This week, we spoke with Myriam Spiral, mother of four, founder of Alhambra Lifestyle, and advocate for natural sustainable wellness products.
Q. Congrats on launching Alhambra Lifestyle! What inspired you to create this business?
A. Alhambra Lifestyle is an artisan luxury brand that encompasses four collections: Gourmet, Wellness, Fashion, and Interior. The brand is a reflection of my family history based on sharing the benefits of natural products for wellness purposes.
We source our products from female-led agricultural cooperatives, which I’m proud to support and are entwined with my culture and tradition. Through my business, I’ve been driven to broaden cultural perspectives and empower others to have confidence in their own health and wellness, while enabling sustainable economic development in my home country.
I grew up in Fez, Morocco, a truly ancient city connected to nature and its products. Growing up, I remember thinking that my mother, her sisters, and their friends all seemed effortlessly beautiful. Always lightly perfumed with natural scents and with such good skin! I never thought much about it back then, but now I recognize that we are heirs to some special wisdom about beauty, self-care, and the power of ritual to transmit important values.
Q. Where do you live and do you recommend your town as a family travel destination?
A. I live in Mamaroneck in New York’s Westchester county. It’s a lovely village on the Long Island Sound just thirty minutes north of New York City. I previously lived in Fez and Paris. I would recommend all three destinations for family travel.
Q. What are your favorite family-friendly hidden gems?
A. I was born in Fez, the cultural center of Morocco. I grew up in what’s called La Ville Nouvelle, the new city, built during the French colonial era. There are no cars or trucks. Everything is fresh from the souk. There’s amazing architecture all around.
The old blends with the new in Fez with its fusion of ancient and contemporary architecture. The richness of the Arab world mixes with ancient local Berber culture and the more recent French influence to create something uniquely ours. Our old city, Fes el Bali, is one of the largest and best-preserved medieval Arab cities. It’s one of the largest pedestrian-only urban zones in the world! Great for families to explore on foot, the whole city is a UNESCO world heritage site.
You have to visit the Medina (the old city), the Riad Fez, and engage with the locals. Fez is a riot of sensory experience with its bright colors and the aroma of spices typical of our cuisine like ginger and cinnamon.
Fez boasts a rich tradition of artisanal crafts. Make sure you visit the Chouara Tannery, which has been producing handmade leather goods in the same authentic manner for 900 years. It’s a visually striking site and a testimony of our productivity.
Q. Is family travel a part of your life?
A. For sure! We travel every year to Morocco with a stop in Paris to visit family and friends. We hope to resume this soon because Zoom is no substitute for family time!
Q. What is your most memorable trip with your kids?
A. When we went to my best friend’s wedding in Hawaii, we made the trip a family holiday. It was all so beautiful–nature, the sense of isolation, and the unique topography. For us at the time, both the Polynesian and the American cultures seemed quite exotic! The beaches were breathtaking. We really enjoyed these fabulous unique islands–beautiful, exotic, isolated-but-connected, and most of all kid-friendly!
Q. What’s your best advice for traveling parents?
A. My best advice is to be well organized and to prepare all that you will need for your trip in advance. Organize a package for each kid and draw up a checklist: clothes, natural wellness products, medicine, and entertainment. As I have four children of different ages and interests, I always make sure that each one has what he or she needs. For example, I make sure that my eldest has a good book and that my youngest has a couple of his smaller favorite little toys.
Q. What is your favorite family travel product or service?
A. My favorite family travel product is Rose Water from the Alhambra Lifestyle Wellness Collection. A little of it goes a long way, and the fragrance works for everyone, man or woman, young or old. It helps me but also my husband and kids to stay fresh after a long journey. It’s great to also soothe diaper rash, especially when the child has been sitting for too long.
Q. What item do you always pack in your carry-on?
A. I always travel with my own wellness kit-one kit for the whole family including Black Soap, Rose Water, Orange Blossom Water, and Argan Oil. As these products can be used by the whole family, I don’t have to pack multiple kits. I also always bring the Prickly Pear Seed Elixir as a special little treat for myself.
Q. How do you tackle the work/life balance (e.g., daycare, babysitting, schools, etc.)?
A. It’s not easy with four kids across a ten-year age range, but with my husband, we feel we can do and have it all! We are both entrepreneurs and we help each other a lot. We co-parent as a cohesive team and we co-work as entrepreneurial partners, which makes it easier to balance a productive work-life and a happy manageable family life.
Before COVID-19, our two-year-old was in daycare and our three girls in school, but now things have changed. Being all at home together meant that we had to develop a new routine and enlist the help of our eldest child with our youngest. We are lucky that we enjoy being together and so we don’t find the lockdown too hard.
One piece of work-from-home-advice I could give others is to not let disagreements fester among siblings. Settle a confrontation quickly before things escalate. In terms of work/life balance, I find it much much easier to work when the sisters get along!
Q.What are the advantages of being a Mompreneur while raising children vs. working for an outside entity? Disadvantages?
A. I personally see the Mompreneur life as a better choice for my family. Being able to run my own business allows me to set my own schedule. With the office so close to home, I don’t feel like there is much divide between family and work life. That’s probably what I like most about being my own boss.
On the other hand, work never ends. You always end up bringing work back home. That’s when you need to learn how to switch off from your boss-role and become a mom again. I learned to multitask and do video conferences with my youngest on my lap. It’s a challenge for sure, but when everything works out, I feel like a superwoman!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual, not of Bébé Voyage, unless specifically indicated to that effect.
If you enjoyed this Momprenuer article on natural wellness products, check out these other amazing mom-run companies from our Bébé Voyage blog!