If you have ever dreamed about selling everything and moving abroad, this Paris Portrait will give you just the motivation you need. This series features Racine, a former military kid, a lover of fitness, and fashion who has decided Paris was the place she wanted to be. Racine’s time in Paris has been a true example of living your fullest life!
Describe yourself in a few words…
“Writing my own story”. I’m embracing the things in life that make me happy and drive me forward, taking risks, and facing my fears.
Where are you from?
Little Rock, Arkansas but I moved to Paris after living in DC for about 6.5 years
I first came to Paris in January 2015 and I instantly fell in love with the city, like really. I remember walking around Saint-Honore and saying to the city, “I’ll make you my home one day”. I didn’t quite expect to move here 10 months later after only visiting for three days, but Paris felt like “my” type of city.
What were the top things you wanted to do during your time here?
The top two things I wanted to do while living in Paris were to gain some experience in the fashion industry and to travel. My ultimate goal is to become a stylist, so I wanted to work with some stylists here to get a better landscape view of the job and also the industry. The fashion capital of the world seemed like the perfect place to do this. I must have emailed a hundred stylists, but finally got a chance to work as an assistant to a Paris-based stylist. The experience has been incredible. She does editorial styling so I have learned so much about the execution of photoshoots and editorial spreads.
My second goal was to travel. Paris is a great location to spring from so I’ve been able to visit many Western European countries. I’ve kind of made a second home in Barcelona, but I’d have to say my favorite place has been this little beach town in Portugal outside of Lisbon, Cascais.
In your opinion…
An incredibly beautiful place. There is almost no corner you can turn that won’t have scenery. I get lost in the beauty of Paris and I’ll look up and I’ve been walking for MILES. The sights and the vibe of the city are what I fell in love with when I came the first time and I feel like I find or see something new everyday.
Paris isn’t America. Let me explain. There are certain norms and efficiencies that I’ve known my whole life that just….are different here. Customer service is one of the biggest things I’ve had to adjust to living here- not that I haven’t encountered any friendly people in the service industry, but I can count the number of times and places that I’ve received great service on one hand. I get that the culture is different here, but it is one thing that really sticks out to me here.
What does a typical day look like for you here?
Since I work from home and my office is on American time, I have most of my day free before I get to work. On a typical day, I do a morning workout and walk around a bit, maybe grab lunch at one of my favorite spots. I come home and do some work and then head out to an evening workout. I come home, cook dinner, and finish up work.
When I’m working on a shoot my days are completely different. I spend a lot of time online securing looks, models, and locations. Then there are days of picking up and doing returns (after the shoot)- visiting showrooms and running about town with heavy bags in tow. Shoot days are pretty long but an awesome experience every time.
Tell us a little bit more of how you made the connection to become a stylist assistant?
Our good friend Google led me to a lot of Paris-based stylists. I emailed a long list of stylists expressing my interest in wanting to learn from them. I really just wanted to gain some valuable experience, so I was willing to volunteer my time. In America-people would JUMP at that opportunity-but here I got barely any response. In some cases, not having a carte de sejour made it impossible for me to even work as an intern/volunteer. I did finally hear back from @laetitiaplantierstylist and we clicked. Our aesthetics were similar and she just let me dive in head first. It’s been a really great experience.
Advice to someone looking to leave everything behind, and move abroad?
I visited Paris for the first time in January 2015 and moved in October 2015. I had a really good life in DC but I felt that there was something more and so I stepped away and just went with it. Leaving everything behind can be a little scary but it is SO worth it. Be prepared to learn a lot about yourself. You may end up spending more time with yourself than you ever have and that is OK- embrace it.
Explore options for making money if you aren’t in a position to live off of savings for a while. There are many freelance and teleworking opportunities available- take advantage of these big or small. I naively thought that getting a side job would be easy here- not so much. Paris is very into formalities and paperwork so- be prepared.
My advice would be to just do it. You can think of a million reasons not to do it, but if you are in a place in your life where you want to try it-and you can-then DO IT. There’s nothing that says you have to stay, but you owe it to yourself to try it if the desire is in your heart. I personally didn’t want to ever wonder “what if” so that made me take the leap.
What’s next for you?
I’m due back in America soon, but this time abroad has been eye-opening and really a time of introspection. I’ve had a lot of time to think about what I want my life to look like-personally and professionally. So my plan is to make the transition from healthcare to fashion when I get back. I’m looking forward to embarking on a career that I really LOVE. I have a feeling this won’t be the end of my affair with Paris.
What will you miss the most about Paris when you leave?
Wandering around this beautiful city, realizing that it is impossible to be lost.
Favorite places in Paris to:
EAT- Paris New York. They have the best chicken sandwich in Paris and the staff are among the friendliest people I’ve met in here.
EXPLORE– Le Bon Marche. The store has great displays, the latest in fashion and brands that span the entire spectrum. The fact that it also has an epicerie is a plus. Food and fashion- I’ll take it.
DRINK– A good bottle of champagne on the lawn of the Eiffel Tower is the best place to have a sip in Paris.