Fei Lauw – Editor (in chief) and overanalyzing pasta-lover
When did the click come for you to start your own business?
I am now the editor-in-chief of Oxfam-Wereldwinkels/Oxfam Fair Trade (now Oxfam Belgium). Alongside that I have been a freelance columnist and copywriter since 2015. I've always written. In my diary, as a young girl, about boys and clothes and ‘she said that I said’, then later it was evocative letters to friends, full of sorrow and heartache, then e-mails, pregnant with the twins humour and pathos. Then came social media and, increasingly, I was reading: ‘do something with your stories, when will there be a book?’ That book has been ready for ages. But I’m putting it off. Like everything that is super important for me... Procrastination, anyone? But my ‘click’ was actually more of a fairly slow turn of the dial to a position that had always been there.
What is the most important lesson you have learned? What was the biggest challenge you faced?
I’m still learning every day, so that's a tricky one. I think: realising how little you know. Really know. That keeps your mind open. Realising, too, how little you know about others, and that kindness does everyone good.
The biggest challenge for me is/was motherhood. You can’t learn that, and so it’s guesswork and a constant state of uncertainty about “am I doing it right? Am I going to leave him half traumatised and needing to talk about it later with a therapist?”
Which woman do you look up to and why?
Loads! For a thousand different reasons. Francesca Van Thielen, Kim Gevaert, Frida Kahlo, Chimamanda Adichie ... But to really look up to someone, I need to genuinely know the person as well. Know their character and personality, not just what they’ve achieved. So, for that reason: my grandmother. For her style and strength and quick, open mind.
What advice would you give to your younger self and why?
“You’re a weirdo” or “you're different” and “you talk weirdly” is a big compliment. Thank anyone who says that. And don’t look for love from people that make a game out of it. There’s nothing as plain and obvious as loving someone. It’s there. Or it isn't. And if it’s the latter, walk away.