Talk about a strong, independent woman. Our muse, Vanessa Breuer is not only a beautiful, working mum, but is also one tough cookie. Originally from Germany, where she grew up with her mother, older brother and the support of her uncle and grandmother. Vanessa found comfort surrounding herself by nature and her beloved horses, a love she now shares with her children. We absolutely adored working with Vanessa and were so humbled that she shared her story with us - the good, the bad and the strength she gained from both.
You grew up in Germany before beginning your life as a traveller at 19. Tell us a bit about your childhood growing up in Germany. What are things from your childhood that you have ensured you have shared with your children too?
I grew up in a small town near cologne. My parents split when I was 4 or 5 so I grew up with my mother and older brother. My grandmother was usually at home helping my mother out and we always cooked and baked. I used to love helping them and spending time with them in the kitchen. When I was 5 I started horseback riding and I would try to spend as much time at the stables as possible. I was very independent from a young age and loved spending time in nature or playing in our backyard. Every Sunday we would go for hikes in nearby forests; it is a very German thing to do as all shops are closed on Sundays. Then we would come home and eat cake :) My favourite part. I tried to keep this tradition in our family, even before we had kids but it didn’t work so well hahaha. I remember when I lived in Australia I tried to get Oddy out of the surf on Sundays for cake time and he was like mmhhhhh why would I eat cake now? I will keep trying!
You have always been a lover of nature, horseback riding and hiking. Is this something you share with your children, are they as passionate about it as you are?
My kids totally love exploring and going for walks, they love nature and animals as much as I do. I am trying to get them into riding and Evie really enjoys it. Luca loves to rollerblade and skateboard, she’s more like her dad ;) When I am home I always cook for us and Evie usually helps me. The other day she made me scrambled eggs for breakfast - she’s 5!
A lover of nature, you love to horseback ride and hike - is this something you get to do in Ibiza? Tell us a little bit about your lifestyle on the island.
Yes for sure. There are many beautiful hikes and walking trails in Ibiza. There is always something new to explore. I go whenever I can, it gives me so much energy in between my travels and work. It's a very green and lush island, although it doesn’t rain that often. And we live surrounded by nature, so even on my ‘lazy’ days I can just be in the garden and recharge my batteries listening to the birds and staring at the trees. I recently took up riding again too. Finally! But I am terrible at committing so it’s not easy to book classes or be reliable enough to take care of a horse. My schedule changes all the time and I still travel almost weekly. But hopefully one day I will be able to have my own horse :)
After your parents divorced when you were quite young, you became estranged from your father, while your mother also suffered from mental illness and was hospitalised for quite some time. This must have been such a difficult time for you, especially being so young. What was it like having to grow up so young?
Of course, it is sad that I didn’t have the ‘perfect’ childhood but it made me who I am, so I honestly wouldn’t want to change anything about it. I started working at 11 ( as a cleaner) and then started modelling at 14. I always had good people on my side, so I am really thankful for my friends and family who guided and helped me. I learned a lot during this time of my life and it made me so independent.
What is something you wish you knew when you were younger or something you found very helpful during that time of your life?
Oh, that’s a tough one. I mean I think I must have done it somehow right because I feel fine about it now and I don’t mind talking about it. I was lucky enough to have some comfort in my uncle who was very close to my mother and he would check up on us and help us financially. I also started writing a diary as soon as I learned to write which I think is really good to help get your emotions and thoughts out. I found it the other day - it's quite sad but also quite sweet. The thing is, what is in the past is in the past and we cannot change it but we can change our outlook in life and our present moment. I wish my father wouldn’t be so stubborn and be more part of my life/our life but he was raised so differently I think he just can’t overcome his upbringing. I remember he cried when he met Luca for the first time when she was like 5 months old and it was the happiest moment of my life seeing him like that. And 10 min later he apologised for this outburst and said that will never happen again and it made me so sad. But I keep trying with him… we always have to keep trying and never give up. I am very patient… and stubborn ;)
You are really passionate about gender equality, at a really foundational level. Noticing it as a child, and now as a mother. Tell us a little bit about this
It is a subject quite close to my heart! I noticed as a child that my older brother and I were raised very differently. Although he is 5 years older, I was the one that had to manage the household, cook and do most of the chores. It used to really upset me, I just wanted to be treated equally. My mum raised me to be super independent of men, which is not a bad thing, but sometimes I feel like I do way too much and it actually isn’t fair. Being independent doesn’t mean doing everything yourself and I find it hard to accept that. The fact that men still get so much praise for raising children and staying at home, yet women well, not as much. My husband was a stay at home dad for many years and when he was carrying shopping bags with the kids or was at the airport alone with them, he would get so much praise and help, but when people see women no one helps. Why is that? In many countries, the wages for women and men are still different. Why should a woman get paid less for the same amount of hours, work and education? It doesn’t make sense to me at all.