Women Making A Difference: Up Close and Personal with Rochelle Zonnenberg

RochelleInterviewCover.jpgRochelle is one muli-talented woman who is a wife of an aviator, a mother of two beautiful little girls, a blogger and an entrepreneur. She runs the blog Quest and Mark, which is a Qatar based family blog where she shares her travels, dining experiences, recipes, motherhood and family adventures.

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Rochelle with her beautiful family

Other than a lifestyle blog, she also runs a community centric venture called Hobby House Qatar, which is a unique concept and first of its kind in Doha. Through this platform, Rochelle brings people with talent that can mentor anyone looking to pick up a hobby of their choice. I absolutely love the concept and the classes she runs, bringing some of Doha’s most talented woman together and gives others an opportunity to learn from them. (More details about Hobby House Qatar on this from her in the interview below)

Rochelle has recently given birth to her second child – a precious baby girl and when we met for this shoot, her baby Alexie was only a month old. While I talked to her and clicked photos, and watched her multitask the photoshoot, Amelie – her toddler who was down with a cold and nursing Alexie – her new born.

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So let’s dive right into the conversation with this Super woman..


Q: Tell us something about yourself? Who is Rochelle in real life?

Rochelle: I am Rochelle, a passionate full time mommy to two beautiful girls and a doting wife to a Flying Dutchman. I am also an entrepreneur working hard to establish and grow a community-based business called Hobby House Qatar. In my past life I used to be a flight attendant. I also worked with the Miss India Organization and hold a bachelors degree in Advertising & communication. I’ve lived in Qatar for the past 12 years. It a country very close to my heart for all its helped me achieve both personally and professionally. I now call it home.DSCF6936Q:You and your husband make a beautiful couple. You both are from different cultures; tell us about your story. What are the challenges of an intercultural marriage?

Rochelle: My husband and I met back in 2009 when he had just moved to the country on a second officer program for Qatar Airways. We got introduced at a party by a common friend and kept bumping into each other regularly at social gatherings. After a few months he asked me out on a date and although scared and reluctant at that time I said yes. We had our first date at a café in Souq Waqif and what I thought would be an awkward evening turned out to be one of the most fun evenings out. The rest is pretty much history. It wasn’t love at first sight but a love that grew stronger over time. The more we found out about each other the more we fell in love.DSCF6995With that kind of love came a sense of maturity and understanding that things would always be different coming from worlds apart. The challenges are not challenges for us as we treat them as opportunities to learn and view things differently. Its not always easy but its how every relationship is. We’ve always tried to find a meeting ground for what works for us both individually and as a couple. We discuss and review almost everything and do it ever so more now that we have children. We try to do what’s best for them taking from both cultures. I think being in Qatar helps us as we are in neutral ground and are not forced by outside factors.DSCF6984.jpgQ: You are now a mum of two beautiful girls. How has motherhood changed you and your life? How has it affected your work?

Rochelle: I had no idea how much motherhood would effect me before I became one. Its like the day I held my oldest daughter a switch went off in my head. I now see the world with a third eye. Motherhood has changed me a great deal and all for the better. I am more understanding, more present, more alive. I’ve become selfless however value my self and my time a lot more. Everything I do and say is now with a larger view of how this would reflect on my girls. I do things with a hope of setting a good example for them be it in the everyday mundane things or work, pretty much all aspects of my life.DSCF6784.jpgQ: What is your biggest challenge as a mum? Your advice to other mums?

Rochelle: The biggest challenge I would say for me was losing my identity. All of sudden there was this person who defined me more than what I had worked my whole to do or be. I had to find myself again. I had to find a balance between being myself, a wife, a professional and a mum. It’s hard very to do it all when you’re sleep deprived and yet completely in love with this tiny human that absorbs all of what you have to give.DSCF6792My advice to new mums is to be kind to yourself. If that means to cry and vent out frustrations – do it, if it is to say you miss work and your old life – say it, if it is to take an hour or two to pamper yourself – do it. Try not to feel guilty about anything coz God knows you are just trying to be the new you.DSCF6874Q: What inspired you to start a blog? Tell us about the ‘Quest and Mark’ journey?

Rochelle: I’ve always been a wanderer at heart. I’ve travelled pretty much every month for the past 12 years except for the short periods of pregnancy that I was not allowed to. I started the blog a couple of years ago just to put out information about my travels and experiences. From that of course the blog has taken a shape and a life of its own. I’m currently working on relaunching the blog. Post summer I have lots of ideas and projects lined up for myself that will result in more family friendly posts and information.DSCF6942.jpgQ: What if you are invited for a food/hotel review and you do not like the food /service AT all! What do you do in a situation like that?

Rochelle: Honesty is the best policy and that is one I stand by be it about anything I blog about. If I do not like anything or was unsatisfied I believe in telling the management about it first before I put out in a blog post. People in the hospitality business work very hard to keep up to standards and have the right to know about their failures directly then via publishing it on social media. That said, I always make sure that my disappointments are clearly stated in my review and so is the outcome of it being mentioned to the staff. After all dissing a dish, chef, restaurant, or staff online wont make any difference than just simply hurting the establishment but by giving positive feedback much more can be collectively achieved.DSCF7074.jpgQ: Tell us more about your entrepreneurial venture, Hobby House Qatar. Tell us how, did that happen and what’s it all about.

Rochelle: Hobby House Qatar is a very special project I’ve been working on for the past few months. Hobby House is quite simply a product of my own search and frustration to find a place in Doha where I could learn new creative skills and enhance existing ones. I’ve lived in the country for 12 odd years and i’ve never been able to find a one stop shop place that houses people with talent that can mentor anyone looking to pick up a hobby of their choice. There a few that cater to children but what about adult minds that need stimulation.

As a young girl my mother always inculcated in us a habit to take time to do what we love. Not always with the hope to excel at it but to have a way to vent out and release our daily stress. It could be anything from painting to recycling old cards to pottery to cross stitch to crochet. Just anything under the sun. It was the act of trying something new, learning and developing a part of our brain and ourselves that affected our overall personality, moral, self-esteem and wellbeing. It was also a great way for us as young girls to meet new like-minded people that would help us push our creative boundaries and eventually enhance ourselves. My search was futile and quite frankly I was just fed up of waiting on someone to act upon the idea. Sometime last year I decided to take matters in my own hands and so Hobby House Qatar was born.

HHQ is a place where talents are fostered, nurtured and grown. HHQ collaborates with artist and mentors around the city to teach what they love doing the most. The main aim is to simply share knowledge, ideas and learn new skills. It is also a place to meet new people, make new friends & drink lots of ☕ together while building a hobby loving community.

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Image Credit – Hobby House Qatar

At HHQ workshops are conducted monthly. Workshops are priced at 250 QAR per head. All workshops include material required. Spaces at #HHQ workshops are limited with a max capacity of 12 people for a regular session and 8 for some special ones.

Q: How do you balance between motherhood, your blog and Hobby House?

Rochelle: I’m sort of a workaholic and really enjoy what I do. I honestly don’t make myself a schedule to dedicate a special time for work. With the kids needs, tantrums and house chores I basically fit in work everywhere I can. I think I am most productive of course when the kids are in bed and then I take time to either write a blog post or organize things for HHQ.DSCF6897.jpgQ: What is a skill you’d like to learn and why?

Rochelle: Oh there are so many things I’d like to learn. In fact all the workshops I organize and put together stem from the hunger to learn something new. If there’s one Id really like to learn it would have to be pottery or working with clay. There is something about how delicate of an art form it is. Its simplicity and technicality is what draws me to try my hand at it.DSCF6909Q: What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Rochelle: To NEVER UNDER SELL MYSELF.DSCF6775Q: What’s next for you, the blog, and Hobby House?

Rochelle: As I mentioned the earlier the Blog will take a new life post summer. As for hobby house I plan to launch a website that will have all of the information about what we do. It will feature our mentors, our workshops, and any up coming collaborations.DSCF6999


Rochelle’s Favorites

TV Show/Movie:  Friends/Amélie

Book/Novel: Life of Pie

Blog:  Sally in Focus &, My Name is Lillyrose for Photography , Lesrebelle Squad & Bonjour Chiara for fashion, Clumsychic & Follow Your Sunshine for Mummy stuff, The Culture Trip for travel

Daily Wear Attire:  Jeans & Tee

Activity with Family: Pool day

Travel Destination: Tuscany, Bordeaux

Fine Dining Restaurant: Hakkasan, Nozomi, Nobu,

Family Friendly Restaurant: Elements

Indian food or Dutch: Definitely Indian

Designer: Mochi – Cause I love ethnic boho fashion , Chloé & Celine  bags , Eli Saab & Naeem Khan

High Street Store:  H&M

Kids/Baby Store: Gap kids


Thank you, Rochelle for taking the time out for doing this for my blog.

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Behind the scenes fun with Rochelle and Amelie

You can follow Rochelle and as she says “Join the Quest and Mark your map!”

Website: https://questandmark.com/

Quest And Mark @QuestandMark

Hobby House Qatar  Facebook  and Instagram

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