Toni Fyvie first came to the UK on a two-year visa thinking she’d return home after one. Little did she know that she would land herself a job in the music industry, promoting the Rolling Stones and Madonna, and meet her Canadian boyfriend, now husband. Suffice to stay, she extended her visa.
After five years in London, Toni worked in Australia, Amsterdam and Vancouver, before eventually settling in Montreal for the next 8 years with her husband. In Montreal, Toni worked in property marketing for a company that sold property in resort destinations throughout North America and prided itself in being the leader in selling property before it was built. But after the global financial crisis struck, they were asking themselves: ‘how do you sell real estate at a discount without losing the value of what you’ve created?’ This was Toni’s challenge for the next year and a half.
In 2010, Toni’s husband was head-hunted for a role in Paris and they decided to continue their nomadic lifestyle by making the move back to Europe. For the duration of the next two years, Toni was unable to work due to visa restrictions. Instead she made the most of the experience by learning the language and immersing herself in French culture. However, moving straight from a demanding job in Canada to a supporting role in Paris caused Toni to suffer from an identity crisis. Almost overnight, she was no longer a career woman. She was a 40-year old woman asking herself ‘what the hell? Who am I?’ She had to find ways to work through it and so Toni set up a blog and wrote about her experiences in France. She had befriended an American lady with a food tour business who was looking for someone to try new restaurants with. Toni wrote articles such as ‘How to do a 1 Michelin Star Restaurant on the Cheap’ for family and friends. Initially she found writing challenging. Despite a notable career in marketing, Toni’s strengths were in strategy. She had never considered herself a creative-type, certainly not a writer. That was always something she could brief on, but not something she thought she could do. But she enjoyed it.
After two years, Toni and her husband moved back to London – the city of her past life – and Toni had the opportunity to get back on the career ladder. However, London was a very different city to how she remembered. She had to learn to love the city again. Returning as an ‘adult’ in her forties, it was the English class system that struck her. In her twenties, she had been part of an industry drawn together by one passion, music, regardless of social or ethnic background. Now, despite her resounding experience, she struggled to find work in real estate due to the old school nature of the industry. Given her lack of local experience, she agreed to work for an ex-colleague from Montreal and found herself commuting to and from Geneva to sell lake-front apartments to the rich and famous. But one year of being back in property marketing (with an international commute) was enough.