Calling India her ‘second home’ Camilla Franks is determined to use her success to further her philanthropic side helping women of that country who find themselves in dire straits. On how she will do that, she says “if you give women an education and a purpose, that’s how you help them heal” and she’s passionate about creating opportunities to help women help themselves.
To know more about the Camilla’s sanctuary project in India, just hit ‘play’ and watch our video or read the transcript below.
ROBYN: How about your food and beauty philosophy. Tell us about your beauty philosophy.
CAMILLA: I haven’t got a beauty philosophy. I think a beauty philosophy is making yourself happy. When you’re happy that’s when true beauty comes out. When you look after yourself… and I do, I look after myself. And I’m not perfect. I think it’s about balance in life – I love good food, good wine and coffee, you know – I’m not all about sipping on coconut water the whole time. But beauty regime? I don’t really have one except for my exercise and my meditation and all that kind of thing. I throw a bit of rosehip oil on and I’m out. I don’t have time for a beauty regime really.
ROBYN: And when you started out – how difficult was it? You would have experienced rejection. I remember stories of you walking down New York streets in winter in your kaftans.
CAMILLA: I look back now and I think ‘how did I do that?’, I was fearless and I was persistent and I would not take no for an answer and I don’t think if I knew how much hard work it was going to be I don’t think I would have done it. I started when I was young and I think now I don’t know whether I’d have the energy levels because I was travelling on my own, staying in hotels on my own in crappy hotels, travelling economy and schlepping collections around – packing it, steaming it, showing it… from vendor to vendor to vendor with rejection after rejection after rejection but it’s funny now, some of these vendors like Neiman Marcus Bergdorf are like ‘We remember when you used to come to us ten years ago we were like – this is not us – and I was like I’m coming back next collection’. I was persistent and would not take no for an answer. I don’t know where I got that from but I just believed in what I was doing, and I think if you believe in it and you can visualise it, it will just happen.
ROBYN: So what do you visualise for the next twelve months?
CAMILLA: I’m visualising international roll-out. International market is key for us and it’s exciting me. On the personal side, and on the charity side I’m working on an exciting project that’s been in the planning for a while, to work with women – and rehabilitate them – who have been trafficked out. So we’ve started the process in fact that’s something where I can see we’re going to make a change.
ROBYN: And so how can women support that?
CAMILLA: Good question. We’re working on the whole strategy at the moment. I watched a CNN documentary a while back ‘The CNN Angel’ who lives on the border of Nepal in India and she rehabilitates women and created this sanctuary for women who have been trafficked out, because when they’ve been trafficked out they are not allowed back into their homes, so they have abandonment issues, psychological issues and a lot of the time HIV, pregnant, they’ve been abused, but my concern is that once they’ve been in this sanctuary environment, what happens when they come back out into real life? So my idea was – and it comes from a project I did years ago in Laos where we created a school with UNIFEM and we rehabilitated women through textiles – if you give women an education and a purpose, that’s how you help them heal. So what we’re passionate about that and how we’re doing that is with these scarves which will be going out through all our stores and the profits will go towards helping build this community, this sanctuary in India, in Delhi, and then the next step is building a level of our factory to be able to educate these women with my textiles and my beading and my embroidery and give them purpose. So it’s all in the works still at the moment, nothing solidified. But with regards to other people jumping on board. Stay tuned! We’ll be asking for help for sure.
ROBYN: Thank you very much.
CAMILLA: It’s an absolute pleasure.
To watch part 1 of this interview click here
Want to find out more about Camilla? Click here.