Jessica Clarke, Auckland, NZ
Images by Emily Blanchett
We spoke to model and entrepreneur Jessica Clarke as she was in the midst of setting up a new apartment with two friends. The trio had recently returned to New Zealand after time abroad as Covid-19 became a reality, even in the Land of the Long White Cloud. We spoke to Jess about her time in the fashion industry, the important work she’s doing with Indigenous mentoring organisation AIME and about her new business that’s quite literally growing as you read this.
“I live with two of my girlfriends, Emily and Emma. We are all really close – you could call it a family. We live in a second floor apartment with an open plan living area and floor length windows on either side. We wake up to the sun, the smell of fresh coffee brewing and Van Morrison on the speaker.”
“When we moved in my dad bought me a house warming plant. His name is Jeffery and I think he's indestructible. I'm not exactly the green thumb I’d like to imagine myself as. I have a feeling Emily has been secretly taking care of Jeff for me.”
We wake up to the sun, the smell of fresh coffee brewing and Van Morrison on the speaker.
“We live in Grey Lynn, really close to Ponsonby road which has so many great restaurants. My favorite place to go however is Ozone Coffee Roasters in Grey Lynn. They make the perfect scrambled eggs and avo on toast. The other great thing I love about this area is all of the basketball courts and the fact our house is only a few kilometers run to the beach.”
“I'm a Māori girl hailing from Hokianga. I'm super proud of my Māori heritage and spent my summers on my marae and swimming with my cousins. Māori families are big families and my grandfather was the epicenter for every holiday. It's hard to explain what it's like but there was always plenty of food, plenty of people coming in and out, alot of hugs and kisses, old stories being told by our kaumatua (elders), loads of swimming in the ocean and river with the cuzzies, and there’s always an uncle in the corner playing ‘Ten Guitars’. It’s all about Whānau, sharing and love.”
I'm a Māori girl hailing from Hokianga. I'm super proud of my Māori heritage and spent my summers on my marae and swimming with my cousins.
“I'm a huge advocate for education. AIME is more than an organisation, it's a movement. Kids should be able to dream big, no matter the demographic or socioeconomic status they were born into. AIME bridges the gap with the use of mentors, an amazing website and a Youtube channel. This makes me so excited for the future. I would love to see more Māori kids with the tools and confidence to not only make it to university but to pave their own way to a career they are truly passionate about.”
I'm a huge advocate for education. AIME is more than an organisation, it's a movement.
“I want Māori kids to be challenged every day to think about what they really want for their future, and to never be limited in what they think is possible. I had a lot of support, but I was a shy, under-confident kid. My Māori identity was something I could always hold on to, but I didn't realise its power in the world until later. I want kids to bring that identity with them into the creative world. Māori flair is unique and I would love to see more of that creativity in the fashion industry. Photography, fashion design, graphic design, creative directing, styling. The roles are endless and I want our kids to be able to go for it like I have.”
“I have been fortunate in my career. I got the chance to be New Zealand's first Victoria's Secret model when I walked the 2011 show. I have been a model for 10 years now shooting all over, mostly between Sydney, LA, New York and my second home London.”
Outside of modelling, Jessica’s interest in wellness has led her to develop a soon to be launched business called Mother Made Mushrooms with her friend and housemate Emily.
“Being a model you know every health craze out there by default. Looking well rested after getting two hours sleep on a plane is no mean feat. I wanted a natural supplement that was not only good for my body but sustainable for the planet. Mushrooms are one of the things I can't live without. There are good medicinal mushroom powders in America but most have weird additives or are super expensive. Ours are clean, potent and reasonably priced. I can't wait for everyone to realise mushrooms are the new superfood!”
I wanted a natural supplement that was not only good for my body but sustainable for the planet.
When thinking about the rest of the year Jessica is optimistic and light-hearted, even in the current climate.
“Covid has a funny way of bringing it all back to the basics. Focusing on work is a given but for the rest of the year I want to focus on being a good person. Calling my nana and dad more, making food for my flat mates, going to sleep at a reasonable time, smiling at strangers. It's nice to be important but it's more important to be nice.