Tell us about you and your journey to conservation/wildlife vet nursing?! Do you have a story of a past experience with an animal that has stuck with you?
I have always loved animals, and felt a deep connection to Mother Earth. After living in and travelling Europe after school, I studied Certificate III Captive Animal Management and got a job as the Education Program Manager at a wildlife park. Teaching people about Australian animals every day inspired me to start a conservation education platform, and to study a Bachelor of Zoology.
While I was studying I was accepted for an internship with the Jane Goodall Institute of Nepal, studying human-wildlife conflict. My first few weeks there were focused on helping the survivors of the brutal Gadhimai festival, and it was here I realised I needed more skills in animal medicine and care. So when I finished my degree I looked for a wildlife nursing course, and am now enrolled to begin my studies this July!
I hear your pets are an unlikely bunch! Stick insects and a spider. Tell us about these beautiful creatures and what you love about them?
Haha I actually have to thank my partner for our latest pets- they were his idea. We have two Gargantuan Stick Insects (Ctenomorpha gargantua) named Sebastian (actually a female) and Mrs Iglesias (after a hilarious scene from ‘Bridesmaids’). They are a recently-discovered species, native to the rainforests of far-north Queensland, and are believed to be one of the largest species of stick insect in the world! I love to watch them eat (at night you can even hear them munching away on the leaves) and try to camouflage- when they sense us around they start swaying like branches. I also love just how incredibly well their bodies have evolved to camouflage- their forearms have little slots in them so their head doesn’t stick out between them!
We also have a Golden Hunstman (Beregama aurea) named Shorty, who does an adorable happy dance when she gets fed!
Tahnee & Mrs Iglesias
End Extinction International is an environmental conservation organisation founded by you and focuses on conservation through education. Education is so important particularly when it comes to our environment and looking after the planet.
What are you currently focusing on educating others on? Are there are particular concerns that you’d like to shed light on?
EEI was started in 2013 with the goal of increasing awareness for endangered species, helping people understand the everyday impacts we have on our world, and offering real-life ways that they can make a difference. It’s definitely been a rollercoaster running EEI by myself, I’ve been so blessed to connect with incredible people around the world, made new friends, and had the honour of presenting at several events and schools.
With the world in such turmoil the past year, my biggest concerns have been the lack of funding for conservation efforts such as anti-poaching rangers, as well as the drastic increase in single-use plastic use. I hope that people are able to find ways to use what they have and invest in reusables where possible.
My focus at the moment for EEI is to develop an app that will allow people to learn and take immediate action everywhere they go. There are just so many species out there desperately in need of protecting, it can all become very overwhelming. So I hope that by streamlining everything into a simple-to-use app, it will inspire and motivate people every day! “Their future is our legacy”. - EEI’s slogan.
“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.” Clarissa Pinkola Estés
How would you describe your personality and lifestyle?
I would say I’m warm, nurturing and down to earth. I feel like I’m always on the move - I’ve been called a gypsy by my friends; to me it’s just how life keeps turning out! No matter where I am putting down my roots, I always keep my lifestyle healthy by getting close to nature (in my spare time, you can generally find me by some kind of glorious body of water) and eating wholesome food, “let food be thy medicine”.
With your socials flooded with birds, reptiles and the natural world, we’d love to know a little about your work with animals.
Since I was a kid, there was nothing else I wanted to do in life, it was always work with animals. I started volunteering with wildlife when I was 16 and then studied Wildlife Veterinary Nursing. After the first year of study I packed up everything I had in 2 weeks for a job in North Queensland. After 6 months in the role of zoo keeper, I stepped up to manage the wildlife park. We introduced the public to our native friends and raised awareness of the environmental problems each species faced. I will admit I faced some inner conflict about working in a wildlife park, but truly, how else can you create an interaction for people and animals who otherwise would never do so? You take whatever platform available to you and you do the best job you can to teach. I watched people fall in love with my furred, feathered and scaled friends everyday, and hoped that in this way they would go on to take some responsibility for their habitat.
This role lead me in to a Wildlife Nursing job for James Cook University where I helped develop a new role within the veterinary clinic there caring for wildlife! I learnt SO much from my vet and am so grateful for both experiences. Im now back finishing off my vet nursing studies in Northern NSW 📖 awaiting the next adventure.
Photography by Alice Wint
What is your biggest concern for our native wildlife at present and how do you believe we should be tackling this problem?
I have many grave concerns, I think the bottom line lies with legislation and political priorities. Both seem to be obscured by greed for resources and money. I’m not sure how to eradicate greed in the world, if it ever can be.
But I know once you connect with nature, you get closer to your purpose, and once you see what really matters, you don’t want more than the earth can give. Can we drop our world leaders in to the most pristine parts of the world and leave them there for a few weeks!?? Maybe not... but change takes every person asking themselves, “what is my part in this ecosystem? What contribution am I making? What choices am I making, or not making, that directly effects this natural world? Is it positive? Or negative?”
Hi Tessa! How have you been during these unusual times, that seem to have swallowed up 2020?
We’d love to hear about your journey to becoming an actor and environmentalist.
For sure, the ocean has always been a huge part of my life and I'm so thankful for that. Growing up in North Narrabeen there's a such a strong surfing community, it seemed normal to spend every morning/arvo/weekend in the ocean. For me starting so young I just fell head over heels obsessed with surfing, and I still am to be honest. But it's amazing how you don't even have to grow up by the beach to have a special connection with our oceans. The oceans are calming, and cleansing, and humbling....so many things, for so many people. Nature is so generous like that.
What is one positive moment that is of significance to you so far this year?
That's a hard one with so many big issues swirling around. In terms of the Black Lives Matter movement, here and in the U.S. I think it's great to see the tough conversations are being had, resources are being shared, and with all this down time self-education is on the rise. I've enjoyed the quieter pace for that reason, and lately have been reading up on Intersectional Environmentalism, which acknowledges the link between the injustices towards marginalised communities and the environment. Heaps more info and resources available here.
Photography by Daisy Bradford
Hi Anita! Tell us a little about your background?
I was born in Romania into a communist dictatorship. My parents were in their early twenties when they had me – I was born in their student room on campus- they were both just finishing their degree as engineers.
It was tough times in Romania and my parents decided to escape to Germany with me and my brothers when we were still kids. We moved around Germany- the first year we lived in refugee housing but luckily my dad found a job in his profession quickly and we became citizens.
I would lie if I said it was easy – my parents started from scratch in a foreign country with three kids and no support net of relatives or friends around. My mum was working all kinds of jobs from scrubbing floors to kitchen hand in restaurants and so on – although she is engineer and spoke German fluently (She now works an engineer too, I am incredibly proud of her!)
Regardless of all the obstacles my parents made sure there was always enough for us and we learned from a young age to work for things we want in life.
We moved around a lot and I never felt home in Germany so I tried to live with my aunt in the states when I was sixteen, moved back and finished high school.
That’s when I first came to Australia – 11 years ago. I knew I was going to live in Byron, but my journey took me around the globe to Argentina for a number of years. The reason was a boy. I’ve studied fashion at Uni there and moved back Australia by myself six years ago. To make a long story short – it’s my home now and I couldn’t be happier. I met boyfriend over five years ago and recently have added a little street kitten to our household.
How long have you been dressmaking for and what's your personal style like?
I love creating - I'm a dreamer and a maker, and always have been. From a little girl, when we escaped Romania and into a better future for us kids, all I did was disappear into the world of books and I loved dressing like my favourite characters.
I had my grandma help me make the clothes that I was inspired to design from the characters in my books. From Frill dresses with aprons to hand knitted sets and jumpers. Later on I was scoping out flee markets and altering what I could find to dress like the Spice Girls or other stars I've adored. I was selling my pre-loved stuff there to buy something new to create- not much has changed, haha.
We didn't have school uniforms, so the dressing was an important way of expressing myself. Trust me I went all out some days and it wasn't seen as the most desirable from peers in the early years. Later those skills came in handy with girlfriends and after finishing my Degree in Fashion at Uni in Argentina. I always knew that there was no other path than creating. And without planning or even considering something like that - Instagram came along and created opportunities I could only dream of for me.
My personal style is probably best described as eclectic – I don’t like stereotypes. I wear what I feel like wearing or I choose the clothes by how they make me feel.
You can find me at home covered in threads sewing in a beautiful gown or wearing my boyfriend’s shirt to a party – or vice versa. Never know. I like to surprise myself.
What do you love most about the Australian fashion industry and do you see light at the end of the tunnel for the industry?
I love that many brands are looking into sustainable alternatives in fibres, fabrics and in energy used in their factories. As well as making sure to produce ethically. I love the idea of No- seasons and just releasing small drops of pieces or made to order in Australia. In our times where everything is so short lived it is even more important to understand that waiting and saving up for something that you really like increases its value and makes it so much more fun.
Tell us a little about what your background and what your lifestyle is like?
I am Filippino Australian raised in a country town in the Macleay Valley, NSW. My work with Halfcut is as co-founder and full time volunteer, my very busy schedule can at times be both demanding and stressful. Given this, I strive to achieve a balanced lifestyle and whenever possible I love spending time with family, friends, and my ‘fur-babies’. Connecting with the natural environment is my ‘happy place’ - soaking up the sun at the beach and going for bush walks. Eating healthily, sustainably and cruelty free are also priorities for me - one day I would love to own my own small plot and grow my own food.
We love all that you and your partner Jimmy are doing, protecting what’s left of our precious rainforests through Halfcut, your not-for profit. Tell us how it all began, your journey and adding Halfbraid for the ladies!
It all started around eight years ago in 2011, when James and I set off to South America. We both shared a passion for the environment and wildlife so we decided to do volunteer conservation work in the Amazon Basin Bolivia, Serene Reserve. Seeing the continued destruction of the environment and wildlife, as well as the impacts of wholesale illegal logging and animal agriculture on local communities was devastating. It was then we both knew it was important that we create awareness and raise funds to support conservation. Whilst travelling, James had grown a large beard that invariably drew attention from other tourists, everywhere we went we got shout-outs of “Nice beard!” His beard became the catalyst for conversations with total strangers, so I started to respond with “It’s for conservation”. We were genuinely shocked by the number of people who did not know what conservation was, so we decided to incorporate the importance of conservation into any conversation we had about his beard.
On returning to Australia, we started off with two campaigns - BeardsOn and BraidsOn. During one of our many brainstorming sessions, we decided we needed to reach as many people as possible and have all ages to take part in the challenge - not just guys with beards. So we merged both campaigns into HalfCut allowing anyone and everyone to be involved - taking part, their way, in a fun way. We wanted to be more inclusive of all ages and have options for those people who wanted to get onboard, but who did not feel comfortable shaving off half their hair. So for example; half braid, half make-up, half styled clothing and colouring half their hair, which still created a platform for discussion.
What can you tell us about the importance of our forests and the connection they have to the rest of the planet?
Every minute, almost 50 acres of rainforest are lost forever and critically endangered species face loss of habitat. Every single day, more of our planet’s ecosystems are being destroyed and the climate crisis worsens. This is heart-breaking. There will come a time when every human will ask themselves why they didn't do more? When for just $2.50 (half the price of coffee) we could have collectively saved something precious OUR planet.
According to National Geographic New Science “Land conservation must double by 2030, to prevent dangerous warming and unravelling of ecosystems”. Deforestation is a significant contributor to climate change causing greenhouse gases. Studies indicate that tropical deforestation accounts for up to 15% of net global carbon emissions each year. That’s about the same as every car, truck, bus, plane, ship and train on the planet combined.That’s because nearly 70,000 acres of tropical forest are lost every day. But if you prevent deforestation, all that carbon remains safely stored away in the forests (Source: Rainforest Trust 2019).
Furthermore, not only do forests provide vital organic infrastructure for some of the planet's most diverse collections of life, rainforests are also vital resources for medicines.Today, 1% of the worlds tropical forest plants have been tested for pharmaceutical properties, yet a quarter of all modern medicines came originally from rainforests. The real tragedy here is, that many, many more species are yet to be discovered and their vital medicinal properties not even known.
I can imagine you have visited some of the worlds most diverse forests. What does spending time in nature mean to you?
Spending time in nature is hugely important to me, especially being raised in a small country town I was very lucky to have the best of both worlds - beautiful bushland and the ocean. Living in the heart of Sydney, it can be difficult to escape and reconnect. But when I do, I feel more relaxed and rejuvenated. Increasingly, the science of the healing power of nature is being better understood, good for the heart, good for the head, good for the soul and good for general health. During my own struggles recovering from a traumatic head injury, through the pain and darker times has allowed me to relax, recover and focus on listening to my body. I truly believe by reconnecting with nature, we reconnect with our true self.
“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
Tell us where you’re from and what you do for fun!
I am from Miami, Florida. I have lived here for about a year now and absolutely love it!
For fun I love to spend time with my husband at the beach looking for ocean creatures, swimming, and picking up trash. A lot of people think I am weird for liking picking up trash, but for me it is like a meditation. It is calming to me to pick up trash and listen to the waves. My husband actually proposed to me while we were picking up trash on the beach!
Being a Marine Biologist what area do you work in and what do you love most about your job?
I would like to say I work in education and conservation. To me those are one in the same. You can’t have conservation without education. I recently worked as an educator for a marine biology summer camp, where I taught children the importance of Biscayne Bay National Park. I also worked for a little bit helping rehabilitate injured, sick, and orphaned manatees. My role in helping with the manatees wasn’t just to provide care for them but to also educate people in the importance of protecting them. For me the best part of my job is seeing how what I have taught someone leads to them loving and wanting to help protect the ocean.
What qualities define the Nature Girl in you?
A Nature Girl is passionate about saving the planet. Someone who puts their heart and soul into what they believe in. I live and breathe the ocean. It is my life and has been a huge influence ever since I was a little girl. All I have ever wanted was to protect and save the ocean and the animals that live there.
How long have you been vegan for? We’d love to find out your absolute favourite vegan breakfast, lunch, dinner and/or dessert!
I have been vegan for 4 years now! My favourite breakfast food would have to be my husband’s waffles! He makes the best ones! They aren’t overly sweet, and they are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside! Honestly, I have no idea how he makes them so good! My favourite dinner is defiantly homemade pizza! Even though I can’t have cheese, we still manage to make super yummy pizza! If I had to pick a favourite food, it would be pizza!
How has your Plastic Free July been so far? What’s a challenge you’ve faced this time round?
Its been great! This is my first year doing it! I had already been trying to eliminate plastics from my home, so this challenge pushed me to working even harder! I started to look more closely at the foods I buy and how they are packaged. Every item I threw away that was plastic I made note of. I started to notice certain things that are hard to avoid and others that I could find replacements for. It's all about buying smart. The hardest challenge that I faced was the lack of plastic free places to shop and the cost of trying to purchase plastic free alternatives.
What are your tips to being kinder to our oceans?
The easiest way to be kinder would be to refuse single use plastics. There are so many alternatives out there, you just have to be willing to make the switch. Another way to be kinder is to pick up a few pieces of trash every time you go to the beach. Even picking up 10 items can make a difference!
Captured by @maggiemeronea
The Royal National Park - NSW
Lara is a friend who I had the privilege of meeting a little while ago. Since then Lara has been on a journey of growth, travelling and finding happiness in expressing herself creatively. She's compassionate, helping others achieve their goals and she's our May Nature Girl.
Lara, Tell us about yourself?!
I'm 24 and I work in mental health services where I help my clients get through their day to day activities and also help them achieve some greater goals. I have a creative soul where I love to express myself in all sorts of ways, through art making, dancing, flow sports and fire twirling, the way I dress, how I look and present myself to the world. I am very much a free spirit and have a desire to push myself in order to grow. I move around a lot and I am always experimenting with new ideas and hobbies.
It seems like forever since we last connected! What have you been up to over the past year?!
The last year I have been settling back into Sydney after a 7 month trip around South America. Other than finding my groove in this fast paced city lifestyle, I have been working towards some epic work goals. Implementing sustainability into each site that I work at and taking clients on travel trips. I have also immersed myself into creative arts, currently playing around with abstract portraiture using alcohol inks and Posca pens as well as designing tattoos. I have also been experimenting with circus arts and aerial silks which has been a new found passion of staying fit and expressing myself.
Bush doofs /camping festivals are a way of immersing yourself in nature with friends and good music, Do you have a favourite?
This is a hard one because personally festivals are majorly influenced on your experience that you have had there. So going off this, it would have to be Dragon Dreaming and Earth Frequency.
What's your style of music?
I am a sucker for drum and bass... I will most likely drop everything I am doing to lose myself in it no matter how far afar. I also love live music, reggae, funk, disco & jazz bands... and of course, psytrance. Psytrance is a genre of music that transformed my life so I will always pay my respects to the psytrance community.
I’ve noticed many festivals are implementing sustainable strategies into their events to ensure less plastic is used, there's more recycling and most patrons are cleaning up after themselves. At the end of the day it's up to the patrons and I believe there is still a long way to go here. With the festivals you’ve been to this year, have you seen much change?
This is hard to answer exactly because I spent so much time abroad and not attending Australian festivals so to reflect on the progress of where its at now and the change that has occurred, there is a big gap missing from when I was overseas. However it ranges with a huge influence of various factors. The atmosphere and intention of each festival, location & facilities, amount of patrons and so on. It seems the bigger festivals fall short in more ways however other strategies have been implemented to help this. For example I have noticed that there are cafe/food tents that offer free coffees if you return with a bag of rubbish, where bins are everywhere with simple instructions on WHERE to put your rubbish. Also, during sets at certain intervals they stop the music and have a sustainability 'green' crew come on stage and rap about 'putting our rubbish in the bin'. So for 5-10 minutes patrons will clean the dance floor before continuing to party. Recyclable cardboard tents have recently been introduced to help tackle the amount of tents/mattresses/other plastic waste left at sites. Also... Edible plates and cutlery that are made out of corn and potato, that’s epic! There are also a number of educational workshops at every festival that target sustainability and how you can implement this into your lifestyle. Festivals like Regrowth target regeneration where they encourage everyone to plant a tree. There are also the more simple strategies such as everyone having their own cups, water bottles, personal plates and cutlery that you can simply lend, wash and re use.
Sustainability is very much a hot topic and I’ve noticed a lot more conversations generated around this. Majority of the patrons that attend these festivals are very much aware of the importance of respecting our earth, so sometimes all it takes is a conversation and a few words that resonate to take part and make your own action. It's the simple exposure of these basic methods that triggers minds to be more conscious about what you are buying, using and what you are choosing to do with it after.
How do you stay sustainable in this plastic orientated world?
I try stay sustainable as best I can. I have had my own keep cups/bottles for years and am always encouraging others to do the same. I only buy clothes from op shops or second hand recycling stores/markets. If I have plastic I will always re use it. I haven't lived in the one place for a while now so to grow my own fruit/veg/herbs has been impossible, however I try my best to shop at weekend food markets and local organic food stores.
As I mentioned before implementing these methods into my workplace has been very rewarding. All of my clients have their own keep cups, bottles, lunch boxes colour coordinated to their towels and bedding so its all very simple and user friendly for both clients and other staff to follow. I have also started educating my clients on growing veggies/herbs and then teaching them how to cook with them. I am excited to join the greens team in my workplace once I return from my next trip to keep this ball rolling!
What are two of your most memorable experiences diving/swimming with sharks?
'When you tug at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world"- John Muir.
We know you as the Environmentalist, Body positive model changing the way we view the fashion industry and a leader in educating us about climate change. We’d love to know how you got to where you are now and at what stage in your life did you become so aware and actively driven about climate action?
When I finished high school I started studying a double degree in Science (biology) and Law. I really wanted to be able to protect our natural spaces and thought that as a lawyer with an understanding of the environment and biology I would be best placed to do this. When I graduated from both degrees I realised law wasn't really for me and that I possibly wouldn't be able to fulfil what I wanted to in the way in which I though I could. So instead I focused on the environment side and worked as an environmental scientist for a short time before pursuing a modelling career that took me around the world.
It all comes down to accepting yourself and realising that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, colours, textures and ages. What we see in the media, the clones we see on social media- it obviously isn't realistic. education on photoshopping, manipulating, angles, it is imperative to understand that this occurs and that quite often the people we see in these images don't actually look they way they do in photographs.
By understanding your body, being happy and healthy- physically, mentally and environmentally, we come to accept that it really doesn't matter what size you wear. As long as you are a nice person, do things for others, are mindful of your footprint and make the most of your time here on the planet, you don't need to look like anyone else by yourself.
This year you were involved in the largest all female expedition to Antartica! The Homeward Bound Project. Tell us a little more about it, what you saw along the way and what you learn't? Homeward Bound Project is an amazing culmination of women in STEMM. It embraces women of all ages, diversities, cultures and STEMM backgrounds and it takes us on a leadership course delivered in Antartica. The course itself is designed to encourage women in STEMM to become better leaders, enhance communication skills, strategic policy and decision making skills, visibility skills and knowledge on the environment and climate change in order to create a better future for all. Currently leadership roles for women in STEMM are lacking, so by educating women to become better leaders we may be able to change some of the outcomes especially around climate change. Learning about all of this in Antartica was incredible. The remoteness of the continent is something to be marvelled at. The curious animal, feeding whales, the scale, shapes and colours of the icebergs are totally mind-blowing. It was the perfect backdrop to learn about the fragility of our planet and the effects of our daily actions.
Laura wears the Coral Garden Wrap Over Bralette and Mid Rise V Pant
Climate change is very real, and we've experienced it at its worst over the past couple of years. With coral bleaching, droughts, wildfires, supercell storms and Australia experiencing heavy heat waves, our climate is at a tipping point. What are your views on the current outlook for our future? (Yes I'm asking you to foresee into the future) :D Well, my future goggles are positive. I have a lot of hope and see the ability of our younger future leaders. Our younger generations are adept and educated on the environment and what we are doing and it is very encouraging to see. Right now though, with the current Australian Government's inability to act on climate change, we need to use our voices and the voices of these younger generations to propel forward and tell and show them the changes we want. We can't sit back and do nothing. Don't just sit around and complain about the inaction, join the movements, be a part of the solutions. It takes each and every one of us to change the future outcomes of our planet, human health and the health of your future children and grandchildren, for the better.
What are 5 products that help you live a more sustainably conscious life?
Reusable EVERYTHING: Cut back on the unnecessary plastic pollution by using reusable water bottles, cutlery, shopping bags, coffee cups, straws etc.
Public Transport: Switch the car for a bike, walking or public transport
Live a little less meaty: Try to reduce your own carbon footprint by having a few meat free days a week. I understand not everyone wants to or can go vegetarian or vegan, but if you reduce your meat consumption it makes a huge difference to the planet and to your health.
Switch your Superannuation: In Australia alone there are trillions of dollars in superannuation retirement accounts that is invested into huge carbon emitting industries. Switch your super over to Future Super. They are the only superannuation company that does not invest in any form of coal, oil, palm oil, tobacco etc. Everything is about renewables and they are even building solar farms for their members. Pretty cool.
Compost: Get yourself a compost bin or bokashi composter. Reducing the food waste going to landfill is an awesome way to reduce greenhouse gasses created in landfill by decaying food. By composting, you are reusing greenhouse gases created in landfill by decaying food. By composting, you are reusing the properties of this organic material and giving back to the planet instead of letting it waste away in landfill and contributing to climate change.
What's a phrase that means something to you?
"When you tug at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world"- John Muir
I love this quote. It really is true. Everything in our biosphere is connected. What we do here in Australia affects others around the world and vice versa. Every little action we make today will go on to affect something or someone we can't see/ So be mindful and tread lightly.
Photography by Maximillian
Batubolong & Echo Beach, Indonesia
Tell us about yourself?!
Hello, I'm Maya Joshua Fernandez from the Philippines and I'm half Filipino, half Japanese. I currently live in Bali where I'm a makeup artist and a soul surfer in my free time! I love spending time at the beach, inviting good friends to watch sunsets or even alone. I would say I'm an introvert and I love Filipino, Indonesian and Japanese food. I keep a few people close to my heart and treasure all of them..I'm a random person but I'm nice and I don't bite!
Describe your lifestyle in three words?
Surf, Makeup, Energy
How long have you been surfing for and where's your absolute favourite place to ride waves?
I've been surfing for about 2 years now but most of the time I can't say I had the chance to surf on a daily basis as there's time that requires me to go off the island. Ever since I got back to Bali last year, I decided to stay the whole year to focus on surfing and my career. This time has helped me to reflect on the past months and focus on myself and the waves. I can say my favourite spot is Batubolong beach. I always go on the left break but when I have the chance to fly out of the island, I will head straight to East Java!
Having a career as a makeup artist in the fashion industry, do you prefer to use ethical beauty brands?
When I was learning back in the Philippines I didn't have enough knowledge and access to sustainable ethical brands. As I have grown in my career and continue to do so, I have met many people who have inspired and motivated me to support sustainability and the use of ethical beauty products! Recently I was gifted by an L.A based makeup brand that promotes a cruelty-free and vegan based makeup. I am so grateful to be given the chance to explore more and create looks using ethical and sustainable beauty brands.
What's your favourite makeup look/s that you've done to date?!
One of my favourite makeup looks I've done so far is the shoot I did with one of my favourite photographers in Bali, her name is Sharon Angela. The shoot was for L'Officiel Indonesia. It was a very creative and unforgettable one.
The second look was all about women empowerment and divine feminine. A shoot created by Wedda Sattya and my best friend Yasmin Suteja. This shoot has grown on me and made me proud of what I do for a living. I'm so happy to be part of such amazing projects.
Have you seen much change in Bali with conscious living towards plastic consumption, recycling and looking after the environment? If so what kinds of change?
I'm aware of so many changes here in Bali, especially in the area where I'm living. I can definitely see people trying in their own way to contribute to recycling plastic and helping the environment as a community. It's thrilling to see as it's proof that people are waking up and individual efforts all make a difference.
Tell us a phase in your life that has been of great significance to you?
The time I left the Philippines to build a career in Bali. As a Filipino not knowing anything about Bali and western culture, it definitely gave me a culture shock! Also the fact that I did't know anyone from the fashion industry made me struggle a lot as an individual try to survive. Going through this rough patch ended up taking me down the right path. There is good energy, flow and a place that I call home. This experience has made me grateful about everything! Being able to live, surf and work and meet amazing people here always humbles me.
Tell us a little about your background and where you grew up!
I am a Pyemairrenner woman, Aboriginal to Trouwunna/Tasmania, but I grew up on beautiful Bundjalung country in northern New South Wales. I was lucky enough to spend the majority of my childhood close to country, swimming in the ocean and hanging out with animals.
Nature is such an incredible source of inspiration and it’s clear that it plays an important part in the development of your music. Where’s your favourite place to date that you have been inspired by to create sounds?
I recently moved to Narrm/Melbourne where I have less access to alone time in nature. I am still trying to navigate how creativity works for me in this new environment. My favourite place to sing is by bodies of water, whether it’s the slow rhythm of the ocean or the gentle giggling of a stream. The sound is so musical and makes me want to sing. Crickets remind me so much of home, and frog calls. I love singing with them too.
What’s the significance behind the name Willow Beats?
The word “Willow” is closely tied to early memories Narayana has of his father and my grandfather. The beats part got tacked on somewhere down the line and it stuck!
Do you have any sustainable practices that you implement into your day to day life?
We would love to hear them!
I carry a waterbottle, but at the end of the day ethical consumerism is still a big trick to keep us complacent when really the entire structure needs to change. Sustainable living is also really inaccessable to those from lower socio economic backgrounds. It’s expensive to shop ethically. I volunteer (when I am not touring) at an amazing organization called Seed Mob, it’s a climate coalition run by young Indigenous people. Indigenous people are the first to be affected by climate change, islands in the Pacific Ocean and the Torres Straights are already being affected by rising sea levels. Support First Nations people to protect country. Stay educated, stay woke, broaden your perspective.
Define “Less is more” in your own words
I didn’t know I needed all this stuff until you told me I did and it didn’t make me happier.
What is the next stop for Willow Beats?
I am still riding the high of our Debut Album release. We have our debut album tour coming on in March which is very exciting. Until then I will be writing music and spending some much needed rest time at home.
A quote that is significant to you?
“It’s not a lot but we do our best”. My mother would always say this when presenting people with the most luscious homegrown meals. Anything we needed she would build from scratch and it was always luxurious in its simplicity. Afternoons were spent picking herbs and soaking in a tub over a giant fire outside. She managed to create joy throughout my life with simple pleasures. She is my sustainable hero.
Tell us a little about your background
I'm from a little village in the North West of England which has a coast...but you only every see the sea twice a day as the tide is huge over the mud flats. Instead my passion for exploring the sea started a bit more tropically in Malaysia. From a young age, every other year we would try visit my mothers family in Malaysia, and when we did we would visit the East Coast islands. How could you not fall in love with the sea there? That initial spark that ignited in those warm waters has driven me to pursue scuba diving and has let me to complete my degree in marine biology at the University of Plymouth.
What's your favourite marine animal and area of study?
My favourite animal (let me tell you this is not easy Alex!)...It's between a Mantis shrimp or a Manta Ray. Manta Rays because they are the most elegant thing in the sea. Huge, graceful and highly intelligent. Mantis Shrimp because they are so bad ass. They put into perspective how little we actually see the world. With at least 12 colour receptors on their retina to our puny 3, imagine how psychedelic the world is in their eyes!
You are currently in Malaysia and on the move. What have you been up to this past month?
I've come to Malaysia to visit the family. I couldn’t be on this side of the planet and not swing by! It’s been a well needed rest as just in the past month I’ve been diving with bull sharks in Fiji, watching scientists tag sharks to monitor the effects of shark feeding as well as trying to decipher the nursery grounds of Fiji’s sharks. I’ve also completed a diving course on twin tanks, GUE fundamentals, as even though I thought I was a good diver, I knew I could push myself to become even better. And then lastly I went on a photography trip to the Mecca of Macro, Lembeh with the fantastic underwater photography William Tan. Not only did we do the usual critter hunt in the day to scope out blue-ringed octopus, mantis shrimps and hairy frog fish… but we also headed into the middle of the strait for black water diving at night, luring in creatures of the night and deep, basically larvae and plankton. The coolest, most alien-like creatures I’ve seen.
What kind of positive change would you like to see towards our oceans? Is there an area you are particularly worried about?
There are so many things hitting the oceans currently, a lot of these impacts the oceans can buffer against if given time. But something the oceans have never had to face before is plastic pollution. I know a lot of people are working to solve this issue, but especially being in Asia at the moment, I can see a lot of people still don’t know, still don’t care. I’ve seen first hand plastic bags being pulled out of dead turtles that have washed up. If the whole world doesn’t act together, we are going to lose a lot of our beautiful marine life.
How long have you been diving for? and what is one of you favourite dive spots to date?
I’ve been diving since I was 12. I lucked out big time as my dad loved scuba diving so I naturally had my diving buddy. I was blessed with the opportunity to visit the red sea earlier during my scholarship year, and we dove quite relentlessly within the Ras Mohammed National Park in the North. It was brimming with life and colour. We timed it for fish spawning, so were able to see huge schools of bohar snapper, barracuda, bat fish…and my favourite, schools of puffer fish!!!! It was probably one of the few places I’ve been to that showed me what seas all around the world should look like.
A phrase that means something to you..
Every Action has a Reaction. – I learnt this one in school and initially used to think it applied to the way we treated others around us. I still believe that, but now also apply it to the way we treat our world in our day to day. Especially when some of us live so far removed from nature and the oceans, we can hardly see how one little thing can have a repercussion. But reactions are inevitable, we’re all connected to each other and our environment.