It was certainly one of my most beautiful meeting this summer.
While in Paris in September I was very lucky to meet Hélène de Tayrac.
Who knows Hélène de Tayrac?
If the name may not tell you anything, you know more than probably the incredible event of the world of diving which Hélène de Tayrac is the creator and the director for more than 20 years: Le salon de la plongée de Paris
A woman at the head of such an event in the diving world could only intrigue me
So, it was with a touch of curiosity and a lot of joy that I went to this meeting.
I discovered a warm, intelligent person with a clear and progressive vision of the world of diving. Our philosophies matched, and we had a communion of ideas that turned our originally planned meeting time into a long 2-hour of sharing.
But who is Hélène de Tayrac?
This is the first surprise: nothing predisposed Hélène to be at the head of an event as important as the Paris Dive Show. Passionate about dance, Hélène dreams of being a dancer. When she tells her parents that she would like to make the exam at the Paris Opera, they refuse and ask her to finish school first.
At that time, Hélène sometimes devotes herself to diving on holiday in Sardinia without being a fan, probably because she didn’t succeed the first level, at the time, she did not find fins to her size!
After high school, Hélène then moves towards a “press” school in Paris by passion for the media and the communication. She works for the Bar of Paris but also in the comics area as press secretary of Uderzo and in the health sector, notably by participating in the creation of the first Ronald Mac Donald House for hospitalized children’s families.
Following a dismissal, Hélène who describes herself as a free electron, then decides to rebound and create her own agency “HP communication”.
Birth of the Paris Dive Show
In 1998, while Hélène is involved in her professional projects, she meets a cameraman diver who proposes to create an event around the world of diving. She accepts and starts the adventure.
The success of the first edition of the Paris Dive Show surprises her: 10.000 visitors flock to the aisles where 40 exhibitors are present.
After this first Show Hélène then decides to get trained for her level 1 of diver because she realizes that there are many elements that she does not know and that it is difficult to evolve in a world of enthusiasts without understand a minimum of what is happening in this universe.
On the other hand, she uses her communication skills to make this Show a real business. For this, she refuses from the start the practices of exchanges or barter like: “give me a stand and I offer you a trip, a diving suit, …”
With her professional background, Hélène is lucid about the rules of the business and the conditions that can grow this Show and said with a smile that the Paris Dive Show would not be what it is if she had her garage full of wetsuit and spent her time traveling.
After the second Dive Show, Hélène separates from her partner and resumes the event on her own, which is still the case today.
The philosophy of the Paris Dive Show by Hélène de Tayrac
For Hélène, the only question to ask oneself through the organization of a Show like hers is: “With such an event, what can we bring to the world of diving? For the exhibitors and on the other hand for the visitors »
One of the answers to these questions is to always start from scratch, focusing on what worked or did not work and on the projects for the following year.
Never sit back and relax, never consider that success will be present from year to year.
Hélène raises that many things have changed in 20 years. Whether it’s the place of the woman in the diving world, diving equipment, awareness, … but she is aware that there is still much to do.
Also, she has always been eager to help the actors of the diving world to professionalize their activities, to put them forward, to make the exhibitors aware of the “Showcase” side of their stands and the importance of taking a lot of care to their realization. In this regard Hélène de Tayrac likes to give a boost to newcomers in the sector … do not hesitate to ask, she is great 😉
Very clearly, Hélène is a passionate and the Show is the project in which she invests all her heart, all her energy and all her passion. For her, nothing is more important than to love the things we do, to love people, to love others, to enjoy privileged moments as we had, because if not …
…what is life?
The Paris Dive Show in a few words
Hélène has worked hard to make the Paris Dive Show a beautiful Show, aesthetic and pleasant to watch. People need to feel good, have a great day and be attractive.
The interest of the Show is the promotion of diving.
Through conferences, for example, Hélène makes choices to positively influence the world of diving and give it an attractive image while keeping in mind its questioning: what does it bring to the world of diving?
Hélène loves diving and will spend a lot of time making each Show a unique event from the map of stands in the building, animations, conferences and new projects that she wishes to highlight.
Her observation is simple: scuba diving is a world of enthusiasts and the diver who comes to the Show needs new things, needs to have fun …
The Show welcomes anyone curious to discover this universe. Everyone must feel fine and be welcome whether they are experience divers or newbies.
Hélène de Tayrac and I share this belief that diving must adapt to people and their particularities and it is a real pleasure to discuss this subject together.
The educational aim of the Paris Dive Show
What concerns me particularly in Hélène’s speech is the educational aim that she promotes in the Paris Dive Show.
Do you know that last year, more than 600 mid school students came to try scuba in the pool in the heart of the Show? Impressive when you know that the public of scuba diving is aging and that it is sometimes difficult to catch the younger generations.
The diver is naturally more protective of the marine environment because he puts his head underwater and learns to love underwater life. Hence the interest of bringing the young public to diving to, for example, raise awareness about the protection of the oceans.
The reality of the world of diving according to Hélène
For Hélène and for me, there is a lack of “global concept” shops in France with everything on site and with sector-specific details: glass in the shape of scuba diving tanks, a shop with a restaurant and an integrated bar offering diving-oriented drinks, area reserved for photography, travel agency…
When I discuss with Hélène de Tayrac the business in the dive sector in France, she regrets the tendency to work in commercial structures like in non-profit structures. If both models can co-exist, it seems to her that professionals of the sector would have every interest to realize that there is money in the world of diving and that divers who sometimes invest important budgets (equipment, travels, …) have the right to a quality service for diving.
There are still places in France where you have to get dressed on the docks for a high price, Hélène dreams of a sector of diving enhancing the image of the activity.
Obstacles on the road
The history of the Paris Dive Show is far from always easy. To get to the Paris Dive Show where he is today, Hélène de Tayrac has had to overcome many obstacles:
– Being a woman at the head of a dive Show in a predominantly male world
– Make it clear to the professionals that the Show was primarily a Showcase of their activities but also the world of diving and that it was therefore necessary to be particularly vigilant to the image conveyed
– Manage the susceptibilities and try to satisfy a maximum of people
– Question each year and accept to receive criticism
– Resist the pressures
– … and continue against all odds to keep the goal in order to make every visitor a day he-she will enjoy a lot.
In 2019, participatory science
When I ask her why she chose the participatory science as the theme for the 2019 Paris Dive Show, Hélène instantly tells me that today, if we want to continue to evolve, we must encourage people to participate together.
Of course, it touches me in my desire to bring together the community of diving enthusiasts around an activity open to all and with a view to sharing and co-construction.
If Hélène de Tayrac is able to raise mountains of energy and creativity, it is perhaps because her great happiness is the moment of the opening of the Dive Show. This wonderful moment where the doors open and leave room for the public’s amazement.
It’s the culmination of a year of work: everyone is there, the dice are rolling.
And from the opening she is already preparing next year show. Hélène therefore lives this event out of step with the public and exhibitors, but the joy remains intact and present.
Hélène de Tayrac points out that today, visitors stop her in the aisles of the Show to say hello and sharing with the public really makes her happy …
I like the Paris Dive Show, I love my job I like exhibitors, I like people … I need to be passionate
For this reason, Hélène wants to continue to be free to do the things that make her happy, just like the wonderful buffet offered to all visitors on the Friday of the 20 years edition.
How to cope with such a big project and family life?
The size of the Show has long forced Hélène to organize her family life at the pace of the Show: at her house they celebrate Christmas after the dive Show and there is no party for New Year ‘eve because late December is the last big rush before the opening of the show. In the same way, the growing success of the event forces her to devote all her year to it whereas at the beginning the organization allowed her a few months of relaxation each year.
In Hélène’s family, everyone is diving: her children, her husband and herself.
Hélène is happy to tell me that she has done what she wanted to do in the world of diving: get everyone on board for the adventure of diving with their family as they ski with their family. Today she is level 3 and hopes to resume her level 4 training as soon as possible.
Scuba diving must be FUN
Hélène de Tayrac, at the head of an international event around diving, deplores her lack of opportunity to practice in places she likes such as Egypt, Bali, or the Cenotes in Mexico which are her favorites but also on an original occasion like diving under the Eiffel Tower
In 2007, an assistant to the mayor of Paris decided to install a pool under the Eiffel Tower in June. For this occasion, everyone who visited the Eiffel Tower could try scuba.
One evening, Hélène takes the opportunity to do a night dive under the Eiffel Tower all illuminated and this remains one of her most beautiful dives … and we can easily imagine it.
Dreams for the future
If Hélène has this confidence in the evolution of the world of diving, her dream of diving is to one day be on a boat and see that the average age is 25 years and that the next generation of enthusiasts diving is assured.
But more concretely in relation to her activity, she dreams that one day the diving structures in France will be up to the other activities such as skiing for example and that one can go to beautiful dive centers, nice travel agencies and dive shops super well-organized and busy.
Today, Hélène de Tayrac thinks that we will arrive at a turning point (clubs, manufacturers, …) and that there is a good chance that the younger generations who will take over the business will bring new ideas and make the world of diving evolving.
I had a unique experience, she said. Owner of a communication agency, she created a show, developed it, and made it work without being in a group of show organizers.
I know all my exhibitors. I try to be close to them, close to the divers too.
Today, Hélène de Tayrac would like to use her expertise to support people wishing to start projects to create shows of all kind in an idea of knowledge transmission.
Regarding the dive environment, Hélène is making another wonderful project that will inevitably make some noise soon … but, I will remain silent, I leave her the pleasure to announce when the time is right.
I went to Paris to discover who was at the head of the Salon de la Plongée de Paris and I lived a real meeting, a moment of great quality and sincere exchange where we ended up dreaming together of this world of diving open to all of you, of this moving world, of this world that makes young people want to join the incredible movement of discovery and protection of oceans.
And you, what is YOUR dream ?
Leave a comment below to discuss your wildest dreams
And above all … do not forget to be happy 🤗
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