For Karen Ruimy, it would seem that from finance to performance, a career that traverses multiple industries comes easy. Potentially a response to the adversity that she has come across throughout her life - her multifaceted career has seen her step from a high-powered job in the financial sector to writing two best selling books, about spiritual enlightenment, and has even seen her pioneer movements for gender equality. Karen is now the creator of Kalmar, a lifestyle brand with a spiritual obligation to its customers, which is already succeeding beyond expectation. Also regularly singing and dancing professionally, in shows all over the world, she’s certainly dancing circles around us this week.
Born and raised in Casablanca, Morocco, until the age of seven, Karen Ruimy’s early life was spent wrapped up in the natural beauty of her diverse country, dancing as much as she possibly could. When her family decided to relocate to Paris, “it was a very big culture shock” but this culture shock taught Karen to work hard, leaving time for dancing only as a hobby.
“In Paris, at the time, if you wanted a voice you really had to succeed, and that was even more of a pressure coming from Morocco… I felt like finance was really where I could gain that voice. ” Karen put her dreams of performing on hold, became a banker, a broker and then the director of a company. However, this success, in a male dominated environment, didn’t come without its challenges - but of course Karen found a way to use these challenges for good.
Inspired by her own experience, Karen is now a pioneer for gender equality with her organisations,‘The GREAT initiative’, and now ‘GREAT men’ which aims to teach men and young boys in schools the importance of gender equality.
Evidently unafraid to follow her life’s passions, a large aspect of Karen’s career is now professionally dancing and singing, all over the world. Most recently in the East meets West flamenco show “ZIK'R” which received rave reviews, in London. It is, however, important to understand how she got to this point of personal and artistic freedom.
After eight years in the financial sector, Karen’s worldview changed - “A huge spiritual call came to me, I found there was more to life than running after clients, money and success”. She found herself in a situation “with power and money and it was not filling my heart or my soul” and from there, her pursuit of spirituality took priority. “I really felt I needed to change my life and listen to my inner voice. Because I’m a bit extreme I just decided to quit my job”. Now, on a new spiritual journey each day, and pursuing every dream that she has, we could all learn a thing or two from Karen Ruimy…
Semaine: What form did this spiritual awakening come in?
Karen: Anxiety at first, I was anxious and I had no idea why I was putting so much pressure on myself. I was staying alone a lot studying spiritual books, really drawn to spirituality and suddenly I really felt I needed to change my life and listen to my inner voice. I really felt the energy for me was not as vibrant as it used to be, this isn’t how I wanted to feel so I quit my job. I got the opportunity to take on another job, for an international bank, that meant I could work from home and that was the beginning of the end really! For 2 - 3 years I was in my house writing about spiritual awakening and spiritual paths. It was my obsession and my passion, reading and writing all day long. Discovering a new way of life, walking in Paris for no reason, sitting at the cafe… just doing things I’d never done before because I was always running after something.
Semaine: You’ve now written two spiritually focused books, “The Angel's Metamorphosis” and “The Voice of the Angel: Sayings from The Angel's Metamorphosis”, how did they come about?
Karen: I was very lucky, I found a publisher who wanted to publish my books, and I started to give talks about what I was doing. Then after many years of just writing and doing talks around America, on spirituality, I decided that it was time for me to become a professional dancer. So I decided to create my own show. I was 35 at this point and my first show went really well. It was all in Paris, on amazing stages. I always sung, and then this developed into the performance too. The key to all of this was that I feel spirituality opened me up to becoming an artist.
Semaine: Kalmar is a new brand that you’ve created, you’re designing fragrances and clothing. Would you say that Kalmar is inspired by your origins, in Morocco?
Karen: Making kaftans for me is totally linked to my origin, this way of being in a chilled atmosphere, enjoying your life and enjoying nature, enjoying this moment of connectedness with yourself... It’s totally in the groove of how we live in Morocco and it’s totally linked to my spirituality. Kalmar is at a very exciting stage, we’re developing a lot of new products and a lot of collaborations, so it is very exciting. Everything we create follows Kalmar's philosophy, the spirit of the brand brings together wellness and beauty. We deliver these two elements to the customer in the one product.
Semaine: I read that you have a commitment to wellness and empowerment with the clothes. Can you explain what it is you mean by this?
Karen: It’s important to understand what Kalmar is. We created Kalmar because I wanted to create some products to help people connect with themselves. I thought “let’s do products like scents” so I created some scents with plants and only natural products that were connecting people to different energy during the day. They are products that help you connect to yourself and connect to feelings of joy, calm, peace and sensuality. All day long you have different scents. The line is made up of body products and candles, and they will be available in October.
Semaine: Why the clothing first?
Karen: I thought of the scents first, they just took longer to make! But with that I wanted to create resort wear and kaftans, just everything around wellness and beauty at the same time, so that’s how it all started.
Semaine: So they came from a spiritual place then?
Karen: Totally, this was the desire and the goal behind the products. The brand has a different goal and meaning.
Semaine: Do you have any plans beyond resort wear?
Karen: Yes, we have done a lot already, but it is really a lifestyle brand. Anything to do with travel and wellness is in my desire to create. Now we have kaftans, we have shoes, we have great jewellery that we are going to be dropping with an artist, here in London, and we want to develop products from Morocco. Hopefully when the company grows enough we want to connect the company with charities in Morocco, to help women there.
Semaine: You do a lot, across many different spheres of industry, how do you accredit your time to different things?
Karen: When I have a show it’s a big build up, so I dedicate time to that, but since Kalmar has started I have dedicated a lot of my time to that, as it’s so early, and I need to be there for everything. The GREAT initiative takes less of my time right now but we’re looking at creating a new project at the moment.
Semaine: What does that mean an average day looks like, for you?
Karen: I tend to have my mornings until ten, I wake up early, do my yoga, meditation, I try to write and then I go to my dance class. I then spend time with Kalmar and The GREAT initiative, when it needs me.
Semaine: The way you focus on meditation and wellness every morning, would you say that it is an essential part of your success?
Karen: I think being able to really spend time with yourself is key to whatever you are doing. You need to balance who you are and connect to your own self and then find out your desires. I really see it as the source of being able to do so many things. Whenever I’m not doing it, because I’m too busy, it is disastrous.
Semaine: What advice would you give to your younger self?
Karen: Listen to yourself, trust who you are and forget the noise of the society.
By Kezia Navey for Semaine.