It takes courage to become your authentic self. I don’t mean the kind of courage where you battle cancer, or decide to leave an abusive relationship – not the monumental type, when everything you know yourself to be is tested. But there are other, smaller kinds of courage, and in a world where many people are heading the same way; to peel yourself away from the pack and choose a different path can be a little scary at first. But ultimately liberating.
Meet Millie, one of the gorgeous State of Quirk models, and a woman I am proud to call my friend. The outward beauty – take one look at her and that’s obvious, but after an in depth conversation with her you’ll clearly see the inner beauty is of similar quality. I first met her at an artsy craft fair in a local garden when she wandered over to peruse the jewellery at my stall; took one look at her lace and floral tattoos, the refashioned bohemian mini dress in vibrant autumnal shades – and dived right into a meaningful and authentic conversation with her.
Millie lives in an old church just out of town with her man Mason, a builder and artisan recycled furniture maker tattooed affable he man kind of a guy, daughter the fun and beautiful Rosie, who has both grace and pluck and isn’t afraid of hard work. And wide eyed younger son Reif, taught the old fashioned way to respect others, and who will politely talk your head off once he knows you. Millie’s the only woman I know who can drape herself in a Victorianesque shirred blouse, worker man dungarees, ropes of pearls, geek glasses, gold sneaker boots, 3 buns in her hair (yes that’s right, three, all at the same time), cats eyes eye liner….. and kill it. Just nail it. Polka dots and tweed paired together on her look like a marriage made for one another; she’s helped me think outside the box in my own vintage style combinations and I thank her for it.
And for the inspiration of her life, because she’s had to work at it. Kicked out of home at sixteen with nothing to her name, Millie’s built a beautiful life for herself, managing youth work with Mason for years, living off the smell of an oily rag and turning a cauliflower into a great throw down meal for her family when she’s had to. Finding old vintage treasures for a song and always, always giving things away. Giver her a potato, some old shoe laces and a bunch of nettles and tell her that’s all there is – and I’m pretty sure sure she could could turn out a decent roast. She’s weathered the nay sayers and taken her fair share of hard knocks, and this character is part of the charm that is the woman. I love her stylist abilities and new business ideas, and the way she makes women feel beautiful and unique. She says, ‘Vintage living is a lifestyle and it’s like a good cuppa to be sipped and savoured. Helping my friend Robyn choose new glasses this week, it struck me, as she tried on many pairs – how many different looks she had; and I walked away from the shop feeling fresh and excited. That you can be who you want to be, having the guts and passion to experiment and try new looks definitely brings out the playful in oneself.’ One of her core values is to encourage women to live beautifully on a shoe string and to find their own sense of style. I just love that. And Millie, I can’t wait to customise that indigo and gold 70’s maxi dress you’ve passed on to me, the front slashed sleeves are something else – let’s go 70’s medieval fusion for winter in this look!
It was a great pleasure to have Millie and her daughter Rosie modelling for the website, on a loooong photo shoot where they brushed and pinned and changed and painted make up on one another for hours on end, and posing for hundreds of shots, and never once making a fuss. Looked at the end like they might pass out (sorry darlings) but not a word of complaint voiced by either of them.
My own journey down the path of the authentic recycling and vintage lifestyle has moved one step at a time, it’s a journey that I love and one that never gets old, and I’m so grateful for the inspiration of the women I meet along the way. Together we build a network of kindness and remind one another that the very best thing to be in life is your true and quirky self. When you work really, really hard for something, then you know it’s yours.
‘It’s never too late to be what you might have been’