#WFH Diaries: Marion Guillot of Robertet Group
As confinement continues in most parts of the world, we're checking in with creative people to see how they're faring. Here's an update from Marion Guillot, a senior perfumer for Robertet Group who's based in Brazil.
Give us a one-sentence bio of yourself.
I am a perfumer (fragrance creator or "nose"), working for a French perfume and flavor company, and a passionate, adventurous traveler and art fan.
Where are you living right now, and who's with you?
I'm in São Paulo, Brazil, in the lovely Vila Madalena neighborhood. I live alone but am surrounded by a lot of buildings. Brazilian people are absolutely not shy—their windows are always open, day and night, so I don't feel lonely. I also have a huge, gorgeous tree in my building's courtyard, with plenty of flowers and animal life. In short, I am alone but well supported.
What's your work situation like at the moment?
Home office is complicated for me, because I have to evaluate my creations and typically work in a laboratory. We reduced teams at work, and are alternating office time, with reinforced and strict security measures.
But I'm taking advantage of "time off" at home—to prepare my formulas, strengthen my olfactory memory, and stimulate my imagination. I bring samples of my creations home and take time to smell them in the tranquility of my space, without pressure. That's a very different vibe, and I think it is really productive.
Describe your socializing strategy.
My cell phone and laptop are my best friends!
I have to make space on my phone every day because of all the messages, WhatApp groups, jokes, videos, etc. Then there are "cocktail hours" with family and friends. I have a lot spread out in the world: here in Brazil, of course, but also Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Germany, France, Italy, the U.S., etc.
Because we are all at home, we can see each other all at once, and it's great! We can see the difference between countries, discuss many subjects, do karaoke, celebrate birthdays, share playlists and information, tips for entertainment, etc. We take care of each other. It is more important than ever in this particular situation.
How are you dealing with childcare, if applicable?
I don't have children, unfortunately. But when I see the despair of some of my friends, shut in with kids at home, or my neighbors and their 3-year-old daughter asking why she can't go outside and crying while looking at the street all day, I admit I feel pretty lucky now...
What are you reading?
I am reading a book in French, which is easier because it's my mother tongue: Texaco by Patrick Chamoiseau. It's the story of a West Indies favela in Martinique. Very interesting. It's helping me understand the truth about the slave trade in French history, and Afro culture in Brazil, not to mention the terrible consequences of slavery, which are still very present here.
What are you watching?
I don't have Netflix! I don't have a TV, either. I watch a lot of cooking programs, and tried to access some of the Opéra de Paris streaming events, without success. Otherwise, I virtually visit Louvre exhibits, but honestly it's not the same. I'd rather watch art documentaries.
On Arte TV, a series caught my attention: The Lost Ones. And on my French Film Festival website, there are a lot of cool movies. I also attend concerts on Instagram Live; some Brazilian musician friends are doing beautiful things. And I enjoyed the replay of the Rosalia & Raul Refree Primevera Sound 2007 (modern flamenco music).
What are you listening to?
I love listening to music when working or doing anything, actually, as long as it is suitable to that moment, place, mood, etc. I don't know why, but lately while working I listen to a lot of classical—Mozart, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Strauss.
The rest of the time, I listen to playlists from friends, which gives me the feeling of being with them and immerses me in certain atmospheres or memories. Then I let Spotify create playlists for me. I am discovering, and rediscovering, so much music.
How are you staying fit?
I cook well. Some dishes are really healthy; others are a little "greedier," depending on what my body and spirit need. I practice yoga and pilates every day. The studios I follow organize Zoom classes to stay active, responding to high demand from members. Every day I see my favorite teachers, and after practice I feel so good.
I've never taken live classes online from home before. It's cool and convenient. It imposes a rhythm on me, and helps me leave work to create moments of concentration just for myself. I need it, too… to burn all the calories from my cooking experiments!
Have you taken up a hobby?
Not yet, but I am seriously thinking about learning to use Instagram for professional reasons.
Any tips for getting necessities?
Go shopping as little as possible. Check your cupboards and fridge and list what's missing. I don't plan meals in advance, it's too stressful; I try to buy different things each week and use them. I cook multiple meals on the same day for choice and variety. I clean and pre-cut ingredients to save time, and freeze a lot of things.
I am fortunate to live in a country with a wide variety of tropical fruits and vegetables. I order organic baskets from farmers' cooperatives that deliver to my area, and help local communities with volunteer work. And to help small businesses, twice a week I order home delivery from a local restaurant.
An awkward moment since all this started.
I like to look into neighbors' spaces when taking a break on my balcony; often, they're doing the same thing! So I've met eyes with several who were also looking at me.
Best work email you got since all this started.
I got good news this week: I won a brief for the creation of a fine male fragrance, for a big client! I turned that work in just before confinement.
An aha! moment since all this started.
I'm surprised by how well I am living this situation. For the first time in my life, I'm realizing I am enough for myself. Not in the sense that I don't need to see anyone, but in the sense that I really am independent. And because I have more time for myself and enjoy it, I feel readily available to others, maybe more than before.
What's your theory on how this is going to play out?
It's amazing how a situation like this can awaken certain human reflexes—generosity, good intentions, awareness, mutual aid, etc.
I believe less in real "crisis," and more in the ingenuity of industries, companies and governments to move forward and get through this difficult time. We're already seeing a lot of interesting initiatives that are socially responsible, sustainable and altruistic, and organizations that think in these terms will be the winners. I hope new laws come out and change the way we live.
On the other hand, I think the world's children will be marked by this event. They'll remember what happened here, and I can't imagine how they could see us going on living the way we were.
I think this virus will disappear as quickly as it came. But its impact on the future will be huge!