Soul Society 101: Hi René! Thank you so much for speaking with us today! So for those who don't know you, can you give a brief background of what you do?
René: Ok so my name is René Daniella and I am the lifestyle, fashion, and travel writer behind OwnByFemme.com. My career background is in public relations but I studied Broadcast journalism in New York City as my undergraduate degree and Global Communications in Paris, France as my Masters degree. I am half American and Half English but I have lived in 4 difference countries and countless different cities. Travel is an integral part of my identity. It raised me. I am quickly falling in love with the entrepreneurial lifestyle and am learning to navigate its struggles! If you would like to learn any more about me, please check out my social media sites, (Instagram/ Twitter / Facebook- @OwnByFemme, Snapchat- @ReneDaniella) and my website; OwnByFemme.com.
Soul Society 101: Great! So what made you create Own By Femme?
René: I created Own By Femme as just an Instagram name originally! I wanted it to be something that represented me. “Own By” comes from that concept of “owning who you are” and “owning what you do”. And then “Femme” is inspired by the pride I take in identifying myself as a strong, sensual, independently thinking, woman. Then also my adoration of the French language. So together the idea is to own your femininity, to define your womanhood, sisterhood, and queendom for yourself. To be empowered by it. As my Instagram platform grew, OwnByFemme.com came to light. I wanted my website to encompass all the things I admire in life, all the things that inspire and nourish me.
Soul Society 101: Your Instagram account has amazing photos from your travels abroad. What has your 2015 travel been looking like so far?
René: Well this year has been a beautiful year of travel and change for me! I am loving every second of it. I brought in the New Year backpacking through Thailand and Cambodia followed by a month in NYC and Philadelphia. Then I moved to Europe starting with a 3 week visit to my parents in Germany and 2 weeks in Paris, France.
I moved to London at the end of March and have since been living, learning, and loving there!
Additionally, I have been to Stonehenge in England, Copenhagen Denmark, Skiathos Greece, and Paris France a few more times. For the rest of the year I have a few trips in the works so stay tuned!
Soul Society 101: Tell me about 3 of your favorite travel destinations and what you love about them.
René: Paris is one of my favourtie places in the world. It is incredibly beautiful and grand! I always say my experience living in Paris taught me the concept of living a “Life of Leisure”. From cycling past the Eiffel Tower every day on my journey home to eating the best bread and cheese you could imagine while sitting along La Seine with the loveliest company, everything focuses on the quality of the experience.
I also love and adore Thailand. It is my happy place. I think everyone needs to go backpacking there at least once! But ignore the alcohol and flashy clubs. They over saturate the place. Go snorkeling and kayaking on the beautiful beaches. Eat amazing breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks from all the little nook and cranny restaurants and street vendors. Every single day. Read books other travelers have left at the various hostels you should stay in. Speak to anyone and everyone you come across to learn their stories, their passions, and their dreams. Hike up hills to watch the sunsets. Be engulfed in the moments. Let the experience teach you about yourself and about what you want from life. Be open and you will leave feeling like the most magical version of YOU.
Finally, I highly recommend going to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil! I went a few years ago and plan to go again next year for Carnival! The culture is so rich. The people were inviting and accommodating. I ate, beached, and sambaed to my hearts content. Also, there is so much to see and do outside of the beach that you will have the most stimulating time if you desire to. I also stocked up on Brazilian bikinis and have a hard time wearing anything else! It is safe to say they really admire the female form.
Soul Society 101: Have you traveled alone before? How was that experience?
René: I haven’t necessarily traveled alone but I did move to Paris alone. Sure it isn’t the same dynamic, but there is a lot of navigating on your own that you have to get used to. I think the most beautiful aspect of traveling solo is the respect you gain for solitude. You are forced to be comfortable in your own company, in your own space. It’s such a beautiful thing!
Soul Society 101: What's your dream location to visit within your lifetime? Or have you been there already?
René: My DREAM location is Bali, Indonesia!!! I know it is similar to Thailand in geographic location but I seem to have developed such a strong curiosity for it. There is something magical about it and all the ways I have come across it, either through conversation or travel searches. So I will make a point to go to Bali sometime but have decided to save it as a destination to go to with my significant other. Haha I guess I just need to find him!
Soul Society 101: If you could live a parallel life anywhere in the US or around the world, at the same time as your current life in your current city, where would it be and why?
René: I always say I would want to live in Paris again! The only things that would be missing are my family and friends. I know now, as I have grown older, that as beautiful as all the world is, there is nothing quite like the love you have with your family, friends, and partner in life. So as much as I love Paris for its leisurely lifestyle, I have to settle for somewhere closer to “home”, aka where love is.
Soul Society 101: What has your biggest learning experience from traveling been?
René: One of the biggest lessons travel has taught me is that of being adaptable. With the different cultures, environments, and situations you find yourself in, you need to be open and flexible but also self-aware. I think you gain so much compassion for the world and ultimately are humbled through the experience. I respect that change is constant and capitalize on the opportunity to find the beauty in every new circumstance travel brings.
Soul Society 101: What are some travel tips that you can share to help novice travelers create the best deals/experiences possible?
René: Do not try to do everything! I think in my early travel days this was the biggest mistake I would make. I would try to see every place recommended to me, to visit every beach, museum, cathedral, shopping centre, iconic fountain, stage, or you name it. It was exhausting. Now I realize, you need to pick a couple of things that really intrigue you and spark your curiosity and see them. Then you need to eat, and laugh, and be merry as the locals would. That’s it.
Do not look for a perfect holiday. Let go of your expectations and just appreciate it for what it is!
Additionally, take time to research the basics. The currency, the language, location, safety precautions, cultural differences…. Just learn a little about where you are going before hand so you are better prepared!
Make a thorough list of the things you need to take but don’t over pack. You most certainly need comfortable shoes, some oregano oil to prevent an upset stomach, and a portable charger for your phone (at least I do! I use it for photos and all sorts.) Maybe a selfie stick, I need to get one still.
As far as deals, follow along the Flightdeal.com and use Google’s flight tool. You can type in your dates and originating destination and when you click the flight map option, it will show you how much it costs to fly to all the places on the from your destination on the dates you want. I have used that a few times to get the cheapest travel options for my available dates!
Soul Society 101: What are some of your favorite dishes to cook?
René: Cooking is such a joy for me! I love breakfast dishes. I am always cooking up pancakes and biscuits and smoothie bowls. I also am always experimenting with vegan cuisine so you will see a lot of grain and vegetable based dishes like Chana Masala with quinoa. There is so much more on my website!
Soul Society 101: Nice. What are some great places to dine in London that you would recommend?
René: Ok I have to admit, because I’ve been travelling so much the past few months, I don’t know too many places! But top of my list is Sushi Samba on Liverpool Street. It’s on the 38th floor of the building and has amazing views with a phenomenal drink and food menu!
I love the sea bass there. Additionally, everyone needs to try Nando’s. It is a chicken and chips (French fries) type of place but they also have vegetarian options. I always get the halloumi (a type of cheese) and portobello mushroom burger. The real secret to Nando’s is all its amazing sauces! They literally have bottles of spicy peri-peri sauce and lemon and garlic sauces and so on. It is heaven for a sauce fanatic like me. Oh and for an amazing breakfast option, you must go to the Breakfast Club. There are multiple locations throughout London but bare in mind there is usually a line out the door to get a table on the weekends.
For awesome areas with great street vendor type of food, go to Camden market, Spitalfields Market or Brick lane in Shoreditch. Shoreditch also has the best graffiti!
Soul Society 101: Again, thank you for speaking with us! Before we go, do you have any upcoming projects your supporters should be on the lookout for?
René: Thank you!! Yes I certainly do. I will be launching my Youtube channel in the next couple of weeks and would absolutely love and adore your support! Anyone who is interested in learning more about healthy living, fashion, and travel from my perspective, tune in!