The Flow State Feeling With Clémence Polès
Meet Clémence Polès
After struggling to find resources that provided real recommendations from real women, the Founder of Passerbuys decided to take matters into her own hands. We met up in Brooklyn to talk about taking risks, trusting the process, and celebrating diversity within inspiration.
Founder of Passerbuys!
Why is it important for you to do?
Probably because I’m a process junkie. I like to be in the flow state. So I’m always hunting for that feeling. On a practical level as well, my immigrant mentality makes it hard to resist doing! We are survivors and it shouldn’t be underestimated how much that impacts our careers.
What have you learned from Passerbuys so far?
I learned that it’s a work in progress. Passerbuys two years ago looked very different. It was a reflection of the skills set that I had at that moment. As a perfectionist, I’ve learned to accept that certain things might not be exactly what I want or the best that it could be but this is what it is now and I’m kind of making my peace with that while trying to improve. I’m learning to accept that something is growing and it’s not finite; it’s always evolving. That was the biggest thing that I learned. And also to not compare to other things that are going on. A lot of people have a lot of ideas and comments and criticisms, and all of that is valuable, but it shouldn’t affect what you want so it’s also taught me to trust my instincts more.
What is your #1 mantra to get your through tough moments?
I’m not sure whether escapism is something I should recommend for tough moments, but whenever things aren’t going well - I’ll hide out, watch movies and drink wine.
When I started Passerbuys I didn’t think there was enough diversity amongst the women that were being covered. I feel like the idea of what makes a woman an inspiring figure is fairly close-minded; either they are in fashion or are celebrities whose aesthetics are all fairly similar, have similar careers, like the same brands. While I can appreciate that kind of content, I was also interested in developing content that would pull from my personal background; having grown up in Dubai and then later moving to London for school, I encountered folks from all walks of life. This has definitely shaped the kind women I feature. For example one woman built her own mastering studio and is one of the few female mastering engineers in the world. It was a great story. So I’m always looking to tell a broader story of inspiration. Socialites are not more or less interesting or inspiring than nurses or coders. There’s always something to learn.
As far as the recommendations aspect of the site, I was really striving for an authentic platform with the same philosophy as I mentioned before. We all have worthwhile opinions. The nature of the internet is to level the playing field between formal and casual experts. So I may be following what’s a natural trend here. However, what I bring to it as an intermediary is my editorial and curatorial ability. This is not the time for cultural curators to hide resources from each other, it’s time to organize the amazing wealth of it that’s out there! I get really excited about people giving real recommendations and I love offering practical and useful content.
When you lose yourself in your work or if it gets to be too much, what do you do?
I go to the movies! That’s the easiest fix. I love going up to the Film Society in Lincoln Center. I’m a little bit of a cinephile... the movies that I watch are mostly about human behavior or relationships so they put things into perspective for me. A glass of red wine also helps, a Syrah Grenache maybe :)
Are there any challenges that have shaped you today?
The challenges are constant and I haven’t hit the turning point yet. My biggest challenge has been justifying working on Passerbuys while needing to make rent. It’s a delicate balance.
I had a conversation with a good friend who kind of gave me this 7-hour talk where she was just like, “What are you doing? You’re creating all this work for yourself and not getting anything out of it. Why are you really doing this?” She encouraged me to be more of a New Yorker about it really, which can be a challenge for a European woman sometimes!
What are some accomplishments that you’re most proud of?
I’m very proud of doing the Passerbuys Lounge. I left my job to pursue this pop-up where I got to bring all the Passerbuys recommendations to life. I actually cold-called West Elm and tried to get them to sponsor the project. I got flat-out rejected at first, but eventually got them on board. Even just doing all the programming for the event, the press, learning how to have conversations with brands and everything else in under 3 weeks was a lot. I came in and improvised my way through some areas but having it be a success and having all the events selling out was something I was really proud of.
Also, 4 years ago I made some comedy shorts with a group called As Big As Possible. I’m kind of weirdly proud of that.
What’s your favorite lesson that you’ve learned?
To not focus on what’s missing; this is an on-going lesson for me. I actually made up this saying that no one understands (for good reasons) “Focus on the pasta, not the basta”. As in, don’t focus on the thing being over, but rather on what you’re enjoying.
What’s the next goal?
Get my life sorted haha. Get more goal oriented and be more focused. Right now I’m doing way too many things at once. It would be nice to just focus a bit more.
What are your favorite songs/music?
Anything by Tool! I was a huge Tool fan growing up. In Dubai you don’t have access to anything alternative and a lot of things were blocked on the internet. Tool’s whole thing is questioning reality; Dubai was so superficial so I was particularly sensitive to it and their music was my resistance to that. But on a lighter note, I’m a sucker for great melodies.
Top 5 people you would invite to a dinner party
Isabelle Hupert, Simone de Beauvoir, Maynard James Keenan, Pamela Adlon, Michael Haneke
Three words that you want to be remembered by.
“She was chill.”