Posted on November 21, 2013
Dana James is a nutritional therapist, writer and founder of Food Coach NYC. She holds her Masters in Clinical Nutrition and is trained in nutrition biochemistry, functional medicine and cognitive behavioral therapy. Dana’s approach to wellness and health is more holistic as opposed to the barrage of quick-fix solutions we are bombarded with in today’s market. Here, Dana talks wellness, the mind and body connection and what you can expect to see from her in the future.
What is your philosophy on wellness and health?
Celebrate life by adding more beauty, richness, joy and balance. Understand the why – why are you motivated to make a change and why are you not? Don’t try to control things too much, let life take you were you’re supposed to go. Savor the simple things in life and pursue happiness. Enjoy food, connection, movement and being present. Melt into life – it will bring you everything you desire.
When did your interest in nutrition begin and how did you channel that into a career?
I had terrible body image issues as a teenager. Food was a punishment tool not a way to nourish my body and brain. I would jump from one diet to the next thinking that the next one would make me skinny and happy. Of course it didn’t. I thought that nutrition knowledge was the answer and that’s how I ended up in nutrition. Little did I know that food was only part of the picture and what I really needed was to fully accept all of me – body, voice and mind. I currently practice with a combination of nutrition and psychology. I trained in the United Kingdom and they called us nutritional therapists. I think that’s a more accurate term.
What advice would you give to someone who feels they don’t have access to healthy living whether that be time constraints or lack of knowledge about nutrition?
We all have the same amount of time and it’s just how you prioritize it. If leading a healthy life is important to you, you’ll find a way to make it work. Think from a solution based perspective not a constraint perspective. Lack of nutritional knowledge is easy to correct – limit sugar, limit gluten and use plant-based foods as the foundation of the meal. Select protein choices that appeal to you – animal or vegan – the choice is yours.
What are some of the misconceptions people have about healthy living?
That healthy eating equals weight loss and you’ll have a rock’n body if all you do is eat right. Weight loss is a subset of healthy eating – you need to eat clean, eat small and eat the right combinations. A healthy mind is equally as important as a healthy diet and this tends to be forgotten. Fat is not only fat but stored toxins and stored negative emotions. You’ve got to clean out your diet and your limiting thoughts for true healthy living.
In a market saturated with quick fix weight loss solutions, what are your thoughts about this culture?
It’s sad. These companies play into people’s fears and hopes. The next time you read one of these quick-fix programs, think of them as leaches sucking the hope and joy out of people. The only miracle solution is a change in mindset.
What are your go-to resources for balanced information about a healthy lifestyle?
What are your thoughts on the mind and body connection?
They are intricately linked. There is beautiful harmony between the mind and body. What we think influences our biochemistry and our biochemistry influences our mind. You can enter the circle at either point to bring about an elevated level of wellness. I start with the body and food as incorrect food can hijack our mind and make it more challenging to determine true emotional states.
Much cover is given to so-called superfoods. Do you subscribe to the idea that some foods have more benefits than others?
It is an over-used word often associated with some exotic fruit or powder that has a $50 price tag or some multi-level marketing program attached to it. A true superfood is rare. My number one superfood is chia seed. It has 12 grams of fiber per 3 tablespoons (no other natural food has this level of fiber), the same amount of protein as an egg and the same amount of Omega-3 fats as a piece of wild salmon. That’s a superfood!
What projects can we expect to see from you in the future?
I’m launching a six month coaching program on how to break through emotional eating and discover your true essence and beauty. I’m also in the midst of a book proposal and seeking an agent.
In the modeling industry where weight is a vital component of the job, how can a model lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way?
The first step is to reinterpret food. Food is a tool for a successful and long-lasting career; it’s not to be feared or over-indulged in. She should start her day with a green vegetable juice or eggs then have a plant-based meal for lunch and dinner with a small amount of protein and fat. Carbs and fruit need to be limited for weight loss. No gluten-containing food please. She should pack food for shoots rather than relying on energy bars and caffeine which will leave her depleted and lacking in vitality.
The biggest issue I see with models is not weight loss but a bloated belly from Candida or parasites picked up while traveling to various locations. If they find that when they eat vegetables or fruit their stomach bloats, then it’s likely they have a microbe fermenting the food they are eating. These need to be eradicated so she can have a flatter stomach. Their energy levels will also increase and her skin will also look more radiant.
For more information visit Food Coach NYC
Posted on November 14, 2013
English-born photographer Ben Watts was raised in Sydney, Australia before moving to New York in the nineties. Most notable for his work with GQ, Victoria’s Secret, Rolling Stone and Gap, Ben continues to innovate and bring arresting images to the forefront of fashion. Ben spoke to me and Emily Sandberg about his foray into photography and how complacency isn’t in his vocabulary.
How do you think your upbringing in Australia influenced your style of photography?
I grew to love being outdoors, the bright colors and the energetic beach lifestyle.
When you first arrived in NYC, what was it about Hip Hop culture you found so fascinating?
I was fascinated by the energy, the flamboyant showmanship and the lifestyle. It’s all very in-your-face and nothing modest about it. I loved it.
Having shot editorial stories, advertising campaigns and portraiture, is there one arena you feel more comfortable in than others?
I like to think that I am comfortable in all of them, although, I treat every shoot as a new challenge. There isn’t an easy day, but there is never a hard day when you love your job.
How do you feel about the evolution of photography to digital?
I think its great. It made photography and an immediate medium, taking away the anticipation of waiting on the processing. Sadly though, it has killed Polaroid which was a major part of my love of photography.
Karl Lagerfeld said “[We are] easily in a period of over-retouching… Some models [end up] look[ing] as if they are coming out of a funeral parlor, all life taken out of the face, I hate that.” What are your thoughts on the idea that Photoshop has ruined fashion photography?
I agree. I do very little retouching to my images and I try to make them look the way I want when I actually take them. The beauty of a model is who she is, not who you can make her with technology.
On Twitter you’re known for the #shhhhh photos where you take photos of models and celebrities making a shhh gesture. Where did the idea for this originate?
Your Photo Booth project started with a Hipstamatic lens and is now being strategically placed outside events. What do people love so much about this experience?
People love getting their picture taken! They love the experience of a photo shoot and the attention.
Where did the idea for your branding of the diamond come from?
Just the opening pages of my last book Lickshot. I was playing around with some tape as I have a tendency to do and that was that.
You studied Visual Communication at university and fell in love with scrapbooking and collage. How did you end up embracing photography and why?
Really it was a natural progression. I love visual energy and it was only a matter of time before I started making my own images.
You once said, “Never become complacent in order to stay competitive”. Tell us more.
This goes with anything for me. You need to always challenge yourself in order to better yourself
Your relationship with MILK studios started with the conception around the space. Their space, internship program at Parsons and ART gallery has created a subculture in the photo community. Can you tell us more about the intention and your relationship with Ben and Rozzi?
I am not an owner or partner at MILK. I have known Rozzi forever and we have both grown up in the industry together. There is loyalty program that we share.
Posted on October 3, 2013
Model mogul, Scott Lipps, represents some of the biggest names in the business. Name checking the likes of Claudia, Eva, Helena and Bridget Hall, Scott’s presence isn’t just limited to managing one of the hottest agencies on the planet. Scott’s influential blog is serialized in Interview magazine and now in his new book Poplipps: Plus One. I recently caught up with him to get the low down on his new venture and what to expect from him in the future.
You have a dominant presence on social media. Did you always want to create a book and how did Poplipps: Plus One come to fruition?
To be honest, it was from the urging of my publicist. The blog was not my initial idea but when Tumblr put it on their spotlight and it started to get heat and develop a loyal following I devoted every morning from 7 – 8 AM, just about, to it over the last few years. The book came about via the blog and the publisher actually offered us a deal after the first lunch meeting as he was familiar with it. Colette and Fred Segal have signed on to the carry the book as well as lots of others so it’s really exciting!
How do you feel about the media’s preoccupation with celebrity?
Celebrity is a reality of our culture today. Reality stars are on the cover of the biggest magazines in the world and people are becoming celebrities due in part to social media, it can’t be avoided. You either figure out the future of where media is heading or you get left behind. I’d rather figure out where it’s going.
How do you see this book as an extension of the Scott Lipps empire?
I’m flattered that you think it’s an empire but I do feel it’s a direct extension of the brand. The book features countless models, supermodels, celebrities, musicians and lots of people we represent so it just further solidifies the ONE brand.
How is the perspective of this book unique?
I’ve never seen a book done from the perspective of an agent or manager or from the drummer’s perspective of being on tour. Although there is a heavy emphasis on fashion here, there have been countless books on fashion before, I think this might be the first photo book from this perspective
What projects can we expect to see from you in the future?
Definitely expanding the entertainment celebrity division we have, breaking more great models, more music from Courtney Love and more branding of the great people we work with. Stay tuned, 2014 is around the corner!
Poplipps: Plus One is in stores now
Posted on September 5, 2013
Multihypenate Sibyl Buck has had many incarnations throughout her life and career; model, musician, MTV host, actor, yogi and now mother. Growing up in the nineties in England I watched Sibyl host MTV’s Stylissimo and her foray into acting in The Fifth Element. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Sibyl about her life and career in this inspiring and revealing interview.
In an industry built on conformity you broke boundaries and defied convention. What do boundaries mean to you?
Oh, cool; it’s awesome to be remembered that way! Originally, I had red hair in high school because I loved Phoenix, from the X-men. When I started modeling, I didn’t think I could have a career with red hair, so I dyed it back to brown. When I first got to Paris things were going well, but all of a sudden I was having an awful time and couldn’t remember what I was doing it for. Money seemed like a bad reason to be doing something I hated so I decided to dye my hair back to red, how I liked it, and figured it would derail my modeling career and I’d be free of it. But, to my surprise, my career really took off. I didn’t have the easy out I thought I had so if I was going to keep modeling, I decided I would do it with a mission. My decision to go red had come from a rebelliousness that was natural to who I was and my age, but I turned it into an ethos. My intention got very specific and when people were taking my picture I was trying to say, ” There are fewer rules than you think.” I wanted to express that things which you think are not possible can become possible if you just do them. I’m older now and I value and depend on boundaries often in my own life, but I still don’t respect arbitrary ones that are only there because nobody has bothered to ask why.
At the height of your career in the nineties, models such as yourself, Stella Tennant, Eve Salvail and Kristen McMenamy built successful careers on having an unconventional image. How do you feel about fashion’s wholly homogenized look today?
I have to say that I don’t see much of a difference in print. Stella is still at the top of her game, Kirsten Owen has never stopped working, Kristen McMenamy brought waist-length grey hair to high fashion (what a badass) and her daughter, Lily, whose looks are quite unconventional, is rocking the scene. There are still great publications popping up to tow the avant-garde line (think LOVE and PURPLE, et al) and if my recent shoot for LOVE with the stylist Panos Yiapanis is any indication, the stylists of today are every bit as artful and envelope-pushing as those greats of the past.
What IS different is that the design houses are all but a few owned by major corporations and don’t have their namesakes as the figure-head. I noticed right away, when I was still working, that when YSL sold to a corporation the very next shoot I did for them had a far lower standard of creative vision. I see this corporate standard of homogeny manifesting largely in the runway scene, where runway shows used to be kind of like rock shows, with the clothing and the models’ personality sharing the stage and in my opinion, it was more exciting, more of an event. I think there are probably some people out there who really care about the clothes above all, who enjoy the way fashion shows are now, because they can really see every detail and aren’t distracted by human flesh, much less personality. But to me, it seems only one step away from those things at the dry cleaner that rotate the clothes
How do you feel the industry has changed from the nineties?
I have had the pleasure of being on set a few times in the past year and am grateful to have been flown across the globe to participate in some exciting shoots. Mostly, I would say it seems very similar in terms of the on-set experience, with the one MAJOR change being the introduction of the internet and hand-held devices, as well as the digital camera being the mainstay of the photo shoot. This means that instead of everyone on set interacting with each other (which wasn’t always fun, there was a lot of hating that went on), once folks are done with their work for the moment, everyone pulls out a device and basically leaves the room. Similarly, instead of the whole team gathering around the model looking at what she’s doing and being part of a live show, everyone is looking at the monitor and speaking amongst themselves. The feeling is very similar to how playing rock music has changed over the same period of time, where now I play to a crowd of people holding up their phones and gazing into the image on their screen instead of actually being there for the show. The upside of it on a photo set is that it actually affords a very pleasant intimacy with the photographer, and the rest of the team is one level removed so that the chemistry between the model and photographer can unfold.
You have built an impressive and varied career from being a model to hosting MTV’s Stylissimo, to playing bass for Bush, to becoming a yoga instructor. Which of these, if any, has been the most fulfilling for you and why?
Thank you for saying so! I’m a Gemini, so I need variety to be fulfilled. I had a lot of dreams and I’m incredibly lucky to have been able to see them come to life, whether it was being on magazine covers, or playing to a stadium full of people, or acting in a major motion picture. Each of those experiences has sated a craving I had. Now that I’ve done those more public things (though they do still seem to be cropping up here and there), I’m directing more of my energy toward helping bring fulfillment to other people’s lives. A huge part of my energy and attention goes to my daughter, who is an amazing human being, I’m in love with her and so grateful to be her mom. And then I spend a part of my day five days a week teaching my students. I have very few public classes, but I love my students, and I really consider how to help them discover what’s within them that can help them live the life they crave. I think my own experience with bringing my dreams to fruition gives me a unique perspective as a yoga teacher. There’s one chapter of my life that’s one of my favorites, and is less known. During my downtime between tours with the money I made while modeling, I built a 5,000 square foot loft community in Brooklyn, where my daughter and her dad and I lived for 10 years with a small community of adults. The creative and inspiring men and women who lived there with us helped us raise her, and were our daughter’s extended family. We managed to do cool stuff like have an indoor vermicomposting farm, build a huge sound proof recording studio, have a skateboarding area, have a communal wood workshop, a sewing room with industrial sewing machines (out of which my best friend Lindsay Jones and I created a little startup clothing company called Urban Mary) and we had a huge trampoline indoors, as well as a rope swing hanging from the 20 foot ceilings! We had some epic parties there, with bands and contortionists and trapeze artists and amazing DJs and a star-studded guest list. I actually think Owen Wilson’s loft in Zoolander was modeled after it. Check out the band Rival Schools’ new release on Some records, Found, which was recorded there and the cover of it is a picture of me in the loft. That loft is called The Doghouse and exists still. That’s where we stay when we are in Brooklyn.
At the height of your career you took a risk and abandoned modeling for a less secure future. What prompted you to do this?
Foolishness? Well, that’s what most people would say. I didn’t want to get trapped identifying with being a model, which I knew wasn’t going to provide me with the experiences I was craving. I wanted to be a mother, I wanted to bring my creative expression to fruition, I wanted a fulfilling long-term relationship and the way my modeling career was, I didn’t have any time for much else. I basically waited until I had enough money to build The Doghouse and support myself for a while, put some away for retirement and set off to live a real life. I thought of the money from modeling as money that could provide me with a second childhood, one that I could direct for myself. Also, when I started, I told myself I would get out when I was 25 because I met some women who had seemed to lose the sense that they were capable of anything other than being pretty.
Beyond the physicality of yoga, how has your practice informed your life in other ways?
Whoa, that’s a big one. Yoga is really more profound than it looks from the outside. Through the inner work of both yoga and meditation practice, I have learned to connect with something authentic within myself. It’s a distinct feeling that gives me the stability and clarity to walk through all manner of situations with poise and with my values intact. That includes situations like walking onstage in front of 50,000 people to perform with a band I have only played with twice and playing songs I’ve only performed once. Before yoga, I would probably have had a bit of a butterflies-in-the-stomach overload, but with my practice so familiar to me, I can turn inward even with a substantial amount of outside pressure and reconnect with an inner source that feeds me whatever I need. Also, yoga is all about balance, strength, flexibility, and allowing grace to flow through your movements and decisions and those are exactly the qualities needed for mothering. I have had a revolution in anger management from my practice and my peace of mind is my constant companion. I guess it really has improved my quality of life and my ability to perform in all areas.
How has being a mother informed your life and view of the world?
Everyone always says, after they have their first child, that it changes your perspective. I never understood what that meant until I had my daughter. I have deep respect for those who have chosen not to procreate (and deep sympathy for those who cannot), but I think the shift from being the center of your own universe, to having someone else be the center of your universe, that comes from having a child is a deeply nourishing and empowering shift. At least for me, it was exactly what I needed. Coming out of 5 years of being treated like a diva, always the center of attention of the photo shoot, carted around in 5 star luxury, my every need catered to, I was in a bit of a bubble of self-centeredness. Giving birth, the physical experience, was one of the most humbling processes I can think of and from there, the process of letting go of who I thought I was, to become what I needed to be for this tiny, helpless little love bug lead me to a much wiser and broader perspective on everything in my life. I don’t know if I would ever have been able to have had a successful long term relationship without that kind of deep shift. Thankfully, 13 years down the line, Puma’s father and I are still in love, and living harmoniously together. I credit our daughter largely for our success.
What are you most grateful for?
I’m so grateful for so much. I was in yoga class yesterday behind someone with a prosthetic leg, so beginning with having a fully functioning body and mind, I am so grateful to have a life that has allowed me to live my dreams. I’ve been so fortunate to get to do the fantastic things I dreamed of as a kid, but at the end of the day, if I didn’t have my husband, my daughter and my own feeling of contentedness, none of that would matter all that much. I’m most grateful for the fact that the trajectory of my life has lead me to be content and feel fulfilled, including my parents, who, despite their divorce when I was two, continued to guide me and support me in all that I wanted to do.
What are you most passionate about and what motivates you?
That’s a hard question. I’m inspired and motivated by a wide range of things. I’ll start with what I’m motivated to get into on my personal trajectory. I’m very passionate about living environments and community like The Doghouse. My husband and I dream of finding some land in a beautiful location, building our own awesome home (by awesome, I mean artful, more than fancy), with ecofriendly features and with space enough to house a small community. We are also working on a record together right now and that is so inspiring to me; making music together as a couple and weaving our lives into a partnership that includes our professional, personal and spiritual lives is so exciting to me, and what I’ve always hoped for. In an abstract way, I’m passionate about the human drive to evolve toward our dreams, even when going in that direction threatens what makes us feel safe and comfortable. I love it when I hear about people who are making the hard choices to leave what they know, to go toward their heart’s desire. I wrote a song about how hard and disorienting it can be to leave your status within a world you know, to endeavor in a new millieu that goes:
“confusion is a symptom of letting go the turning wheels you can’t control
and though it feels you’re losing hold, nothing ever turns to gold, unless it can unfold“
I’m grateful to other people who make those choices, because they inspire and motivate me, and I hope in any way to be that inspiring, motivating factor for someone else. In a more day-to-day practical sense, I’m passionate about helping my students in yoga to find more health and wellbeing. I have a student who has a severe form of scoliosis, and who credits me with a large part of her healing to the point where now she’s able to walk and breathe at the same time. That kind of thing touches me deeply and motivates me so much to continue learning about how yoga can heal. This fall, I am starting the Loyola Marymount Yoga Therapy degree program, which is the only degree program out there, and I’m so excited to have that depth of knowledge.
What do you think people would be surprised to learn about you?
That I was a high school cheerleader? That I used to skateboard vert ramps? That I have a great social anxiety which still surfaces sometimes? I’m not really sure how most people would think of me (if they think of me at all), so I’m not sure what’s surprising. Maybe it would be surprising for people to know that I can and do build structures and furniture, including much of the second floor of the loft that we built. I love using saws and all manner of power tools and I think building is kind of like making clothes, in that you take things that are flat and make them 3-D shapes that you can get into. I look forward to building my own house.
Sibyl is represented by DNA Models
Posted on June 21, 2013
Alex Michels foray into the world of modelling came after he was inspired to attend an open audition after viewing fashion editorials on Tumblr. I spoke with Alex about how he copes with the isolation of modelling, his secret ability and what he plans to do when he finishes college.
You were discovered at an open audition. What interested you about modeling?
I used to be really into Tumblr. Lots of random fashion editorials would filter through and I would see the photos and think to myself, “I could probably fit those clothes too, right?” I decided to go to the audition and the agents at Stars Model Management signed me on the spot.
What are your aspirations and goals for the future?
When I’m finished with college I’m hoping to try my hand at animation or video game design. Hopefully I get to stay here in California as well.
What do you hope to get out of your modeling career?
I hope to earn enough money to buy my mom a new fancy kitchen; She hates all of our appliances. I’d also like to spend more time travelling around Europe.
How do you handle the pressure and rejection that comes with modeling?
The pressure to look ‘casting-ready’ is a challenge for me. I’m naturally less put together and usually have disheveled bed-head. The rejection can really be a bummer as well but I have to just remind myself that it’s not personal.
What do you think people would be surprised to learn about you?
I have the secret ability to wiggle my ears on demand.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The highlight of my career has definitely been walking for Louis Vuitton last summer in Paris. They also used me for looks for a few days. You would not believe the food they ordered for catering, it was like a French Thanksgiving every day.
How do you cope when you are away from family and friends?
I like to stay connected through social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Skype. During Fashion Week I am kept really busy with castings so that makes it easier.
What do you like to do in your spare time to decompress?
When I’m away and I want to relax I do any number of things from video chatting with my girlfriend, Gameboy, reading, eating everything in sight, napping, drawing to squatting at Barnes and Noble.