Roundtable: Melbourne creatives talk finding your voice


Three remarkable women.

Jasmin Amma, Hattie Molloy and Thalea Michos-Vellis are three women we’ve been following at Fashion Journal for quite some time. It’s a horrible cliché, but each has pushed the boundaries of her respective field, resetting standards for her peers and carving space for others to follow.

Jasmin, for example, is a full-time social worker who does modelling work on the side. She herself notes there are few models we’re used to seeing that look like her. Meanwhile, Hattie’s floristry is unlike anything most of us would have seen before. Her arrangements explore shape and texture in an unprecedented way, and seem to defy fundamental scientific laws (like, says, gravity).

Thalea also has a knack for optics that’s difficult to replicate and almost, even, understand. Through her styling work, she pieces together elements that alone might be questionable, but the sum is always greater than its parts. She weaves one-off finds and surprising elements in a way that few across the industry can pull off.

These women are undoubtedly talented, but what’s perhaps even more remarkable (though unsurprising) is that they’re all also good friends. They hang out on weekends, eat pasta together and have a huge admiration for one another that goes well beyond professional respect – they’re each other’s cheerleaders.

We had initially planned to bring these women together to create a bespoke piece of work for Fashion Journal, in collaboration with Pandora Me to celebrate the brand’s new capsule collection of charms, earrings and carriers with actor and activist, Millie Bobby Brown. The new collection is about self-expression, making Jasmin, Hattie and Thalea the perfect fit. Each of these women is remarkable for having found her own voice in an industry that often feels like an echo of itself.

Sadly, with the recently re-imposed lockdown restrictions in Victoria, the shoot wasn’t able to proceed as planned. But in a creative shift – testament to the adaptability and genius of the women involved – each instead led a solo endeavour in her own creative space.

The stills were captured by Yasmin Suteja (another groundbreaker in her industry) and turned into collage works by Shelly Vincze. Above are the results, and below we dive into the minds of Jasmin, Hattie and Thalea, to learn how they ultimately found their sense of self through their work.

Please introduce yourself.

JA: I’m a social worker full-time and I model on the side, which is a wonderful balance. I always kind of thought I’d be in this field if I wasn’t in social work; I’ve always enjoyed having fun with fashion and expressing myself through what I wear, and how I decorate my body.

HM: My name is Hattie Molloy and I’m 27 years old. I live and work in Melbourne. I’m a florist who does a wide range of work from styling, large scale installations, product design and events.

TMV: Hello! I am Thalea MV and I work as a fashion stylist here in Melbourne!

What do you admire about each other?

JA: I admire Hattie’s ability to go out there and see things in nature, see things in their natural beautiful form and get inspired and then how that translates to her work. And not only through her flowers, like the way that she puts her clothing together, she has such a vibrant way of dressing and it’s art, you know.

Thalea has such an incredible eye for styling. While she’s one of my friends, she’s also someone who inspires me to be brave and try different things. She’s really quite incredible at putting together fabulous, interesting, unpredictable looks.

They are both incredibly talented, creative, inspiring women and they’re both pushing the boundaries of the industries they work in. They don’t play it safe; they create a space where you see them pushing and trying new things and then you look within and go, “Oh I want to do that, I want to have fun, I want to try something different.” I’m just incredibly grateful that these two women are my dear friends and I get to enjoy this wonderful, wild and challenging life with them.

HM: I admire Jasmin’s confidence in who she is and her body. Jazz has taught me about body confidence and self-love. I love watching her achieve so many amazing things in both her social work and modelling career, and being able to juggle them both.

Thalea is a very loyal friend and just a fab person to be around. I love her for her individual sense of style and humour. We also share a love for cats and eating pasta together.

TMV: Hattie and Jasmin are both so super hard working with something always on the agenda and a positive outlook. When we weren’t locked down, it was so nice to get together and talk all things work and life, it’s so important to surround yourself with fantastic women that support one another. We’re lucky!

How did you each find your way into your chosen field?

JA: I got into the creative field kind of intentionally, but kind of also not, I guess. I pursued social work as my full-time gig because I guess I’m a bit of a practical kind of person; I’ve always wanted to make sure that I had a stable job that I am passionate about.

I care about equality and social justice, and often think about the impact I can have while I’m on this earth. And then there’s this other side of me that really is creative and enjoys fashion, so I ended up submitting some pictures to a modelling agency.

HM: I think finding what you’re passionate about comes from experience and a bit of trial and error. I’m a big believer in trusting your gut and doing what brings you joy. Flowers were something I was always drawn to as a child, so floristry was something I always wanted to pursue.

TMV: My passion for collecting and sourcing clothing started at a very young age. I spent a lot of time at markets where I developed an obsession with finding obscure or rare items. This has definitely translated into my work as an adult, where I trawl the internet for new designers to work with.

I was super lucky that a few photographers recognised that I had an eye for compiling outfits, and got in contact to work on editorials together. I think this was about seven years ago. I was super grateful for those opportunities and really happy I’ve kept the ball rolling since.

How do you each express yourself through your own work?

JA: For me, it’s not just about modelling, it’s been about finding out who I am.

Growing up African-Australian in a small country town, I learnt that I was different. And then I found that was something I wanted to celebrate; I found my voice through that process of recognising that I actually want to stand out. Instead of straightening my hair and making it look like everyone else to blend in, I was like, “No, I’m going to braid my hair. I’m going to explore different extensions and different types of braids, I’m going to teach myself how to do this.”

I work in the advertising and beauty industries, and there are complications and challenges that come with that. You know, I’m curvy, I’m African-Australian, I don’t look typically like what we’re used to seeing on runways and in magazines. I know that sometimes I can be just a tick in a diversity box. But I think I’d rather show up for it than not, hopefully that means lots of people can relate and can think, “Oh okay, this isn’t just for one particular group of people, we can all enjoy this”.

HM: I think this comes across naturally for me as my work is so personal. If I ever feel blocked, I will walk away from the project and have a break until I’m feeling less frustrated, because there is no point fighting it. Other times, I might struggle to express my vision to a client when I’m coming up with a concept that is new. I’ve always been hopeless at drawing, but it’s a skill I’ve had to learn so that I can express my vision.

TMV: By throwing myself right in! I think the support I was shown on the Internet when I showcased my work helped me establish a direction I wanted to go in. I now love to collaborate with the photographers, make-up artists and models on set, to ensure that the styling blends into all elements of the shoot.

Where do you each find creative inspiration?

JA: I’ve always loved the ’90s but when I look back at that period of time in fashion, I don’t tend to see myself reflected in it. It’s often really tall, slim women. I’m inspired by what they’re wearing but am like, “Well, let’s make it work for me. What I can put together so that it’s a Jasmin Amma vibe?”

I’m really into blazers and androgynous looks, and also really sexy and glam looks. I’ll style to my feelings and what I want to portray at that moment, and that’s what makes fashion so enjoyable for me. It’s just another way to have fun, I try not to take it too seriously.

HM: I love visiting gardens and looking through old books; not looking at ‘trends’. I try and steer clear of the Internet and social media for inspiration.

TMV: As well as the obvious spots (like the Internet) I have an extensive collection of archival magazines that are a great source of inspiration and point of reference. More recently, during lockdown, I’ve found cinema is a wonderful resource too.

So far, 2020 has been a wild ride for all and it has definitely left me feeling uninspired when it comes to working. Lots of jobs have been cancelled due to strict lockdown rules, but it has also encouraged me to find ways to work around that safely.

Which Pandora Me charm speaks to you the most?

JA: The palm tree. When I look at it, it reminds me of summer, sunshine on my skin and the beach. It even reminds me of Ghana and that part of myself that would probably live in a tropical climate if I wasn’t in Melbourne.

HM: I love the pineapple charm as I love yellow.

TMV: Definitely the summer sun charm. I am holding out for the warmth post-lockdown.

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