Sacha Plumbridge has over 23 years of experience in the fashion, modeling, radio and TV industries. Sacha has international experience at the highest level of leadership, technical, creative and communication skills with access to high profile contacts in the international arena. She is currently the pioneer of emerging ‘homegrown’ fashion retail in the GCC.
British born, Sacha arrived in Dubai from Australia commencing her regional experience with recognized international brands and fashion houses. Currently, Sacha brings a dynamic and desirable edge to regional fashion as she heads the unique Dubai-based concept Gisela Blu and Aurora Wild for the Sharaf Group.
Sacha has dressed celebrities and has had international acclaim on the red carpet. She is a major stakeholder in the emerging designer scene in Dubai and, although recently launched as a label, Sacha’s designs and creative leadership have already been recognized with high accolades at Singapore Fashion Week and further recognition in Italian Vogue.
High achieving Sacha has reached great heights in the fashion industry dressing the likes of Portia di Rossi but yet her husband, Matt and her remain extremely grounded people and are both hands-on parents to two beautiful children Mila and Rocky. Sacha admits there are times when it is a struggle to balance the career and children but she still keeps trying everyday – I think that is one of the keys to great parenting. I relate to Sacha and I love her warmness and her vibrant attitude to life and her family.
Can you tell us more about Gisellablu? We know that you recently launched the label in Dubai and Singapore. What was your inspiration behind your most recent collection?
The GISELLAblu collection is designed to accentuate the female form and project effortless femininity from day to night. 100% homegrown in the United Arab Emirates, and created by a design team that includes worldwide talents, GISELLAblu is intended to appeal to women who dare to be different whilst also making their lives easier.
The GISELLAblu girl is an eclectic and stylish fashion warrior who is confident in her own skin and dances to the beat of her own drum: she mixes patterns and materials, she layers rich laces with felt and snake prints and her fashion tastes are constantly evolving to meet her busy and nomadic lifestyle. She yearns for comfort and style combined and will translate the pieces to work within her life.”
For Spring Summer 2014, GISELLAblu looked to the 1940’s Australian prolific wallpaper designer Florence Broadhurst. With a colourful life that started in the roaring 20s, and ended both mysteriously and tragically with her death in 1977, Florence was renowned for bringing her brightly coloured geometric and nature-inspired oversized designs to wallpapers and textiles, in a bygone era of design. The GISELLAblu design team looked to these larger than life creations as the starting point of the collection this season, where ethereal prints and floating silk fabrics can be worn in the everyday. Lace is worked back with sequins and structured garments to create the diversity and contrast within the range. Inspirations come from a mix of the richness of color and rawness of fabrics from the archives of Broadhurst’s works.
Meticulous attention to construction and workmanship, coupled with respect for the natural female form are central tenets of the design team’s vision. Through the pondered use of beautiful materials and signature techniques, that include hidden corsetry, to fully taped seams and waist bands, the GISELLAblu trademark is always about making the body look its best, and how to accentuate all the best features of a woman. The colour palette is classic this season, with splashes of vibrant greens, oranges and burnt hues resulting in a collection that evokes both nature and the exotic.
Where can we buy your new collection from?
The collection is available in our retail stores in Abu Dhabi- Dalma Mall, and Al Ain Mall and Raffles city in Singapore and Westgate- Singapore. We are currently stocking Robinson”s Singapore, KL, as well as FashLink.
You have had an incredible career in fashion showing at New York Fashion Week when you were barely in your twenties; you owned your own modeling agency in Dubai and now with a new fashion label. Do you think having children, especially a daughter, changed the way you now view the fashion industry?
Definitely my perspective has changed since having children and having a daughter makes you even more aware of what I bring to the industry. The fact remains that fashion is a commercial entity; however it does impact on women’s self-esteem, and body image which are major factors when raising children. I always try to use models with a healthy body image and I try creating collections that are accessible for most women. Plus, I continually explain to Mila my daughter that beauty is from within, and everything else is just for fun.
You have two beautiful children to whom you are a wonderful mother to but you also have had an incredible career in the fashion business for 17 years. How do you balance work with time with the children?
This is the hardest thing in the world to balance. I still struggle with this especially because my youngest is just 3 years old. I am very clear on my hours at work and at home, and I try and minimize phone calls when I am with my kids. It’s all about compartmentalizing. I believe in quality and not quantity, so the time I have with them is special, fun and concentrated.
What makes you feel most guilty when it comes to the children?
Coming home late from work, not having enough time with them, and sometimes feeling too tired to give them everything they need. Unfortunately, as a working mum you give up all your free time, so you are in this perpetual state of exhaustion. So at any given time you are always running on empty and feeling like you are not giving enough back. I travel quite frequently and that is hard on all of us, I hate being away and I suffer immense guilt for not being with them. But I subsidize this with Skype and spending every waking moment with them when I am home.
What advice would you give another mum with a new-born baby with a demanding career like yours? Did you take time off when you had both kids?
Enjoy every second. Try not to punish yourself for the mistakes you make, children recover quickly and as a new parent you are on a very steep learning curve. If you do decide to work like I did try and reduce your hours and give yourself a chance to ease back into it. Nothing happens over night, but if you give yourself time everything gets easier. I worked from home with both kids as I had my own business both times and I was on flexi time which I loved. I also breast fed for 1 year so my situation allowed for this, not every mum has this circumstance so it is all about what is possible for you.
How would you describe your parenting style? (Tiger mum or big softy or over-protective mother hen or Super easy going?)
I’m definitely over protective with them, and sometimes overbearing I’m sure. I am not great at the discipline side of things so my husband generally acts as bad cop. I try to be as easy going as possible because I know it can be intense when you are constantly reprimanding your children, so for me it’s all about balance and picking my moments.
How would you say your parenting style differs to your parents?
Both my parents worked and they were very hands on also. I suppose the only thing I do differently is I try to speak to my children about the choices they make and I spend time reasoning with them. My parents were much more black and white about their approach and would not spend the time on finding out why and what for. It’s just a different age of parenting now, when people look more intently at the emotional lives of their children, not just their physical well-being.
Where do your husband, Matt, and you differ on parenting ideology?
My husband and I share the same values, however, he went to a British boarding school and I went to all girls grammar school in Melbourne, so he is from a much more strict ideology. He believes in rules and structure, and even though I agree with this he is definitely better at implementation. We have a very supportive parenting technique; we talk everything through and always come to a resolution before we go forward with any decisions. This is not to say that it is easy. We definitely do come up against a lot of challenges especially with Mila who is almost 9 years old.
Where do you draw the line on the kids breaking the rules?
I draw the line when it starts to affect other people and in turn harm them. Rules are in place to generally protect them and others around them. Every now and then when I have relaxed the rules I have regretted it because the children get confused. Boundaries are there to ensure their safety and I think for my children they rely on them and see them as a protective mechanism that we have put in place.
What are your biggest concerns for your little girl growing up in today’s world? How do you feel that Matt and you can best prepare her?
I am very nervous about Mila and Rocky being attracted to the wrong friends and getting into trouble because of these influences. Unfortunately this is harder to control because who your children are naturally attracted to is something we cannot determine. The only thing you can hope for is to instill a good sense of judgment and values in them and hope that they trust their instincts. Everyone has their own journey, I see my husband I only as their foundation from which they will set off from.
What are the three things that you hope to instill in your children?
Honesty, manners and gratitude…
Did you have difficulties conceiving the children or during your pregnancy? What would you advise other mothers facing the same situation?
My only issues was weight gain (excessive) so I suppose I was luckier than most. I would advise women wanting to get pregnant not to wait too long, it just gets harder the older you get!
Most mothers have fears, what would you say is your biggest fear for your children?
For Mila it is all about school and friends, right now her fears would be not fitting in and feeling ostracized. She is lucky because she has very little anxieties, but I’m sure being in the right friendship circles does play on her at times. Rocky is simple, his only major issue is that I am at work and he would like me home more.
Do you believe in organic foods? What is your health regime as a mother as you look AMAZING?
You are lovely for saying that… As a family we do only eat organic especially meats. We rarely eat out and I have to say I love home cooking, so I make quite an effort to stay in and cook. We try very hard to eat healthily and every meal we have has a salad with it. I believe in balance, so everything in moderation.
Rocky’s favourite bed stories – please name 3.
Thomas the Tank Engine, The Snail and The Whale, The Gruffulo
Too busy for a spa on Mother’s Day?
Sometimes, I am too tired to get in the car to drive to a spa. I just want to be in my pyjamas especially after a long day with the kids and work. I love doing, on occasion, chemical free treatments to my skin – there are some who say that you should only put on your skin what you would eat. Here are some of my time out treats that you can usually find in the store cupboard and fridge.
Face – Honey and Lime scrub.
Massage some runny honey – with a squeeze of lime for astringent purposes or some ground oatmeal if you like a coarser texture – into damp skin for 15 minutes. Rinse your face with warm water to leave it feeling soft and peeled.
Body – Almond oil moisturiser or massage
Buy some almond oil from the supermarket and rub it all over your body. This lightly scented nutty oil is suitable for pregnant mums to rub on your tummy. It is rich in proteins and vitamins and is nourishing, light and softening for dry hands, eczema and irritated skin. It is a good lubricant, so blends well with other oils as as excellent massage base.
Face – Honey and Cucumber Facial
To scrub use 1 cup of runny honey and 10 drops of fresh lime juice to lightly exfoliate the skin. Leave for 15 minutes. Use a warm towel to wipe it off. Then place thinly slices of cucumber patches all over the face and neck, including the eyes. They cucumber slices will feel cool while they tighten the skin and replenish moisture. Use a light moisturiser if needed.
Egg White Mask
This can help with lacklustre complexion and you only need 1 egg. Take the egg white, beat the egg for 1 minute. Gently apply to the skin and let it harden. Wash off with warm water. The egg white draws toxins from the skin’s surface and tightens the pores as it cleans.
Here are my top 6 basics for my children’s SUPERFOOD kitchen
I try to give my family an 80% – 20% organic superfoods versus non-organic because realistically there are moments that we cannot always be too obsessive. There will always be playdates and restaurants that don’t always cater to our nutritional beliefs and it is important to be balanced as a parent.
By having an 80% superfood and organic diet, I feel that I can contribute to my children’s immunity, long-term health, to help them to concentrate better at school and to ultimately give them the best start in life.
I really believe that a healthy diet can heal your body naturally. I also understand and do not dismiss modern medicines that also have their place when it comes to health and healing, but the foods that we eat really can make a difference to the health of each cell in our bodies. In this day and age, we should consider going back to basics. We should use foods that nature provides that has been grown organically and to add to our diets the wide variety of spices and herbs that have been used over 2,000 years and counting, as a health prevention and not to rely 100% on chemicals solutions to fix us when we haven’t take care of our bodies in the first place.
However, I do also believe in being realistic. I would not recommend making drastic changes in the kitchen but to take one of the suggestions below at a time and to implement them at your family’s pace. It should be a permanent lifestyle change, and if it means taking baby-steps so be it. Changes that are gradual will make a longer term impact and that is really the goal.
I hope to be able to share some of the investigations I have learned over the years about superfoods and why I believe so much in this approach. One of the purposes of this website is to talk and share about all the amazing foods that we can add to our family’s diet so if you have any thoughts do share them with us.
Quinoa – sometimes instead of rice we use quinoa, and at home the children only have quinoa bread. It is a superfood used by the Incas up in the Andes. Unlike wheat or rice, quinoa is a complete protein – containing all eight of the essential amino acids that is extremely beneficial to the children’s little bodies.
We avoid cow’s products where possible because everyone knows about the hormones and the antibiototics that now pollute the milk. My children only have organic goats milk and occasionally when I have time we will make our own almond milk. The only exception that I make with cow’s diary is Italian Parmesan. They are half Italian – spelt pasta with sprinklings of Parmesan is one of their favourites.
Organic Tamari – this is an alternative to soy sauce as my children as also half Singapore Chinese so it is a flavour we can’t always avoid in our cooking. The taste of tamari is similar to soy sauce and we haven’t missed the real thing ever since we switched. We try to avoid most soy products at home especially if they are from the US.
Organic meats – like cow’s milk, most animals are pumped with growth hormones and other unknown chemicals, and we try to avoid these meats when we can. At home, we only serve organic meats, which can be anexpensive investment, in cities such as Dubai but for us, this is a worthwhile expense when it comes to the health of the family.
Avoiding the dirty dozen vegetables – it is true that nutritionally there is no nutritional difference between an organic and non-organic. What I try to avoid is the chemicals that are in the non-organic foods that can affect our children’s growing system. See our article on the DIRTY DOZEN coming soon.
Sugar – whilst I cannot always avoid sugar I try to teach my children that there is a time and place for it. Sugar is highly-addictive and it is really bad for their little bodies. The less they have, the less they will crave it. It is up to us as parents to train our children’s palettes towards more healthy foods. There is much scientific evidence and press articles out these days educating parents about the dangers of sugar and it is worth investigating to make your own mind up.