'Express Yourself' as a child but 'Break the Rules' as an adult!

I have a very simple mission: to help parents have a less hectic morning by encouraging their children to get dressed on their own while also benefiting from fostering early independence. Choulala Box is above all a box full of seasonal clothes delivered to your home, with pieces and accessories that create a complete outfit under the BLAST™ method (B is for Bottoms, L for Layering pieces, A for Accessories, S for Socks & Shoes and T for Tops). The flashcards, which are all about using the BLAST™ method, have been created with the idea of helping children to get dressed while having fun. I had the pleasure of working with Carole Chevalier, a talented illustrator from France, for designing the physical Choulala Box and coloring pages, but also all the flashcards illustrations and it's case! Here's her interview on how her childhood, early self-dressing and self-empowered she felt by having a BLAST™ with Us!

Tell us a little about your childhood. Where you grew up. What your fondest memories are of that time. What kind of up bringing and values your parents had that impacted you?

I grew up in a little village not too far from Nantes, France. Looking back, I feel very lucky that I got the chance to grow up in a rural area so close to such a big city! There’s a small forest behind my parents’ back garden and me and my cousins would always play outside, climb up trees and build some weird looking shacks with whatever wood we could find. These memories have to be some of the best ones I have from my childhood! I was a bit wild, stubborn and independent, always full of energy and talking loud pretty much all the time (which hasn’t really changed haha). Other fond memories are probably baking cakes with my mum, me and my sister dancing and singing to Spice Girls tracks (and asking my dad to film us!), summer vacations with my whole family where we would go camping by the sea, and reading books from cover to cover all day long from the moment I could read properly.

My parents were the kind of not too strict but not too relaxed ones either. They would always be fair with me and my siblings and I never felt like I wasn’t allowed to do anything, as long as I was telling them what I was up to and where I was going. I had a happy childhood and I realise now how much they were doing for us and how our well-being was always so important to them. They taught me many important values that forged who I am today: respect, kindness, always staying positive and how important family is. We would always have our meals all together at the table so that we could talk about how our day went. They also taught me the value of money and how you need to work hard to get where you want to be. We never had much money so I understood quite quickly that I couldn’t just ask for something and get it straight away! This helped me really appreciate everything in my life and I would always be ecstatic when receiving a gift! I think all of this impacted me massively as an adult now, working hard with passion and being grateful for everything I’ve achieved.    

When and how did you know you wanted to be a graphic illustrator.

When I was in high school (around 14 years old), I thought I wanted to be an interior designer. I was crazy about anything to do with decoration, furniture and colours! So I took on the art path in college and after my Baccalaureat, I joined a private design school called LISAA, in Nantes. This is where I realized that anything to do with architecture was definitely NOT my thing, and that I’d rather be illustrating and playing around on various design software to create something cool! I must have been between 18 and 19 years old then and although I didn’t know for sure what I wanted to do as a career, I knew already that it would be in the creative industry, where I would be able to express all my creativity.   

How old were you when you can think of the first time you dressed yourself and became more conscious of fashion to express yourself as an individual?

Oh wow this is a bit of a hard question! Hmm let’s see… As far as I can remember, I started to dress myself and pick the clothes I wanted to wear when I was about 5, but my parents would always be the ones deciding what to buy. I truly started to have a say about the pieces of clothes I liked when I was around 6-7 years old. However, I definitely remember enjoying getting dressed on my own and how especially satisfying it was to tie my shoe laces. I was so proud! As a child, I didn’t care much about trends, I was just drawn to the colourful clothes I liked the look of and that was it! I used to do quite a bit of mix and match and sometimes wear a bit of a crazy outfit but I guess this was just me expressing myself ;). Although around 10 years old I was such a big fan of the Spice Girls and Britney Spears that I started searching for the right clothes and shoes that would resemble what they were wearing, and oh my gosh, I laugh now when I see photos of myself with these outfits! It was very much of the time haha.

What about Choulala Box’s mission are you mostly impressed by when reflecting on yourself as a child?

As a child, I would have loved learning to dress on my own like a grown-up whilst having fun. I think Choulala Box’s main mission, which is to teach kids to dress themselves up in an educational but playful way, is so very important as it gives the power and freedom to children to pick their clothes and do everything on their own. The beauty of it is that they learn loads without realizing it!

If I think of it all from the perspective of my younger self, I’m sure I would have felt better learning the BLAST™ method when dressing myself up as I would have felt empowered and proud of myself for achieving this with total freedom. After all, when we’re young we aspire to be treated more like a grown-up, don’t we? I feel that Choulala Box helps give more credit to your children’s achievement which can only be good for their growth and development.

What was your favorite aspect of the work you did with us?

I think there are two favorite parts to be honest! First of all, the excitement of getting involved in your project, creating something new and illustrating various characters and elements, which I obviously love. And secondly, I think finishing the product with a sense of achievement is such a great feeling for a freelancer like me. There’s this gratifying feeling of seeing it out in the world, knowing that it will help families and have an impact on them. I love that aspect too, and sometimes, knowing that you helped create something that will make a difference or have a special place in somebody’s life is the best part of my job!

Which of the empowerment cards speaks most to you as a child? And now as an adult?

Ooh, another difficult one! As a child, I guess I would have been more drawn to the ‘Express Yourself’ card or the ‘You can do it all by yourself’ one. Again, it’s all coming back to the fact that I would have been pleased to be encouraged to do what I want with my outfit, and as a child who was stubborn and liked to do things without any help, being told that I was allowed and actually could do it all by myself would have been great!

As an (almost!) 30 year old adult, I feel that the ‘Break the rules’ card is very important nowadays and this is something I would want to teach my child, if I ever have one. When I was a kid, parents would have never thought of mixing up clothes without caring about genders, which was a shame. Now things are changing, and I’m pleased with the fact that children are less and less put into ‘boxes’ meaning that a little boy could happily wear pink without being judged harshly. I’m sure there are still some that would find it inappropriate but at least mentalities are changing, slowly but surely!

You can learn more about Carole Chevalier and all her body of work HERE.

Photos Credit: Carole Chevalier

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