Model Citizen Simon Nessman On His Mission To Live Life Purposefully

As one of the highest paid male models in the world, Simon Nessman has fronted campaigns for Giorgio Armani, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Bottega Veneta, Michael Kors, and Givenchy, but in 2012 he announced he would be scaling back on his modeling work and relocating to a secluded island off British Columbia’s rugged coast. This pivot laid the blueprint for what would become the Cedar Coast Field Station and fulfilled a dream of his years in the making.

Tell us about the genesis of the Cedar Coast Field Station.

The Cedar Coast Field Station is a dream that has been years in the making. It started 6 years ago when I left New York and moved to a remote island off the West Coast of Canada, a few hours drive from my childhood home. I immediately fell in love with Clayoquot Sound and with the off-grid lifestyle. In sharp contrast to the frantic pace of big city living, this place operated with an entirely different sense of time—one that is grounded in the fluctuations of its surrounding environment. Through this experience I developed a more ecologically grounded perspective. For example, I learned that when the sun comes out, it is the opportune time for energy intensive tasks like doing laundry, and charging electronics. When it’s summertime and the salmon are running, this is the time to catch and preserve food for the winter. And, when the spring rains are heavy, this is the time to utilize the rainwater catchment system and fill the water cisterns for the drier summer ahead. This experience of place-based time helped me develop a much deeper understanding of my own dependence on ecological health, which inspired me to facilitate similar experiences for others, through the creation of an ecological field station. Throughout my time at Quest University I also developed an appreciation for the importance of ecological research, which has become a core aspect of operations at Cedar Coast.

Talk to us about the mission statement of the station.

The mission of the Cedar Coast Field Station is to preserve ecological health through place-based research and education that celebrates the cultural and biological diversity of Clayoquot Sound. We are doing this by conducting primary ecological research, facilitating the work of visiting researchers, hosting visiting education groups—like grade school and university groups—and running our own in-house educational programs. The scope of our actions are focused locally here in Clayoquot Sound, but we are contributing to a global initiative of environmental conservation. Conservation of one area is ultimately futile unless we are able to address ecological health on a global scale.

What motivated you to create this project?

There were many motivating factors in the creation of this project. First off, I fell in love with Clayoquot Sound and living off-grid in this beautiful place. I wanted to find some way to maintain this lifestyle of off-grid living while still contributing to society in a meaningful way. I fell in love with the place, and realized that if I wanted to enjoy the place in its current state for many years to come then I’d better get to work preserving it.

Tell us about some of the initiatives you’re working on.

On the research side of things we have focused a great deal of energy on monitoring the out migrating juvenile salmon for parasitic sea lice and diseases. These out migrating salmon are vulnerable to a number of natural and anthropogenic threats, including disease and parasite transfer from open net fish farms. We are also working on more general baseline ecological data collection, including intertidal biodiversity, beach micro plastic surveys, and drone based kelp forest monitoring.

Alongside our research program we host a number of educational programs, including K-12 school groups, university groups, adult education groups, and summer camps. Each educational program run through the station includes an introduction to our ecological monitoring projects. In this way we are working to create synergy between the scientific community and the rest of the station users.

Do you ever feel conflicted earning a living in an industry that is the antithesis of sustainability and how do you mitigate that?

I’m sure there was a time when I would have considered the fashion industry to be the antithesis of sustainability, but I don’t think that is necessarily the case. Lately, I have seen an increasing number of companies that are challenging the status quo and pushing for a more sustainable fashion industry. Fashion as an idea is not fundamentally unsustainable. The current trends of fast fashion, contracting manufacturing overseas, and use of harmful chemicals in the manufacturing process are all unsustainable practices. Fortunately, there are alternatives to each of these harmful practices, and the fashion industry is fully capable of adopting these more sustainable alternatives.

How has your work at the station changed you and the way you live?

I am working much harder than I ever have before. Between acting as Director of the organization, project managing the construction of our new off-grid boat access facility, and modeling to fund the whole thing, I am testing the outer limits of my own capacity as a person. There are obvious consequences to taking on this kind of work load, and I’m looking forward to scaling back my hours upon completion of the facility.

Climate change is arguably the most pressing issue of this generation. What would you say to someone who feels that anything they do won’t make a difference?

Anything they do will make a difference. Everything on this planet that we share is connected—this is not an abstract concept—every action we take on a daily basis has both foreseeable and unforeseeable consequences. Use a little bit less electricity. Use a little bit less fossil fuel. Eat a little bit less meat. Buy a few less things. Slow down. Seems simple enough, no?

What are your long-term goals for the station?

My dream is for the station to be a self-sustaining hub of ecological research and education. I want it to be a place where people from all over the world come to learn about the incredible abundance of our local ecosystem, and reflect on the ecosystems surrounding their own homes. The main goal here is to get people thinking about how our actions influence the ecosystems we all depend on.

What do you hope someone can take away from the work you and your team are doing?

I hope people will come to understand that preservation of the environment is ultimately self-preservation. We cannot survive in any humane way without a healthy environment. This project is not about hugging trees feeling groovy—though I have nothing against either of these activities—rather, it is about preservation of life-sustaining resources that each and every one of us depends on.

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Rosemary Ferguson On Wellness And The Inspiration Behind Her 5 Day Plan

Model turned nutritionist Rosemary Ferguson was a ubiquitous presence in the fashion industry in the nineties. A favorite of photographer Corinne Day, and best friends with Kate Moss, Rosemary was a part of the fabric of Cool Britannia whose influence remains to this day. After stepping back from the industry, she studied homeopathic and complementary medicine, and embarked on a new career as a nutritionist. I spoke with her about her 5 Day Plan and the challenges people face in an increasingly harried society.

Tell us about how you became interested in complementary medicine.

I come from a homeopathic and complementary medicine background and I have always been interested in what food can do for you; I’m obsessed. After 15 years of modeling, my inner nutrition nerd led me to study at The College of Naturopathic Medicine. I qualified as a naturopath and nutritionist in 2009 and now run a clinic on Harley Street in London.

What does wellness means to you?

Wellness means well in mind and body. Support your body with the right nutrition—as well as being mindful of what our mind needs—whether that is going for a big Sunday lunch, a run, yoga, meditation, or a good night out!

What inspired you to create your 5 Day Plan?

I often use food plans in my clinic to help get people back on track. I tell them what to eat, what supplements to take, when to take them, and for how long. These plans last anything from 7 to 14 to 30 days long. They are designed as a reset, and to get people on the right track. The food and supplements support the liver, the kidney, hormone and sugar balances, and are super anti-inflammatory. Do you feel amazing? Yes. Does everyone have the time or motivation to make the food themselves? No! And so The 5 Day Plan was born.

We started in the country with four of my friends. They always asked for my help on how to get back on track—they felt they didn’t have the time to achieve this—and weren’t knowledgeable about what to eat. After talking to friends and clients it became clear that people were desperate for someone else to fix them. Between raising kids and busy weekends, this needed to happen during the working week. I stuck to 5 days as that seemed the most realistic time frame that people could cope with.

Tell us about how the 5 Day Plan differs to other diet plans.

The 5 day plan is a process—there is method to the madness—and each day has a different focus and contributes to the end feeling of Fresh by Friday. Monday and Tuesday are slightly heavier on complex carbohydrates. This helps bring your blood sugar levels into balance as you leave the world of refined food behind you.

Monday is all about supporting the liver and kidneys so there are lots of healing herbs and spices, a green juice, and hydrating veggies to help with water retention.

Tuesday is a little more carb heavy and high in nutrients that support the liver and will help get you ready for Wednesday’s liquid only day.

Yes; Wednesday is a liquid only day. It is always a turning point in the plan—some people love it and some people hate it—but by Thursday everyone feels great. They have a flat tummy, their mind and body feel lighter, and surprisingly they are full of energy. A liquid day allows the gut and digestive system to rest so your body can get on with other repairs. 50% of our energy is used by digesting food.

Thursday is always high in fibre and this helps the removal of waste to maximize the effects of the liquid day.

Friday is always gut focused. During the first 4 days you’ve worked hard to get your gut to a state of calm and encourage the good bacteria colony to grow. We make sure it includes lots of prebiotic food to continue the process.

How do you think social media has influenced people’s relationship with food?

I think it’s mostly a positive influence. People are getting back in the kitchen and reconnecting with food. Social media is a great platform for free content which is so accessible to all.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to cut through all the noise surrounding fad diets and embark on a more holistic approach to nutrition?

It’s not rocket science; it’s about balance and sustainability. Keep it simple. Live by the perfect plate rule of one-quarter complex carbs, one-quarter lean protein, and one-half vegetables. This ensures your meals are always balanced.

Is there a commonality between the challenges your clients face when embarking on a lifestyle change?

Time is a big one! Everyone is working so hard that they think they don’t have time to look after themselves. Making time can be the hardest first step to take.

What projects are you working on that you can share with us?

The 5 Day Plan will be back in New York in the New Year,. We are hoping to start on a book with The Plan and everyone’s favorite recipes. There are some nutritional powders for the skin in development too. On another note, we are excited to be launching Filth, a healthy food restaurant for hedonists, in the New Year too.

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Georgina Cooper On The Heady Days Of Cool Britannia And Working With Corinne Day

Model Georgina Cooper rose to prominence during the height of the Cool Britannia wave in the mid nineties. A regular collaborator with photographer Corinne Day, Georgina’s look drew comparisons to American model Lauren Hutton, and she was a favorite of designers and editors alike. She featured in the pages of edgy magazines such as The Face as well as gracing the pages of American Vogue. I caught up with her from her home in London to talk about her time in fashion.

Tell us about how you got into modeling.

I got into modeling when I was 13 when my mum entered me in the Elite Look of The Year contest in 1992—I placed third in the competition—it was an amazing experience and it made my mum and dad very proud of me.

You worked with Corinne Day a lot during her early days. What was that experience like and were you aware how influential the work became?

I started working with Corinne Day when I was 15. I went to her flat to meet her and Tara Hill. Corinne really loved my look—she particularly loved the gap in my teeth—and she liked my personality too. The following week we did our first shoot for Ray Gun magazine. It was an amazing time—we all had so much fun—and Corrine was brilliant to work with. I was so young at the time I didn’t really understand how influential the work we were doing was until I got older and people would compliment me on the work we did together.

In the mid nineties Cool Britannia was all the rage. What was that time like for you in fashion?

The 90s Cool Britannia period was very cool as it was very much about being yourself. The shoots we did were quirky—but very natural—and most of us had very unique looks.

How did you handle your success?

I handled my success very well. I’m just a South London girl who enjoyed traveling the world. I’m a very grounded person and I’ve remained that way my whole life.

What are the memorable moments from the height of your career?

I had so many memorable moments from my career, it’s very difficult to pinpoint just one.

In hindsight, what advice would you give to your younger self?

If could go back and give myself one piece of advice it would be to invest. I’d also tell all the new models starting out in this industry to do the same thing too.

What did you discover about yourself through modeling?

I discovered that I’m a very giving person and that I would do anything for anyone that needs help.

What are you up to these days?

I work in the hospitality industry, and I love it because I’m a people person. After I had my son I  just couldn’t bear to leave him alone and I wanted to be there for him. I tried to continue modeling but it broke my heart when I had to leave him for work. I focused on modeling assignments in London but my life was at a crossroads and I decided that Sonny came first.

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Introducing Sophia Roetz

Hailing from Germany, newcomer Sophia Roetz was a typical teenager before being discovered and securing a slew of bookings for top designers in their Spring/Summer 19 runway shows. As an exclusive for Riccardo Tisci’s newly revamped Burberry—and with the endorsement of Hermes, Elie Saab, Altuzzara, and Prada—this statuesque blonde is one model who should be on your radar.

Tell us about your childhood.

I had a very normal childhood. I was born and raised in a small village near Cologne, Germany. The town I come from is in the countryside and everybody knows each other. I went to school there since kindergarten and graduated this year. Coming to London is very different but I love it!

Tell us about how you were discovered.

I applied online at Select Model Management. A scout reached out to me and then flew over to Cologne to meet me and my mom. They later brought me and a friend over to London to meet with the team and I signed with them.

You had a strong debut this past season. What was that experience like for you?

I never thought I would have the opportunity to walk in a fashion show. When I found out I was confirmed to walk in such big name shows—having had no experience—I was so overwhelmed. Strangely I wasn’t nervous but just super excited. I think the adrenaline took over. I loved meeting all the teams and the other models.

As a newcomer who do you look up to in the industry?

I don’t really look up to a specific person. However, I look forward to the possibilities the industry provides and the success that established models have achieved and how hard they worked to get where they are. It really inspires me to be my best so that one day I can reach that level.

How do you define your personal style?

I would describe it as simple, casual, cool, modern, and feminine.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by all the things I can achieve in the industry if I put the effort in. I love flipping through magazines/social media and looking at artistic shoots and the creative input involved with the styling, hair, and makeup.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I only applied to become a model because I received a parking ticket and didn’t want to tell my parents. I thought if I could make some money modeling that would pay for the ticket. It turned out I didn’t get fined, and now I couldn’t be happier to be a part of the industry.

What do you hope to get out of modeling?

Ultimately a successful career. I want to build connections with inspiring people in the industry and travel to amazing places I would never get to go to otherwise.

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Miss Fame Knows What She Wants And Isn’t Afraid To Reach For It

Entrepreneur, model, makeup artist, drag queen, and RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Miss Fame shows no signs of slowing down. She was a spokesmodel for L’Oréal Paris, the first drag artist to walk the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival, and has appeared in the pages of German Vogue, V, Love, and Elle magazine. With the launch of her beauty line Miss Fame Beauty, I spoke with her about her humble upbringing and the value of self-belief.

You grew up in California, right?

Yes, Central California, San Luis Obispo County.

Growing up did you have a clear idea what you wanted to do with your life? Was becoming a makeup artist something you always wanted to do and were you even aware that that was a career path?

No, because I grew up in such a contained environment. I mean, it’s a farming community, and the electives you take in school are welding, wood shop, and beef production management. I grew up close to the ocean—it was just 20 minutes away— but we were a bit inland, where work is very agriculturally driven and everybody was running wineries. It’s beautiful and very much has a country town vibe and a small town mentality where everybody knows everybody. I went to school with the same people, and everybody knows what they are going to do living there. I had to evolve and discover myself.

After graduating from high school, how did you end up discovering your path?

I knew at around 12 that I was gay—although I didn’t act upon it—and I had a realization that I wasn’t going to be able to live a life like everybody else in my family. Growing up in a small town, the people who usually stay learn a lot of the same traditions and have the same value system as everybody else. The gay community within my school was so tiny. There was a lesbian, my gay friend Jose, and another guy who was effeminate and ended up committing suicide. I remember thinking that we didn’t have a lot of resources and I didn’t feel safe. I was an artist who found my expression through my life circumstances, such as the trauma I experienced from the death of my dad and the death of my grandfather who raised me, as well as having a mother who struggled with addiction. I found an escape through art and beauty, and I always loved creating beautiful things. I had a natural talent and found my voice through my art.

How did you channel that expression initially? Was it through painting, music, makeup, or is that something that evolved later?

I grew up with a lot of uncles and aunts in the same household because my grandparents were mixed families. There was a large group of adults living in the house, and I was in kindergarten, so there was a giant age gap. Watching these adults, I had a lot of respect for them, and the women were so dynamic. They would get ready and put on makeup to go out for the weekend or to go to the football game, and I would watch them thinking it was so alluring.  I really loved listening to them gossip in the bathroom, doing their hair, and putting on their eyeshadow,  When I was home alone,  I definitely tried on some of the makeup that was in the pullout drawer in the bathroom. It was a drawer that had a bunch of hodge-podge; everyone’s stuff was in there. I would put on eyeliner or try on my grandmother’s high heels.  When you are little and you put on makeup, you don’t realize it takes a lot of work to remove it. I would have a raccoon eye and be like, holy shit I am going to get into so much trouble. There was an allure to beauty.

How did you discover drag?

It was evolutionary. Once I turned 18 (I am 33 now), I started partying and exploring the gay community that was in my county. I would go up north to a very small gay bar that opened twice a week. We would get in, and although you are not legally allowed to drink until you are 21, I would always get drunk. I was discovering myself, and in the midst of discovering my own sexuality, I also discovered my expression. I have always felt makeup was a form of protection because I didn’t have perfect skin and so I used some makeup to make me look better. My youngest aunt picked up my first CoverGirl foundation. I was so afraid to shop for makeup, because I felt like somebody was going to catch me. In the midst of all this, I found a community that was open and embraced me, and I felt like I had found my place. That’s when I started performing drag. I first performed when I was 19 and I did really well—I actually won a competition.

How many years later did you apply for RuPaul’s Drag Race?

Oh, many years later. I had moved to Northern California and enrolled in beauty college and discovered I could make people feel good about themselves by making them feel beautiful. I got my license, started working, traveled, and pursued modeling. At that time I had been in front of a camera for a number of years and had always worn makeup. I had a photographer tell me he didn’t suggest that I pursue this further, and I remember feeling that I hated people telling me what to do. I’m not willing to let that guide me. I then moved to New York and fell in love with New York. I was in a relationship and we slept on couches, toughing it out. I got a job at MAC and stopped doing hair as soon as I got to New York. I then got fired from that job but started working with celebrities. I was asked to audition for season six, so I was 29 when I made it on the show. I had been in New York for 3 years before I got on the show.

What was that experience like?

I didn’t know what to expect. Reality television is beyond your control. You have to be so strong in every arena, you have to be quick, you have to be talented, and you have to be able to handle anything that’s thrown at you. I realized that I am a sensitive person who doesn’t do well in competitions. In life I fight for what I want and that’s why I have a career, but on television I didn’t understand how to work it. I had never been on a show where I had to be in a room with people that were just dying to succeed. The exposure is great and you get a kick of momentum, but you are 100% responsible for the maintenance of your career. It’s crazy, but what I did get was a lot of experience. I learned how to become a better artist and performer. I also mentioned on the show that I wanted to work on a book, so I took my time to do that right.

There seems to be parallels between your story and Kevin Aucoin. Do you identify with his story and who has inspired you?

You nailed it. That is a great comparison, and I totally appreciate that. I have a few of his books, and I look at the way he structured faces and try to recreate those. I know a few people in New York that worked with Kevin, and I’ve tried to find out any tidbit of information I could from the icons of the 90s. The supermodels were a huge part of that for me because they were beautiful, untouchable, and luxurious. Even though I grew up very humble and broken, my expression was always to make something that felt strong, safe, alluring, and perfect. I really am a perfectionist. I am never happy until it’s really what I want it to be. Kevin is somebody who created an emotional connection with the people he worked with and he could back it up with his talent.

Tell us about how your beauty brand evolved.

I have always been able to get what I want when it comes to what is within my wheelhouse. I know what I want and I reach for it and get it. I believe that everything I had ever aspired to I could manifest. It’s like anything in life: if you want a better body, go to the gym and you are going to get a better body. I had conversations and did some research right off the bat, but it came down to finances. I developed something that’s my own and that I get to stand by. I had access to a really great team, and we get to tell a story. I turned my lipstick shades into five different provocative women and that’s exactly how I wanted it to be perceived. We didn’t have major budgets to do this. We made something out of passion with a team of people that wanted to be a success. That to me shows that your dedication for your craft will attract talented people so that you can achieve your goal. And it goes without saying, it takes a lot of hard work.

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