New Mexico-raised Arizona Muse joins us for the latest edition of From The Desk Of…
The Model turned Activist and Founder of DIRT, a charity on a mission “to regenerate soil globally in the face of climate change”, tells us about her standard nine-to-five.
Waxing lyrical about the importance of biodynamics and spotlighting those she admires – “I greatly admire Skye Gyngell and the team at Heckfield Place Hotel and Spring Restaurant, who are doing wonders to raise awareness about how it is currently a luxury to be sustainable” –, Muse is on a mission to help tackle the climate emergency and better educate people about climate solutions. Taking part in ChangeNow, Copenhagen Fashion Summit, Zalando Copenhagen Fashion Week, USA Biodynamic Conference, and COP27 this year, Muse is keen to spread the green word.
How do you start your days?
I wake up early in the morning to my alarm, which is set to a song by Keith Jarrett from his Köln concert: Pt. II B. It’s a beautifully gentle start to the day.
What’s your go-to uniform?
You’ll often find me in something high-waist, paired with a belt. Usually an A-line midi skirt with a loose collared shirt tucked in, or in a colourful suit. I have the most gorgeous ochre pant suit which I absolutely adore.
Describe your workspace/ workplace…
I always work in communal workspaces, which is a bit of a dichotomy as I’m forever Zooming with my team in the UK so I don’t really spend a lot of time on the communal aspect! But there is something nice in working alongside strangers, who are equally as immersed in their own projects as I am with DIRT.
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What are your work place essentials?
I can’t go a day at work without my HumbleWorks wooden laptop riser; two legs that do wonders for my posture!
What is your lunch order?
Quiche. Every time. I love it!
What time of day are you at your most creative?
I start my day early because I have children and a school run, but really my brain power is at its best from 3PM, lasting well into the night. I’m a bit of a night owl in that sense, but I’m also mindful to pause and have dinner with my family at the end of each day.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I am a farmer at heart, and the work I am able to do through DIRT means that I am speaking to farmers on a daily basis which brings me so much joy. I have the privilege of being able to ask them about the challenges they face and what we at DIRT can do to help. Their stories are heroic. They are honestly doing more for humans and climate change than most, and they are totally under-considered as climate solutions.
… and the most challenging?
Never-ending emails! I’ve tried different methods and apps to keep on top of them, but I haven’t been able to solve the challenge just yet. Something that has made a difference though, is moving my email threads to WhatsApp, so I can communicate with different people through voice notes rather than through typing. This also lets me reduce my screen time… and this way I can look outside instead of into cyberspace.
What did you study at school/university?
I didn’t go to university. For a moment, I was set to attend the American University in Paris to study international relations, though I wasn’t even sure then why I had chosen that. Instead of enrolling, I started my modelling career and I was lucky that it went really well. But now, at 33 years old, I find myself endlessly interested in international relations, government, and politics. Perhaps I did know myself better than I gave myself credit for when I was 18.
Where are you from originally?
I was born in Arizona, in the US, and my English mother insisted on naming me after the state. I then grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
What was your first job?
I first worked in a restaurant when I was 15. I loved it so much… I had so much fun, made some of my best friends for life, and on the occasional night that I made $100, it felt like the most valuable money I’d ever made.
What sparked your interest in environmentalism?
Despite modelling for so many years, I realised I didn’t know enough about the fashion industry and where the clothes I was helping to sell really came from. This was seven years ago, when I was 26 years old. So I decided to start learning, and my journey took me from materials, to supply chains, to farming, to indigenous wisdom, to anti-racism, social renewal, emergence strategy, community building, and finally, where I’m focusing my learning now is the divine feminine. It’s not what I thought it was, and I truly believe it’s one of the greatest solutions we have to societal issues.
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Do you have a mentor or an inspirational figure who has guided or influenced you?
Yes, I definitely do. As a sustainability advocate in fashion, Nina Marenzi (The Sustainable Angle) and Orsola de Castro (Fashion Revolution) have built me up and guided me on my journey. When learning about biodiversity, Jessica Sweidan (Synchronicity Earth) has imparted so much wisdom, and on biodynamics (Demeter and the Biodynamic Movement, globally), the farmers have been incredibly supportive, inviting, and inspiring. I’m so grateful to all these amazing people. I would also like to acknowledge all the activists and scientists who came before my generation. It was once so much harder to do what I’m doing now, because no one was listening back then. Without the activists who came before me, I might have crumbled under the weight and the urgency that I sometimes feel.
Tell us about some women you admire whose work is helping to tackle the climate emergency…
I greatly admire Skye Gyngell and the team at Heckfield Place Hotel and Spring Restaurant, who are doing wonders to raise awareness about how it is currently a luxury to be sustainable. But there should be nothing luxurious about a life that is not causing harm to other humans and the Earth; this should be the default. The more natural and healthy something is for the planet whether that be a product or service, that is where true luxury lies.
What is DIRT’s mission?
DIRT’s mission is to regenerate soil globally in the face of climate change.
What’s the most important business lesson you’ve learned?
Do everything yourself first, before you get someone else to do it for you. And always hire people who are better than you at their task.
The best advice you’ve ever received…
Develop and follow your intuition.
What are you working on right now?
At DIRT, I’m working on fundraising for the nearly 20 amazing projects we are supporting around the world. I’m also working on two start-ups, which I will be ready to share later this year. One is to do with community building and the other is in finance.
What interesting events have you been/are you due to be part of?
Over the next few months, I’m excited to be part of ChangeNow, Copenhagen Fashion Summit, Zalando Copenhagen Fashion Week, USA Biodynamic Conference, and COP27. And tucked in-between, there will be fundraising events for DIRT.
DIRT is looking at how to effect change in policy to support the biodynamic farming movement. Without our governments, the whole system shift we urgently need to make towards a regenerative future, sadly, won’t be possible.
FEATURE IMAGE: Credit: Helene Sandberg