Big Apple-based Kiwi Lucie McQuilkan is the founder and creative director of Mischievous Goddess, a children’s party company with difference. Teaching little girls “to play beyond this realm”, it nurtures their “imagination and spiritual connection” with “a positive and organic approach”. The purpose is to enable the young ladies to “learn to understand and embrace the immense power and value of the feminine from very early on” in order to establish their self-worth and give them “a foundation of confidence and inner strength”.
“One of my favourite activities with the kids is having them place their hands on a crystal, close their eyes and make a wish,” says Lucie. “It is a basic human instinct to believe in a higher power, but often this faith gets lost as we get older. This sense of faith can bring with it a sense of peace – knowing that we do not control anything really, but we do our best and let this higher power take care of the outcome. If children can connect these dots at a young age, it is wisdom they can use throughout their lives.”
Lucie uses established goddesses to help the girls realise their own inner ones. I ask if there are any deities that she — and her charges — feel especially strong kinships with. “Every goddess is quite different, but I do feel a strong connection to Yemoja,” says Lucie. “She is a West African goddess who is a mother and water deity — sometimes depicted as a mermaid. She is also known as Yemaya and celebrated in Brazil. The story goes that when the slaves came from Africa to Brazil they were not allowed to worship their own faith – but in the statues of the Virgin Mary they saw their own mother goddess Yemoja and worshiped her as their own. They called out ‘Yemoja!’ which was translated as Yemaya. This story moves me, because it reminds me of undying faith, and that there is always a way to live in our integrity.”
“One of my favourite activities with the kids is having them place their hands on a crystal, close their eyes and make a wish,
it is a basic human instinct to believe in a higher power,
but often this faith gets lost as we get older.”
It is essential, she believes, that children be instilled with “a sense of something bigger than themselves”. Lucie’s own childhood was a typical Kiwi one of “being at the beach and in the native bush, sliding down mudslides”. She feels blessed to have grown up in New Zealand. She was, she says, a tomboy, connected to nature and unafraid to get her hands dirty: “This shows up from time to time in New York — I can see that is has shaped me quite differently to people who grew up in the city.”
As a teenager, Lucie — then known as Lucie Boshier — admits to suffering greatly with her self-esteem as her body changed from a child to a woman. “I felt shameful about my appearance, which suddenly differed from the girls and women in almost all media at the time,” she says. “Goddesses exposed me to a variety of powerful female forms who were all beautiful in their own way.”
Lucie came to be considered as one of New Zealand’s most promising fashion designers, mentored by the likes of Trelise Cooper, but in 2008, aged 27, she gave it all up, spending time in India before moving to New York.
Is fashion still important to you?
“I will always love fashion, not only clothing, everything. I am an extremely visual person, and my surroundings affect me greatly. Fashion in terms of décor, and the way I dress, music, film — all inspire and bring depth to my creativity and work.”
Tell us about your time in India.
“It was around four years ago now. What I do remember more than anything is being madly inspired by the travellers who lived in the little town where I was staying called Bhagsu Nag in the Himalayas. It’s in the city of Dharamsala where the Dalai Lama resides. I was there learning to teach yoga, but instead learned more after hours hanging out with the creative souls in the little cafes, drinking tea, playing music, writing poems and exchanging ideas. It was a very creative time in my life, where every usual responsibility washed away. There was no worrying about paying bills, or living up to any type of societal expectations. The trip to India gave me an entirely new perspective on life.”
Lucie’s interest in spirituality and eastern philosophy, she tells me, is the foundation for everything she does. “Life tends to throw you curveballs so it’s the belief in a higher power and using the tools that go along with that belief system that help me to cope with whatever is thrown at me,” she says.“Of course, it’s still not easy — Deepak-Chopra-equivalent enlightenment is not at my fingertips!”
The ability to surrender to the outcome of any given situation, she adds, is the ultimate goal: “From what I’ve studied, at the core of all spiritual practices are the same guiding principles to life — they just use different language and storytelling to get there.” I ask Lucie about her role models growing up and if she feels a role model to the girls that she guides.
“I do not really remember who my role models were as a child, except for my big sister, and Michael Jackson!” she says. “I haven’t considered myself a role model as such, but if I can inspire and instil valuable lessons to children that give them confidence to be themselves, then that would be an awesome outcome of my work!”
What with all the recent Hollywood and political scandals and the resulting women’s movements that followed, I wonder if Lucie’s work has taken on a new meaning, and ask about the mood in the US at present. “It is such a large topic to tackle,” she says. “But in the long run, I think all the unspoken voices finally bubbling to the surface will bring change to the culture in the U.S. I never really understood the modern reasoning for feminism before moving here. Having been raised in New Zealand where it felt — to me at least — that gender was very much equal, it is interesting to live in country where sexism and more conservative values still very much exist. It’s hard to decipher the actual mood in the US verses the media’s expression of it.”
Though it certainly hasn’t made her reconsider reconnecting with her roots just yet. “I am proud to be a New Zealander and of the many incredible values we hold as a culture — it is an amazing and sacred place,” Lucie says. “The thing I have always loved about New York is how free it feels. It’s a city full of completely wacky, neurotic, creative people – and being one of them, I’m right at home!”