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"I want to show that happiness is in other things than how thin you are. Your value as a person does not depend on that."

 

From Top model to Matcha ambassador
Matcha tea helped Sofia, 22, beat her eating disorder and find herself. Now she wants
with her company Koko Riko Tea to introduce as many people as possible to the
benefits of matcha.

 flair magazine belgium matcha groene thee

 

"My parents are from Ukraine, and we lived illegally in Belgium for eleven years. In that period caught twice by the police. Financially it was difficult because my parents could not officially work. When I discovered I could become a model, that seemed the ticket out of that misery. I was barely 16 when I was almost naked in front of the lens of the well-known fashion photographer Marc Lagrange. Pretty young I realize now, but I was raised in the idea that as a girl you have little voice and do what is asked of you. Work hard and keep silent. It's just some context to explain how it could get this far for me. "

 

"I've been working non-stop ever since. I sometimes skipped school to do photoshoots. When I got the chance to go to Paris in 2017, it seemed like my big break. I was still studying marketing back then, but the combination was so tough that I gave up my studies. I got big opportunities, was allowed to work for beauty brands like Lancôme and Bourjois, but I was naive, a young lonely girl who got lost in the big city. And then you have all those people around you influencing you, like your agency. Sofia, if you want to make it, you have to lose weight. And then they squeezed my butt to show where I had to lose the pounds. So I went swimming and exercising every day, I forbade myself an extra bite to eat. After a while, I barely ate anything. In a short time, I lost 10 kilos: My agency applauded when I walked in. I thought I was doing well but slept badly and always saw black spots in front of my eyes I barely met with friends to avoid that I had to eat in front of them. In the mirror, I still saw that girl who was too fat. "

 

Ritual

"When I came home after months, my parents were shocked at how thin I was. They put me in front of an ultimatum: I gained weight or was not allowed to return to Paris. Of course, I didn't see it myself like this: I thought the world was unfair to me, didn't I do what was expected of me ?! About then I met up with friends and drank matcha tea for the first time. I thought it was a bit dirty, bitter, but I had read that it helped speed up your metabolism, so it fit my sick mind at the time. Only it had another effect that I did not expect. Every morning I took ten minutes for my ritual: heat the water to the right temperature beat the tea with a bamboo whisk and add some my milk. It became a moment for myself, of reflection, almost meditation, and one way to deal with the panic attacks and anxiety. I noticed that I started to think more positive. I  felt better, became calmer, had no more heart palpitations. I began to realize that I had to nourish my body and make it happy, instead of denying it food. I had to control my body and my life and take it into my own hands. I then also went into therapy and after a while, my weight came back to a healthy level. And you know? Now that I'm a bit heavier, I still have a lot of jobs as a model, even better jobs than before! "

 

Platform

"I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, now I had found something I was passionate about. Since a year there is also Koko Riko Tea, my own matcha brand. Matcha is not a comprehensive solution, hey, certainly not for an eating disorder: I still go to the psychologist to address my issues. But it is a sedative with proven effects on your body. Studies have shown that matcha is full of antioxidants, magnesium and vitamin A. The latter takes care of it for the production of dopamine, the happiness hormone. Matcha lowers blood pressure, relaxes your head, reduces fears, helps with focus and concentration. I work with the best supplier from Japan, everything is organic and I deliver all over Europe for free: I want to deliver top quality at an affordable price because matcha is not cheap and some brands take advantage of this by asking high prices. On our Instagram I discuss my story, I talk about PMS, anxiety ... I see it as a platform to make people feel better. I want to show that happiness is in other things than on how thin you are. Your value as a person does not depend on that. Entrepreneurship is for me not about making money it is mainly about being able to mean something to others. I am no longer that naïve young girl, but a strong woman. And I feel good because I do good for others. "


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