Model, full-time mom of twin boys, avid yogi and tattoo lover. I met with Kelly Mauritsen to talk motherhood, future plans and getting inked – seven times!
PARIS, France – It’s a cold grey morning in Paris when fellow South African Kelly Mauritsen and I meet at a contemporary coffee spot at the foot of Avenue Montaigne. She is completely make-up free with perfect skin, dressed in casual blue denims and a beautifully hugging black turtleneck – she’s makes being a full-time mom to twin boys look super chic and easy. In another life she’d love to be dressed in Balmain and Givenchy, but that this wouldn’t be very practical when running after the twins, Reilly and Viggio, in a wet and cold Parisian park (She’s not a Kardashian after all!)
She’s in the middle of “orientation” with the boys at a play school nearby and grumbles that the French system of easing kids in to play school is a total pain. I have to agree, it takes a whole week to orientate the kids here – in our home country you drop the kids, have a few minutes of tears, there’s a kiss, a wave goodbye and you rush out high fiving yourself!
This is Kelly’s second time living in Paris, and it’s been over 17 years since she last lived in her home city of Durban. Leaving when she was just 17 years old for a modeling contract in Japan she has travelled the globe shooting campaigns, catalogues and covers. “I was terrified when I went to Japan, I was living in this tiny apartment, it was dark, all I remember is the darkness. Everything was space-age, even the rooms were like weird space pods.” She laughs remembering “All I ate were those tiny rice squares with seaweed on the outside, I didn’t know what else to eat. I couldn’t understand anything, even the underground was confusing.”
For 10 years she divided her time between Cape Town, London and Paris following the modeling seasons in each city and landing big contracts, that was until she saw her husband, Thomas, at a friend’s bar on Bricklane in London. She says with a big grin on her face, “I knew when I saw him, that I had to meet him. He is so light, so together, it was like he had this light around him when he walked into room – okay it was pretty dark – but I knew I had to meet this guy”.
After 18 months of seeing each other, Thomas got a contract to move to Hong Kong and Kelly followed. Soon after they were married and she was pregnant with twins! She exclaims, “The boys are a total global mix – they have Danish and Filipino blood from Thomas’s side, South African from mine, were born in Hong Kong and are beginning to mix both English and French words in their vocab.” Defining the term “third culture kid”.
We chat more about Paris and how the move here has been, she admits that the first time she lived here she loved it, but comments on how different it is this time with kids and being married. She loves the city and it’s vibe but being a full-time mom can be rough some days. “As hard and as all consuming as some days can be, I’ve begun to make peace with this time in my life and am so grateful I get to spend this time with my boys”. But like most moms she still feels the stress and anxiety to do something more, but after this long and being so young when she started modeling it’s all she knows. “I wish I had a skill, something I could write down on paper. I am starting French classes at the Alliance Francais soon, so hopefully this will start that process.” With Kelly’s modest attitude, what she won’t brag about or even tell you, is her natural and effortless talent in spotting trends. Her twins are always styled like Pharrell Williams sitting FROW at London fashion week. She has hundreds of photos of the boys in their trendy get-up and so, with much encouragement from friends and family is hoping to launch her own blog soon. Watch. This. Space!
What you don’t see on a winter’s day and is most surprising about this beauty is that she is inked – she has beautiful tattoos all over symbolizing different times in her life and the people she loves. She recounts her first inking on the back of her neck which was done in New Zealand by a Maori, “It’s called a Koro, a Maori symbol made up of lines representing different things, mine symbolizes love, the ocean and family, the most important things to me. I Had it done while travelling the south Island with an ex who was a Kiwi. I was 23 years old and we stopped in a place called Kaikoura, an absolutely incredible place and renowned for Dusky dolphins – sea is like a milky blue colour, the beach is black and the whole place is surrounded by snow capped mountains. I always wanted to get a tattoo and I was so inspired by this place. So, while driving around we passed an old house with a wooden sign that wrote Tatoos”, she laughs “What was I thinking, totally mental. But he drew it on me and that was it, I had a tattoo!” That marked the beginning of her tattoo journey and since then, she’s had 7 done. Her wrist shows a lotus flower that she shares with both of her sisters. Her left shoulder is covered with Cherry blossoms, she has her twins’ names inscribed on her right arm, which she says is her favourite, as well as a pansy flower on the same wrist symbolizing her grandmother who recently passed away. Kelly admits to being perfectly impulsive, none of her tattoos have been agonized over. She says, “I just can’t help myself, it’ll be, I want this and this is what I’m getting and that will be that!” Which can sometimes lead to an oops! like the tattoo on her baby finger, “The heart on my hand is a pure example of me being impulsive, it was a T for Thomas which didn’t work so we had to change it, not my favourite!”.
This is what is refreshing about Kelly, she has a genuine, relaxed sense of humor and the love for her three boys shines through along with her determination to find the balance between juggling kids, her new city and finding her own creative outlet.