The world of public relations is frenetic and competitive, one that is ideally suited to a perfectionist. Meet the woman who meets that brief, Fleur Revell-Devlin. Editor Trudi Brewer steps into her busy, beautiful family home.
There is never a dull moment in PR. The pace is relentless, and the accolades last as long as your most recent campaign. Only the very best rise to the top. After an afternoon with Auckland-based director of Impact PR Fleur Revell-Devlin, we understand why her business is such a success. A master of organisation, even while having her makeup done for our shoot she is serving platters of fresh sashimi with perfectly chilled bottled water. She's a woman on a mission. Her brilliant sense of humour, generosity and passion for excellence has earned her great respect in the media landscape while juggling her toughest job yet - motherhood. Daughter Frances and son Chris are her proudest achievements, she's the kind of woman most of us would like to be when we grow up. Here is Revell-Devlin's honest account of what working and growing great kids is all about
What's a typical working day for you?
We always have an early start, once I’ve dropped the children at school, we'll (Mark Devlin husband and co-owner of Impact PR) hit the office for strategy meetings with clients, briefings for new product launches, events and story planning. Then we take turns at picking up the kids at the end of the day and start dropping them to after-school activities. After five we often continue to work from home.
What is the hardest part about working and juggling the kids?
Sometimes you feel like you’re totally nailing it, with Martha Stewart-inspired dinners, lunches ready the night before, uniforms pressed and a super happy client. The next day it's working to a deadline for that last minute pitch, forgetting the dentist appointment, and then dinner is a rotisserie chicken in a bread roll slung at the kids over the kitchen island.
Tell us something about your work/life balance that would surprise us?
I am constantly trying to fit everything into one day, which is why I often end up exercising late at night, nine pm or after.
What's been the most valuable lesson you have learned from starting up your own business?
When the business has been quiet, that's when we shrug off that sense of complacency and recognise the need to innovate and improve as a company. It's also when we start working the phones.
What do you love most about your home?
Our home reflects us as a family. We spent a long time designing it with our architect, creating large open plan spaces. We’re a loud, noisy family that fill a room verbally, so our house has lots of areas where we can live together as a family, or have time out, and be alone.
What makes a house an easy-to-live-in family home?
For us it was creating something that didn’t feel like a show home, somewhere that the children could bring their friends and we could entertain. Where everyone feels comfortable. We’re not ones for collecting, we have minimalist style, we don’t like knick knacks.
How has your interior style changed once you had a family?
There are a lot more things stuffed in drawers out of sight! I desperately wanted polished concrete floors when we built our place, but the children were younger, and I worried about the hard surfaces so went with wooden flooring over the concrete. I think I’ve been lucky Mark and I share the same design aesthetic, however, if we're not sure about something I call my friend design expert Simon Gill at Interior Concepts - he’s amazing.
What is your favourite room?
Dare I say it - the kitchen. It's the hub of our house. I see this at friends homes, that despite all the beautiful, vast spaces you create for visitors to relax in, everyone congregates in the kitchen. I guess it's my family values, we are Mediterranean, so food plays a huge role in our lives, it's how we connect, show love and appreciation - so the kitchen just makes sense.
Who is the person who has inspired you as a mother?
When it comes to things like manners it would be my mum, who could not stress enough why it was essential to serve tea in china cups on a tray, to eat your soup away from you and how to use a silver fish knife. I’m always super proud when I get off a flight, or we’re in a restaurant and people comment on how great my children’s manners are. I’m also always inspired by my incredible friends who manage to juggle careers and children - effortlessly.
Is there a parenting rule you would never break?
Always use your manners.
And one you always break?
I’m hopeless; I’m the soft one at home. I always let them stay up later than they should.
What are three words that describe you as a mum?
I asked the kids. My daughter Frances said: Hard working, compassionate and thoughtful . Chris said: Outgoing, proud and generous.
How has motherhood changed you?
Gosh, that’s huge. It makes you less selfish. There is absolutely nothing you wouldn’t do for your children. It also shines a huge spotlight on your behaviours and what you do well and what behaviour may need some improvement. I’m a terribly impatient person - I’ve had to learn to slow down, which is still a work in progress. I’ve also had to change my perfectionist tendencies because it’s not the sort of behaviour I want my kids to replicate. I know now that the world is not going to end if the top of the lasagne's burnt. The same goes for feeling anxious or worrying about things I can’t control. Kids pick up on that. I ask myself constantly, 'would I want my kids stressing over things when they are older?' I also don’t have all the answers, so I look to experts. Two books stand out, The Gift of Failure by author Jessica Lahey. She explains why modern mums need to take a step back. Another is by author Stephen Biddulph, Raising Girls 10 Things They Need Most, both wonderful guides to parenting. I’ve also learned that you have to parent each child differently, my son hates to get in the car and have me ask him 20 questions about his day, so now it’s three. Chris tells me three things about his day, and then he wants to be left in peace. My daughter is the opposite each day, she wants to share everything, I get a full debrief.
What lessons have your kids taught you?
How to login to Netflix, Apple TV and download music from iTunes. That if you watch Dance Mums long enough, you will come to love Abby Lee Miller. That it’s ok to watch my son play schoolboy rugby and feel terrified at the prospect of him getting hurt. Finally there is someone who will tell you honestly, yes your butt does look big in those jeans. Oh and that you are the meanest, most old-fashioned, strictest, parent ever - that one comes up a bit.
What's the one piece of advice you would like to pass onto your children?
There are many. Failure is essential! it’s how we learn; it’s how we improve, it teaches us to be braver and better. Kindness, humility and resilience are the greatest attributes people can have. There will always be people to tell you that you’re not good enough or you can’t do something, but instead of giving up you try harder and you prove them wrong. And I tell my kids that ultimately bullies never win. And of course the usual, work hard, be kind, always wear your sunscreen, don’t do drugs and don’t get married until you’re 30.
FASHION AND BEAUTY
How did your fashion look change after becoming a mum?
I embraced sport luxe. I wear Nike, adidas and Lululemon - all three brands are on rotate in my wardrobe. It became less about me and more about the children, hence I don’t have a huge amount of time to shop. For work, I buy a few quality pieces each season, rather than lots of clothes that never get worn. My go-to labels are Sass & Bide, Camilla and Marc, Ruby, Frame, Superette and Chanel. For fast fashion it's Zara and Country Road. I tend to stick to the same colour palette - black, navy, blush, grey, white.
Is there a beauty product you can't be without?
With skincare it's Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield - I love this product, and I take Murad Youth Builder Supplements. In my makeup bag, Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick in Nude Beach, and Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Oil.
Chanel Coco Noir.
What's always on your bedside table?
A really good book, usually a thriller or a biography. Candles, crucifix, fresh flowers, my daughters discarded hair ties, and my son’s spare asthma inhaler, oh and often a very long to-do list for the next day.