When we first walked into the Paperpashes studio for our retro 1950s photoshoot, we had NO IDEA what to expect. What we found was an amazing woman named Fiora, who has created Paperpashes with her two besties. Over the past 17 years she has cared for her son Andreas, who was born with autism, she has created an entire autism specific school, she’s beaten blood cancer, and now she’s created her own dream business. Her story was so inspiring, we just had to share it with you…
Hayley + Lauren xx
My name is Fiora Christou, and I’m the photographer and creator of Paperpashes Vintage Photography Studio.
I’ve overcome many challenges in my life, some have made me wiser others stronger. Like many Australians, my parents were hard working migrants devoted to their family. They installed a strong work ethic in us and always encouraged us to reach for the stars. I went to university worked within finance and government realms, paid my bills and looked after my young family. A few years later my son was diagnosed with ASD. I remember feeling like my life was imploding. I dedicated myself to organising therapy and never ending appointments with health professionals. My beautiful boy reached school age and it was time to send the child I had wrapped in cotton wool out into the big wide world. Very quickly i realised that this new world was not ready to accommodate his needs and my family moved interstate where an autism specific school was offered. This was a turning point. Part of me didn’t want to accept that my little boy belonged in this specialised setting the other part knew that this was what he needed. He thrived at this school and we kept him there for three years. To this day ( he’s now 17), he still wears a light blue polo shirt after school, the same colour that his uniform was in this unique setting. We returned to Adelaide to be close to family and friends only to find that the educational landscape hadn’t changed at all during our absence. After much frustration and many tears I was inspired to start the state’s first autism specific school. It was a long, convoluted and challenging journey but after six years, lots of help from old friends with different skill sets, Aspect Treetop was opened. My son now attends and like any other teenager, would prefer to stay home than go to school. Fast forward a few years and I was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. Treatment left me feeling exhausted, both mentally and physically. To celebrate the end of the treatment I decided to surprise my bestie with a weekend away interstate with all the trimmings. This woman has brought me soup, cleaned my house and held my hand and heart during my darkest days. I wanted her to know how much I appreciated her, her time, her care and her love. I organised a vintage photo shoot and had such a fabulous day, filled with lots of laughter and beautiful moments. We left feeling like supermodels and floated through the rest of the weekend. On our arrival home I was inspired to recreate the experience we had for other women here in Adelaide. Two years later paperpashes was opened and my dream to spread joy and empower women of all ages and sizes began.
Enjoy the simple things in life. Have courage and be kind.
What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever been given?
No one is the best at what they do at the start….but you need to start to be the best.
My dad! He has an amazing work ethic, is always there for me and is an amazing support and friend
What is your favourite place in SA?
The beaches at Port Elliot and Second Valley
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a part time ballerina on earth and part time astronaut in space!
We love to celebrate the little wins – how do you celebrate or let your hair down after a big week?
I love spending time with my family and friends, summer barbecues, collecting shells and stargazing.