Luxury is not Chic... Tiossano ç'est Chic!

I spent these past two years creating the mesmerizing scents for my upcoming line of Tiossano body care  products. I have been immersed in the world of scents and initiated to the art of perfume. I have been blessed to learn from some of  the world most renowned noses.  I also read from some of the most enlightening specialists. Amongst them is an interesting character, Luca Turin.

Luca Turin (1953 - ) is a biophysicist with a long-standing interest in the sense of smell, the art of perfume, and the fragrance industry.

A quotation from him in English that perfectly describes what my brand Tiossano draws from:

The French like luxury, but what the French call luxury is actually call-girl chic.  Put it this way.  After finishing secondary school at sixteen, I went back to Paris to go to university, Paris XII, Pierre et Marie Curie.  I rented a room from Madame Clouzot, the sister of the film director Henri-Georges Clouzot, right near the Champs Elysees.  She explained that there were only two great French perfume makers, Guerlain and Caron.  Guerlain, she said, was for cocottes – kept women.  Caron was for the duchesse.  But in fact it was 1880s cocotte style that passes for chic in France.  What the French consider 'chic' is actually kept-woman vulgarity. . . . Caron, on the other hand, is absolutely proper, proper chic. . . .  Chic is, first, when you don't have to prove that you have money, either because you have a lot and it doesn't matter or because you don't have any and it doesn't matter.  Chic is not aspirational. . . Chic is the most impossible thing to define.  Luxury is a humourless thing, largely, and when humor happens in luxury it happens involuntarily.  Chic is all about humor.  Which means chic is about intelligence.  And there has to be oddness – most luxury is conformist, and chic cannot be.  Chic must be polite and not incommode others, but within that it can be as weird as it wants.

Entrepreneurship: Best Path to Personal Growth

The exert below exemplifies very well why a wonderful entrepreneurial friend of ours, Donna Hadjipopov, told my husband Michael that "entrepreneurship  is the highest form of personal growth".

How right is Donna!

1. You’re going to be tested. Hammered, actually. When I started my journey as an entrepreneur, my vision was fixed on the financial rewards of growing a business. I had no way of knowing how many great personal tests I would face along the way. I was too inexperienced to anticipate how market factors, competitive pressures, cash constraints, and managing employees would create an environment of nearly constant pressure. New twists, turns, and surprises surface with exhausting frequency. There’s a wise saying that “…hammering hardens steel and plays havoc on putty.” It’s the opportunity for you to become strengthened and refined under the heat and hammering of business challenges. Sadly, many wilt, falter, or fail under these circumstances. So be prepared to face and conquer real-life tests as an entrepreneur and to be better for it.


2. You’re going to fail. That’s a good thing. Think of failure as the toll paid for future success. Every great success story includes painful chapters of failure and misstep. It’s a fact that through failure, questions are answered and solutions are discovered. Og Mandino said, “Failure is the highway to success, as every discovery we make of what is false leads us to earnestly seek after what is true and points out some error which we shall afterward carefully avoid.” And it’s the experience of failure that breeds the ability to be flexible, humble, and thoughtful—qualities required to create a company that can stand the test of time. Flexibility, humility, and thoughtfulness go a long way in life, too.


3. You’re going to learn patience. It develops as a natural result of the hammering and the failures that you’re sure to experience.Patience is the trait that truly separates inexperienced entrepreneurs from the seasoned and successful. Patience earned through experience is what allows a business operator to get beyond idealistic dreams and deal in the world of sound, realistic expectations. Pray that it develops within you as soon as possible.


4. You’re going to have a major impact on people. It’s inevitable. People—perhaps many people—are going to give a portion of their lives to your cause. This isn’t a small thing. Your actions toward your customers, vendors, and especially your employeeswill have a positive or negative impact on their lives. You will learn that managing people is really about leadership, and leadership is about inspiring people to reach their full potential. In The 8th Habit, Stephen Covey explains that it is absolutely crucial that we “…find our voice and inspire others to find theirs.” And again, from Drucker, “Management is about human beings. Its task is to make their strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.” I hope that as you build your company, you will find that it is an ideal platform for doing much more than selling widgets—the opportunity is there to change many lives for good.


5. You’re going to develop character. Sure, you might get rich, retire young, and travel the world, too. But realize that this isn’t really the end game. In time (sooner rather than later, with any luck), you’ll recognize that building a business is much different than what you might have initially envisioned. If you choose to pay the price for success, you’ll find that it’s actually much harder than most accounts of business success would suggest. But through that hardship, great rewards are available. While there is no guarantee of riches, through the pursuit, you will obtainrewards of character. And the development of sound character is perhaps the most important perk of entrepreneurship. At the end of the day, no one really cares how much money you made. They care about who you are."

More here


Africa is not part of the World

[youtube=] As many of you know, I love The Onion because humor is often the best way to get a message across, however sad, revolting or outrageous the message may be.

So got the message?

Let's wake up and realize that Africa IS part of the World's Economy (as a matter of fact, in recent years the economic growth of Africa has been at or above the rate of growth in the developed world).

And to those so-called do-gooders out there who believe that "plumbing, door knobs and electricity will violate our culture", I answer again that we are tired of being your anthropological wet dream.

"The Great Yogurt Conspiracy"

Don't you think we ought to be able to put whatever we want down there?  I mean really, do you want the government telling you what you can and can't put down there?  Think about it . . .

"The Great Yogurt Conspiracy

In September 1972, two founders of the Federation of Feminist Women's Health Centers, Carol Downer and Colleen Wilson were arrested for allegedly practicing medicine without a license. Their Los Angeles Self-Help Clinic was raided by the California Department of Consumer Affairs and the Board of Medical Examiners. The Self-Help Clinic presented the local medical establishment with competition. Concerned with the potential loss of revenue for the local physicians, one doctor, three uniformed police and several plainclothes investigators confiscated four truckloads of supplies and equipment, in order to shut down operations of the women-controlled clinic. The reason for the arrest? Downer had inserted yogurt into the vagina of a women's center staff member.

The trial became known as the, "Great Yogurt Conspiracy" and was a crucial turning point in the women's health movement. Downer was found not guilty by arguing that applying yogurt as a home remedy for an ordinary yeast infection is not practicing medicine. The verdict reinforced women's control over their own bodies and established that at-home methods of self-care are, indeed, lawful."

Read more here.

Is High School Infantilizing Teens?

The excerpt  below is from a superb article and well worth reading. It confirms everything my other half has been telling me about how messed up american teen culture is and why traditional cultures were healthier and better, and why the "research" that shows that teen minds develop slowly is all crap.

"Here’s a Twilight Zone-type premise for you. What if surgeons never got to work on humans, they were instead just endlessly in training, cutting up cadavers? What if the same went for all adults – we only got to practice at simulated versions of our jobs? Lawyers only got to argue mock cases, for years and years. Plumbers only got to fix fake leaks in classrooms. Teachers only got to teach to videocameras, endlessly rehearsing for some far off future. Book writers like me never saw our work put out to the public – our novels sat in drawers. Scientists never got to do original experiments; they only got to recreate scientific experiments of yesteryear. And so on. 

Rather quickly, all meaning would vanish from our work. Even if we enjoyed the activity of our job, intrinsically, it would rapidly lose depth and relevance. It’d lose purpose. We’d become bored, lethargic, and disengaged.

In other words, we’d turn into teenagers."

You can read the full article here

Smart, Sexy Cool


Although anyone with any intelligence knows that skin color is a perfectly arbitrary aspect of any human being, most people, including a remarkable number of educated people, seem to speak and act as if skin color was important. For that reason, I am always glad to see civilized examples of black people, especially black men, that I can respect.  In the world of black male musicians, Jason Derulo stands out not only for being a great singer and musician, but also for combining sexual cool with grace, elegance, and dignity.

His music video of "Watcha Say" is a great example of this.  The setting is casual and middle class, rather than snooty or elitist, and yet at the same time everything about Jason and the setting is clean, almost preppie.  The dancing is at once sexy and respectful, no "booty-dancing" crap, his jewelry is appealing but not ostentatious. No bling-bling. And I love his watch and "bracelet"!  He has none of the ghetto language that most black male musicians use (no N word, no cursing...), and yet his musical style is as cool and contemporary as is that of the hottest hip hop artists.

The best way to transform perceptions of black men is not to shout about racism; it is for talented men like Jason Derulo to show how they can combine being manly and desirable with being caring, decent to women, and elegant.

Ladies, this is a guy to go for!!! I am already off the market :) !

Is this what motivates Jeffrey Sachs?



This past June, I wrote an article for the Huffington Post  titled  Jeffrey Sachs' Misguided Foreign Aid Efforts. A big message I wanted to drive home was the importance for so-called "do-gooders" wanting to "help" Africa to stop thinking about what makes them feel good, but rather start focusing and respecting the needs and desires of the very people they claim to care so much about.

To this day, I am pretty amazed at how this need to have a role is so important for people. Don't take me wrong, I too want to have a role, but there are many ways to have a role other than the patronizing role. 

Below is an insert from  a great article from a unitarian universalist minister that corroborates my own feeling and gives a good analysis why people fall easily into the patronizing role.

"Defining someone as a victim is one of the most brutal and demeaning things we can do to them. This was, remember, the reason liberals lost permission to speak for the Black Power and Women's movements: they wisely chose to define themselves as survivors and warriors. That left liberals without a necessary role to play. It also shows, perhaps painfully, that the reason we define our token groups as victims is so that we can give ourselves a necessary role to play. The salvation story of political liberals requires victims. That's why it's such a dehumanizing myth"

A Knight of a Corporation!

We can each see what we want in this news.  I want to see a beautiful and quite inspiring "Principle over Profit" case. This also goes to show how Corporations can be part of the solution with principled leaders running them. And the most satisfying part is I believe that in the long run, it will all work out for the Chinese people, Google and the world at large  for I believe the True, the Good and Noble always wins in the end. Bravo, Google!


Blown away by Paris?


Florence Foresti, above, is my favorite comedienne française.  Jerry Seinfeld is my favorite American comedian.  I like going back and forth between them, as each side brings out the freshness of the other side.  After the wonderful, raunchy screeching of Foresti, it is a relief to watch the gentle, kind Seinfeld for a while.  But after watching Seinfeld for a while, I'm ready for the raw reality of Foresti.  I love the French for their gritty raw attitudes, and I love the Americans for their niceness, but too much of either is a bit much.

One of the things that I love about Foresti is the clever, sophisticated way in which she manages to be raunchy while being civilized.  In this piece on Paris Hilton, she is appearing on a sophisticated French literature and culture show which typically has as guests leading writers and thinkers.  And she doesn't literally say anything that is offensive to a polite audience; but the double entendres are outrageous!  I love the one about "sous cellophane" (pronounced "sue sell o fan" and meaning "cellophane"), the phonetic of that in french could also come across as "sucer les fans" (pronounced "susay lay fan" and meaning "sucking the fans," i.e., the audience).  But of course there is nothing wrong with being under cellophane, is there Paris, you busy one?


I love each of my three cultures for the way in which they freshen me for another.  When I am in the U.S., I long to return home to Senegal after a while. But then after being a while in Senegal, I'm ready to return to the U.S.  After when I've been gone from France for too long (or Tahiti, my other "French" home away from home), I really need a dose of French culture, French food, French lifestyle - and the raw vulgarity of French humor.

It is funny - the French are in one sense the most civilized culture on earth; they have established the standards for many aspects of decorum and etiquette. And yet in day-to-day life, they use salacious jokes, cuss... Do you see President Obama, or even ex President George W. Bush saying "piss off, asshole" to an angry citizen refusing to shake hand? Well, that is what Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France, did at the Agriculture  Tradeshow a few years ago (see video clip below). It really cracks me up how he has these big fake smiles and as similarly fake little innocent voice saying "bonjour" here, and "bonjour, monsieur" there  . . . until the beast gets provoked and his true face comes out...