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Meet Jeannette Countess Beissel: Designer, Author and Charity Lady

Key Facts

Name: Jeannette Countess Beissel von Gymnich
Age: I like to quote my grandmother who forgot how old she was until she turned 91 – I have a way to go till then…
Family status: Married
What is your job title? Author, CEO of my foundation and designer of handbags and slippers
Where do you live? In the Eifel region near Satzvey Castle and Euskirchen in Germany.
How would you sum up your life-style? Very active, I constantly seem to find new projects to delve into. My day needs a double amount of hours.
Hobbies: Reading, writing, knitting – all part of my professional life.
Do you follow a philosophy in life? Be true to yourself, but stay flexible.

What is your professional background?

I studied languages and literature in USA and France before working in various import and export companies in my early years in Germany. Then I worked as marketing advisor for various advertising agencies in Hamburg. After marrying, I was in charge of PR, marketing, acquisition and management of all activities at Satzvey Castle (the family estate of my husband).

You have set up a foundation, you are an author, participate in the family business at Satzvey Castle and have your own line of handbags and shoes, called Heartfelt. Could you give us a brief overview of your various projects?

I keep fit by regular visits to a sport studio. After our daughter took over organizing all events at our castle and elsewhere, my husband and I retired from running Satzvey. I do however assist if needed by contacting my network or helping with US customers.

My writing was always a part of my life – even before being able to read, I knew I would someday write books. My first was published in 1999 followed by a medieval novel which took up 2 1/2 years of continuous writing with the only exception at Christmas. I am now concentrating on portraits about interesting men and women in Germany, biographies and company chronicles (I have published 10 books to date and am working on three new ones). I feel however, that life is the best playwright.

Since 20 years I have been chairwoman of the board of an organization for needy children in Germany called Schumaneck and I started my own foundation in 2008, the Jeannette Gräfin Beissel von Gymnich Foundation.

How do you master this balancing act?

By finding things to do which I really, really enjoy. It might sound crazy, but knitting is one of those things. I love the feel of the ultra soft wool I use and am inspired by the wide palette of colours. Some of the designs need total concentration without background TV or music. That helps me find myself. It is a meditation in itself and enables me to catch my breath. I invite my clients to join in the designing process of each bag or the slippers by choosing their colours or accessories and am constantly creating new designs.

What brought you into the fashion world now?

Fashion has always been a part of my life. My parents were diplomats and often entertained with elegant dinners. We lived in major European cities and in Argentina and the US and were constantly surrounded by well dressed and sometimes eccentric ladies and gentlemen. That made an impression from early years on.

Do you think women generally have to struggle harder in business?

I think that people in general and especially young people have a harder time now when compared to earlier generations. How challenging it is to be constantly available is a reality to many. Social media with parallel activities all held at once are time consuming. A further challenge is combining career and family, often an additional responsibility facing women. But this can be handled, if organized properly. I really feel finding time to breath – the so called “my time” – that is probably the largest hurdle in our racing daily lives.

Do you benefit professionally from your network?

I certainly do. But only, because the people I have joined together trust me. I am constantly interviewing new people for my books. Once these are published, I keep up the contact by inviting my new contacts to interesting events such as art exhibits or round tables. I can honestly say that I have hundreds of real friends, not only those in the digital world. That is exciting and stimulating and a great joy for me.

Styles4Work is an online shop focused on business fashion and business editorials. What is your estimation on specialized platforms and blogs for future trendsetting?

Influencers are the new role models. Platforms and blogs are their tools and a matter of course nowadays. I am sure that their importance will grow as the digital world expands whilst of course keeping in mind the dangers encountered in the web.

Do you use social media yourself?

More and more, but not for my private life. I do not see any necessity for trying to amuse my friends through sending constant digital videos or messages.

Fashion is an emotional, very personal topic. Is there a favourite business outfit that always works for you?

I mostly use materials that don’t easily crease. I always try to meet the occasion when choosing an outfit. When interviewing, understatement is my priority. The person I am interviewing is much more important than I am. When asked to host a round table, I chose a signal color without too many irritating designs. If invited to formal dinners I wear elegant dresses by my favourite designers, being Barbara Schwarzer, Siggi Spiegelburg or Ingo Stein. As I take part in so many professional or important official events, I try to wear something which best underlines my personality.

Are you including fashion trends in your business outfit?

Not really, I am my best fashion trend.

Which hint do you have for women who are still looking for their own style?

To dress to the occasion. To be respectful towards the person you are meeting. No overdone jewellery in conservative businesses. Give yourself an honest look and play down so called problem zones. Don’t run after each new trend, just because it might be in (for how long?). Be critical of yourself and find out what makes you feel good, what pinches, what is too long or too short.

Who or what inspires you?

People who are unassuming. Those who have found themselves and have no need brag about their achievements. Those who listen and are open to others. Mahatma Gandhi, Dalai Lama and many unknown persons who do good for others or for the sustainability of nature.

Which social topic is important to you?

My foundation. Children’s needs are so apparent – also in Germany, if one just opens one’s eyes. Lonely people deeply touch me, especially if aged. Poverty in old age is another topic that troubles me. There is so much to do. I believe society would be much poorer without all those who voluntarily dedicate themselves to community service. That is why I thank all those who have crossed my path and who have inspired me with their deeds – especially those working for the Schumaneck Children’s organization.