Diane Danvers-Simmons

Location: Monterey, CA
Age:50
Marital Status: Married
Education: “Real life and work experiences”

How do you feel about being 50?

I grew up with much older parents so my attitude is, age isn’t but a number. I feel better now than I did in my 30s. There is this incredible body of women out there who have so much to offer and have redefined what growing older is.

Tell me about your parents.

My mother was 45 and my dad was 60 when I was born. They had a wiser perspective on life. They took me everywhere and opened up the world to me. One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me was to say “you can be and do anything you put your heart and mind too.” I pass this on to my children.

What do you do?

I’m a mother/homemaker and I’ve chaired or worked with numerous charities/school events. I worked in advertising for many years and was a senior vice president at Saatchi & Saatchi group. I started my career in London and moved to New York in 1987 for work. It sounds corny but I thought, ‘if I can make it there I’m going to make it anywhere.’ I loved combining business and creativity. In England I was called a “little thug” because I was ambitious; America embraced me.

You quit working when you had kids?

When I had my daughter I had every intention of going back to work; then she arrived and I thought, ‘I have this beautiful young child and I’m going to spend time with her.’ I returned to marketing after a few years, creating my own flexible schedule. I was very strict about trying to create a balance. When I became pregnant with Nick I chose to focus on the family. I have four children, Natalie, 16, Nicholas, 13 and my step kids Kelly, 26 and Brian, 24.

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How do you define your style?

Classic with a twist. I love Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dresses, Donna Karan and Tracey Reese. I also love a chic sheath dress which I accessorize with a beautiful piece of jewelry. I’m not a frou-frou or a twee person in any way.

Who influenced your style?

My parents were always interested in fashion. My dad was born in 1899 and he used to say that the most attractive decade for women was the 1930s: elegant lines, beautiful fabrics. My mother taught me to take pride in myself.

Tell me why you like Oya Salon?

It’s not just a hair salon. All these ideas surface every time I’m there. Brian, the owner, is full of positive energy and ideas. He hosts events featuring fashion and speakers on all aspects of beauty.There’s a unique spirituality there.

Do you have a signature item that you always wear?

A St. Christopher medal from my favorite jewelry store, F. Gerald New in New Jersey. I collect them in different colors. People are always complimenting them. My mother’s brother was in the Second World War and he always wore a St. Christopher. He survived the most awful plane crashes scott-free.

Who or what inspires you?

People who shine from within and just have a special presence. Deepak Chopra is one of these and one of the most interesting people of our time. Here is a man who trained in western medicine but embraces the eastern philosophy of mind/body awareness. He helps you incorporate spirituality and the belief of infinite possibilities into your life. At the same time, he is funny and very real.

What do you do to rejuvenate?

I meditate every day. And every afternoon I have a cup of English tea.

What do you do for exercise?

Yoga and Pilates and walking with my dog. Often I just dance and sing around the house. I see the need for balance and fun.

What’s your biggest indulgence?

I buy very good chocolate and have at least four cubes a day. What is life without chocolates?

What book do you love?

The Red Tent because I loved reading about the strength and unity of women in biblical history. Our culture and religion often puts men at the head of the family, but the book celebrates the women as the nurturers and the foundation behind them.

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What are you passionate about?

Many things. My number one passion is my children. I’m blessed with these incredible, beautiful souls, and it’s my job to love, nurture and guide them. I’m also passionate about nutrition and health. Good food equals good health. We eat a European diet and I cook everything from scratch. I love to cook and always buy organic produce. The best part of making food is sitting around the table and enjoying it with family and friends!

Do you have a passion project?

A couple. I want to inspire and help women connect to their souls, believe in themselves and be all they want to be at ANY AGE. I feel very strongly about guiding tweens (while we still have influence) and teens. I recently worked with Brandi Chastain, the soccer personality, on a project called Brandi’s World. The goal is to use positive role models to promote a healthy lifestyle for young girls and in doing so show them the path to realizing their dreams. I also have a number of book ideas.

What’s your secret favorite place in Carmel?

Carmel’s Beaches. I’ll take my dog and walk along or just sit by the ocean.

Your favorite restaurant in that area?

There’s a great sushi restaurant in town: Sushi Heaven. It’s tiny, tiny! But they have the freshest, best sushi. The owner always makes us feel so welcome and makes my kids special treats.

What about a favorite wine?

I love the New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs, and my local Bernardus winery produces a nice chardonnay. I also like the Russian River area for white wine. One of my favorite red wines is Prisoner from Napa.

What’s the single most important thing you learned in your career?

To make everyone feel relevant and part of the team, and to enjoy what you do and have fun!

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about money?

It should be used to give you freedom and bring joy, not to imprison you. It really doesn’t buy you happiness. It’s not the thing that’s going to embrace you or hold you at night.

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