Image: François Köng
Karine Candice Köng founded award-winning concept store BODIE and FOU with her sister, Elodie, in 2005. French with Norwegian heritage, Karine now lives in London while her husband, Steve, and daughter, Mila, live together in France.
What’s the most challenging thing about motherhood?
Letting your kid becoming the person they are meant to be and not a version of yourself or your tastes, and to instill self-confidence in them. Mila is nine years old now and until last Summer, I could still dress her the way I wanted with lovely Liberty tops and pretty dresses. Then she went on holidays with my sister and niece and came back all pre-teen with specific ideas of what she wanted to wear from now on (mostly leggings, skinny jeans, shorts and sweatshirts). It took us a a few months to adjust but now we have an understanding. I listen to her and her tastes but if I think something is really too awful to wear, we leave it and we find something else we both like. Very early on, when I was shopping, I would always ask her what outfit she liked the most in a shop window, just to get her to think about things and formulate an opinion. Even if I think she wears leggings far too often for my own taste, I love the little human being she is becoming. She has a really good heart, she really cares about people. She is very confident, fearless and has the most infectious smile. I’m really proud of her. This year is specifically challenging because my husband, who is from New-Zealand, and Mila are spending a year in France to experience the real French lifestyle and she loves it! Me on the other hand, I have moments I miss her so much that it aches but I’m proud of her. I admire her determination and confidence. Even if she is there with Steve who is an amazing dad, I don’t think I would have been able to be without my mum at her age. It took me years to find confidence so I’m hugely proud that she has got that.
Your house always looks immaculate. What are your tips for leading a design-conscious life with kids?
Have enough storage and baskets to hide all the plastic toys, and get them to play in their bedroom rather than dragging all their toys into the lounge. If Mila wanted to hang around us, she would bring a few toys down but at the end of the day, everything would go back in her bedroom. I declutter regularly to to stay on top of things that inevitably end up in our home. Also, use water-proof painting in all the rooms so you can clean up scuff marks from the walls easily.
How do you spend time as a family?
When Mila is in London, we go to see a kids movie on Saturday or Sunday morning at Westfield, our local shopping centre, then off to the park – she is super active. Over Christmas, we went ice-skating, we baked, we were planning to make scented candles but she then Mila had friends around for endless sleepovers. I tried to teach her to make her own smoothies but she wasn’t really buying into it.
What’s your insider tip for family fun in France?
We often go to our house in France by the beach so we try to do as many outdoor activities as possible. The house is on the Bay of Arcachon and Mila loves going to Accrobranche, which is an adventure park where you go from one tree to another 5 metres from the ground. Personally, I tried once… never again.