I was at a women’s networking event celebrating Madame Veuve Clicquot with lots of champagne and chatter with many accomplished ladies. You might not recognise the name Veuve Clicquot off-hand, but you will definitely know the bottle of bubbly – the one with the yellow label and the star, which is now a household name. Madame Clicquot inherited the House of Clicquot after the death of her husband and transformed it into a champagne powerhouse. She was responsible for inventing the “riddling rack”, essentially the technology behind the production of champagne. She also branded it with the star, after the great Comet of 1811, which represented a great vintage year for wines.
I also had my celebrity sighting of the week – Shelley Von Strunckel – yes the Shelley Von Strunckel, yes the same one, the world famous astrologer. Despite having grown up in India, I have never been intrigued by astrology. I am what you would call a Hindu heretic and did not even get married based on the age-old custom of “matching the stars” and picking the “date and time” of the ceremony (blasphemy - not sure how we have survived ten years of marriage)!
My family on the other hand lives, breathes and sleeps astrology, as does most of India from the richest to the poorest. Without being disrespectful, there is always a day of the week when someone is vegetarian or someone who does not wear black or red or blue (not sure there are many colours left)! There is always something you can eat or not eat or a ritual you can perform to improve your current situation. Mothers in India now even give birth at a time picked by the jyotshi (astrologer), which is considered auspicious. While astrology has played really no part in my life to date, there is often a time I do read the horoscope in the paper or wonder if I am headed in the right direction (possibly a function of me hitting 40 soon!). I was definitely interested in going up to see Shelley. I wanted to know what she had to say and really wanted to know what made her pick astrology as a career choice – not one you see often.
Shelley was very warm and forthcoming. She grew up in Hollywood and began her career at the Federated Department Stores. She was a buyer there having studied the History of Costume at UCLA. However, she always had a keen interest in aspects of the mind, body and spirit. Prior to Federated, she had meditated as a teenager and practiced yoga regularly. While at Federated, she joined the Vedanta Society (lineage Ramakrishna Mission of Bengal, India) and studied Eastern philosophy – the Gita, the Upanishads (books even many Hindus have probably not read). She even read the Quran.
While her parents were not an influence as to her choice of career, some others around in the family were. She decided to study astrology privately. She noticed that astrology was perceived very differently in the west - people associated it with bohemians! In her own mind she wanted to do something more meaningful with her own life; selling clothes led to a very empty existence. She wanted to help people. Her eastern philosophical education made her seek anew and speak out and her background in marketing gained while at Federated helped her create the new image she thought astrology needed. She combined her astrology training with her learnings in the corporate world to create astrology, as we know it today.
You can now see Shelley in the Sunday Times, Tatler, Vogue, the Times of India and even the Pakistani Express! She works with CEOs of companies, private individuals and many successful people and helps them do what they already do well, even better. She has been thanked both publicly (such as on BBC’s – Desert Island Discs) and many more multiple times privately for what she has done for others around her.
Finally, of Madame Clicquot, eastern philosophy would say that it was in Veuve’s “destiny” to inherit the business. Shelley would add argue that it was Veuve’s “free will” that made her take it to the next level. She believes that one can go out, take the initiative to do things and change the world around them. Shelley who currently tweets will soon be blogging as “Champagne Mystic”.