I’m going to try and keep this short(ish), however, I want you all to really get to know me and my story. Because, looking back, I can honestly admit it’s been one heck of a ride. I am blessed beyond measure, I’ve come a long way and now wish to share it with you.
The early years
I grew up in a picture-perfect home in the suburbs of Cape Town: mom and dad worked full time – still do – and I have an amazing brother who is more like a best friend ( you’ll read more about him in later posts), and two dogs, obviously. I was “outdoorsy”, spending many weekends on my grandfather’s farm with my brother and cousins, running barefoot between the cows and eating fruit straight of the trees. I loved studying and worked hard in school. I also really liked netball and loved spending Saturdays on the court with my teammates. Life was good, secure and filled with fun and laughter.
High School and life school
I was awkwardly tall and gangly, my hair too curly and my word too witty. I continued with my good grades and was committed to many school activities. I loved every second of my teenage life! I had great friends and big dreams – I wanted to study journalism after school. Modelling was never something I thought of doing; I did not care for the fashion industry at all. So, it came as quite a shock when I was accidently scouted in a shopping mall at the age of 15. I signed a contract with an agency in Cape Town and did not think much of it, as my priorities were those of any teenager.
A few months later IMG, probably the biggest agency in the world, came to scout in Cape Town. I wasn’t keen on going to the casting since I had netball practice that same afternoon. However, I did go – in a summer dress and flat sandals, hair still wet from the two-second shower I took – and it changed my life. IMG invited me to Paris during my school holiday, so at the age of 16 I went overseas for the first time ( with both my protective and overwhelmed parents). After two weeks of castings and test shoots, and some serious sight-seeing and shopping, my parents went back home and I stayed on for another week. In that week, Prada had booked me to shoot that season’s resort look-book. Now, bear in mind that I hadn’t done any official jobs before … So, my first real job as a model was with one of the biggest fashion designers in the industry. Of course, at the time, I was completely oblivious, wondering “what is Prada?”. I will have to write a series of posts on naivety in the modelling world #IgnoranceIsBliss
For the rest of the year, I lead two lives: as a teenager at school, and a “new face”-model travelling between Paris and Cape Town. I walked my first-ever fashion show as an ‘exclusive’ for Givenchy at Paris Fashion week – still one of my favourite catwalk memories. And at the end of that year, I shot the Prada Spring/Summer 2012 campaign with photographer Steven Meisel ( only THE biggest photographer these is), while studying for my school finals. I was literally sitting between the who’s-who of the industry studying algebra – again #IgnoranceIsBliss
My agent then suggested I leave school ( after finishing grade 10) and model full time. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity … I also knew staying in school and modelling at the same time was becoming too much. I had to choose. So, I chose modelling; I gave up my “normal” and safe life, the dreams I had of going to university and basically everything I knew. Naturally, life decided to make things even more interesting and it was at this time that I also met, and started dating, my boyfriend (spoiler alert: we are now happily married)
It was so tough leaving my comfort zone and my home, swopping my school shoes for 10 cm stilettos. I was no longer a high-school student, but full-time model with a tax number and an already-full passport. I was still a rookie though, every experience in the industry was new. In my first season doing fashion shows, I walked for every major designer, travelling from Paris to NYC, to London, Milan, and back to Paris. It was a complete shock to the system … (more detail to come in some insightful blog posts, so stay connected!) I shot some really cool campaigns for high-end designers, as well as many editorials for all the big magazines. Go have a look at some of my work here.
In that first year, I learnt a lot about the fashion industry, myself, and life. I was doing well in my work, but I really missed home, my friends and school. Luckily, I wasn’t always alone. My parents sometimes travelled with me and when they couldn’t, a dear family friend accompanied me. However, it all was still too much … And I decided to slow down a bit, take some time off to go home, and to finish high school. Through correspondence, and the help of two tutors, I finished my high school studies. That year-and-a-half made a huge difference – I had a stable routine, and I felt in control of my life again. I returned to the modelling industry with a new mindset: a balanced life is more important than any fashion show or job. Therefore, I decided to not do fashion weeks anymore and to spend just as much time at home with my loved ones as I did working and travelling around the world.
Another big decision I made at a young age, was to marry the man of my dreams, my best friend, my soulmate … at the age of 20. Yes, you read correctly: 20. And it’s been the best decision I have ever made! I might be young in years, but I have always said, and been told, that I am an old soul. Basically I have been an adult since I was 16, and we have been together for 4 years when we made the decision to get married. So, for those close to us, it really wasn’t a shock, knowing us and our what our values are (we didn’t want to live together unless we were married). We thought long and hard, prayed about it, and had our parents’ full support.
We got married in October 2015 and it’s really been the best blessing living with my funny, loving, caring, and very supporting husband. He is a medical doctor and he is also from Cape Town (we actually went to the same high school but our paths didn’t cross until much later). We hope to move overseas next year to be closer to my work, but the application and job-hunting for him has been a struggle … So, we hope and pray that all works out! Keep a look out for some blog posts to come, because I definitely want to write about marriage, especially at my age, and how we juggle our home life with our hectic schedules.
As I said, I currently live in Cape Town and I travel from here to all over the world for my job. To keep busy and to challenge myself I’ve also done several online courses through the University of Cape Town, which is ideal because I can study from anywhere in the world. And my new project is this blog. I have wanted to blog for so long, but it’s is only now that I felt ready … I guess I was scared before. And even now I am nervous, this is out of my comfort zone. But I am so excited to see where this goes and I hope you all enjoy the journey with me!
Short and sweet
• Home town: Cape Town, South Africa
• Home language: Afrikaans
• Other languages: English (obviously) and just enough German
• Pets: two beautiful dachshunds, Rolo and Wilson, who live with my parents
• Married: to Cilliers Kies, a medical doctor (he is also Afrikaans, from Cape Town)
• Perfect date night: some red wine, delicious pizza, a good movie and cuddles with the husband
• Favourite band(s): Mumford and Sons, Of Monsters and Men, Tom Rosenthal, Gregory Alan Isakov, The Lumineers, Bon Ivor
• Favourite movie: The Breakfast Club
• Favourite city as a tourist: Amsterdam
• Favourite city as a model: New York
• Hot drink: “Coffee! Coffee! Coffee!” (a Gilmore Girls-reference, of course)
• Cold drink: I am not a big fan of water, so the only way to get it in is with lots of ice, lemon and cucumber slices
• Favourite book(s): The Glass Castle (Jeannette Walls), The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)