Thinking back to gruelling days on set as one of the world’s most successful models, Arizona Muse remembers having more than just the camera fixed on her.
“You have everyone’s eyes on you. All. Day. Long. And a big set is, like, 60 people. Literally, wherever you look, everyone’s looking at you. And then they look away when you look at them!” she says, laughing at the memory.
Now, the British-American beauty – who was named after the US state where she was born – has put modelling on the backburner, instead working primarily as a sustainability consultant, and has just launched her biodynamic farming charity, Dirt.
The 32-year-old, who is also an ambassador for The Good Business Festival, currently lives in London with osteopath husband Boniface and children Nikko (12) and Cy (2), but the family is about to embark on a big move inspired by Muse’s activism.
We caught up with the model mum to talk fashion, farming and eco-friendly living.
How did you make the transition from modelling to sustainability?
“I have been a model for about 12 years now. And it was something that never really was fulfilling at all. Then I found my passion, which is environmentalism and social justice and activism, and that happened through materials.
“I realised I didn’t know what these clothes were made of, and who made them, and I went on this learning journey. My activism has brought me to go and volunteer on farms and get to know farmers, and realise that I’m really passionate about farming.”
Why did you decide to launch your charity, Dirt, which focuses on biodynamic farming?
“I asked myself, ‘What would I do if I were to start a charity?’ and it became really clear to me through my farming journey that I would start a charity to support biodynamic agriculture, to regenerate soil.
“The slogan of the charity is ‘Foundation for the Regeneration of Earth’, because that is what we need to do – work on rewilding and regeneration – and biodynamic farming offers the most incredible and effective way of doing this.”
Did you spend lockdown in London?
“I feel so lucky to say that my husband and I and our two children managed to find a cottage to rent on a farm for the first lockdown, so we spent seven weeks on a farm in Devon called Haye farm.
“It was the most amazing experience. We got there at the beginning of the first lockdown when everything was dark and cold and in the first two weeks of being there, we watched spring arrive.
“I understand lockdown wasn’t like that for most people and I do feel extraordinarily grateful to have had that experience. And we are now moving to Ibiza because we realised we no longer wish to live in the city.”
Do you think moving to Ibiza will have a positive effect on your mental health?
“I think so – a lot. I have a lot of healing to do around modelling and the fashion industry. It’s not a friendly industry, and it’s not healthy. Models are sold a dream that really doesn’t happen for most people – very, very few of the thousands of young women who try to model ever make any money.
“Aside from money, it’s not good for mental health. I’ve definitely struggled with my eating habits for a long time. I’ve spoken to so many models who stopped modelling, and then never finished with that aspect of modelling. It just haunts them forever, and haunts me forever.”
Are you happier now than when you were modelling full-time?
“So much happier. I am still modelling, I do still manage to do it, but I put much more strict boundaries [in place]. For instance, I would never accept modelling work on the weekends, those weekends are for my children and that’s really important for us as a family.
“But it brought me so much, it brought me my activism. I wouldn’t be able to be the activist I am now had I not been the model that I was before.”
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to make their own lifestyle more sustainable?
“At home is the best place to start, with your own life, your own wardrobe, your own bathrooms, your own kitchen. For example, swapping out liquid soap in a plastic pump bottle for a bar of soap on a tray.
“Buying sustainable fashion right now is a lot about organic materials. So look at the labels, read the labels. Understanding what those mean is really the place to start.
“Haircare is super easy because of Aveda – I’m the global advocate for sustainability for Aveda and I have to say, their products are incredibly effective. They don’t have any boxes or plastic wraps around their bottles and their bottles are made from 100%, post consumer recycled plastic or bio plastics.”