OFF DUTY MODELS WHO CARE
1) What are some “big kid” activities you love to do that keeps you youthful?
My husband Willie and I love to go camping, which always makes me feel like a kid again! I grew up camping quite a lot, whether on the road or in our own back yard. It brings back a lot of great memories. I also just am a total goofball. I’ve never been one of the cool kids and I’m starting to learn how to embrace that haha.
2) Beyond modeling, what are some cool projects, hobbies or side hustles you’re working on?
I’m currently a student at Columbia University, studying psychology and I am loving it on so many levels. I pinch myself every single day. The end game is definitely to open my own practice. In the meantime, I’ve been writing for a blog I started in October on the topics of psychology, wellness, self-improvement, and (of course!) ethical shopping. I like to call it ethical shopping because I’m learning more every day about how far our purchasing decisions go in so many areas of our lives – not just fashion. My blog is www.spaceforanything.com.
As part of Space For Anything, I am launching a “support service” for models (schedule your appointment today!), where they can book time with me to come talk about, well, anything. I am not a licensed therapist, but my goal with this project is to provide a safe space for models where they can feel free to cry, vent, work through problems they are facing, get help with communication or relationships…I want them to feel like they can talk about anything at all. Most important, I want them to know that our sessions will remain confidential and that, if they need more support than I am able to provide, I will help them find accessible, low-cost therapy or other resources in NYC.
I’m also very hands on as Global Ambassador for deux mains, a Haitian ethical fashion company. Buying their products means supporting dozens and dozens of people in Haiti, helping to provide access to jobs where artisans earn more than a living wage, have access to health care, and are able to extend the opportunity for employment to others with all of their side hustles! When we first started working together, they were solely manufacturing flip-flops. I then came in to work with the artisans on expanding the brand’s audience by developing more fashion-forward sandals and, eventually, bags, jewelry, and accessories. I am so proud of the incredible brand they have evolved into (there is a fanny pack that everyone is going nuts over right now!) and am grateful to play even a small role in that. You can shop their products at http://www.deuxmains.com/.
For the past few years, I have sat on the board of REBUILD Globally, a non-profit and social enterprise incubator that was the launch pad for deux mains. We are currently launching a series of Haiti Discovery Trips where you can come visit, see the work deux mains and REBUILD are both doing, and really experience the beauty, culture, and light that Haiti and its people have to offer. I’ve had so many people tell me they want to travel to Haiti and these immersive, 4-day trips are the perfect opportunity! Visit https://rebuildglobally.org/get-involved/haiti-discovery-trips/ for more info. I’ve traveled to Haiti six times now and will be going back this summer. I urge you to take the opportunity to visit if you can. -I absolutely love and am inspired by everything you do! From your work with deux mains to your mentorship for models, you're definitely a ROLE MODEL who has used her success in school and work to do amazing things. Bravo!
3) Part of what’s so great about being a model is having a following on social media. What are some important messages you try to pass on to your followers?
Honestly, I just try to be authentic. Modeling comes with so many weird (sometimes warranted, sometimes not) stereotypes, and I think part of the beauty of social media is getting to see through all of that if you choose to look hard enough. There’s a ton of picture-perfect stuff, yes, but there are also a lot of people promoting positive messages and doing so in a very authentic way.
It’s so hard to not try to be like everyone else, all the time. For whatever reason, we always think our way is the wrong way. (When I say “we”, I suppose I mean “I”.) But I guess I just really want to be there for the people who feel like I feel: different, odd, afraid sometimes, always wondering “what’s wrong with me?” I know on a day-to-day basis that I have to filter what I read/watch/talk about because things impact me in an excessively negative, not-useful way sometimes. Where some people see inspiration or motivation in images/words, I tend to see discouragement. Why can’t I be like that? is a phrase often rolling around in my brain. So I guess I just am always hoping to connect with people who might just need to hear that their feelings are valid. I just hope to make people smile and feel better about themselves at the end of the day. Aside from that, I love to use my platform to share out brands and ideas that I care about (more on that below!). -I couldn't agree more. I think social media is an incredible tool when used right and provides us with a means of sharing our messages with all our followers. That being said, I too often get caught comparing myself or thinking, why can't I be like that... I think through your help with models you'll be able to reiterate the importance of self-confidence and self-love which will help with your own self esteem. Whenever I give advice to friends or other models, it's often a good reminder for myself to follow whatever advice I'm giving.
4) You’re flying to a new city for a couple days of work. It’s a short trip- what are you packing?
If it’s somewhere warm, I’m living in a beach dress, jean shorts, t-shirts, and (deux mains!) flip flops. I’ll probably throw in a pair of big, gold hoops because they always make me feel pretty. If it’s somewhere cold...I can’t even answer that. I’ve been traveling for work for over a decade and I still stress out about packing for cold weather! Never forget to bring a swim suit – no matter the weather!
5) The fashion industry is quite wasteful, yet some companies and brands are trying to make a difference. Whether it’s a clean beauty brand or an ethical/sustainable company, do you have any favorites that stick out?
Of course, deux mains! When you see the difference job opportunities make in people’s lives in a place like Port au Prince where unemployment is staggering and opportunities are few and far between, you can’t help but support a brand doing such great work. That their products are beautiful and thoughtful is cherry on the cake! Other artisan fashion brands doing similar work that I absolutely adore are Love is Mighty, Kopal, and Parekh Bugbee. Reformation, Everlane, and ADAY are all awesome in their sustainability practices. Outside of fashion, Prosperity Candle is incredible – they employ refugee women and make delicious candles. (They made the gifts for all of our wedding guests last year!) At the end of the day, though, one of the best options out there is buying second hand. ThredUP and TheRealReal are fantastic options for buying second hand. They’ve got great quality control and I’ve gotten some incredible piece from them both. -Wow, what amazing companies! Some I haven't even heard of before. Thanks for sharing :)
6) What are some of your go-to self-care rituals?
Lately, my yoga practice has played a huge role in my focus on self-care. I also just love researching and reading about the topic. It’s so interesting what a generational thing it seems to be. Self-care was not really a topic of conversation when my mom was raising me, and I’m very aware that many people today still don’t have the luxury of considering such a thing. I think the ability to practice self-care (access to knowledge, time, and resources) is a true reflection of privilege, and I make sure never to forget how blessed I am to be able to partake in my self-care practice. That being said, by far my number one go-to for self-care is my support system: my husband, my 3-4 super tight girlfriends, my mom, and even my agent. Since I was five years old, I’ve been a “dumper”. I hold a lot of stuff in, from feelings I’m not even aware of, to mini-frustrations, to heart wrenching things…and then I break down. I need to release it all. Once I let it all out, I usually feel almost immediately better. I don’t know why they continue to stay and listen, but I will forever love them for doing so.