdown alone. Facetime it is!”

If there is any lesson Juanita Viale has learned from “The Year of Staying at Home” it is to be adaptabile.

“The more willing we are to live out of our comfort zone, we strengthen our adaptability skills. It is imperative to keep working on ourselves, challenging ourselves, checking in with ourselves, loving ourselves and developing a positive mindset that will serve as your anchor in a sea of uncertainty.”