Ariana Whittingham Interviews Monica Simmons, Fashion Model and Creative for Ecocious Mag.
Wearing: Hara the label sustainable basics, accessories are from Monica's own collection which have been thrifted and repurposed.
Morning game changers, Ariana here!
I am very excited for today's Q+A. I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down and interviewing one of my beautiful friends, Monica Simmons for Ecocious Mag, I wanted to ask her about her views on sustainability and go a little deeper and share her "why" with you.
Most of you will recognise Monica from her modelling work, she is naturally talented and extremely successful with her work. I'm sure you have seen her face many times across many popular fashion and beauty brands in Australia. When she is not in front of the camera, she is reading, sewing, thrifting or working creatively behind the scenes with her partner AJ (check out their photo and video content creation portfolio here @simmonsphotoandfilm).
But I didn't catch up with Monica today to talk to her about modelling, I wanted to share Monica's thoughts and ask her questions about her lifestyle because she is a true representation of someone who is “always doing their best, to be as sustainable as possible.”
At Ecocious, we love sharing an insight into the minds, and lives of people that are genuinely and actively doing their part in making our world a more beautiful place.
On social media and IRL Monica practices what she preaches! Not only is vegan and promotes brands that are safe and respectful towards all humans and animals she is also very conscious with her own spending and has always thrifted!
She shares why “thrifting is like therapy” to her and how she experiences a rush after discovering a one-of-a-kind piece amongst all the “stuff.”
But, most importantly, she explains how recycling/up-cycling clothing not only gives garments “a new life” and keeps them out of landfill and what the red flags are when buying/thrifting for beginners.
Ariana: Hey Mon, let's just start with the basics, on the topic of sustainability - what does it mean to you and why is it important?
It's just the most important thing... There is no world if we aren’t sustainable.
In terms of how I live my life, I just try to be as sustainable as possible, with everything that I do.
Everyone has different levels to it, but, I just think that everyone should be as sustainable as they can be, with the little things first and then getting to the bigger picture things as they go on.
Ariana: So, what are the little things?
Think about things that you do, and use, everyday…
Maybe you could walk or go out less so you don’t have to use your car as much?
But for the bare minimum, A reusable water bottle/ keepcup/ grocery tote bag are great!
When you are shopping, choose the more sustainable option for what you are buying. For example, if you are buying cleaning products choose a brand that is “green”or “clean” (has natural ingredients/ less chemical ingredients).
For example, I have been going to the organic markets, and they just have everything you would possibly need there and once you make the switch for one thing the rest becomes easy to incorporate it into you life.
Ariana: We love how you share your passion for repurposing and upcycling thrifted pieces on IG, What made you want to start pursuing altering clothing? When did you start? How easy is it?
It actually started because I’ve always thrifted my clothes. I love the thrill of finding something, first of all because you know no one is going to have that piece because you’ve found it in a bunch of "stuff."
Another thing that sparked the interest was always finding pieces I loved, but they didn’t fit me - I would find something and think “oh, maybe these pants are too long" or, "maybe this skirt needs to be taken in."
Funny story, I actually convinced my mum to get me a sewing machine, years ago, and I tried to learn how to use it and I just couldn’t figure it out so I actually just resold it on FB marketplace, haha, and she gave me such a hard time about it so I knew this time I had to be determined. I got a really nice one, and really dedicated time into practicing it.
At first, learning how to do the bobbin is quite tricky, but it's just like anything it gets easier as you go... I started in December, and I’ve only really done alterations at this stage, but my sister did sewing at school and she sees my sewing lines (and I might be tooting my own horn), but she is so impressed, so I’m happy with that. I'm kind of a perfectionist with my work, it just bothers me if it's not done properly so ill re-do it if I don't like the lines.
Im self- taught, Youtube is the best place to learn anything you don't know, just google: how to "x" and there are so many videos! Learning this new skill, hands on, has given me so much appreciation for people that make our clothes and made me realise how much time, attention and effort goes into creating garments. I'm feeling ready to get a mannequin soon though, then I can start draping and creating my own patterns/designs.
Ariana: That’s so exciting, would you be interested in starting your own brand or line in the future?
Maybe, I would love that! Especially if it was purely repurposed or doing alterations for people.
Ariana: Let's talk about thrifting, when did you fall in love with it?
I've always thrifted, it's always been my favourite thing ever.
Recently it's been like my therapy, or, at least my happy thing... I always know, if I go and thrift right now, I'll be happy. I just love it - I think everyone should do it.
Ariana: What do you look for a piece when you are thrifting? do you look for certain materials things are made out of? or cuts and styles? would you try to find things that you would consider to be more timeless or do you look for unique pieces… walk us through your process.
I actually look at everything.
The first thing is touch and feel, I don’t buy anything that is polyester or acrylic, if something is 100% polyester I will put it back because I know its not worth it.
I can definitely feel stickier and have noticed I start to smell when wearing synthetic materials so I avoid those… its just so funny that we literally make clothes out of plastic! If I was to wear a cotton shirt, I could wear it all day and sweat like crazy and I wouldn’t smell but if I wear a polyester shirt in an hour I’m like oh my gosh when I smell myself.
Its so weird, it's not right. Were not designed to be covered in plastic when you think about it
Ariana: Anything else you look for when thrifting?
I actually look at everything in the thrift store including furniture, kitchen things and books! More than finding clothes, I love when I find a good book and think aw, someone read this and then donated it for someone else to find and enjoy I feel like its so sweet, that I get to share a connection to somebody else through it.
Ariana: Favourite, must-have, "repeat purchase" products?
I am quite minimalistic, I don’t want a lot of things and I don’t have a huge list of products that I need. Honestly my favourite thing to do in the morning is wake up and have a tea with my lifecykle mushrooms - this has been my ritual since the Ecocious event, I just love getting up and looking forward to my cup of tea.
I’ve always, really, loved tea. I prefer loose leaf tea (for environmental reasons and the taste) and use a tea strainer to minimise waste.
In terms of beauty, something that we use everyday and keep repurchasing is my favourite body wash by Dr Bronners - it's a staple in our home and I just love how clean the ingredients list is it is clean and a family run business.
Ariana: If someone reading this wanted to start making sustainable changes, where would you tell them to look for more information?
I have watched a lot of documentaries and also its something you learn as you go, so just start but a google search will only give you the basics: water bottle, keep cup, toothbrush, grocery tote bag.. and whilst those things are all amazing there’s so much more that needs to be considered like, everything you buy for your house, find an online magazine or blog that discusses sustainability and subscribe to their newsletter or blog to keep informed!
Ariana: If there was one thing you would change about the world, what would it be?
I think about this all the time, if I could change one thing, I would make everyone a bit more empathic to each other and to the world and animals. If we all cared more about the others around us I don’t think we would be in the position we are globally today.
We have people working, sometimes, next to nothing, in horrible conditions on the other side of the world, that are honestly just struggling to put food on the table and have their children working with them to make ends meet. Whilst others are profiting off a billion dollar fast fashion industry…
Its so sad that we’ve gotten to this place where people really value making money over everything. I can’t believe there are people that can live their lives knowing that they are exploiting others, and all for what? so they can have a private jet or buy their family members their 16th car… It's disgusting.
It's about loving one and other and this world and if we all did that, and tried to do that everyday we wouldn’t have any of these problems that we have now
But… I have faith because I know people are more aware now, than they’ve ever been, of consumption and where and how their things are being made.
I’ve also noticed that most people are self-educating now and changing their habits as we collectively learn more about how things are being made. We're not just buying without thinking, we're considering what is going on behind the scenes and choosing to support brands we believe are practicing in a way that is safe and respectful for our future.
You look intelligent, thanks for stopping by!
Watch our Video Interview with Monica @ecocious.com.au
Want to see more from Monica?