Expatriates: Interviewing a Finnish Reporter Kirpi Uimonen in Los Angeles

I really wanted to interview Kirpi since she lives in LA, interviews celebrities all the time and I find that some people lose themselves when they live in Los Angeles. Kirpi has not, she is truly a real person who enjoys her job. A woman who has met anyone from Beyonce, Jonny Depp to George Clooney – take a guess who is her favorite celebrity and especially the reasons for her choice.

Who is Kirpi Uimonen?

I am a Finnish freelancer journalist. I write mostly entertainment stories from Hollywood to different publications in Finland. I moved from Helsinki to Los Angeles little over 10 years ago.

At what age did you know that you wanted to be a reporter?

Well, my childhood friend just recently reminded me, that as a kid I always said I will never be a journalist. My mother and many of my relatives are journalist and as a kid I was thinking that it is too unstable of a job, you pretty much don’t know when you have to work and where you go next.

When I was visiting my mother’s work place her colleagues were always asking: So, when are you going to be journalist and they laugh at me when I said never ever. They said wait and see. And for sure, when I was twenty I started my first summer job at United Magazines (now Otava Media). End of that summer I wrote my first story about Finnish musician for Seura magazine. By then I knew I wanted to be a journalist

What has been the most exciting story that you’ve covered during your career?

I have covered many exciting stories. As a young writer I did cover most Finnish music festivals and interviewed hundreds of bands. Lately, last 10 years, I have interviewed most Hollywood stars. But one story is at the top of everything. Late 1990’s I inter railed with my friend around Europe for a month and we wrote 20 + page story for a youth magazine called Suosikki about our experience and people who we met. That was fun!

Is there any particular story, an award or a moment throughout your career that you are proud of?

I am proud that I got accepted to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association little over two years ago. It is a foreign journalist organization in Hollywood. It arranges hundreds of interviews every year for its 85 members. We also vote for Golden Globe winners every January.

What would you say is the biggest misconception that people have about your profession?

That it is always glamorous. Sometimes it is, like if you are an invited guest to some event. But usually it is hard and time consuming work. Research, interviews, transcribing, translating, traveling, watching movies and TV-shows takes time, and last but not least, writing takes a lot of time and you are always alone with your thoughts when you are writing.

What do you enjoy most about being a reporter?

Meeting people and listening their stories. Every person sees life differently.

Have you found to be the biggest difference between the types of stories you covered in Finland, and the ones you currently report on in Los Angeles?

I covered mostly entertainment in Finland and I do the same here in Los Angeles. The biggest difference is that I am doing my job in a different country and different language.

Are there any stories that you hate to cover?

Not really. I think I can learn from everything.

Do you ever get into fights with other reporters?

Journalism is a very competitive business especially now-a-days. Media industry is at a transition time, we are unsure what happens to print media and digital media doesn’t pay much yet. We also have more journalists in the field than there are jobs. Fees have collapsed during the last five years. So all this has an impact on my profession. People are more competitive, they have to be in order to survive and sometimes people disagree with each other.

What advice would you give to other aspiring European journalists and reporters aiming for the stars in Hollywood?

Be ready to work long hours, evenings and weekends. Your schedule will change all the time and nothing is sure unless it already happened. You need to be able to handle stressful situations; you will compete to get interviews, what and when you can ask your questions, your clients, pretty much everything. If journalism is your passion – go ahead and do it.

What and who captivate you in the world of celebrities – and why?

This is already a cliché because everybody likes him, but I have to say George Clooney. He takes his work seriously but not himself. He is always friendly and funny. Besides being actor-director-producer-screenwriter he is politically active and devotes his time to humanitarian work

Since you are Finnish – must ask what do you miss most from Finland – think you will ever return to live back there?

I do miss my family, friends and sauna. Sometimes I miss salty liquorice and rye bread, but not as often as in the very beginning. And I have learned that I should never say never. So yes, I could think of returning back to Finland. When? I have no idea. But I think it is a great country.

And how is the Finnish community in Los Angeles?

Finnish community has been growing in Los Angeles the last few years. We have more up and coming artist here than before. Or I should say in the last ten years because I don’t know how things were before that. Creative Finns meet every month. Everybody is welcome, and one can participate when he or she wants to. You can find our group from Facebook, Creative Finns in Los Angeles. There is also another group where everybody can share information, Finns in California.

What do you see the best about the Finnish culture/people vs. American?

Both cultures have they good and bad sides, sometimes they are different sides of the same token. I like that Finns know how to enjoy, relax and keep their vacations, but at the same time I admire the American work mentality, entrepreneurship like mentality and persistency. Americans don’t give up easily.

We have many great things in Finland; education, universal healthcare, long maternity leave, long vacations, sick days, social security. Over all as a society it is a safe place when compared to many other places.

Photos: Theo Kingma and HFPA
Website: www.kirpinhollywood.fi
Facebook: /www.facebook.com/#!/KirpinHollywood
Twitter: @KirpinHollywood

Austin – June 23 2013

Hello everyone!

City of Austin, Global Austin and EuroCircle ((Austin Polish Society, Casa de Espana Austin etc). will be joining hands and building the next great event together by hosting an International Potluck. This means that you can all bring your traditional dishes and have other members experience new flavors and most of all, your cooking skills! This is no Top Chef event, but it will be a great way to challenge yourself and share your culture with just a bite of heaven.

This event will be hosted at Icenhauer’s on Sunday June 23, starting at 5:30pm. All drinks will be available for purchase at the bar, and all food will be nicely organized according to the different flavors you bring to the table.
21 + event

We ask that all members who wish to bring a dish send details to Allison Berguin or Kaisa Kokkonen. If you just want to attend, that is no problem, but this is a great opportunity to share something you are proud of. Kaisa is at kaisa@eurocircle.com

Global Austin will have a table set up so you can talk about upcoming events and add the events you are excited about to their calendar. The best marketing tool is word of mouth, keep that in mind.

Food always brings people together, so keep this date open. Go work out and come hungry!

We look forward to seeing you then!

The EuroCircle team

P.S.: We will provide plates, forks, knives, spoons and napkins, but please use your dish and utensil you wish to serve with (email kaisa(at) eurocircle (dot) com ). And we will keep a list in the forums – on the RSVP page – off all the dishes we know someone is bringing


The City of Austin started 2013 with a new program to welcome international newcomers to our city. The International Welcome Program helps international newcomers to quickly feel at home in our city and to connect to community resources and information. There are three initiatives being started under this program.

The City launched an online international calendar and information portal in partnership with GlobalAustin at InternationalAustin.org The website features a calendar of international events, a newcomer’s guide, and feature articles about Austin residents and organizations who are engaged in international activities. The organizations vary from Austin Polish Society, Casa de Espana Austin, Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce to Russian Speakers Society of Austin (plus all NON-European groups).

Please get in touch with Natalie at Natalie.betts@austintexas.gov to learn more about the International Welcome Program.


Austin – Patrick Van Den Nieuwenhuysen

I asked Patrick Van Den Nieuwenhuysen to answer a few questions. His company has sponsored your appetizers a a couple of times. Every time when I see Patrick I think about Asterix and Obelix – I don’t know why. I also recall Asterix finding out The Belgiums invented the French Fries!

Tell us about yourself- who are you and what would be the short story of your life?(where are you from, where did you study, how did you come to Austin etc)

When I moved from Belgium to the USA in 2003, I came directly to Austin TX. I picked up my passion for cars and started working for Mercedes-Benz of Austin. (It’s been over 8 years now). I was working for Shell in Belgium and before that I studied in Holland at the IVA, a specialized school in the automobile industry.

What is THE thing about Austin captivates you the most?

Austin is a booming city that doesn’t seem to have suffered from the down economy. Working for MERCEDES-BENZ OF AUSTIN has made it possible for me to provide many happy customers with a great new or certified pre-owned car (Mercedes and any other used car brands)

Do you think living in Austin has in any way enhanced your work experience?

Having a European accent has never hurt my ability to sell cars;-)

If someone asked you what they should NOT miss while in Austin, what would reply?

I love the international diversity in Austin and the bright blue skies (most of the times).

What do you do in Austin when you feel like you just want to chill out?

Any outdoors activities (such as hiking, gardening, swimming in the swimming holes) and practicing yoga and meditation.

Anything truly memorable that has happened to you since you have lived in Austin?

I was able to feel at home in a completely different setting and environment. WholeFoods, Central Market, Whole Earth Provision and other stores offer a bunch of European products, that all contributed to me feeling so much “home” here in Austin.

What really annoys you about Austin – or maybe nothing does?

The TOTAL lack of public transportation (connecting the big cities with rural areas) and the flooded road (traffic jams)!

What do you miss most from your country…in addition to the family and friends?

NOT MUCH! Most of it is available here too, except the small little grey shrimp from the North Sea

Do you have a favorite Austin/area restaurant?

ASTI’S and FINO’S for dining, and the Rattle Inn for dancing

Do you see there are benefits for someone from abroad to come to Austin for a few years?

A growing economy full of opportunities and the great international environment

What do you think about the cost of living in Europe vs Austin, TX – and the standard of life and life style?

It is very similar. Although the sales taxes are much higher in Belgium (21% VS 6.25%). In exchange, in Belgium, you do get a lot of benefits in return (public transportation network, medical support, and many others). The property taxes in Texas are outrageous!(Kaisa’s comment: that’s probably as there is no state income tax!)

In your opinion what is the best time to visit Austin?

Spring! When everything is in a full bloom and the temperatures are not reaching the 100 Fa(over 35/40 Celsius)

Anything else you feel you’d like to share with us about Austin or yourself?

MERCEDES-BENZ OF AUSTIN has sponsored a couple of events for EuroCircle Austin. I hope that anyone from EuroCircle who needs a car or truck will consider contacting me to see if I can help them getting a new or pre-owned car. Our owner, Brian Hardemann, also owns FIRST TEXAS HONDA, SUBARU OF AUSTIN and INFINITY OF AUSTIN. Let me know if I can help!

Mercedes-Benz of Austin: WWW.MBOFAUSTIN.COM
Call Patrick at 512 917 6904 or email PATRICKVDN.BE(at)GMAIL(dot)COM

Expatriates: Mirva Lempiainen from Finland – Travel and International Writer in New York City

I got the privilege of interviewing Mirva Lempiainen- a freelance travel and international writer who is based in New York and has traveled the world.

How long have you been a EC member?

Since 2009

How long have you been writing?

I have been a full-time freelance journalist and travel writer for about four years now. Prior to that I did journalism part-time in addition to other jobs. I published my very first story at the age of 14 in a small paper in my native Finland.

What kind(s) of writing do you do?

My focus is on travel writing and international reporting. I write a lot for Finnish media, showcasing New York from all different angles: I’ve written about the best beaches of New York, unique tourist attractions, the worst neighborhoods to go to, where to find bargain deals for shopping… I also write about Finns living in the city and their accomplishments. When I’m traveling around the world, which is what I do about half of the year, I write about the places and interesting people I come across.

Is there a story or stories that are the most memorable that you have you written about?

There are quite a few. A couple of years ago I did a story about court house tourism in New York – about how you can have a different NYC experience by going to observe a criminal court case. Hearing the lawyer yell “objection!”, I truly felt like I was in an episode of Law and Order. Another story that was memorable but in a different way was covering an HIV awareness march in Guatemala City. Hundreds of people gathered together to show their support for people with HIV that day. It was a beautiful event, and quite an accomplishment for a country that is very conservative when it comes to matters of sexual health.

Where are you from?

I grew up in the Southwestern corner Finland, in Turku and the surrounding islands. I always say that I have two home islands – Utö and Manhattan. One has a population of 50 people, the other closer to 2 million.

Where are you currently living?

I recently moved to Sunset Park, Brooklyn. I love it there. The neighborhood is one part Latino, one part Chinatown. It used to be called Finn Town, actually. Back in the early 1900s, there were some 30,000 Finns living in the area. Now I’m about the only one left!

Where is your favorite travel destination and why?

Having been to 64 countries on six continents, it’s impossible to pick just one favorite. Latin America as an area is very dear to my heart though. I love the music, the language, the joyful attitude of people that shines through even in tough times… I would love to go back to Bolivia and Cuba in particular. Bolivia is very interesting because it still retains so much of its indigenous culture. Cuba is such a puzzle. You have to spend a lot of time there to understand it. A month was not nearly enough..

When you travel, do you travel for work or for vacation?

A bit of both. In my life, there’s no clear line between business and pleasure. Sometimes I get paid to travel – like during the 2011 Quality Hunters travel blogging campaign for which I was selected out of 2,000 applicants – and other times I pay my own way, but sell articles from the places I visit. Generally I travel very slowly, spending about a month per country and often staying with local people through sites like Couchsurfing. This helps me to form better story ideas and to get to know cultures better. It also keeps my traveling costs low, which means I don’t have to work a 100-hour workweek to fund all this traveling.

Is there any travel destination that you want to go next? Why?

Of course, so many! Eventually I would like to visit all 194 countries recognized by the UN. But some countries on higher on my list than others. I have never been to the Middle East, for example, so I would like to visit Jordan, Lebanon and Israel sometime soon. In Africa I’ve only seen a bit of the West Coast, so I’m interested in visiting the East – Tanzania, Kenya and Mozambique in particular. In Asia I have Burma and the Philippines yet to discover. In Europe I’m eager to check out the former Yugoslavian countries. The only problem is that I’m pretty exhausted by my most recent trips. Over the past two years, I’ve been to more than 30 countries. So for right now, I’m happy to be in New York catching up with friends, work and life in general. Despite all my travels, I still think New York is the best city in the world. For me, anyway.

What do you like to do for fun?

My favorite thing in New York is to explore the many ethnic neighborhoods of the city – like the Little India of Jackson Heights, the Polish area of Greenpoint, the mini-Ireland of Sunnyside and of course my new Latin-Chinese ‘hood Sunset Park that is next to the Arab community of Bay Ridge. I am also on the hunt for the city’s best rooftop bar, so I try to check out as many of those as I can. It hasn’t been that easy this summer with all the rain we’ve recently gotten!

What’s your website/blog?

My travel blog is at www.writeronthemove.com. You can also follow me on Twitter, @mirva08.

Anything else you would like to share with us?

I’ve started a new Weekly Wednesday video series on my blog. So every Wednesday I post a video snippet from some country I’ve been to in recent years, ranging from a wild village party in Senegal to eating live octopus in South Korea. Please join me in my virtual travels and join the conversation by sharing your own tales from the road! Traveling and travel writing is a great way to fight xenophobia and to open our eyes to different ways of living.

Expatriates: Meet An Aspiring Fashion Stylist Lotta Luolamo in Los Angeles

Lotta Luolamo is a freelance fashion stylist in the city of angels – Los Angeles – from Finland. We were delighted when she agreed to complete a full in-depth interview with us. Read on to discover, amongst other things, which fashion designers Lotta is inspired by, what she’s hoping to achieve over the next 12 months and what she does to relax. www.lottaluolamo.com

What are you currently working on?

At the moment I’m having my first week off in forever. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been working on shoots with Chris Brown (yes, the one with Rihanna), including his album packaging shoot. I’ve also worked my new client, up and coming artist J Randy and last week I also did a photo shoot with Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat.

How have the last 12 months been for you?

The last 12 months have proved to me that hard work really pays of. I graduated from Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in December 2012 and got hired immediately to work as a assisting stylist for Mozie Campbell Inc. I’ve also done freelancing, both as a stylist and a set designer. Basically I’ve been on sets of TV-shows, commercials, photo shoots and music videos trying to gain as much experience and inspiration as I can.

What does fashion mean to you?

Fashion is obviously a part of our appearance and our appearance is a part of who we are – a way of expressing ourselves. Fashion brings out personality, it’s a statement. The main thing is to feel comfortable in what you are wearing from clothes to accessories. I believe if you are comfortable with what you are wearing your personality and self esteem will get a boost.

Which modern day fashion designers or fashion icons do you look up to?

Alexander Wang has been my inspiration since the beginning of his career. He’s daring and simple at the same time which to me is a appealing combo. At this moment I’m also obsessed with Dries Van Noten and his colors and prints. My fashion icon is Rihanna, just because she has this crazy ability to change from romantic and flowy feminine looks to these urban and even masculine looks and still always look like her self and represent what she is. She always looks like she is comfortable in what she is wearing.

What was the first thing you ever designed? How does one think about becoming a stylist in Finland..

I never really designed anything. Unless you want to hear all about my school projects from designing a bag to designing a window display. Other than school I have no own designs.
To be honest I wouldn’t want to work as a stylist in Finland. I mean I would love to work there every now and then on interesting projects for sure, but living in Finland and trying to support yourself by styling might be a challenge since it is such a small country. LA is probably the best place to be for an aspiring stylist.

Where do you get your inspiration? Who and what inspires you?

I get my inspiration from every where, literally. It can be someone or something on the street, nature or a magazine I read. Of course these days it’s incredibly easy to find inspiration online with all the blogs and online publications. But the unexpected inspirations come everyday where ever I go – and will be captured on my iphone. It can be a quote, an outfit, a picture or a song.. Anything can inspire me and spark an idea.

How would you define your personal style
 vs. how would you define the style your work exemplifies?

I dress according to how I feel or what the atmosphere is like. I can go from sweatpants to a dress in 10 seconds. Whatever goes with the mood I have or the surroundings I’m in, from floral jumpers to boyish baggy jeans and snapback hats. My work actually is pretty much the same.. whatever the client needs and wants I’ll get, and what ever the atmosphere of the shoot is I’ll create. It’s all about feeling out the people and the surroundings.

Where are you based?

I’m now based in LA but will hopefully travel where ever my work takes me. I’m not tied to staying in LA even though my home is here right now.

What’s it like being where you’re from?

The contrast between Finland, where I’m from, and LA is huge. Everything from the weather to how people interact is quite different in Finland. It’s cold most of the year and the people may not be as outgoing as in LA but I have a huge respect towards my homeland and the toughness and integrity it taught me.

How would you define your current city’s (LA) fashion?

LAs fashion is kind of hard to define, or try to summarize since LA has everything. That’s what I love about LA. There’s everything from Hollywood glamour and red carpets to street wear and urban clothing, from the Sunset strip rocker style to the Downtown artsy hipster scene. You can be who ever you want to LA and dress everyday according to exactly how you feel – no restrictions.

What’s been the highlight of your career to date?

Highlight of my career by far was definitely getting hired by Ugo Mozie and Daver Campbell, the amazing team Mozie Campbell Inc. They’ve been great mentors and a true inspiration to me. Also getting my first own client, J Randy a couple of months ago was an achievement I’ll cherish and continue working hard on.

What are you hoping to achieve over the next 12 months?

I’m now working to get my O1 visa to be able to work both Europe and here in the States. After that I just want to concentrate on working as much as I can and continue living a dream I’ve already achieved.

What do you do to relax?

Hike at Griffith park! Or drive down to Malibu and breath the fresh air – simple things.

Where would your favorite holiday (vacation) be and why?

I love the Caribbean islands. I’ve been to Curacao and Barbados already so I’d probably go to a new one..

What songs are you listening to at the moment?

Cody Chesnutt – ‘Til I met Thee
Daft Punk – Give Life Back To Music
Police – Walking on the moon

Do you have interesting hobbies?

I do have hobbies but they’re not that interesting. My hobbies are my relaxation so hiking, like mentioned before, going to the beach for a run or surf (I’m horrible at it). I would say music too but it’s more of a daily routine than a hobby. I love to learn about new artists and genres.

Any advice for other aspiring European stylists?

Network! That’s all I can say. It’s so important to know the right people and make yourself available for as many projects as you can! Don’t sit around waiting for IT to happen.

Lotta Luolamo’s Website: www.lottaluolamo.com
Twitter: l_otta
Instagram: l_otta

Kaisa’s note: given how Finland is, this is really not the most typical profession for anyone. I am really impressed what Lotta has accomplished and hope she can get her visa sorted out. I also agree with her what is great about Finland..integrity is something you expect other people to have. It is given. It is also dangerous in the sense that many Finns – including myself – may get unlucky trusting people way too easily. We tend to have a lot of trust especially in other women..the two biggest disappointment in my life have been women who turned out too be totally fraudulent. I would never have guessed that – ever! In LA Lotta has probably started learning not to believe that people are what or who they say they are..or do what they say they do.

Los Angeles – Jun 20 2013

Hello EuroCircle LA members and friends!

I look forward to seeing you all on Thursday, June 20 at 8PM at the beautiful Buffalo Club in Santa Monica. Let’s celebrate the beginning of summer with EuroCircle special cocktails!

Invite a few new friends to the event and help us grow EuroCircle Los Angeles!


Read more about the Buffalo Club at:

Los Angeles – Jul 20 2013

Party with a Purpose!

Come and join us for our special 2013 EuroCircle White Summer Soiree with DJ Stawski.
No cover fees…Bar proceeds benefit to Pencils of Promise organization which builds schools in the developing world.

Drink, eat, enjoy amazing music while shmoozing with new and old friends….at www.charlestonla.com/

Attire: please wear mainly white!

Contact me with any questions at losangeles(at)eurocircle.com (—>tanya.stawski(at)sothebyshomes.com )


Check out DJ Stawski on www.facebook.com/DJStawski

Houston – June 20 2014

Come join us for our June Happy Hour at Bacchus, a wine and coffee bar with a Greek twist! No cover of course.

Happy Hour prices are $1.00 off the glass or $4.00 off the bottle for wine, and $1.00 off all beers until 8:00 p.m. House white is $5.00 per glass and house red $6.00 per glass.

NOTE ON PARKING: There is a small parking lot to the south of Bacchus, but plenty of street parking on Dunlavy and surrounding streets.

See you there! Invite a few new friends!

Mary Beth, Shahla & Wade
Like us at www.facebook.com/eurocircle!
EuroCirckle Houston Facebook Group www.facebook.com/groups/172355259455117/!

Expatriates: Casa de Espana Austin, Antonia Warren

I want to tell you about Casa de Espana Austin. I like Spain, visited multiple times (Madrid, Marbella, Barcelona, Tenerife etc) over the years. Gary (my boyfriend) is obsessed with Spain. He thinks he must have been Spanish in his previous life. When we moved from NYC to Austin I knew nobody in Austin – and then EuroCircle NYC members hooked me up with Casa de Espana Austin. The first EuroCircle event which we had at the gorgeous Austonian hosted by the lovely Carla Wilkenfeld – was filled with beautiful Spanish ladies. The beautiful Antonia Warren Garcia de Vaso, Michi Spielman Fernandez Spielman and their fun husbands Mike Warren (Fox News) and Terence Spielman (PayPal at that time) brought in the most people. Antonia’s sister Maria Garcia de Vaso is an integral part of the Casa de Esapana Austin group. The two sisters make an amazing team. This is a very good European ethnic group!

Who are you and what group do you represent here in Austin?

My name is Antonia Warren and I am the co-founder of Casa De Espana Austin, a non-profit socio-cultural organization. I work as Director at Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. I am originally from Cartagena, Murcia.

What is your role with the group?

I am the current President of Casa De Espana Austin

What does your group want to accomplish?

To keep the relationship between Spain and Austin, to provide assistance to Spaniards that comes to Austin and to promote the Spanish culture live in Austin

What would make you really happy as an accomplishment with your group??

See the culture of Spain featured in some ways in Austin’s daily life.

How do you think it is working out, what are your biggest obstacles and the best surprises that have come along?

As any other non-profit, the volunteer work by different people is very important. We truly need more volunteers helping with all of our events and organizing new ones.

How many SPANISH are there in Austin area and how is your membership??

We believe there are over 2,000 – 100% Spaniards – in Austin but our network of CDEA friends is over 4,000 people.

CDEA friends are people from many different backgrounds, not only Spaniards but people that like Spain, want to know about Spain and what we do.

What kind of activities do you do and how do you fund the groups activities?

We celebrate Spanish holidays and major events just like our friends do back in Spain i.e: San Fermin, San Juan, Feria de Abril, Navidad, flamenco, etc.

We get together to follow our soccer teams, cook paellas, bring Spanish talent and artists from Spain to Austin to showcase their art and Spanish culture in Austin. We help with the process of moving to USA, we watch Spanish cinema etc.etc.
We have a website and a facebook page where people can find us and get the invitation to our events

What is the most captivating thing about Austin for you?

I like to be able to walk, eat, have a coffee and music in downtown. I appreciate Austin’s relaxed feeling. I also love the lake.

I feel Austin is one of the cities with the most potential for the future. Having three kids helps with my decision on staying for my children’s future.

What would you tell a visitor not to miss in Austin?

Walking along the lake downtown, a completely different perspective of the city. The best time to visit Austin is in October because of ACL (Austin City Limit Festival) or SXSW time (March). Editor’s comment: The weather is usually very nice from October to April (summer is super hot).

Where do you go in Austin to chill out?

Our friends’ homes, dinners out, running, kayaking

What is your favorite restaurant?


Casa de Espana Austin Website: www.casadeespanaaustin.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CDE.Austin

Casa de España Austin – CDEA Non Profit
6801 Blissfield Dr.
Austin, TX 78739
(512) 809-4469

International Potluck on Sunday, June 23 2013 at Icenhauer’s! Casa de Espana Austin is one of the organizations attending. We hope to see something very Spanish from their members!


Silicon Valley – Layla Sabourian

Many of the EuroCircle members have met Layla before she got married – and even when she was already married. Layla used to organize a lot of different events from hiking, dinners, disco, business networking for EuroCircle San Francisco and Silicon Valley/South Bay. She is Iranian by background – but somehow I keep thinking her as partly French, they got married on the French Riviera, she speaks French fluently – and married a man from Belgium (whose parents live part-time in France)

Hi Layla. Tell us about yourself- who are you and what would be the short story of your life? (where are you from, nationality/ies, where did you study, how did you come to USA, family etc)

My name is Layla Sabourian (Tarwe) and am originally from Iran and have lived and worked in France, Russia, Mexico, and France. Like the majority of Iranian diaspora, I left Iran under very difficult conditions. I am Mom to an adorable 3 year old, and married to a loving Belgian husband (Antoine Tarwe).

What is THE thing about Silicon Valley that captivates you the most?

Often meeting extremely successful people who are completely down to earth, and constantly inspire me to aim higher.

How has living in Silicon Valley enhanced your work experience. We know that you have had many interesting positions so we would love to hear about all of them a bit!

I came to Silicon Valley in 2005 to produce a book for the International Museum of Women about the empowerment of young women. This was during the emergence of social media and we decided to create an online version of the book, enabling women to interact in live chat and post comments on each other’s work. We put out a call for submission and interviewed 7 agencies, and my first choice, Victor Zaud was selected. Victor is now the co-founder of Glam Media! The online exhibit really picked up and we were featured on Yahoo! homepage, invited to present at the United Nations, and Google and many other venues. Through Kaisa’s mentorship, I learned a lot about community development and crated many successful events for EuroCircle. I then went to work for eBay as the International Community Development manager, moved to Logitech to learn about support communities, and ended up at Yahoo! where I established social presence for many of their properties. A year and half ago I was recruited to join SAP in a new role as Product Marketing Manager, focusing on go to market for consumer facing social apps.

Currently I am working on My Runway, a new social shopping app launched by SAP: www.myrunwayapp.com

I think working in Silicon Valley is voltaic. You can have the best job in the world one day and get laid off the next day. I got laid off from a job every two years since my arrival, but the good news is that each time I was laid off, I found a new job within weeks with a 20% salary raise.

If someone asked you what I should NOT miss while in Silicon Valley what would reply?

Building 4 in SAP Campus! We have some really fun tricycles and scooters, and an amazing building design.

What do you do in Silicon Valley when you feel like you just want to chill out?

That is the thing about Silicon Valley, I can’t remember the last time I just chilled out! But then again, I am a working Mom, so maybe it has something to do with motherhood

Anything truly memorable that has happened to you since you have lived in Silicon Valley?

I had a chance to have coffee with David Filo and tell him everything that was wrong with Yahoo! Groups once, we also discussed the challenges of raising a daughter—that was fun. I also attended a truly inspiration talk by Omid Kordestani at Stanford.

What really annoys you about Silicon Valley – or maybe nothing does?

I don’t really have an occasion to wear my super fashionable clothes.

Do you have a favorite Silicon Valley restaurants and why?

Yes, Shalizar restaurant in Belmont, I love their bread.

Do you see there are benefits for someone from abroad to come to Silicon Valley for a few years?

Of course, living in Silicon Valley teaches you to question the status quo, not to be afraid of failure and always look for innovation in everything you do.

What do you think about the cost of living in Europe or Iran vs Silicon Valley– and the standard of life and life style? If money was NEVER an issue which area in Silicon Valley would you live – or would it be let’s go to Europe….

The cost of real estate in Tehran is actually equal to that of Silicon Valley—extremely high, but the average salary in Iran is 1/5th of the average salary in Silicon Valley. I am exploring an opportunity with SAP to go back to Europe for six months for a new project and try things out. We do miss living in a central place like Paris or London where you can get away for a weekend trip and be exposed to a completely new culture.

In your opinion what is the best time to visit Silicon Valley?

It depends what you are looking for. Techcrunch disrupt is a great conference in the fall you might want to check out and I think the weather is the most beautiful in September and October.

Anything else you feel you’d like to share with us about Silicon Valley or yourself?

I do miss a certain level of diversity here. I wished there were more occasions to meet African or Europeans.

Last but not least…how long were you actively involved with EuroCircle?

I actively ran the SF & Silicon Valley chapters from 2005-2009. Following the birth of my daughter I ran into some health issues that prevented me from participating in too many late-night events. I do hope to get more active again in engaging some of our parents with family related activities.



NOTE: On Thursday, June 27 the ones of our readers who want to know How does Fashion & Design matter for company, product, career and your personal brand? should attend a businessnetworking event Layla is organizing at SAP (free by the way). Read more www.eurocircle.com/events/40940