The Gentlewomen Series is an ode to women who we look up to and have shown incredible strength during these unprecedented times. They are partners, professionals, breadwinners and mothers. Now, they are also now teachers, psychologists, and homemakers. All achieved with the uttermost kindness, gentleness and grace.
“A gentle woman is like a ‘gentle giant’. When I see a woman who is gentle, it doesn’t mean she is more quiet and more reserved as one might assume. She may be gentle in the way she appears, but she is a giant underneath. A giant of love, empowering and inspiring others, a giant of experience — a woman of depth.” Mother, Head of Care & Counsel at The Collective (TC) Church and interior designer of RUMA Living, Dewi Joesoef is truly the backbone of her family.
Meanwhile her daughter, Naarah Joesoef is currently studying for the CFA license, a Chartered Financial Analyst program – one of the highest distinctions in the investment management profession. “In the finance industry, people take the CFA to gain more credibility and certification. It is important to have but not everybody wants to go through it, as it is quite challenging. For me, it is all about setting new goals for myself even though I am adapting to this new way of life.”
A gentle approach in both their professional and personal life, this mother daughter duo is truly what we all aspire to be. Dewi is constantly serving her community church group through care and counsel, as well as finalizing her first interior design book to be launched in the coming year.
Whereby, Naarah sets her goals high in the finance industry, in addition to getting promoted this year. Albeit their ‘hectic’ schedules at home, they always find time for each other whether that would be doing yoga, trying out new recipes or even just a simple walk around the neighborhood.
An Insight into Their Life
What have you learned about yourself during this pandemic?
Naarah (N): Time-management and organizational skills. I still managed to get up early and do my normal routine before office starts at 7 AM. I love doing yoga now too! It truly is great for my flexibility.
Dewi (D): I am someone who cannot sit still. Being able to remain productive without requiring me to leave my home. Usually before the pandemic hits, I had to travel quite a bit for work and it will take me about an hour to get to one place to another, these days I can complete a lot of tasks in one day. On Sundays, I serve online at my church leading Bible study via zoom calls as well as heading the Care & Counsel there too.
What is life like for you right now?
N: Adjusting to new things, everyone is so used to a certain rhythm before COVID-19 happened, for me is the work hours (7AM – 5PM). All of a sudden, we don’t have that anymore so I have to figure out my rhythm and keeping myself busy too. I am learning new things and I like to challenge myself even though I am constantly at home. Aside from working, I am studying for the CFA license, a Chartered Financial Analyst program – one of the highest distinctions in the investment management profession. I bought these books when I first entered the capital market but I never got the time to study them and now I finally got round to do it. In the finance industry, people take the CFA to gain more credibility and certification. It is important to have but not everybody wants to go through it, as it is quite challenging.
For me, it is all about setting new goals for myself even though I am adapting to this new way of life. Additionally, I have been challenging myself to do more sports to become more fit.
D: It has been quite a shift for me. Life right now is about making myself available for others, starting from spending time with my family, my kids, my husband, my parents, my mother-in-law and my church community because it is such a difficult time for many people. Just December last year, I was asked to head the Care & Counsel at our church which has developed tremendously as so many people needed counseling. I have been setting a team of people within that ministry, there are 7 leaders within an area of counseling, we have people who are going through depression, losing jobs, their businesses are not doing or they are with their husbands 24 hours a day. At the same time, just like Naarah I am going to do another certification for care and counsel, which I look forward to do in the future, setting up a home office and do counseling for family and marriage. I have a heart for that especially for younger people.
What are your 2020 high and lows?
N: Despite the pandemic and job cuts, I actually got promoted this year which I am extensively grateful for. I am the Institutional Equity Sales at my company, previously I was an associate and now I am the manager. To be able to thrive this season, it is really an achievement.
However, just like everybody else, I had so many exciting plans this year but was cancelled. One of them is not being able to celebrate my brother’s wedding that was originally planned mid-year.
D: We were all looking forward to my son’s wedding, we got the decorations, table settings and what we were going to wear, nonetheless it is being postponed to next year so it will still happen. My high is being able to spend more time with the people I love.
What does being a gentle woman mean to you?
D: For me, a gentle woman is like a 'gentle giant'. When I see a woman who is gentle, it doesn’t mean she is more quiet and more reserved as one might assume. She may be gentle in the way she appears, but she is a giant underneath. A giant of love, empowering and inspiring others, a giant of experience — a woman of depth. I think women who are gentle in nature are usually women who have experienced a lot and survived and came out stronger. A gentle giant of a woman.
N: Being gentle in your approach, you can be gentle but that doesn’t mean you don’t speak your mind.
Who is your role model? Why?
N: My mom would be the ultimate role model, she is the backbone of our family, she sets the bar really high for everything. I wanted to be her when I grow up. Aside from my mom, I really look up to Michelle Obama because she is the epitome of hardworking women and women empowerment, she makes something of herself despite her family background and ethnicity.
D: Jesus, he is my role model for love and compassion! If Naarah talks about women empowerment, Jesus actually changed culture and elevated women in that culture because women back then were just second hand and did not have a say. He changed that and make women feel just as special as men and they can certainly do the same thing as men. He shows me that life is not about myself, but loving, caring and being there for other people. That is the kind of life I want to live.
Describe to us how has your relationship evolved in the last couple of months. Is there anything that you are doing differently?
D: We have always been close but it has evolved more in a meaningful way. When Naarah works from home in Sentul, we have tried cooking new recipes, workouts together from yoga to just simply walking around the neighbourhood. We love being silly and dreaming together.
N: Usually when I am working (pre-pandemic), we don’t usually see much of each other. I recently created a Netflix family account so we can all watch together, binge watch shows from Peaky Blinders to F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
If you were to go on a vacation right now, where would you go? Why?
N: Los Angeles, it’s my second home. I went to school there but as a family we would visit frequently and stay there as long as we can and we never wanted to leave.
D: I love to travel where I know people, I am not a tourist person. I would want to visit Portugal as we have friends there, they live near the vineyards and I love wine. That would be just the perfect holiday! Another place I would like to go is Perth, Margaret River to visit my niece as she is going to college there. I miss her and knowing that it is only 4 hours flight away and they have vineyards in Margaret River. The wine and the people!
How would you describe your own personal style?
N: Classy with a bit of edginess to it, simple, I love basic colors, I never go for screeching pink or yellow. My style icon is Olivia Palermo, I want her closet!
D: I am more elegant classic, very simple colors a lot of black and white. I also love red lipstick and a red dress!
Dewi's Interior Design Tips
When designing a home, what are the most important elements?
Creating a beautiful space that is simple, modern and not overcrowded. Very important to have light coming into the room, whether that is natural light or creating light for reading and ambiance and light for accent. Another important element is comfort in furniture especially in sofas and ottomans, as well as creating an ambiance that houses love and welcomes friends and families. Those are the important elements for me when creating and designing a home.
What are your must have pieces for the home?
A library is a must even in a small space, I think a library makes a home cozy. Lamps again because I love the light, from standing lamps, table lamps to reading lamps in every room. I love ottomans, not just for comfort of putting up our feet but it is also a display of my favourite things, I love trays, silverware and candles is a must in every space.
What are the similarities between being a bible community leader and an interior designer?
I get to inspire others with my gift and experiences. I love to invest in lives of other women especially younger ones and seeing their lives in their home, being transformed into something beautiful in the process.
Pay it forward: Instagram accounts and people who have inspired you.
N: Fashion inspiration is @ariviere – Alex Rivière, she gives out creative direction, production and digital marketing for fashion and luxury brands
D: Architecture and interior design inspiration @vincentvanduysen – Belgian architect of Vincent Van Duysen Architects
What is your ideal “me time” session? How do you unwind after a hectic day?
N: I do yoga almost every day! I follow this yoga instructor, Kassandra and HIIT workouts by Bailey Brown on YouTube. I have always wanted to work on my flexibility because I am so stiff and it has caused me some back pains.
D: When I am in Sentul (weekend home), I sit on the terrace at about 5 PM waiting for the perfect moment looking out to nature, I put my feet up, listen jazz music and a glass of wine that is how I unwind. When I am in the city, I like to watch interior home transformation on HGTV.
What books are you reading currently that you would be happy to recommend?
I am not really into reading but I am forcing myself to read more. At least a chapter or two a day. Currently I am reading 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari, also I finished reading Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck and I immediately set goals for myself. If you like finance, Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood and the World by Bradley Hope and Tom Wright.
*This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.