ILLUSTRATION | GEM COOTE
Someone recently asked me “why have you chosen to lead a complicated life?”.
She asked with such disarming sincerity that I think I laughed out loud, involuntarily, mostly at myself. Thing is - she came to this question after a string of previous questions about all the stuff I have endured to get to where I am, perhaps to help her measure up how smart her own choices have been…. or to work out just how bonkers I am. Either way, she got me thinking.
Firstly, she was totally right, I have chosen this life.
Secondly, while I know what she meant, I don’t believe it’s deliberately complex.
Her arrival at this question made me realise that I tend to not see things as easy or hard but as worth it or not. I think I’ve always been blessed with a sense for what I want out of myself and never been content with a pre-defined “simple life”. Simplicity, on the other hand, is different to a simple life. Seeking out the difficulty for its own sake is just masochistic, but shying away from what you want (because achieving it may seem hard or complicated) is just as self-destructive.
Every time I’ve waded through a tricky situation whether it be turning away from a toxic relationship, saying ‘yes’ to a project well over my head, putting everything on the line to start a business, packing up a lost loved one’s home - I’ve got enough evidence now to confidently say that I have always risen to the occasion, survived it and even grown from it… (tripping up repeatedly along the way).
Conversely, every time I run from something that is gut-wrenchingly scary, I regret it eternally. Left wondering what could have happened if I just tried? The regret on loop in my head until the next time a similar challenge arises, hoping I’ll be more bulletproof then.
Can you avoid complexity in life? The few people I know who have crafted a life for themselves, keeping their heads down and living quietly, end up leading lovely lives seemingly free from unnecessary complications, but the hard stuff still finds them.
Reviving In Venus Veritas after an almost 18-month hiatus – licking my wounds as I rebuild my life – has been just as scary as it is inspiring. The process taught me to ask for help, seek out talent, and redefine by surrounding myself with inspired people who are motivated by the same cause. Our cause? To elevate the standard of how women are represented in the automotive world, even out the gender playing field, while making beautiful, intelligent content... and have a whole lot of fun while we’re at it.
The editorial team has grown to include Associate Editors Kel McIntosh and Jo-Ann McEwan, besties and both motorcyclists who love wrenching with a deep affection for vintage cars, planes and bikes. They’ve restored the website and purged it of its gremlins, written incredibly entertaining yet informative pieces on gear, Petrolettes, feminism, and building motorcycles through their unique, self-deprecating filter… and generally kicked me in the proverbial to get this beast live!
USA content editor Kristen Lassen continues her commitment to sharing the stories of women in history who should not be forgotten, whilst pulling together great stories from her cross-country travels, motorcycle builds, and the rad women around her.
Kristen also visited IVV headquarters in Sydney last year, and I can’t wait to share with you her Petrolette feature! How someone 10 years my junior already experienced a full life of tough choices to follow her gut… brave and wise.
Contributors now stream in from India, London, Berlin, and Florida, with more to come as we build a platform for Petrolettes the world over to express themselves, share their stories and encourage other women to have the courage to do the same. Words, photography, illustration, art, and art direction - all original and mostly by women.
For me, the Petrolette is the ultimate symbol of what makes women so inspiring; we are strong while vulnerable, face our fears and keep going, elevating those around us. The Petrolette is that woman who decided to finally kick a leg over a motorcycle, book into flight school, open a car manual and change the oil, plan a solo trip around the world on two-wheels, start a track day club for other women, be the face of an automotive prime-time TV show… she is the woman who knows she is a gender minority, knows facing sexism and gender bias will be hard but doesn’t let it get in the way of what she wants… because for her, it’s totally worth it.
Let’s awaken the Petrolette.
Heleana is a force of nature. The founder of In Venus Veritas and The Petrolette, and a co-founder of Rising Sun Workshop. Heleana shares her love of vintage cars, riding motorcycles, and (not-so-secretly) dreams of flying planes and piloting a riva aquariva (a la Sophia Loren) very fast through the canals of Venice. Supportive and connected, community is her lifeblood, and she is as real as they come.