Meet Sabrina Dérian Matthews – French Photographer and a Fashion Stylist in Chicago

I had the pleasure to chat with a Chicago-based French Photographer and a Fashion Stylist. 

Her name is Sabrina Dérian Matthews.  Sabrina was born and raised in Brittany, France.  She worked in
Germany and France for several years as a Model Booker and managed the Elite Model Management  Agency in Marseille, France.

Sabrina moved to Chicago, USA to accompany her husband. She is a Photographer and a Fashion Stylist. 

She speaks French, English and German    

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us  Sabrina! This was a rare pleasure.

** All photos: Copyright L’Image By Sabrina Derian Matthews. All rights reserved 

Sabrina, can you tell us what brought you to this creative career path?

Yes, of course! I feel that I have always been attracted to Photography and Fashion in
one form or another. As a child and as a teenager, I was often flicking through fashion
magazines and catalogues, looking at the photographs, the fashion stories, the stylism
and model poses. Then, when I was living in Munich, Germany, I met a make up artist
who told me that I would have a good profile to work in the profession as a model
booker. At that time, I was working as a stewardess for Lufthansa Airlines. So I decided
to go ahead and give it a try, and send my resume to a model agency. I obtained an
interview with Louisa Model agency in Munich. That is how everything began! I then
developed, more and more, my eye for photography, styling, and working within the
different model agencies in Europe. When I moved back to France, where I grew up, I
started working for Success Models, and it was during this period that I was offered a
position to manage the Elite Model Management agency based in Marseille. For each
model we represented, there was a need for many digital photos. I realized that I really
came to love taking these photos, and, at the same time, be able to be creative and play
with light, and different poses, so as to present to our clients the best digital results as
Years later, I moved to Chicago following my husband. Shortly after, a friend of mine
proposed to me to photograph models to promote her brand. This was an experience I
enjoyed very much. It was so satisfying to be behind the camera and create visuals for
a commercial brand.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you’re working on right
Right now, I am working on different projects to expose my photographs in different
places. As we are now spending a lot of time at home during this pandemic, there are
more and more people who wish to open up their interiors to the outside, and the feeling
of a connection with the outside, and this instills a feeling of travel to someplace else.
It’s one of the reasons why I re-built my website, where you can discover this feeling, I
believe, within my photographs, under the section ” Art Photo Boutique”.

** All photos: Copyright L’Image By Sabrina Derian Matthews. All rights reserved


At the moment, I photograph mostly family portraits and children portraits, generally
around their homes or at the most emblematic spots in Chicago. Families like
beautifying their walls back home with “souvenir photos” of the entire family together.
Also, I’ m proposing some personal E-Styling Session by skype and help people with
my styling advice and guidance to feel more confident about themselves.


I’m planning to shoot more Model Tests in the future which are combining photography,
styling and artistic direction. With the current social distancing situation, I had to
postpone most part of this activity.

In partnership with a friend of mine, Rachel Christophe, we are talking about a virtual
workshop associating Fashion and French language learning. Rachel was associated to
my project” Lettre de Mode” on my blog “&other stories” where you learn English or
French through fashion and other inspirational subjects. We are looking to expand the

Who are some of the most Interesting people you’ve interacted with?

Isabelle Olivier is immediately coming in my mind. She is a French harpist that I was
honored to style and photograph at many different occasions. She is so generous both
in life and in front of the camera and this makes her easy to direct. I feel so lucky that I
was able to photograph such a unique person and her instrument.
I have so many interesting people around me, from different cultures, different
characters, different point of view and for me, being connected with different
personalities allows me to grow a little every day.

(Click on the photos to see them)

Which people in photography inspire you the most and why?

I feel like I am inspired by many photographers and particularly a combination of details
from each of them… Elle Von Unwerth and her sense of playfulness, Inez and Vinooth
for their ability to photograph using different angles, Luigi and Iango, Karl Lagerfeld and
many other photographers as well who are not necessarily making a business out of
photography but who are very creative and talented. …. Also, Peter Lindberg, who
passed away last year will always be an inspiration. He was one of the photographers
who was playing a big role during the top model era.

How has your business evolved, as a result of the pandemic?
We certainly have to reinvent ourselves, reshape our lives and become creative in these
unprecedented moments and that is the reason why I am trying to develop different
angles around photography and fashion styling like I was talking about before.

What do you do, to bring goodness to the world?

I try to be a good listener and to be there for the people around me. Also, I am taking
time to explain to people of what we can do daily to improve the environment. I think
that we do not realize enough that with small gestures, we can make the situation

I am continuing to work with charities, and will continue to offer photo prints to support
good causes.

What tips would you give to your colleagues in your industry to help them thrive and
not burnout?

I would probably just tell them to be themselves, stay humble and not to listen people
around them, who are sometimes critical. Photography and Fashion Styling are very
subjective like any form of arts. Each of us will have other points of view and tastes but
with following your own thoughts and intuitions, you will stay unique.

Is there a thing you wish someone had told you?

Yes! “If you feel it, just do it!”. I realize that I was wasting a lot of time wondering too much if
I was legitimate as a photographer, or if I was good enough. I had so many ideas and I felt
that I needed to express myself through photography, but it is sometimes hard to make the
step, and have enough self confidence when you launch yourself into a new challenge.

Is there anything French that you miss, in the States?

Yes, like “aperitifs” with family and friends, the long and deep discussions, to try to change
the world when everybody is talking at the same time, with a glass of rose wine (or even two
!), the “Galette Bretonne“ (Breton cake) with a fresh glass of Brittany cider ..
and then there is the European healthcare (especially in France) … it is very much missed
… to not worry about healthcare … with hope, the US will one day have the same …?!?

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with?

I think, Karl Lagerfeld would have been someone I would have loved to have had lunch
with. But clearly, it is too late! He was creative in so many ways, and I loved so much his
French and German sense of humor. Other than that, for the moment, I wish I could have
a lunch with my family back in France, but obviously, this pandemic makes everything
very difficult, but we still have “Espoir” one day !…

EDITOR’s note:
Karl Lagerfeldt quotes:
” Don’t dress to kill, dress to survive.”
“Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. …
“Trendy is the last stage before tacky.”
“I am a fashion person, and fashion is not only about clothes—it’s about all kinds of change.”
“Never use the word ‘cheap. Today everybody can look chic in inexpensive clothes (the rich buy them too). There is good clothing design on every level today. You can be the chicest thing in the world in a T-shirt and jeans—it’s up to you.””


Sabrina, how can people follow you on social media to see what you are doing?

You can like my professional Facebook page
and follow my

To discover my creative universe and contact me, you can visit my website

Thank You, Sabrina!!

Contact Sabrina for lifestyle family, children, engagements, portraits photos, model tests etc, and to purchase some prints to beautify your home

Lasse Elkjaer – Introducing LA-Based Danish Film Composer

I had the pleasure to chat with Los Angeles-based Danish Film composer, orchestrator, and multi-instrumentalist Lasse Elkjaer.

Elkjaer is an award winning composer, who has worked with film composers such as Christopher Young, Spiderman 3 (2007), Jacob Groth, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2009), and he collaborated on his award winning score with Hollywood cellist Tina Guo, whose cello can be heard on scores by Hans Zimmer, such as The Lion King (2019). Elkjaer moved to Los Angeles 7 years ago to study Scoring for Motion Picture and Television at University of Southern California with a Fulbright Scholarship, and has been there ever since.

Thank you so much for joining us Lasse! This is a real pleasure.

Lasse, can you tell us what brought you to this specific career path?

Growing up as a kid in the middle of the VHS boom, I fell in love with movies. My absolute favorite
childhood past time was watching movies that my family and I rented from the local video store. I
also spent a lot of time cutting out pictures of Indiana Jones, ET, and such from magazines, and
creating collages with my movie idols. We were pretty obsessed about Raiders Of The Lost Ark, and
the score for that movie was one of the first scores that made a very strong impression on me.
I was drawn to the idea of working in the movie industry early on, but I put that on hold when I
started to do competitive gymnastics, and later on when I became serious about guitar playing and
I distanced myself from my sport, I was deep into guitar hero land. So it was first in my early twenties
that I fully understood it was the music in movies that my heart was really beating for. I still
remember the turning moment, when I picked up a book with interviews with Hollywood composers
and realized that I could relate to their words more than anything else in the world of music. Before
that, I primarily focused on my career as a guitarist, and freelanced as an orchestrator and arranger
for musical theater, and whenever an opportunity arrived for me to help as a composer, I was more
than happy to do so. Even though I’d always been writing music, it honestly never occurred to me
that I actually could have a career as a film composer. But after I read that book, I got very excited
and started my career path in film composition.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you’re working on right now?

Because of the lockdown, I’m finally able to find time to release some of my own music, something
that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Besides releasing a handful of my soundtracks, I’m also
releasing a solo album titled “Vignettes and Landscapes,” with my instrumental music recorded with
orchestra and smaller ensembles. The album belongs to both the classical and film scoring worlds,
and consists of compositions I’ve been writing throughout the years. So genre-wise, it’s not too far
from what I do when scoring movie scenes, but it’s still a bit different. One could say that the biggest
difference is that the music is not dictated by another person’s movie scene, but based on the movie
and images that are in my mind, which usually gives the music a different edge.
I was also invited by the Industry Club for Film and Media Composers in Denmark (BFM) and the
Norwegian Society of Composers and Lyricists (NOPA) to facilitate film scoring based webinars.
I discussed how it is to work as a film composer in Los Angeles, and different approaches and
working models composers use. Other topics I touched on are how to manage sleep when dealing
with deadlines, how to structure one’s day in blocks, and productivity and effectiveness.
How film composing is dealt with in Norway and Denmark is very different from here in the States, so
it was interesting to share my insights and hopefully be able to inspire my colleagues.
I’m also working on putting all that information into book form, so as I continue to develop content for
more classes, I’ll write new chapters.

Who are some of the most Interesting people you’ve interacted with? …maybe there are some stories about
them that you can share?

Beside singing happy birthday for John Williams, being asked gently to step aside by Ennio
Morricone when I was blocking his way at an event, I would say that Golden Globe nominated film
composer Christopher Young and Emmy Award Winning Danish composer Jakob Groth, have been
the most interesting and insightful people I’ve interacted and worked with. Both have been very
giving with knowledge, support, and advice to get me going with my own career, and I am very
grateful to have been under their wings.
Most of the Danish movies I watched in my childhood were scored by Jacob, and I always made a
point of watching his movies and TV-series, so I was very well aware of who he was when I finally
met him in person at the conservatory, where he was my film scoring professor. I was happily
surprised to learn that he’s just a big guitar nerd as I am, so when I began working for him, we
always had something to talk about.
Chris was very generous with me as when I was new in town he showed me around, and he
introduced me to a lot of nice restaurants and places, to make me feel more at home.

Which people in cinema history inspire you the most and why?

Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer, who absolutely floored me the first time I watched his
masterpiece The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) with Richard Einhorn’s music Voices of Light. I’m
mesmerized by the movie and very much in love with Renée Jeanne Falconetti’s performance as
Joan. Stunning piece of work, with an incredible past to it!
Recently deceased composer, Maestro Ennio Morricone is definitely one of the magnificent entities
in the film composer community, that is hard not to be inspired by. What he achieved with his music,
is pretty revolutionary! To me, his score for Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), is his
masterpiece. I really could not believe my eyes and ears the first time I watched the movie.
Everything about it is done with such skill and always gives me the chills.
Jerry Goldsmith’s writing really can be terrifyingly good. Studying his scores for Alien (1979) and
Poltergeist (1982) always makes my heart pump fast, in awe with the talent which lies behind every
note in those scores.
Composer Basil Poledouris just speaks to me in such a special way through his music. His
masterpiece Conan The Barbarian (1982) and The Blue Lagoon (1980) could not be bigger
opposites. He really understood how to handle emotions, from the ultra masculine to the sweetest
and most romantic, something I really appreciate and always take a note of!

How has your business evolved, as a result of the pandemic?

What happened to most of us, is that we immediately had to start working from home, when the
pandemic started. I’ve always had a home studio available, so it was not a significant change for me.
But what has changed, is that I now have a lot of virtual meetings instead of in person meetings,
which used to be harder to schedule. So that has opened some interesting opportunities, because
people have quickly shifted to the virtual world, and are more open to do so, because it can be done
quickly and spontaneously from home. Since the state of emergency was announced, Zoom has
exploded and it was quick to evolve its features to offer seamless meeting experiences. Zoom
meetings, webinars, jams, and concerts even began to appear and people have been connecting
and pushing the boundaries of what is possible to do remotely. Whereas I used to wait until I was in
Denmark to schedule in person meetings with my European contacts, and that seemed to be their
preference as well, now it’s completely fine to use Zoom instead, which has set things in motion for
me in very interesting ways, especially as the entertainment world is moving faster in Europe at the

What do you do, to bring goodness to the world?

I do my best through teaching. I’m a former music teacher and private music tutor, and I strongly
believe that teaching is a powerful medium to make a difference for people, and bring positivity to
the world. Everyone remembers a great and motivating teacher who perhaps believed in them when
they were about to give up and encouraged them to keep going. Teaching is not for everybody, and it
can be quite intimidating, but it’s a great way to reach people, and give them takeaways they can
use immediately or later in life. Even though it’s only music I teach, there are still tools in some
ideas, that can make people think and re-center their lives. It’s important to inspire, and to find
people who can inspire you.
In connection with teaching, I’ve been collaborating with ClassDojo, the world’s most-widely used
communication app for pre-K-8 schools, creating the soundtrack for the 12 episodes of their latest
Big Ideas series, that focuses on emotional intelligence. It was rewarding to be able to use my music
and knowledge of child psychology to enhance the emotional messages of the videos.

What tips would you give to your colleagues in your industry to help them thrive and not

Have a clear path, be passionate about your work, and make sure to create the right team around
you. If it also helps you to pick up the phone and rant about life, collect guitars, eat ice-cream at
1am, go for it! Whatever helps you to continue and keep your focus.
Also accept that you ARE going to burn out at some point, and you will need time to recover. It’s like
being an athlete, if you keep exercising non stop, and do not find the time to rest and take in the right
nutrients, then you’re going to burn out and damage your body and mind. So if you put the pedal to
the metal, then you’re going to hit the wall at some point. Just plan for it and be prepared.
I like to keep in shape, eat healthy, and I don’t really have a taste for alcohol. I still sleep like a
teenager when I go on vacation, and that’s how I take good care of myself.

What are five things you wish someone had told you when you first started and why? Please share
a story or example for each.

1. Be less patient

I once sat on a project for years, before I had to give up and put it to sleep. After been married with it
so intensely for such a long time, it was really difficult for me to change my artistic vision, which was
necessary for me to move on with it. In this case, I’m quite sure that it would have been better to be
a bit impatient, so when I finally got to that crossroad where the opportunity arrived, then I would
have been able to mold my emotions around it, and to face the necessary compromises to go

2. Have a mentor and create a reliable team around you

It took me years to get a professional mentor, and when that first happened, then it was a game
changer! I’m really good at something, and not so good at something else. That “something else”
I need people to help me with! So, to have the right mentors and a great team around you can be
extremely important! But also make sure to be selective when you choose collaborators. Bad advice
will always be bad advice!

3. Travel to find opportunities

When I got the opportunity to move to Los Angeles, a plethora of opportunities opened up that were
not available to me in Denmark. Here in America I have built special skills and gained knowledge
within my field, that can be valuable to where I came from, so that opens up for even more
opportunities. I also had to travel to another country to find my fiancé, so there must be something to

4. Be Authentic

Before anything else, you’ll need to ask yourself, who am I as a person and artist. And you have to
think about that very clearly. That is the foundation of an authentic career.

5. Do not take life too seriously; make sure to have fun.

You’ll always run into disappointments and failures throughout your career. If you take it all
personally and too seriously all the time, you’ll just exhaust yourself and will not have the necessary
energy to turn things around. There’s an art-form in finding something to laugh about even during
tough times. I recently saw an interview with my favorite classic rock band, Deep Purple. Having a
good sense of humor was what made them able to stick together, through all the absurdities they
had to go through over the years.

Is there any Danish food that you miss, in the States?

I do miss the good old Danish “rugbrød,” my mom’s rice pudding and ris-ala-mande, and the smell of
a Danish hotdog instantly makes my knees weak. So whenever I’m in Denmark, those are very high
on my list!

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch

I was very lucky to meet Norwegian director André Øvredal at an event just before the lock-down
here in Los Angeles. I’ve been admiring his work since Trollhunter (2010) which really is a fantastic
movie, and I would love to sit down and have a proper conversation with him. He really has a lot of
interesting work taking shape, and I think the direction he is going with his career is very exciting. His
cinematic sensitivity within genre movies is absolutely fantastic, and the way they’re grounded in
reality even if they’re set in a fictional fantasy world, is admirable. He is also just a very nice person,
which really is something to take a note of.
I also wouldn’t mind having lunch with Barack Obama. Brilliant person! I deeply admire him and

How can people follow you on social media to see what you are doing?

• Website:
• Email:
• Instagram:
• Facebook:
• Twitter:

PS. A side note from EuroCircle Team: Lasse mentioned “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”, if you have not seen those fantastic Swedish movies yet.  They are based on Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series – they are truly fabulous. So are the books!

Jo Detavernier, SCMP, APR – principal of Detavernier Strategic Communication

We asked Jo Detavernier, SCMP, APR – principal of Detavernier Strategic Communication – who is experienced, accredited and multilingual consultant and PR entrepreneur tell us more about his business. Jo specializes in corporate communications, B2B PR and content marketing. He likes to say that his approach to PR is accountable, evidence-based and ethical.

In 2015, Jo moved from Belgium to Austin (TX), where he has been a VP and Partner at Swyft, an Austin based B2B PR firm, till 2019. As of 2020, Jo runs his own consultancy practice called Detavernier Strategic Communication. In addition to consulting, he is an experienced trainer for C-level executives helping them communicate their messages clearly and effectively through media and presentation skills trainings.

Thank you so much for doing this with EuroCircle! How did you select this specific career path?

I worked in-house in Brussels for the Belgian postal operator (now bepost).
This was more than 15 years ago. They had consultants help them professionalize their external communications. When I saw these people at work and read their memos, I knew for myself: I want to be a communications consultant. I have been a happy consultant since.

Any interesting stories that happened to you since you started your company?

I don’t have one story that sticks out. There are myriads of interesting anecdotes. Consultancy offers plenty of variety. Every client comes with a potential adventure. I think I have done everything wrong I could have done wrong in the last few years. But we learn from our mistakes.

What’s the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Any lesson you learned from that?

I will not admit here that I had at one point ordered business cards that did not have my phone number on them. When you are fatigued, take a break and give things a fresh look in the morning.

What do you think makes your services stand out?

Consultants come in very different types and sizes.
One of my differentiators is that my counsel is evidence-based. I study what the behavioral sciences have to say about a host of communication issues and I implement that as well as I can.
This makes that when my counsel is put into practice my clients see results that outshine the outcome of alternative approaches. I don’t often actually call it evidence-based when talking to clients however, I mostly talk in terms of being data-driven, which is a term that is easier understood,

Are you working on any exciting new projects now?

I have just launched a 75 minute remote media training that I am busy promoting with B2B firms.
I will also write a chapter for the new edition of the Handbook of Crisis Communication of which Timothy Coombs is the editor in chief. In my contribution I will elaborate on the ways that crisis communicators can put scientific insights on communication best practices to work

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

I am grateful to all the partners and senior consultants in the agencies I have worked before.
Agency life can be challenging but the learning curve offered by PR agencies who are leaders in their local markets is of a value that is impossible to understate.

Have you been able to your success to bring goodness to the world?

My modest contribution to bringing goodness to the world is taking the fiduciary role I have towards my clients very seriously.
I work hard to move the needle for them and am sincere and transparent in all of my dealings with them. That might not sound spectacular, but it is not an approach shared by everybody who offers professional services on the market.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why.

1. Habits are very important because of their compound effects. I study 5 hours a week.
That is not impressive as such, but it does amount to more than 250 hours of study a year. Year after year.
2. Don’t micromanage people. Ever. Give them objectives and a high level of freedom to reach their objectives. They will be efficient and happy at the job.
3. Make sure there are enough people who you consult on important decisions that will never care to flatter you. Leaders need devil’s advocates who challenge them.
4. Don’t hesitate to leave your comfort zone. Comfort is anathema to growth.
5. Understand that you always need to set the right example. Your leadership talk is worthless if you let your guard down and are caught violating your own rules. Be your best self all of the time. You owe this to the people you work with.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Every movement that needed to be started has already been started by someone.
The United States is a country that is rich enough to shoot astronauts into space yet many people lead a precarious existence. I support causes that are meant to help people in this country get affordable access to high-quality healthcare and education.

What is your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” – how that was relevant to you in your life?

Through hardships to the stars. Nothing of value comes easy.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?

There are plenty of people I would love to have breakfast with. Among them are Satya Nadella with whom I would like to discuss technology and Daniel Dennett who I would like to have a talk on free will with.


Jo Detavernier, SCMP, APR – principal of Detavernier Strategic Communication – 
Jo Detavernier at LinkedIn

Susanna Lindholm: “Hello Atlanta – USA, bye Finland (and 6 other countries)!”

We had the pleasure of getting to know Susanna Lindholm and her quite international journey from Finland to the USA. Susanna is new to Atlanta and would love to connect with Europeans and other international professionals.
She arrived @ Atlanta during very unusual period – during the pandemic.
Get to know Susanna via her own words below and feel free to connect with her:

Hi all, nice to meet you!

My name is Susanna, I’m 29 and I come from Finland. Actually, I have lived in 7 countries and tried to learn 10 languages, so I’m quite an international person. Travelling is my dearest hobby and until now, I have visited 45 countries. I am new to Atlanta and would love to make new friends here! My education is Master’s in Business Management, and I work in Business Development and Marketing at gatc LP, which is a German-American company helping foreign companies to the American market.


Originally, I am from Finland, the land of snow and Northern lights. However, summers in Finland are quite warm (+20-25 C) and there are 188.000 lakes and 510.000 lake houses to enjoy the Finnish nature. The Finnish nature, forests and lakes are something that I always miss when living abroad.


The first foreign country for me to live in was Germany. I studied German language and Business Administration in Lüneburg and Münster. Germany has beautiful old cities and an excellent taste for beer. Something that I miss from Germany are the little bakery shops where to grab a pretzel or bread for breakfast.

South Korea

My second foreign country to live in was South Korea, where I studied Asian Studies and International Business. That was my first time in Asia, and I was excited about the cultural differences. The streets were cute with very colorful advertisements and karaoke rooms everywhere. Karaoke rooms were so much fun! I hope I could find something similar also in Atlanta.


After South Korea, I moved to India and did a traineeship in trade politics at the Embassy of Finland in New Delhi. At the beginning, life in Delhi was a culture shock for me. With some time, I started to enjoy the culture, the colorful clothes and of course the tasty Indian food. Living abroad increases the intercultural competence and understanding of diversity.


From India, I moved to New York to work in Business Development at a chamber of commerce and organized business events in New York. New York has been one of my favorite cities so far! It is so diverse. When walking down the streets, almost everyone walking along is a foreigner. When basically everyone there is a foreigner, you will start to feel welcome and home as well. Also, the huge skyscrapers are impressive and great evidence how intelligent humans can be when able to create such incredible buildings.


From New York, I moved to China to work in International Marketing at a Chinese office furniture and real estate company. China surprised me positively! The Chinese nature had spectacular mountains and hiking opportunities and the food was super delicious (especially Chinese tomato soup)!

From China, I moved back to Finland for one year. I finished all my studies, which include four university degrees. Simultaneously, I worked in Sales and Marketing of SRV business premises in Helsinki. I still missed the international atmosphere and decided to move abroad once more.


I moved to Belgium and started working in Marketing and Communications at the European Parliament in Brussels. That was the most intercultural organization I had worked for so far! I had colleagues from all European countries and even wider. That was quite happy time in Brussels, no signs of Corona pandemic yet.

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Then, in March 2020, I got a great opportunity to widen my international experience in the USA.
I moved to Atlanta and started working at gatc LP.
Gatc LP is a German-owned company helping foreign companies to the American market by establishing subsidiaries. It is a perfect chance to use all my intercultural skills learnt so far. Most of our colleagues and clients are German, so German language practice is guaranteed. However, the official working language is English. We are also members of the Swedish chamber, so I can actually practice all three languages here. Previously, I have taught Finnish to foreigners as a hobby. If anyone is interested in learning languages, just let me know! Maybe we could practice Finnish, Swedish, or German together.

Now when the COVID-19 situation is starting to get better, I would love to meet intercultural-minded people in Atlanta! It would be great to share experiences and make new friends. Maybe we could go to cafes, restaurants, nightclubs, or sightseeing. And, one of my hobbies is ballroom dancing.

I am really looking forward to EuroCircle events and meeting everyone!
Feel free to contact me already if you might be interested in practicing languages or just making new friends.

This is me:
EuroCircle forum:

Chicago – May 05 2020

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta – How to make a perfect margarita!

Please join EuroCircle Chicago for a virtual Cinco de Mayo fiesta this Tuesday May 5!

Kenneth Woodman from Entertaining Company will be showing us how to mix up the perfect margarita as well as sharing some great quarantine cooking courtesy of the Entertaining Company!

In the meantime, check out their special Taco Tuesday menu available for at home fiestas!

The streaming platform will be announced soon!



Eha Urbsalu, The Viking Beauty Secrets & Sustainable Skincare

We (finally) had the pleasure to “interview” Eha Urbsalu.

Viking Beauty Secrets Founder Eha Urbsalu from Northern Europe, where “Clean” and “Green” equals normal

She grew up in NORTHERN EUROPE and used to use local, NATURAL SKINCARE PRODUCTS made from PLANTS NATIVE TO THE AREA.  These Nordic super antioxidant BERRIES have been used for skincare and health benefits for centuries.

To be precise, Eha grew up in Estonia, which at the time was part of the Soviet Union.

At 17, she was one of the Miss Estonia winners , as well as the first and last Supermodel of the Soviet Union. At 18 she came to the US to compete at the Ford Supermodel of the World competition. Eha placed 4th and started to model around the world. But her skin started to break up in New York from all the chemicals used in the skincare products, and in the food.  Eha kept bringing skincare products from Estonia for herself and her model girlfriends  in New York. Until finally she decided to start her own skincare brand, Viking Beauty Secrets.  And the rest will be in Eha’s own words..and we will share her recent VIDEO interview on climate change with Scott Amyx.

I want to add that Eha is multi-talented – actress, singer and director – but that is for another story.

What have you discovered during your research?

While spending time with my late mother who, in her 80s’, still had rosy cheeks and healthy skin, I finally understood the secret was in nature. We must eliminate chemicals and return to using the nordic unpolluted ingredients native to Northern Europe and Estonia.

I know I wanted to use these Nordic “Viking” superberries as ingredients. We all know that Northern Europe is the eco-friendliest region of the world, sparsely populated, with cleanest air and cleanest soil, and highest scores on the Yale Environmental Performance Index.

What does the “Secret” in Viking Beauty Secrets stand for?

The secret is in our local ingredients grown on the unpolluted Nordic land. Viking Beauty Secrets’ products are inspired by the unique nature that Nordic people grow up with. My absolute favorites are three Viking super berries: Rowanberries, Cloudberries and Sea Buckthorn.  These berries provide a megadose of antioxidants , vitamin C and give you that “I slept really well” glow. 

EuroCircle’s note:  Cloudberry is the favorite berry of many Finnish people. They are hard to get – and quite expensive.

It makes a difference where the plants grow. You cannot just take a plant from Northern Europe and plant it in China, and expect the same results.

In fact, there is a quote I have from Dr. S. Dharmananda, PhD, Biology, Director of the Institute for Traditional Medicine and Preventive Health Care:

 “Plants that evolve in severe climates produce special proteins, amino acids and antioxidants that help them survive, grow, and repair, and they can convey their protective and reparative actions when applied to the skin.” 

Also, “In order to survive extreme cold temperatures as low as -50°C, arctic berry species, such as sea buckthorn, cloudberry, bilberry and cranberry have developed a highly unsaturated lipid profile. Seed oils from arctic berries are enriched with α-linolenic and linoleic acids, the two essential fatty acids together constituting up to 90 % of the total fatty acids. The special fatty acid composition makes arctic berry seed oils a valuable source of essential fatty acids for both internal and external care of the skin.” (

So what differentiates Cloudberries for example from other high Vitamin sources?

For example, the Cloudberries we use, really like VERY COLD. They survive in Finland in minus 46 degrees Celsius in the winter, so when they come up in the summer, they soak up all the antioxidants , so when you harvest them in the end of the summer, they are super potent, as they are ready to survive the 9 months of winter. 

During the long nordic summers they produce extremely high amounts of Vitamins. Comparatively, 100 grams Cloudberries pack twice as much vitamin C as 100 grams of oranges. Their impressive concentration of antioxidant Vitamin E helps heal your skin and protect it from the damaging effect of free radicals. Omega-6 and omega-3 help minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The berry is so potent that it became one of the main ingredients in our night cream.

What does “clean beauty” mean to you? 

In Northern Europe, “clean” and “green” equals the normal standard. It was disturbing to learn that, while the EU bans over 1,300 chemicals from skincare, the U.S. only bans 30. 

All of the Viking Beauty Secrets products are Greenlife Cosmos EcoCert Organic Certified.  EcoCert is the largest certifiacation agency in Europe. 

Think Dirty, a Canadian company that verifies skincare ingredients, gave Viking Beauty Secrets certified organic Day Cream the Best Moisturizer of 2019 award.

How hard is it to get the Ecocert COSMOS Organic Certificate? 

It is very difficult process and it is more expensive to use organic ingredients. But I am lucky that I found a first class scientists and laboratory in Latvia, which is one the least expensive European Union countries, so we can offer our products in a very affordable prices. I think that in the end of the day, it is definitely worth getting the certificate and I am proud of having our products organic certified. 

What’s next for Viking Beauty Secrets?

Our certfied organic exfoliating face scrub with Iclandic volcanic ash and Rowanberries, is the only scrub offered in US with these nordic ingredients.  Many scrubs selling in US still use plastic microbeads, which go through the drains into icean and fish eat it and so on. Our excfoliating oil based scrub, which turns to milky lather when it touches the water, is truyly sustainable: it comes from ocean and ends uo in the ocean, and we have the Greenlife Ecocert COSMOS Organic Certificate to prove it. 

P.S. We can give a special code: EUROCIRCLE —-> 20% off entire order!


Viking Beauty website 



Ethan Hawke discussion with Radu Ciorniciuc, Director of Acasa, My Home documentary

Message from Ethan Hawke:

Dear  Alex Fund supporters and friends,

While on the jury of the Sundance Film Festival this year, I saw Acasa, My Home, a new documentary from Romania; it was simply staggering.

I was not surprised that it won the Jury Prize for cinematography, as it was astonishingly beautiful – as if Terrence Malick went to Bucharest. Naturally, I was drawn to the film because I have gotten to know Romania through my mother’s work there, as well as through my own participation in The Alex Fund. It revealed a part of Bucharest I never knew existed. It also exquisitely captures the struggle between having an independent, authentic life and surviving in society, something I believe we can all relate to. I really look forward to revisiting the film, and having the opportunity to talk about it with the filmmaker, Radu Ciorniciuc.

I encourage you to sign up to see this extraordinary, prescient film – about how we interact with nature – next week, and I hope you will join our discussion on Thursday, May 7th at 9 pm EST (8 pm CST). Feel free to call Wendy Kahn (917-622-2542) if you need help getting started.

Ethan Hawke invites you to an exclusive screening of Acasa poster directed by Radu Ciorniciuc

Watch the film at your convenience from May 5 – 7, 2020

Join Ethan Hawke in his living room (from the privacy of your own) at 9 pm EDT Thursday, May 7 for Ethan’s discussion with the director & realtime questions from viewers

Watch the trailer here: ACASA

Your tax-deductible donation to this event will provide emergency aid to Romania’s most vulnerable families affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Please make a minimum donation of $25 to get your access codes to the film and discussion.


For more information, contact Wendy Kahn 917-622-2542 OR contact

Covid 19 – Living with the Invisible Enemy

COVID-19 typically causes flu-like symptoms including a fever and cough.
In some patients – particularly the elderly and others with other chronic health conditions – these symptoms can develop into pneumonia, with chest tightness, chest pain, and shortness of breath.
It seems to start with a fever, followed by a dry cough.

After a week, it can lead to shortness of breath, with about 20% of patients requiring hospital treatment.

Notably, the COVID-19 infection rarely seems to cause a runny nose, sneezing, or sore throat (these symptoms have been observed in only about 5% of patients). Sore throat, sneezing, and stuffy nose are most often signs of a cold.

(The World Health Organization (WHO) found that nasal congestion occurs in only 4.8% of patients and runny nose in almost no one. Some people, usually with additional medical complications, can develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia.
What are the emergency warning signs and symptoms of COVID-19?
If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately.Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
Per China – 80.9% of infections are mild (with flu-like symptoms) and can recover at home.
  • 13.8% are severe, developing severe diseases including pneumonia and shortness of breath.
  • 4.7% as critical and can include: respiratory failure, septic shock, and multi-organ failure.
  • in about 2% of reported cases the virus is fatal.
  • Risk of death increases the older you are.
  • Relatively few cases are seen among children.
Pre-existing illnesses that put patients at higher risk:
  1. cardiovascular disease
  2. diabetes
  3. chronic respiratory disease
  4. hypertension
That said, some otherwise healthy people do seem to develop a severe form of pneumonia after being infected by the virus.

The reason for this is being investigated as we try to learn more about this new virus.


Daily Map

— UK  

Prevention of COVID-19
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID‑19.
The best way to prevent infection is to take steps to avoid exposure to this virus, which are similar to the steps you take to avoid the flu.
DSHS recommends these everyday actions to help prevent the spread of any respiratory virus, including COVID‑19:
  • Wash hands often for 20 seconds and encourage others to do the same.
  • If no soap and water are available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue away.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Disinfect surfaces, buttons, handles, knobs, and other places touched often.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

DSHS also recommends that you practice social distancing. Social distancing involves staying away from other people to avoid catching or spreading illness. It’s a fancy term for avoiding crowds and minimizing physical contact. This could mean avoiding concerts or weddings, skipping the handshake, and/or staying at least six feet (in Europe they say 2 meters) away from others.

Please note that many – maybe even most – people who carry Corona virus do NOT know they have it. They have zero symptons.

For that reason it would be best if everyone wears some type of protective mask outside (scarf, cloth etc) that covers your mouth and nose.   
You may carry the virus – unknowingly. That is IN ADDITION to social distancing.
Wear gloves if possible. Wash hands immediately when you come back to your house, take off your shoes, etc

See the CDC website for more information on what you can do at home to prevent the spread of COVID‑19:

Russian House Curbside Pick up & Grocery Market in Austin

Please support all the local European businesses during the Corona virus pandemic!
All the restaurants need our support to SURVIVE!  The same applies to our Polish friends also at Apolonia catering and many more members (Italian, Spanish etc)

Any restaurant must be super worried about rents, insurances, employees – I can not even imagine what it feels like!

Hello everyone!

Russian House offers to go menu including self-pickup – 20% off and use of delivery services.
We also sell our famous house infusions to go!

We are asking for your help to spread the word about our to-go menu and let people of Austin know that we are ready to serve them our food.


We have opened grocery market (with eaters European goodies and most wanted necessity items such as pasta, rice, eggs, milk, toilet paper, paper towels…etc.

Russian House will also offer free online cooking classes so that people could make their favorite dishes while on quarantine.

Varda (owner)
Russian House
307 E 5th Street
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 428-5442