We all love to throw about the saying ’when life gives you lemons, make lemonade’ but very few of us actually live it. We’re more likely to suck the lemons, then complain about the sour taste. Persephone Singfield has had more than her fair share of challenges; an upbringing in poverty, drug problems, the Christchurch earthquakes, losing her home and business, coping with family health issues and a marriage break up. However she has defiantly risen above her experiences to create a vibrant new business combining her love of yoga and her unique perspective on life.
Persephone Singfield has more than proven that she has the ability to take whatever life throws at her, deal with it and refuse to accept defeat.
The tenacious Canadian (now proudly a Kiwi) is the creative mind behind Courage My Love Legskins. Her journey to creativity has been anything but mainstream. Yet her range of yoga legskins exudes her vibrant flair and determination to create beauty around her.
Courage My Love (www.couragemylove.co.nz) Legskins designs feature works of art lovingly created by New Zealand artists and transferred to quality moisture-wicking fabrics. Originally designed to cope with the rigours of hot yoga, the collection has fast become a sporting trend as well as highly sought after as streetwear.
Persephone is justifiably proud of what she has created. Her own design is a reflection of her life story; a blend of grittiness and raw emotion.
Her Vintage Tattoo Legskin design was born “from my yearning to get the fluffy hippy shit off the yoga mat and let it get dirty. I couldn’t find anything in the yoga apparel world to express this grittiness, so I created it.
“I hung out in Harley Davidson shops, I took a motorbike handling course, I bought leather things with studs, listened to Joan Jett and collected vintage tattoo books.”
The result is a deceptively feminine design with hidden layers of depth and complexity.
Other artists have worked on meaningful designs to create distinctive fabric patterns.
From growing up in desperate poverty, right from the get-go Persephone’s life was one of extreme contrasts.
With an upbringing consisting of organic wholefoods and church (her mother) as well as firearms and drug trafficking (her father), she was living a life fuelled by drugs by the time she was just 14-years-old.
“I navigated a sense of balance between heaven and hell,” she says.
“I grew up learning how to grow food, kill animals, worship God, traffic drugs and use firearms.”
Persephone developed the lifelong skills of tenacity and resilience early on. Even as a child she coped with the chaos in her life by dreaming about a brighter future and determining to bring it about.
“My father was a real renegade; an inventor, an engineer, a very brilliant smart man, but unfortunately he coped with that intelligence through a lot of drug and alcohol use.
“We grew up as a family of seven in a two bedroom flat. Every time it rained we grabbed every pot we owned to catch all the leaks in the house. We saw a lot of things we shouldn’t have at that young age, around drugs, mafia and prostitution.
“Because of our extreme poverty, my parents had very strong ethics around survival. We grew what we could when we could, preserving any extra food for the winter months. But there were times the food ran out and we existed on rice or beans for months on end.”
Having left home in her early teens, she battled with drugs for some years before getting clean and deciding to change her life, and left Canada when she was 22.
“I’d grown up with certain behavior patterns and I didn’t know anything else, but I found out there were other ways to live. I got back on my feet.
Before leaving for her new life in New Zealand, Persephone worked in a maple syrup bottling factory.
“Every day I was on the line, screwing bottle caps onto bottles, it was relentlessly the same thing minute after minute, day after day. But I turned it around for myself. I decided that if I was going to be standing there all day, that I was going to choose something inspirational to do with my time.
“I started to allow myself to dream about what life could be like. I didn’t hold myself back. I dreamed about travelling the world and getting involved with people who inspired me and what would that look like. I spent eight months doing this over and over again. And I made an absolute promise to myself that no matter what happened or whatever came my way, I would just say yes. I made a deal with the universe.”
Having created a life free from dependence on drugs and alcohol, Persephone chose instead to draw instead on her seemingly endless inner strength.
Despite being the base for her home, marriage and family (sonWren was born in 2006), as well as the creation of a successful property business, little did she to know this idyllic spot would throw yet another curve ball, with the devastation of the Christchurch earthquakes.
“By that stage we’d built up a flourishing business, had a beautiful home in the hills as well as a small fishing hut out of town, which is where we ended up living after the earthquakes destroyed our home.
It was yet another learning curve for Persephone – losing most of her material possessions, dealing with an incredibly sick son throughout the February earthquakes – and feeling like she was struggling to survive at times.
Persephone had long used yoga as a means of relaxation and staying centred. Ironically she had decided to go on a yoga teacher training retreat the week before the earthquakes.
She arrived back to her son in hospital and never actually made it home, as it was destroyed the day after in the quakes.
“We endured a lot over the following ‘recovery period’ but unfortunately our marriage didn’t make it through all that stress.”
With many people leaving town following the devastation, a colleague contacted Persephone to see if she was interested in teaching a class.
“Most of her yoga instructors had left and she and I had trained together on the yoga course.
“I’d never seen myself as a yoga instructor before – yoga was just my personal passion. But now I’ve discovered that sharing it adds a whole new level of enjoyment.”
A fresh start
After losing pretty much everything in the earthquakes, Persephone faced 18 months in no-mans land where she could do nothing in relation to her home, as it had been white zoned.
“No-one seemed to be able to make a decision on our house, so I decided that rather than be a victim and be ‘poor me’ I would consider this time as creative time and find something new to focus on.”
And so began her immersion into the then-bewildering world of fabric and moisture wicking and technology.
“I decided to create a new product – based on something I experienced all the time ; sweaty wet yoga pants.
“It was a whole new world and it was fantastic. I always knew it would be more than just researching fabrics and making yoga pants. I have a strong creative streak and really wanted to explore the artistic side of design.”
Courage My Love was born and Persephone threw herself wholeheartedly into her new venturing, researching fabrics from around the world before finally being satisfied.
Her collection is a reflection of her personality; vibrant, vivacious and absolutely unique.
It’s all in the name
The inspiration for her business name came about from Persephone’s simple philosophy to life: “It takes both courage and love to rock an authentic life.”
“My life has taught me about not just surviving, but thriving through adversity.”
Proudly made in New Zealand, the range is available online at:
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