When people ask us what we do at Atelier Doré there are a lot of ways to answer—we have the site, we collaborate with brands, now we’re doing these events and retreats—but everything always comes back to the idea of story. At heart, we’re storytellers. Garance has been telling stories through images and writing for years, so of course this was the obvious choice for the theme of our first retreat. Throughout the week, our guests attended workshops held by Tracy McMillan, Garance, and Morgane Sézalory where we dove deeper into the core of the idea of story: fundamentally, visually, and as a brand. And then in the afternoons we visited local artisans and had a chance to hear stories from people who are living and working in Marrakech—many of them expats who have come to call Marrakech home, and work with local craftsmen to produce an array of products that take a mastery of technique and skill.
So in this week of Marrakech stories, we thought, what would be better than to bring you a How To about storytelling, and to share a few takeaways from our workshops in Marrakech, so you can also discover, define, and share a story of your own. This is a very very small part of what we touched upon during that incredible week, but hopefully this can help to guide you in your own way (and also give you a little taste of what a retreat with Atelier Doré is like!)
But first…What is your story?
Tracy’s workshop was all about figuring out what your story is, and doing that by re-connecting with yourself. She shared her story with us (you’ll hear more about that on our next episode of Pardon My French), and helped us to realize that our story is what makes us human. It has been Tracy’s experience that finding your story is the key to discovering your purpose, your message, your brand, yourself. And it is also the key to self-love.
So here are a few fundamentals of finding your story:
-Your story is shaped by your choices and your decisions, we write our own stories this way.
-Your story has themes, characters, choices, mistakes and turning points. What and who are they?
-Inner conflicts are turning points in our stories.
-Obstacles you face come back to your belief system. They wouldn’t be obstacles if they weren’t challenging something within us.
-You write your own narrative, so use the mind to conceive of something that doesn’t already exist, and then live it.
Here are a few exercises Tracy provided to help you write your story (derived from Tracy’s TV writing experience). Think about yourself as the main character of this story:
-What are 3 qualities a casting director would say you need to bring to the character of you?
-What are 3 darker traits? These are your shadow qualities.
-What are 3 obstacles getting in the way of your character doing what she wants and being who she should be?
-Who would play her? What’s her archetype?
-Who is your antagonist?
-The people who trigger you are good for discerning what your belief systems are and what needs healing. This is your shadow material.
Now that you’ve thought through all of that, a final word from Tracy: “If I have been given a dream, it means I have also been given the means to manifest it.”
Garance’s workshop took what we learned with Tracy and focused on how to manifest that story to share it with the world, whether it’s through photography, writing, art…there are so many mediums to express ourselves. The fundamental takeaway from her workshop was the importance of capturing emotion. For Garance, her subject is her life, and what she lives and sees. This is something she then expresses through photography, illustration and writing—all of which capture an honesty that we can then relate to.
We did a writing workshop with Garance to spark thoughts about emotion and imagery:
-Write what you do or what you want to do, in present tense.
-What emotion does that spark in you?
-Recall an image that you hold inside of you that brings a strong emotion. What is it? And what emotion does it bring up for you?
Everyone has their own visual language, in the same way we each have our unique stories. Our emotions and our vulnerabilities are what make them unique. Focusing on what moves us is better than trying to find formulas or to copy what’s trendy right now. Take for example Instagram, finding your true language is extremely important in these times where everything looks and feels the same. Creativity means not being scared of the dark sides (as well as the cheesy sides!) be in the type of photos or in the words we use. It’s finding out how to express them in a way that communicates emotion.
What Morgane has built with her brand, Sézane, embodies everything we discussed during the retreat leading up to her workshop on our last day. The brand is deeply personal (the name Sézane is a contraction of Morgane’s first and last names), and Morgane used her workshop to share her touching, honest story with us. It was marked by moments of her sharing with us her penchant for laziness (you have to appreciate her honesty!), which led her to find some truly creative ideas—and which she also completely contradicts when you hear about how hard she’s worked to make Sézane into the incredible brand it is—something that’s driven her to experience a burnout this year, which she now considers as one of the biggest chance to move forward.
She shared with us a few essential ideas to think about when you think about a brand’s story, and how to communicate that story:
-Consider a brand as art: at it’s core a brand is about it’s vision, talent and a way to see things differently. This is the art of a brand.
-Craft and Savoire Faire are the rules to respect when it comes to any brand.
-You have to decide who your brand is for.
-Curiosity can guide your brands story; you need to follow your instinct and trust your gut
-You can have good products, but today you also need to create and share the full story and world of your brand. Morgane got her start on eBay, but on eBay you can’t control the world of your brand, this is when she started her first website, so she could have full control the brand universe.
-Finally, Morgane expressed the importance of loving and listening to your community. A brand is a living thing that needs to evolve with its teams and its customers/clients. Often times your customers will help choose the path of your business for you, but only if you give them a voice and create a dialogue with them.
– A brand evolves and shifts, it’s continually changing. If the brand stops and gets stuck, it disappears. The art of making a brand, is perhaps the art of making a new one every day…
As Morgane would say, Voila! These are fundamentals for considering any brand—whether you own a business, or are just trying to cultivate your own personal brand on social media. We completed an exercise where we considered strong brands pre and post internet, and it’s interesting to see where the similarities and differences lie between the two. Ultimately it comes down to two things:
How will people identify with your brand? And how will they buy into it? A few things to consider as you write the story of your brand.