For the past three years, Yasmin was in and out of Paris, sharing her time between the French capital and Australia.
“Eating is my full time hobby,” she says, laughing.
And we believe her as we scroll through her Instagram account, where Yasmin documents her latest finds on where to eat and drink in Paris. Her project, Sundays in Paris, has recently crossed a new threshold: the online content was edited and printed in a book format, which was met with immediate success. We went out with Yasmin for coffee to hear (and share!) her inspiring story firsthand.
Tell us about the origins of the Sundays in Paris project?
“Maybe it’s a byproduct of being Australian, but I’ve always loved Sundays. In Australia, Sunday culture is big! You get up early, you exercise, you go for brunch. And so when I moved to Paris, I was always looking for new brunch and coffee places to try. A really good friend of mine, RJ, suggested I start documenting my finds. Sundays in Paris had a nice ring to it and it all just kind of started there.”
Did you create all the content on your own?
“No, it was very much of a community project. There was a group of writers, who would send me their favourite restaurants. Many of them have gone on to do some very cool projects of their own. Like Ellie, who has just opened Circus with Youssef.”
So it was your idea, but many people contributed?
“Yes. And in the beginning I never put my name on the website, nor on social media because it was a collective effort, and in many ways it still is today. For example, photographers who contribute their work to the book and to the website, it’s just so nice.”
I’m not a very good photographer myself, so I have to work with professionals, but even if I were, I would still choose to work with others as I like this element of collaboration.
We remember your first guide, a black and white covered title.
“It was a very casual way to share all the online content that was amassed by then. The guide was simple and self-printed, but it then got picked up by a publisher, who turned it into its more formal version that is sold today.”
A question all aspiring writers must be thinking: how do you sell your work to a publishing house? Who found who in your case?
“I have a friend of mine, who is just great at connecting people. He introduced me to a book agent friend of his, based in London. We had coffee and she mentioned that the publisher Hardie Grant might be interested in picking up my book. I reached out to them and it worked!”
It’s funny, but I think that if you put out good energy in the universe, you never know what will come back. Be positive, it’s something I’ve always tried to manifest.
You’re a lawyer by training, how do you manage such a career change?
“I worked in Australia for three years as a banking and finance lawyer, and then I moved to Paris, still as a lawyer, just with another company. When I was getting my law degree, I never thought I would follow this career path, but somehow I manage to do both. It’s awesome to have this creative side-project, that develops the other aspect of my personality. I can’t imagine being just a lawyer.”
How hard is it to juggle the two?
“I won’t say it’s easy, but I guess that all the good things in life aren’t. It’s hard, but it’s doable. You have to be really organized, accept not having a lot of sleep, and learn to manage your time wisely. In many ways I don’t do it that well: I am admittedly late in responding to emails, I miss out on PR events because I am stuck at work, but I don’t want to complain. It’s funny, I have this dual personality. At work, I am lawyer and I don’t speak about my creative projects. And when I am in the creatives’ world, I don’t want to be known as the lawyer who wrote a book. Depending on the context, I do often introduce myself as a writer.”
What does it feel like having a book out there?
“I barely see mine! I don’t have copies of it at home, it feels like a foreign object to me most of the time. It’s like oh yes, there’s that thing that I wrote (laughs). But of course it’s nice to see your book in stores. I sometimes go into Shakespeare and Co. and ask for it. And it makes me happy when they say it’s sold out.”
Do you feel torn at times between the daytime job and the side projects?
“My perception as someone who comes from Australia is that earning a stable income can be quite difficult in France. And yes, I am feeling more torn that ever, even compared to the time when I was still living in between the two countries.”
I feel more creative here in Paris, but I also feel less likely to walk away from stability.
What has been the hardest and the best part of working on Sundays in Paris?
“The hardest is working out what comes next. I have this base concept, a great community, and I know there is a lot of potential there, but I do not know how to develop it into the next step. I question myself if time has come to build a proper team and bring in people to run the project. The best part has been all the people I’ve met. Even if I never have had the opportunity to write this book, I am so grateful to everything that has happened in the process.”
Some of my strongest friendships in Paris have been formed thanks to Sundays in Paris.
So what’s next?
“I am currently working on my second book with Hardie Grant, which will be published next year. It will be a guide to Marrakech, but it won’t be called Sundays in Marrakech (laughs). Charlotte, my book agent in London, and I are also exchanging on another project, that I can’t share much about just yet – but it’s something we’ll be doing together for late 2019 or even early 2020. As for Sundays in Paris, I’ve recently done a mini series of events, dedicated to meeting the community and just hanging out together. I was so shocked that people even wanted to come, but it was great and I would like to continue on this when warmer temperatures are back in the city, sometime around next spring.”
Thank you Yasmin!