The London local making waves on a global scale, meet our latest Aje Insider who's bringing conscious change to fashion. Establishing the Be Well Collective as a result of her own experience, the not-for-profit organisation is dedicated to the wellbeing and ongoing support of models who deal daily with the darker side of our world. Aiming to empower and equip, she's a woman on a mission, with no end in sight. Say hello to our monthly muse, Sarah Ann Macklin.
Sarah Ann Macklin
Model and Nutritionist
Rise and shine TELL US WHAT THE BE WELL COLLECTIVE IS AND YOUR MISSION FOR THE FUTURE
We aim to bring wellness into the fashion sector. The Be Well Collective is a charitable initiative that aims to bring nutritional education and mental health coaching to the world of fashion models; the women and men that represent society’s aesthetic paradigm yet off camera often face the greatest body consciousness, self-esteem and stress related issues.
DESCRIBE YOUR JOURNEY TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW AND THE INCEPTION OF THE BE WELL COLLECTIVE
It wasn’t until I was age 18 years, that I began to focus solely on modelling – a decision backed by my parents, which I’ll forever thank them for – and, once my birthday came around, my first job took me to LA. I went on to live in New York for a stint. Coming from a town out ‘in the sticks’ of Hampshire, this opportunity was an absolute dream, however, it was while in NYC that I was first exposed to the many sides of modelling that were far from glamorous. Erratic eating behaviours and mental health problems were common amongst very young girls, who were thrown into a lifestyle in which they had to grow up quickly – and without the guidance that they needed. It was at that point that I began to question where their (and my) support system was.
Instagram launched in tandem with that period; with it, came a succession of food ‘grams and supposed ‘superfood’ green juices from the first wave of social media influencers. What really bothered me was that the people giving advice weren’t qualified in any way, shape or form. I decided that I wanted to make a positive change in the fashion world, and so I enrolled in a BSc human nutrition degree recognised by the regulatory body Association of Nutrition, and became an associate registered nutritionist; I wanted to encourage and open a conversation around nutrition in the modelling industry. Fast-forward a few years and the Be Well Collective was born.
SHARE WITH US THE BIGGEST PRESSURES YOU SEE MODELS FACING IN THE INDUSTRY TODAY
Daily rejection solely based on your looks, loneliness, and a huge lack of self-worth. Many models are plucked out of their lives and popped into a completely different society/culture where many may not even speak the language. It can be very daunting at such a vulnerable and influential age.
AS AN INSIDER, HOW DO YOU THINK THE INDUSTRY CAN BEST TACKLE THESE ISSUES FOR A BETTER TOMORROW?
The Be Well Collective does not provide necessarily a direct solution but a support system for all models. It’s important a network system like this exists so models do not feel alone. A modelling career can be one of the loneliness jobs out there, where no one speaks about how they feel.
It’s amazing to see the London Modelling agencies and the British Fashion Council unite together and endorse the BWC. It feels the time is right for positive change within the modelling world, and to recognise models aren’t born emotionally stable. I think any creative industry needs a wellbeing support network.
HAVE YOU SEEN ANY CHANGES, MINOR OR SIGNIFICANT, EMERGE AS A RESULT OF THE 'ME TOO' MOVEMENT?
Personally no, but it has definitely had an effect on the fashion industry. Certain photographer’s careers have been brought to the forefront of sexual harassment, and models have spoken out against certain designers. I wouldn’t say it has by any means had the dramatic and uniting force the #MeToo movement had, but it has brought light to sexual harassment and injustice.
LVMH and Kering have both produce model charters, but this only protects models within their brands, not the 1000 other models working every day.
FOLLOWING YOUR PANEL DISCUSSION AT LONDON FASHION WEEK AND MEETING WITH THE BRITISH FASHION COUNCIL, WHAT ARE YOUR BIGGEST INSIGHTS THAT YOU CAN SHARE WITH US?
We had many testimonials from the models and agents where they felt it was helpful to see that the majority of people in the industry feel the same negative impacts the job may impose, and the BWC allowed everyone to feel safe and voice their concerns. The BWC also provided a solution to these negative impacts, allowing everyone to leave with strategies to support to support and maintain a healthy happy mind-set in stressful and demanding times. I have always said, it is important for everyone who attends the BWC to feel they have tips and strategies they can use and implement as soon as they leave the room.
Meeting Caroline Rush, the CEO of the BFC, allowed the BWC to expand to journalists and designers working within the fashion industry, as these high pressure environments do not just apply to models. Many people working within the fashion industry deal with these high pressured demands.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE BE WELL COLLECTIVE?
It is a very exciting year for the Be Well Collective. We have just started out fundraising, and as all charities operate we are dependent on our donations and support from industry leaders to see how wide we can spread our help.
We are heavily focused on online content to help make our information as wide spread as possible. We will be working with all models through workshops on a monthly basis to check in with them all, alongside our main LFW events, which feels like it will be coming around very soon!
TOP TIPS ON STAYING HEALTHY WHILST TRAVELLING
• Pack your plane snacks to avoid plane food and processed foods at airports
• Always carry a large bottle of water, hydration is KEY
• Mediate whilst flying as much as possible to help with jet lag
• Stretch as soon as you arrive to your destination
- YOUR SIGNATURE DISH
- Maybe not a staple dish, but for anyone who follows my Instagram will know I am obsessed with fish and hummus. My go to would be a salmon fillet, loaded with spring greens, dressed in a tahini dressing and lots of hummus. You can’t go wrong!
- ONE THING YOU NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT
- My phone! I couldn’t work without it.
- BEST BEAUTY SECRET
- Sleep. People underestimate how important sleep is, but our bodies cannot repair and regenerate without it.
- BEST MOST TREASURED PIECE IN YOUR WARDROBE
- My first designer dress Tom Ford from when I was 20 years old living in NYC. I will keep it to hand down if I have a daughter one day.