News on Sunday

MEET THE EXPATS - JACQUIE ALYSHA TALBOT - The Singing, Holistic-Living Business Woman


We met Jacquie while looking for dried cranberries in her health food shop, the V-Choice Boutik in Vanilla Village, Tamarin, where we were immediately struck by an accent that we couldn’t quite figure out. After having a quick chat, we came to know that the quirky, smiling lady behind the counter moved to Mauritius from Switzerland over 15 years ago to begin a new life, and now lives happy, bright and very varied days on the island. Intrigued, we met her again the following week for an interview over coffee and here’s what happened…


So, Jacquie! You tell us you moved here from Switzerland back in 2002. Can you tell us what life is like over there?
It’s actually pretty good! Mauritius is nice and warm; I’ve always been a person who doesn’t appreciate the cold that much. Funnily enough, before coming to Mauritius I had an offer to go to London, which is cold as well. So I thought hmmm… let’s think about this really well.

The sunshine, the ocean and the nature all brought me to Mauritius. Before moving, I had a good life in Switzerland. I spent a lot of time working on music and gigging. I had a little country rock ‘n’ roll band. Since being in Mauritius, I’ve changed my style a little bit. I mostly write in English, but I now write in Creole as well - I’m going to be working on an album at some point soon.

Sounds exciting! Can you tell us where the idea of wanting to move somewhere else came from?
Actually, it just happened. I had come to Mauritius for holidays. I used to be a musician/singer/songwriter and all I did in my spare time was to attend fairs and co-writing sessions but after a while, I thought that I needed some time off and one of the options was Mauritius. I had never heard of it before and actually made the decision with a pendulum, thinking I wish it were the Maldives, which was another option.

I was like, ‘why does it have to be Mauritius?’ I knew nothing about the island. So I came here on this last minute holiday, started scuba diving and really loved it. I then came back a year later. I was supposed to go to London and work part time for a music lawyer whilst doing my singer/song writing stints, but then I decided to stay in Mauritius and do it from here.

When you first arrived in Mauritius, what was your initial reaction?
That’s actually quite funny. It was 7am and the hotel room wasn’t ready. We were staying in the South - and the birds were chirping and the sun was rising. I was actually quite emotional. I didn’t think of the time difference and got straight on the phone and called my best friend and told her, ‘You have to come here’! And she said, ‘Are you crazy?! It’s 5am here and it’s snowing and I’m standing outside because the children are sleeping!’ *laughs* About a week later, I was totally fascinated by the natural   environment.

Around that time, I had some experience with flower essences and a friend of mine was into this, too, and we were both into Pranic healing, which is a form of Reiki - a work on energy on the chakras. Anyway, I told her there were some endemic flowers here and she had to come over to see them. She’s actually on the island now and lives in the South!

When did your interest in the area of Pranic healing start and have you always been quite spiritual?
It started in Switzerland quite a while ago and yes; it’s probably the artistic side of me. I’m not really very religious, but definitely feel a connection.

When you moved to Mauritius, you told us you got married to a Mauritian man and had children here. Were there any challenges that you faced in that period?
I think in general, at the beginning, things are quite easy. People are quite open to foreigners. What I do believe is that the different ethnic groups tend to stick to their communities. But that also goes for family and friends - they have the people that they grew up with and they haven’t experienced the same things that you may have experienced abroad, and that may lead to some friction.

But that’s everywhere you go, it’s not something just in Mauritius. But I think Mauritius has changed quite a lot. It’s grown a lot; more and more international tourists are coming and expats, too. I can really see a broad spectrum of people.

Are there any other major changes that you have seen during your time here?
The most striking change is the amount of traffic and shopping malls! As I remember, there was not one mall when I first got here, and now they're practically everywhere. One could even say there are too many! I remember first arriving and I was looking for wooden cooking spoons and I couldn’t find any, and it was driving me mad!

Now, can you tell us what you like most about living in Mauritius?
I love a lot of things! The sunshine… there isn’t much fog. The recreational activities on the water, like water skiing and diving and just basically going swimming. I also love the hikes in the Gorges. What I love about Mauritius is that you have the mountains so close to the ocean. It’s quite special, you know. I know Hawaii has it as well - and my friend, who I brought to Mauritius with me, she used to live in Hawaii and she says these two places are so similar.

Moving on to business… Can you tell us a bit about the business and where the idea came from?
From my personal experience, I know habits are hard to change. Having grown up in Switzerland, not eating cheese and not having a cappuccino with dairy milk was a big issue at the time when I decided to go vegan. So I tried many plant-based milk drinks and cheese alternatives and I finally found the ’Sheese’ range advertised. When I saw it was manufactured on a small Scottish Island, the ‘island connection’ immediately appealed to me.

So we ordered samples and when we received them, I was just over the moon. They are so nice. I had many people taste them: vegetarians, vegans and non-vegetarians alike - and everyone liked them. So we launched Sheese at the end of December 2016 at the Food Lover’s Markets in Mauritius. I was very happy to have brought Sheese to Mauritius. These free-from cheese alternatives are not only tasty but also much healthier than any dairy cheese.

They are low calorie, have 0 cholesterol, and are lactose-, dairy- and gluten-free. Plus they are 100% plant based. Ideal for people who want to reduce their carbon foot print, folks who have allergy problems and of course, vegetarians who want to give up dairy and still indulge in cheese. 

In May 2017, I realized that I needed an office and an assistant for our plant-based/ healthy food distribution business. It had to be around Black River. When I found out about the new Vanilla Village and saw the beautiful location, I got inspired to open V-Choice - the holistic lifestyle shop. My mission is to offer a range of products for a healthier, eco-friendly and ethical lifestyle. ‘V' stands for Vita - meaning life... life is precious!

So let’s celebrate it – let’s love, protect and respect life. At V-Choice, we aim to offer products for wellness, health, and inner and outer beauty. Books, gifts and tools for balancing body, mind and soul and a range of foods & drinks, specialty infusions such as the well-known Mauritian Moringa and organic, gluten-free and lactose-free products.

We also offer NaturEssences remedies made from flowers of Mauritius and hand made face and body scrubs, bath salts, organic body balms, Shakti mats, yoga and meditation items… the range is growing steadily and of course, all our products are cruelty free.

I love a lot of things! The sunshine… there isn’t much fog. The recreational activities on the water, like water skiing and diving and just basically going swimming. I also love the hikes in the Gorges. What I love about Mauritius is that you have the mountains so close to the ocean. It’s quite special, you know.

Sounds fantastic and much needed! How’s it all going so far?
It’s slow – but moreover, we’re still waiting for other products to arrive and we haven’t done much marketing yet either. I now know what we want. We want to be this holistic lifestyle boutique. Obviously I want to encourage people to live in harmony with themselves, with the planet and with all beings. We do encourage plant-based nutrition. We have gluten free and vegan and organic products. I think one major issue that we have on the island is the pesticide/herbicide issues on the fruit and vegetable side of things. We will be looking at getting some suppliers for fresh produce.

We would like people to be more conscious of these things: of organic style living, of being in harmony with nature and the health side of it as well. Usually, vegans are seen as animal lovers - yes we are, but we are human lovers as well.

What made you decide to become vegan?
I ran into some people actually who were in Mauritius. I worked with a German lady who worked for the charity PAWS, who was vegan and that sparked my interest. Then I met a wonderful Mauritian lady during an animal welfare event for the monkey trade. Through this, I ran into the vegans of Mauritius.

So, we’ve gathered that you live quite a varied life, with the business and your music. How do you split your time up?
Don’t try and tell me to do a time plan! Every so often I do, but I never stick to it. Since having the shop, I see a little less of the children but luckily, they’re quite busy with school. They go to a school up in Moka – which is a French school. They leave the house at 7am and come home at 4:30pm, which permits me to do whatever I want in that time. Then I usually go back home and we have the rest of the afternoon together.

If people want to listen to your music, is there a place where they can hear it?
I do some gigs now and then. Details are usually up on my Facebook page. I’ve also recorded a song called ‘Beach Bum Country Girl’ *laughs* I had to write a song for an upcoming festival and got inspired, and thought, ‘What do people see me as?’ So, I came up with that title. Its on YouTube and you should be able to find it. It was recorded at Scorpio studio and we actually shot the video at the beach in Tamarin.

We’ll definitely be checking that out! Before we end, what would you like the future to hold for you, your family and your business?
Good question. I would like that the future permits me to do all these little things alongside each other, successfully. I know you’re supposed to focus on one thing at a time and channel your energy - but that’s not me. I might not become a millionaire – but I don’t care. I’m here to be who I am. And to share with the people here what I like sharing. It’s not all about making money – but I’m hoping that people will understand the concept of holistic living and be interested.

Yes, definitely. Finally, do you have any words for our readers or a motto that you live by that you’d like to share?
Celebrate, respect and protect life. People, often in their struggles for survival, learn about the spirit of compassion - as what you give out comes back to you. It’s a scientific law of attraction and it’s also anchored in religions. And I think once people realise that, they will be better off themselves and the world will be a better place.

Sabah and Khalid are a husband and wife team with two young children, hailing from the UK. Having set up home in Mauritius, they are on a mission to meet others on the island who have done exactly what they have done: packed up their homes and lives in their home countries and moved to pastures brighter, bluer and more beautiful – Mauritius! They also wish to highlight issues that expats face here just to make life on the island that little bit easier.

 To be interviewed, please email


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