Meet Andy - she grew up on an exotic island, writes a blog, teaches yoga, sometimes models and is a damn good role model.
I met Andy through Instagram. That good old addictive social media app I spend too much time on. The reason I got in touch was because she looked SO much like Brigitte Bardot. When I was young I absolutely idolised BB. Everything about her was just sexy fun and cool. BB was an inspiration for me when I was in my Burlesque days. So after seeing such a huge resemblance between Brigitte and Andy then reading a few of Andy's blog posts about surfing, facing fears and knowing your self worth I felt I needed to get in touch with this woman!
We shot this photo-shoot while getting to know each other. She is a go-getting gorgeous-gypsy-babe who loves the ocean, surfing, yoga and writing. To my surprise Andy could speak fluent French (Brigitte Bardot is French) because her mum is French and she lived on an island called St.Martin when growing up. Not only that BB has been a huge inspiration for Andy too. Ahhh it was just meant to be.
She's also a model but models on her own terms and makes sure she doesn't 'loose herself' in an industry that tries to mould and shape you into their own unrealistic standards and ideals.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up on a small island in the Caribbean called St.Martin. The Island is half French and half dutch. My parents brought me over when I was about 6 months old. I was born in France to a French mum and an English/Polish dad. It was a great childhood and exactly what you’d expect growing up on an island. My first school was quite simple 4 poles and a tiny tin roof in the dirt. My afternoons were spent at the beach with friends. Some of my best childhood friends still live there. There was a mixed influence of the French, Dutch and American and Caribbean culture -- It was really great and really special.
Later on as I grew up my parents and I would travel to America, until my dad decided to move us all to Florida in my early teens.
Why did you come to Australia?
My parents really enjoyed travelling and didn’t let my education be a dictator of when/how long we could go for. We spent time in Central America, New Zealand and one year we went to Australia (in part due to my incessant nagging to go there). From the get go I was fascinated by a city that had beaches within a 5km radius to the city. It’s like you could have island life and city life. Everywhere I looked people were easy going, smiling, just all up gorgeous. I loved the accent, the funny quips, the fact that you could take a boat across a harbour to what I thought at the time was “Manly Island”.
I remember my mother asking me as we were driving to the airport at the end of our trip (I distinctly remember where it was and now realise that it was over the spit bridge) “Would you ever live here?” and more certain than I’ve ever been I replied “I’m coming back and I’m going to live here”. It took me a good 7 years before it actually happened but when I finally had the freedom to, I came back to Sydney. It’s been almost 5 years now and it has certainly been the most no-brainer-best-decision of my life. It’s always felt like home.
Your blog is all about surfing. What got you into surfing?
St. Martin had a surf culture. There was a little surf team and some of the kids in our school took it quite seriously and have gone on to be pros. I loved the ocean but for me back then it was all about boogie boarding. I looked up to all the Roxy Girls, Rip Curl Girls, even back then I desperately wanted to be one of them. I started surfing a little later in life, and have only gotten genuinely better since moving to Australia (again, one of the many reasons I moved here) but it’s something I felt I’ve always been around and involved in. I am by no means anywhere near as good as I’d like to be but I have a whole-hearted appreciation for it and the joy it brings. The whole essence of surfing the spirituality behind it that’s what got me into it. It’s a way of life.
Did I spy some pictures of you surfing naked? I never did that but thought about it. How did you pull that off?
Haha that was a while back! My first time in Bali, a beach I will not name because I want to go back and do it again. We just happen to find this “secret spot” and there wasn’t a soul out. I told Scotty (my partner) I was paddling out and he didn’t believe me so I stripped down. It was extremely liberating and freeing! If anything you’re completely at one with nature and there is nothing between you and mama ocean!
How are you handling all the changes in your life that occur in your twenties? It’s such a confusing time to navigate. I feel like we have to sit in the mess of our dreams with no clear path on how to get to where we dream of going.
“I feel like we have to sit in the mess of our dreams with no clear path on how to get to where we dream of going” I could not have said this better myself!
Our dreams are messy! Our goals are messy. Your path is blurry and filled with gaps, large potholes that only appear when you’re just about to run over them. It’s an INSANE journey but also a very very realistic, genuine way of working hard for something that your entire being knows is right for you. If you love it and want it hard enough it’ll happen and if not something else is waiting for you and it’ll show itself when the time is right.
I find that in my twenties its especially hard to marry your dreams with the need for abundance and financial security. I find myself always wondering “when in this lifetime am I ever going to earn enough money to not make me worry about the end of the month?” – it’s part of the deal when you want something that makes your heart sing but doesn’t necessarily come with the pay check attached.
However having up rooted my entire life and having moved halfway across the world on my own, started my own business in a challenging landscape with no other motivation then to fulfil my dreams I can say that handling changes in your twenties is a crazy roller coaster and a very steep learning curve. Better now then further down the line though. In your twenties you have space to move, groove, learn, make mistakes and be spontaneous and compulsive. Why not? It’s the greatest time to learn. Everything that is thrown at you is a life lesson. If anything it’ll make you into the best human you can be.
Do you have any rituals that keep you calm and sane in this crazy busy life we lead creating our dreams and making it happen?
My yoga. No matter what, when, or how it’s my sanity and my sanctuary. My quiet time to empty out my brain. I don’t know what kind of person I’d be without it but it wouldn’t be pretty!
When I first moved to Australia I didn’t know anyone so joining a studio gave me a sense of community. The 60 mins of class I had would calm any anxiety, stress or nervousness. It truly helped. Surfing is also one of those calming rituals that makes any day better. I am very bad at slapping my wetsuit on in the heart of winter but come the warmer months it’s one of my greatest pleasures.
I also always make sure I get some ocean time and dig my feet in the sand and walk around. I’m outside as much as I possibly can and I find being in nature extremely therapeutic. On occasion -- and this is the best -- I’ll find myself in the country, on a farm, in a national park or in a jungle. There’s just something so freeing about being out in the open with animals and life around you. As corny as this may sound you feel the energy of nature around you and it makes you feel 1000 x better.
Doesn’t sound corny at all. Nature is life and sometimes we forget how important it is for our wellbeing. Especially when you are on a computer all day or in a car commuting through Sydney traffic. It can disappear and it’s not until we are back in it that we remember who we are and what’s important. I’m a big believer in nature as therapy. Let’s just hope we can look after her like she looks after us.
You have done quite a bit of modelling. I have a lot of clients who are trying to get into that industry as young models. Can you give them a heads up on what they should be aware of?
The modelling industry is hard and not for everyone. In fact I find it’s not for me at all – you have to have extremely tough skin, patience, and a hearty dose of grit and determination. I started when I was 15 and it was an obsession to be among the top tier of girls. I fully had my chance to go that way I was placed with the best agencies and had the best around me but as I grew older and experienced certain things the world of modelling became increasingly unattractive to me.
If I were to give advice it would be to understand you have many many options outside of modelling and not to narrow your playing field. Get your degree and follow your passions do things that make you happy.
Don’t lose sight of who you are and what makes you you. It’s very easy to get lost in the chameleon aspect of modelling and lose sense of your own amazingness for the sake of pleasing a team of other people.
Understand that people can be impressionable and there is no harm in saying no. If you don’t want to do something or have someone put you in an uncomfortable situation you have the power to take a stand and refuse. Many people will manipulate you and treat you like you’re less than human. Fight back.
I think it’s great that you choose the jobs that fill up your soul. I don’t think there are too many girls out there who feel like they have the power to choose. Generally young models feel they need to please everyone so they can be hired for the next job. What kind of advice would you give them?
I took a long time off from modelling when I was in Uni and came back on my own terms.
Now, I do it for the pleasure of creativity, collaboration, and to produce work that I can relate to that has a higher purpose then the sake of garments or pretty things. Truth be told I love photography being in front of the camera and behind it is a wonderful process. Working with photographers I really click with is the best experience.
No pun intended ;)
Would you mind talking about our photoshoot? How was the day for you? Did you get a sneak peak of the images?
Gosh the photoshoot was so great! I finally got to meet the beautiful Penny (You) and we had an instant connection – I felt like I’d known her already for so long! My favourite kind of shoots are the ones where the photographer and subject/model understand each other and get along – it makes a whole lot of difference to feel comfortable and be on the same level when it comes to the creative process. That’s when real magic happens.
We probably chatted more then we shot, but everything seemed to flow so easily. It was honestly such a treat to meet you and shoot with you. We both had the same vision for the portraits and from there it was just discovering each other’s work flows and nuances, but everything clicked. We share a mutual love for Brigitte Bardot and the 60’s French style -- when I got a sneak peak of the images I got so excited, I hadn’t done a shoot like that in so long and it felt good to be taken out off the beach and into some winter clothes for a studio shoot! You always learn something new.
You have just finished your degree in Journalism! This is so exciting. Congratulations. Where did you study?
Thank you so much! My masters in journalism is by far one of my greatest achievements. I am so proud and happy to have undertaken it because I discovered a true passion and grew as a writer and blogger. I studied at University of Technology of Sydney.
Why did you choose journalism?
I was oblivious to journalism until I did my first internship. My father always told me I would be a journalist, and I never believed him for some reason. But as a kid I always did makeshift newspapers, wrote stories and pretended to interview my family around the house. I didn’t know what is was then but looking back I always had a knack for it.
The first person I interviewed for my very first uni assignment was 7 time world surfing champion Layne Beachly. It was quite ballsy of me to be honest and I didn’t fully think it through. I went to one of her conferences and sat at the front where she could see me and I could make eye contact. At the end when I chased her down, and she agreed to answer my Q&A, I couldn’t believe my ears! Embarrassingly the entire recording kit I had rented from uni wasn’t working so I did the entire thing on my phone. Nevertheless the whole Q&A process lit up this genuine fire inside me. It was all so exciting.
What get’s you up in the morning and motivates you to write a blog, take a yoga class, exercise and create your life on your own terms.
I wake up every morning because in 20 years time I want to say how I made an impact. How I made something for myself that I can look back and be proud of. For me there isn’t any other choice than following my dreams. I think life is way too short to waste time doing anything else.
Are you spiritual? If so what does this entail? What do you believe in?
I think I’m more spiritual than I’d like to admit sometimes – being a yoga instructor and surfer I try not to fall into that cliché but I do love it all. Even if I take certain things with a pinch of salt. I do believe the universe is this magnetic power - it really does give you what you want. I believe in manifesting exactly what your soul desires.
Do you have a mentor? If so who are they and why are they your mentor?
Bianca Cheah was my boss and mentor at Sporteluxe. She opened my eyes to the world of digital journalism, blogging and having your own platform. Aside from being a genuinely kind and beautiful person she really showed me that being authentic and caring for people is far more important than having a massive following and going to fancy events. She showed me what a real entrepreneur is; the hardships, the difficult decisions, the relentless work schedule. Her work ethic is truly inspirational. I learned a lot from her creatively but also to not sweat the small stuff. I’m grateful she always answered all my questions. She also gave me a platform to grow my confidence and helped me believe in myself and my capabilities. Becoming an editorial writer for Sporteluxe is still one of the best jobs I’ve had.
Lastly, could you describe a moment in your life so far where you experienced something (like surfing, art, poems, books) that has changed the way you look at the world?
Brigitte Bardot’s Biography: Not many people know this but I’m a massive Brigitte Bardot fan, it probably comes from my mom and the French side of me, her life story always fascinated me. I have a soft spot for France in the 60’s. Briggite Bardot, Jane Fonda, Roger Vadim, France Gall, Serge Gainsbourg … all these iconic characters make me really proud to be French. I read Brigitte’s biography when I was 17, and I still have the original by my bed side table. It’s a special book one that my mother had before I could even read. I’ve always related to her ways of thinking and seeing in the world (for most things – I know she gets a bad rap nowadays for being a little kooky) – even her undying love for all animals. Back then she was such a piooner for women, their sexuality and the fact that all she ever really wanted was the simple things in life – despite having one of the most glamorous existences. If anything I think Brigitte is definitely the one who influenced me in sticking up for myself and standing my ground. She always stayed true to who she is however controversial it was back then – it’s always been a beautiful thing to me.
Another eye opener (and another book) for me recently was Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. It changed my whole outlook on the creative process and what it means to be an artist, a writer, or whatever it is you want to call yourself. Ultimately it made me realise I am no different to the most successful people on this planet. I have ideas, inspiration, I am a creative person just like my neighbour. There really isn’t anything I can’t do if I set my mind to it.
Any unique experience really shifts my perception of the world we live in. I could name so many; Watching my partner surf the biggest waves I have ever seen, teaching a yoga class of 60+ people, working a set with a crew of professionals who are the best of the best in the industry, or even just finding a massive waterfall in Bali.
When something strikes me I always take the time to reflect on the greater significance it has on my perception of life. That in itself is the very core of why I write and what my blog posts always try to reflect. Whatever experience we have be it positive or negative has a greater meaning - a life lesson to be learnt.
Andy it's been a pleasure. You are a dreamboat.
Click this link to check out Andy's Blog...