The art director and fashion influencer on wanderlust and why pregnancy has changed her perspective
When I ask Sofia Sanchez de Betak the destination she would most like to visit next, she replies, “Everywhere!” She isn’t exaggerating either. For the 32-year-old, travel isn’t about escaping the everyday, rather it is a way of life. She has been constantly on the move since she was a young girl, her mother worked in the travel industry and took Sofia and her two sisters all over the world. “It was always kind of last-minute planning. Going to an airport, looking at the screens and picking a destination from there. Once my mother had a meeting in Madrid, so she took us with her and then she said, ‘Ok, where do you guys want to go?’ We looked at a map and she said ‘Egypt’ and I said, ‘That’s too obvious’ – at that age I guess I thought Egypt was a well-known destination! I suggested going somewhere I had never heard of before, so we went to Jordan and Egypt, which both were fascinating.” And she’s never stopped exploring. “The more you travel the more you realise how much there is to see!” she enthuses.
A trained graphic designer and art director, Sofia is probably best known for her work as a model and influencer, collaborating with high-profile, luxury brands such as Marni, Chloe, and Jimmy Choo on content, social and events. It’s hard to pinpoint a description that exactly encapsulates her work, she herself is at a loss as to how to summarise the myriad facets of her career into one title. When I ask what she tells people she does for a living, she laughs, “I do so many things I never know how to answer that one!” Alongside consulting she has authored a travel tome with publisher Assouline and recently founded her own fashion label, Chufy, named after her childhood nickname. Inspired by her unstoppable wanderlust, the collections each take their cue from a different location and aim to “Mix an inspirational trip with my everyday style. I tend to buy most of my pieces when I travel, but I could never find the right piece, it was either too traditional or too thin to wear elsewhere. What I wanted to do was to make pieces that were inspired by travel but had the right fit and looked wearable – so that I wouldn’t look like a geisha in New York!” Inspired by the culture of each place, she works with local artisans on exclusive prints and embroidery. Previous collections have been influenced by her homeland of Argentina and a trip to Japan, with linen gaucho pants and billowing kimono sleeve dresses featuring in the label’s eclectic mix.
Born in Buenos Aires, Sofia now resides in New York but is planning a move to Paris soon to “slow down a bit.” The reason behind wanting to press pause? She is expecting her first child, a little girl, with her husband Alexandre de Betak. She says she has found pregnancy “super difficult.” She pauses for a moment before continuing, “It’s quite challenging, fascinating and revealing in many ways. I’ve changed a lot… I’ve matured a lot.” At 38 weeks pregnant she has already started to take life at a more measured pace, when we speak over the phone, she is in Mallorca, where she has decided to spend the last few weeks of her pregnancy. Temporarily relocating to a different country to give birth might not be most expectant mothers’ ideal scenario, but to Sofia it makes perfect sense. “I had to be in nature, a different environment,” she explains. “We wanted her to be born in a place that we adore so much.”
Despite her predilection for far-flung destinations, every year Sofia and her husband spend two weeks in Spain. “While it makes my world to keep travelling and being inspired by different places, my husband was more of a European traveller. He’d come to Mallorca and the beach, but when we started dating I was like ‘I’m not staying in the same place all summer!’ So we negotiated doing half and half – every summer we spend two weeks in Mallorca and then two weeks somewhere else. We go somewhere exotic, a bit unheard of… I’ve managed to take him to Kenya, Greece, Chile, Myanmar…”
Pregnancy is challenging, fascinating and revealing in many ways
Sofia’s peripatetic life inevitably begs the question: how will becoming a mother impact on her travels? Babies have a unique capacity for quashing spontaneity I say. “Now that we’re expecting I’m not sure how to manage how to explore! I have no clue – I don’t like planning when I have no idea what mother I will become. For now, I want to be just chilled and I’ll have to see what I am! Most mothers think they’ll be one way and they are a different type…so we’ll see!”
While the high and lows of motherhood are still yet unknown, her perspective on life has started shifting already. Being pregnant has given her clarity on, “The wider angle, the beautiful way of life. The baby’s health is the most important and whatever else is going on, stress at work or other world issues, you remind yourself, you’re happy and healthy and that’s what matters. That’s something that I didn’t tend to appreciate as much before.”
In Her Words
Hide the bump or show off the bump?
“I try to hide away from showing it off, it’s such a private and personal moment. Obviously with my friends and family it’s different but I keep it for my loved ones.”
Nine joyous months or nine long months?
“Long, Very long.”
What have you missed most during pregnancy?
“Mostly my mobility. And to drink and to dance. And sleeping, I had a really hard time sleeping the first seven months.”
What has surprised you most about pregnancy?
“How connected your soul and your body are. It was literally almost automatic - I move in a certain way, the baby moves in a certain way.”
What could you not have lived without when expecting?
“Candy. The last part of the pregnancy I started craving sweets – I got a huge basket of Argentinian caramel from my sister.”
Girl, boy or waiting to find out?
"A girl – I always knew she was a girl. All my life I’ve known I’d have a girl."
If your partner could carry the baby would you let him?
"For sure, next time, yes! Also, it’s fascinating as much as it is hard work, and they can’t really feel it. So next time he can do it!"
Visit Chufy and shop the collection here.
Words by Amanda Woodward-Brown
Photography by Arale Reartes
Hair and makeup by Jezz Hill