I was so excited when L’Occitane invited me to be part of their holiday campaign, especially after having gotten to know to the brand better earlier this year. Their campaign this season is inspired by the idea that “a gift, no matter how small, can change a life.” So for a video we were collaborating on, I had to answer one seemingly simple question: what’s one of the most meaningful gifts you’ve received?
I know for a lot of people, gifting conjures up images of neatly wrapped packages under a tree. But my family was never big on presents in the traditional sense of tearing open surprise dolls or Easy-Bake Ovens. The most elaborate gift someone would receive was a bag of oranges or pears (the “good” kind, of course)! So here I was, sitting at my desk wracking my brain when Nick pointed to something in the corner of our office, “What about that?”
It was my plain, plastic, yellowed sewing machine from my parents with a few paint chips and cracked base. I’d had this old thing for two decades, long before Nick and I even met. It certainly had taken a few bumps and bruises along the way! Looking at it, I started tearing up, and I didn’t even know why.
I have to admit, as a young teen, I didn’t think of that sewing machine as a gift. There was no memorable occasion – it wasn’t my birthday or Christmas, it wasn’t a fun visit to the coveted Toys R Us – instead just a non-sexy routine stroll through Walmart. But as soon as I got it, I remember I would spend most of my time after school with it into the wee hours of the morning, refashioning my mom’s curtains or dad’s oversized dress shirts (much to his dismay!) into new “styles.”
I used it to create my own prom dresses. I used it to help apply to fashion school. I used it in college, even though I chose the “sensible” route of business instead of art. I used it as a badly needed creative outlet during my first corporate job. And I even used it to fuel some of the posts in the earliest days of this blog. Now, although I have less time and patience to sew (after all these years, I never got any better at it!), I still rely on it for last-minute quick fixes when I can’t get to my tailor. My sewing machine was with me as I grew, as I wavered over life decisions, changed careers multiple times, before eventually found the courage to pursue what I have been most passionate about this whole time.
After Nick pointed it out, it became painfully clear to me that what I thought was a very practical trip to the store, was really one of the most supportive gestures my traditional immigrant parents could have given me as a child. Like with a lot of Asian families, I was nudged in the direction of a stable job as a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. But looking back, my parents quietly encouraged and supported what I truly loved doing. They were never very verbal, but sometimes actions speak louder than words.
I was able to to meet some of you in-person in NYC last week, which I’m so grateful about! And to think, getting to connect with so many wonderful individuals from around the world may not have been possible without inspiration from the gift I received as a child. Thank you so much to everyone who braved the cold to come out, and I hope you guys were able to get some holiday shopping done!
If you still have last-minute gifts on your list, I wanted to wrap up this post with a few of my favorite holiday sets from the brand. Apart from just their lovely scents, many of these L’Occitane products have unique, interesting stories of their own that I’ve found to be inspirational and empowering for women – small gifts that could change a life in their own small ways.
Nourishing Shea Butter Collection – this is a gift that will be appreciated by guys and gals alike. Everyone battles dry, flaky skin in the winter, and this set includes with their moisturizing signature hand cream, foot cream, gentle soap, and extra rich body cream all containing organic, natural shea nut butter. I like to apply the foot cream and slip on socks before bed, to let the cream work itself in overnight. If you have sensitive skin or tend to avoid strongly fragranced products, this is also a great gift-to-self option as it has just a light and natural scent from the shea nut.
Delicious Almond Body Collection – my personal favorite, and a popular one at the event! I’ve shared my love (and Nick’s!) before for their moisturizing, lightly-scented Almond line, and this set comes with a great range of product from shower oil to hand cream, to milk concentrate moisturizer to use post-bathing.
Thank you to L’Occitane for partnering on this post.