We were recently invited into the gorgeous home of friend of L&O, the effervescent and oh so lovely equestrienne Eloise Stevenson (also known on Instagram as artisanbaby.nz), who seamlessly blends rural life with her love of French design houses. We talked family life, what it's like to bring up her daughters on a lifestyle block with her husband, two horses, four sheep and a cat, and, of course, her enviable closet...
Images by Mara Sommer.
Preparing for a ride in her Parlanti Denver Boots; a moment with gorgeous Georgette.
Tell us a little about yourself, your family (animals included) and what you do.
I’m a UK born escapee to New Zealand. I’m 37, married to Mr Stevenson and mother of two delicious girls, Esmé, who is 4 and Georgette, who is 20months. We live on a 10 acre slice of paradise about 30mins drive from Auckland CBD and we share our home with two magnificent white horses, Rua and Othello, 4 black sheep (only one is tame) and Pierre, the cat.
Nature gets the best out of me and I ride my unicorn Rua most days. This horse is my constant and when I’m on his back I feel invincible. My biggest achievements have been with him - together we are a graceful, rhythmic version of myself. Fast and Brave! He is my horse of a lifetime and throughout our adventures I have made lifelong friends that share this equestrian obsession and lust for life.
As a stay at home mum, my riding life balance is a constant juggle. Fortunately, my husband is completely respectful of this unique form of ‘me time’ and always champions it as a priority. In fact, there is such little focus on him, I’m sure this is why our marriage has such a relaxed, enabling nature!
Out for a ride, with Rua.
You have a growing and engaged following on Instagram, which is not surprising given your gorgeous imagery and unique perspective.
What is your favourite thing about chronicling life as an equestrienne in NZ?
I love the spontaneous organic feel of the Instagram world. As a rider and a mother, my personal ambitions must gel with my responsibilities - capturing and presenting daily beauty as it happens, magical horses or brilliant equestrian products is something I can definitely achieve in this season of life. Though limited to the four walls of my iPhone, it gives me a touch of creative freedom, and I do not pressure myself or my horse to train competitively or keep to a strict regime [for the sake of content] I aim to celebrate the elegance of equestrianism whilst showcasing the spectacular backdrop of New Zealand.
Some of my most treasured influences and connections have reached me through these channels and I have definitely noticed an improved personal and equestrian dynamic in myself, as a result of my Instagram identity. It is an enjoyable skill and I’m sure will aid me when it is time to move forward into a new chapter.
Into the woods, with the majestic Rua in his Ostrich Black Bonnet.
Tell us a little more about your decision to invest in a lifestyle block, and what are your favourite things about living out of the city?
Our beautiful countrified existence is everything to me. Space, calm and serenity have always been my daily needs and personally the requirement is amplified in these early stages of motherhood.
For Adam and I it was always our goal to have the horses at home, and we strived for it relentlessly. Our old blue-eyed horse Othello is symbolic of our journey. Adam helped me to buy him when we were dating and in exchange I taught him to ride. Pre-children our dates would be on horseback, grabbing a takeaway coffee at the beach and riding for hours. Now, we have Othello at home he will live his days knowing he is part of the family. Simple pleasures of the seasons, and the associated routines of caring for horses onsite can make one feel wholesome beyond belief!
The house has an elevated position and overlooks 70% of the land. I can see the horses grazing in the distance from almost every room. As a young girl, this was a burning desire for me. Just the sight of a horse stirs the depths of my soul – it never gets old. As Winston Churchill said ‘The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man’ - I honestly believe that horses are the biggest privilege in life.
The local school and kindergarten is a short walk from home and the community vibe here is strong, I’m up and down the road constantly with my two girls packed giggling in the buggy, or holding hands walking in the sun. We slow time, we look around and enable these precious moments to be savoured.
Eloise wears Celine Coat, Dadelszen Cashmere, Love and Object Vintage Dangereuse Bracelet and Necklace.
When you head into the city, where are your favourite places to visit?
Going to the city is a real treat! I love the indulgence of getting my hair done at M11 Studio and always enjoy a warm welcome from Olivia at MUSE. Scotties Boutique is brilliant for scoring bargains and any café brunch is pure heaven with the highest standards at most Auckland eateries.
Wearing Love and Object Olympia Cypriot Earrings, Babette Ring, Valentino Scarf and Parlanti Boots.
How would you describe your interiors style?
I try to be very minimal. The girls have few toys but the addition of any ‘kids stuff’ to a room results in instant clutter and chaos. We renovated six years ago and went for a simple aesthetic of white, with a touch of heritage/country. With a background in tailoring and fabric, I have a fond appreciation for soft furnishings, but if there is one thing I have learnt from having toddlers, it is that quality fabrics should be put away and preserved. My washable slip cover furniture from St Clements is an excellent option for house-proud parents. As I type this, I have reminded myself that there is green pen on the headboard of our bed…..
Wearing Love and Object Cypriot Earrings and Babette Ring.
How would you describe your personal style?
Sleek femininity, with a nod to practicality - an on and off duty equestrienne. Gone are the days of unflattering breeches and stiff collars, riding clothes have become so modern and technical, very flattering and wearable! Breathable base-layers and modern riding tights or cotton breeches are my go-to in the mornings.
There would be perhaps one day a week when I would wake and dress in normal clothes, which leaves my non-horse wardrobe (which consists mainly of black jeans, blouses and sweaters) under very little pressure.
My goal is to be streamlined and not hindered by my clothing. Life is going at a frantic pace I need to be able to carry children, rush across paddocks, whip on my riding boots and jump on my horse when the moment presents itself. High quality gear that performs all day with interchangeable footwear for the kindy run or a sushi mission. My casual Gucci fur-lined boots and black Saddleclub cap are a godsend at this time of year.
Eloise's Vintage Donatella Earrings capturing the afternoon light at home; a special gift from a friend, fellow equestrienne and artist, Milton Menasco.
We know you love your accessories; tell us about your favourites?
A huge green blanket, like my Muse Cashmere Scarf that offers the comfort of home, wherever you may be. My Valentino Scarf for warmer days, my Jimmy Choo pumps and Chanel Earrings or Vintage Donatella's for date night. I adore my Ronner Design velvet Mimosa slippers with carousel horses from Colombia and my Parlanti Denver Boots with Swarovski crystal accents – a horse girl’s eternity ring! Oh, and I can’t forget my Albion saddle, that would rival any handbag.
With gorgeous Esmé at home, wearing the Parlanti Denver Boots, Love and Object Bettina Bracelet and Cypriot Earrings.
What is your beauty and wellbeing philosophy? Any top tips or products you can’t live without?
My pale complexion is typically British - doubled with a forehead that could be likened to a skin satellite dish, I literally cannot step outside without the daily disguise of hat and sunglasses. My staple Celine’s are so hardwearing and generous in size, they stay on beautifully under a riding hat and survive multiple toddler swipes.
Daily sun-cream is a must – the harshness of the sun here in New Zealand is insane…. It took me a few years to realise this, skin years I will never get back! Drunk Elephant products are brilliant, notedly the eye cream (before and after those sleepless nights) and Vitamin C serum. I love Nars makeup and Eve Lom oil cleanser with a hot flannel, to keep your complexion looking bright and clear. Finally, for a radiant glow from within, be gracious and approachable, speak the truth and don’t complain. Wax don’t shave ;)
Getting ready for date night; Wearing Saint Laurent dress, Love and Object Vintage Donatella Earrings.
You have five minutes to get ready for date night, what’s your go-to plan?
A rare occasion! I’m talking once a month and after the girls have gone to bed, so five minutes is a very realistic timeframe. Easy! Smooth hair back into a low bun, enhance eyebrows and face glow, reach for statement earrings (cue my newly acquired Lions Head Door Knockers) clean under my nails (sorry its true – equestrienne life).
Then I’ll throw on a little black dress my husband likes to gaze upon ;) lately I rotate between two favourite Saint Laurent and Balmain mini dresses that have very similar silhouettes. Eloise's beauty essentials; her favourite Jimmy Choo's.
Ah, the Donatella’s – they are stunners, lucky you for snapping those up, we are still fielding enquiries! What’s next on your list from L&O?
The Olympia Alessia's, because I have coveted these since the day they were launched.
The Emanuel Ungaro Bat Brooch because it would transform any outfit – sleek with attitude. Plus, Esmé was born on Halloween – so I especially need this now; I could pass it on to her as a symbol of the night she came into the world!
And the ones that got away, those gorgeous Celine Earrings – you literally wouldn’t even need a face if you were wearing these, they’re so good!! Nothing haunts you like the things you didn’t buy…
Rua's Ribbons on the mirror; A moment with her daughters before date night.
Speaking of sage advice, what would be your top piece of advice for busy Mums?
Children push you to your limits. Sometimes when the chores are building up, seeing the chaos unfold can occasionally make me lose my cool. Maintaining order is almost impossible right now with Georgette in the demolition business and Esmé changing outfits every couple of hours. In times like these, it's best to figure out your priorities and be realistic.
Be kind to yourself - you really can only strive to do your best. Your own wellbeing and nutrition is just as important as theirs, so don’t forget to nurture yourself – you need the sustenance and gusto to perform!
Fresh air is THE remedy and the moment we step outside, this tension subsides. I know I’m happy lying around in the grass with them – we play outside for hours. It’s a balancing act and it can feel unproductive, but don’t stress – it’s not. The OCD can take a back seat – there is plenty of time for that. It seems to me that with kids, most challenges are a phase, and that struggle passes so enjoy the moment, Georgette has only just started sleeping completely through the night!
What have your daughters taught you about yourself that you didn’t know before?
Firstly, that I am maternal. Motherhood was never something I craved; it was no more than a distant curiosity. But since the birth of Esmé and Georgette, poor Pierre the cat has come crashing from his pedestal! The overwhelming love and concern you have for your children is astounding, and as a woman who could be perceived to be slightly colder in nature, I truly enjoy possessing this depth of feeling for other humans.
My children see the truest side of me and they enable me to be fun and free with no inhibitions. Everything pales into insignificance when you are singing at the top of your voice and dancing around the living room; yet you need your wits about you as the mental and emotional engagement is full on. Adam is so wise and correct with his morals and values, plus he enhances life for us at every opportunity. We adore our little family and hold on tight to every moment. I'm honoured to be sharing this responsibility with him.