On Mondays we like to share a short format interview with one of our wider Gather community members. Just a handful of questions with a generous helping of everyday inspiration to tuck into over your morning cuppa. This week, we have a special double bill!
Meet Hazel and Rochelle of Twice as Hard.
Rochelle Dalphinis and Hazel Marie Francis
"Be more confident in your abilities, creativity and network, talk to as many people from different career/social backgrounds as you can. Not only is it fun but will help you to grow and open up opportunities you may never have thought possible."
What part(s) of the world do you call home?
Hazel (H): London is and always be our first home but we both have spiritual and familial connections elsewhere.
Rochelle (R): My mum was born in Barbados so I have a deep love and an affinity there. My dad has lived in Bangkok for almost 30 years and I’ve been visiting since I was 6 years old. I even lived and worked there for a while in my early 20's.
Hazel (H): My parents were both born in East London, but my dad’s side of the family are originally from Dominica. I’ve also got a huge soft spot for Bordeaux. I studied French at University and spent my year abroad there. It’s the town of my heart!
What is your industry, hustle, current project or passion?
R: In 2020 we set up Twice as Hard, as a response to the BLM movement in 2020. It’s a platform where black and brown communities can share their experiences within the workplace.
We wanted to highlight examples of some of the micro aggressive/racist behaviours those from black and brown communities have experienced and in turn, hope that those outside the community would be able to identify or call it our if they were to witness this in their own workplaces.
We also love to spotlight those who are doing well and sometimes overcome some difficult racial obstacles to create successful careers. We hope that in the future the platform could become a published book.
Images from Twice as Hard on Instagram. You can see more and follow here.
R: My other hustle is my online shop Luna Spot Design. I studied Interior Design Environmental Architecture for my degree but never really managed to get my career in this area going for it to be my full-time job. In 2017 I decided I wanted to reignite my passion by creating my own online interior accessories and gift store, pleased to say it is still going but needs bit more attention with a new collection (hopefully at some point this year). Last year was very busy as I was fortunate enough to be asked to design a large commission for a cruise ship, hopefully I will get to share soon when the world slowly reopens.
My 9 - 5 is working as a Team Co Ordinator for an architectural practice in London.
H: I’m currently studying an MA in Creative Writing, with a dream of becoming a published writer in the next few years! In my day job I work as a Comms and Marketing Manager for University of Arts, London, and also mentor young women with the charity The Girls Network.
What’s an important moment that signified a first step towards where you are today
R: I suppose certain conversations, opportunities and stepping outside of my comfort zone has helped get me where I am today. I can't really identify a specific moment. The conversation between Hazel and I last summer as two school friends airing our frustrations out lead to setting up Twice as Hard.
My own creative frustration and jumping out of my comfort zone to set up Luna Spot are both, I suppose, moments and first steps into achieving things I am proud of today.
H: I don’t think there is one specific moment that has shaped me. I’ve been inspired, encouraged and have learned lots of different lessons at every life stage. I would say that my year abroad in Bordeaux helped me grow in confidence and make friends for life.
So many amazing women (Rochelle included obvs!) who I’ve worked with, am friends with or related to have guided me and inspired me to be the person I am today, most notably my mother. She sadly passed away in 2014. It’s hard to pick one moment, but I would say her death was the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced mentally and emotionally. I had to properly step up, become an adult and make it on my own for the first time.
What is a moment you are proud of?
R: My first sample sale at The Old Bank Vault gallery in 2018 to celebrate Luna Spot's first birthday. Launching Twice as Hard.
H: Erm, I ran the London Marathon in 2014. Seeing my friends and family at the finish line is one of the proudest moments of my life.
I recently received my first round of grades for my Creative Writing MA assignments and to be doing well in a subject I love is bringing me so much joy and purpose.
I’m proud of all the mentees I work with at The Girls Network and of everything my nieces and nephew do.
"I wish I had been more confident in my body and my sexuality. I’ve been exploring both in my writing at the moment and there’s so much we don’t educate young people or talk about."
What advice would you give your younger self today?
R: Be more confident in your abilities, creativity and network, talk to as many people from different career/social backgrounds as you can. Not only is it fun but will help you to grow and open up opportunities you may never have thought possible.
H: I wish I had been more confident in my body and my sexuality. I’ve been exploring both in my writing at the moment and there’s so much we don’t educate young people or talk about.
In one word, what is the most important thing to you in life?
Where can we find you?