It’s with great pleasure today I get to meet and interview Essy Van der Vlies, such an inspirational lady, Essy is not your typical model, this lady is an inspiration to us all.
Full of inspiration and a natural in her field of modelling and charity work, Essy proves without a shadow of a doubt that you can create success no matter where you are in life, you can change its course through being brave and challenging yourself, it’s not always easy but it sure is rewarding.
How did you get involved in modelling?
I rolled into modelling by accident at the age of 42, about three years ago now, through my close friend and established makeup artist (MUA) Michael Perks.
I went along to help him at Manchester Fashion Week. Straight away I fell in love with the hectic vibes backstage.
After being given the opportunity to do an impromptu photo shoot my modelling journey started to snowball.
I didn’t realise at the time, but modelling was like therapy.
I had lost my identity and my self-esteem was very low.
However modelling and meeting new creative people like designers, photographers and MUA’s helped me to revive (see what I did here!) my identity, confidence and overcoming anxiety caused by low self-esteem.
Modelling was a form of art to help me grow into the passionate and confident woman I am today. As my social media profile grew, so did the messages from women and girls asking for advice on how to overcome low esteem issues often through traumatic experiences.
It made me realise there are too many suffering in silence and this simply has to stop.
I am now a woman that is determined to help other women grow in confidence and self-worth via my inspirational blogs and self-esteem workshops.
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Do you ever feel conscious as an older woman working in the industry?
Of course! I did think that at my age and with no experience whatsoever I would not fit in, which is primarily about youthful, flawless looks.
However, door after door opened for me and I just took every opportunity with both hands even if deep down I felt unsure.
I still at times feel a little conscious when I turn up at photo shoots, not being the youngest nor prettiest on the block.
However, I have also discovered there is a niche market for the more mature models. Times have changed and 40 is definitely the new 30.
With age comes experience, which can work for certain photo shoots or fashion shows to your advantage.
What do you love about this industry?
As mentioned previously I absolutely love meeting so many new creative people in and have been extremely lucky to have worked with many talented, hard-working and lovely people over the last three years.
Although travelling up and down the country can be tiring it also gives me so much positive energy. Photo shoots and fashion shows are all about teamwork.
I get such a buzz from pulling together professionally but also having backstage banter and meaningful chats to create that image everyone is aiming for.
I especially love doing the highly creative body paint photo-shoots.
As well as feeling very fortunate to be transformed in various looks, who doesn’t love getting dressed and dolled up?
What would you change about this industry?
I would like to see more mature models being welcomed into the industry.
I think we need to keep reminding ourselves that the beautiful images we see in magazines are created with professional makeup, good lighting, and often hours of editing.
Especially nowadays with all the filters and social media full of flawless looks we need to safeguard the younger generation that looking like that definitely isn’t the norm.
That true beauty in real life really comes from within. Although I have absolutely nothing against images being photo-shopped.
However, I do remind myself that looking perfect in a photo doesn’t equal happiness or means you have a healthy dose of self-esteem and self-love.
How did you get involved in The White Ribbon Charity?
Through networking, reaching out to women suffering low self-esteem via my blog and being involved with various charity fashion shows I was introduced to The White Ribbon Charity.
This incredible charity is a global movement of men and boys working to end male violence against women and girls.
On the 6th of December, they invited me to be a guest speaker in Parliament.
They contacted me as they use sports, music, photography, art and fashion to reach out and support women affected by domestic violence.
Representing this much-needed charity in Parliament was one of my biggest achievements for sure in 2017.
I am aiming to kick-start the self-esteem workshops for the White Ribbon Charity throughout the country helping women and girls resolve their issues, beat their demons, escape their horrors and find themselves so they can blossom and achieve their true potential.
As well as running my own self-esteem workshops for women and girls from all backgrounds and ages.
The workshops will be held in a safe yet fun environment, where women can rebuild their self-esteem and form friendships with like-minded souls.
I will be using fashion, style and teaching all about a positive body language through modelling. Allowing these women to find, revive (see what I have done here again) and express their own individual personality and feel confident in their own skin again.
How do you manage the time between work, life and children?
As a single mother of two beautiful children aged 16 and 12, my 12-year-old has recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, juggling motherhood, work and having a social life is definitely not a walk in the park.
However being involved with Charities like The White Ribbon, reaching out to inspire other women via my blog and meeting lots of successful people produces so much positive energy that sitting at home is simply not an option for me.
After my 20-year marriage ended last year, I had to start from scratch so making my children proud and hopefully inspiring other women is definitely the force behind my drive to enjoy and succeed my new journey.
What’s next for Essy?
Having found my confidence, my voice and ambition through modelling over the past three years I am definitely not stopping at being a model and fashion and lifestyle blogger for EssyEntials.
Alongside being a life coach doing the self-esteem workshops I plan to have my own online magazine for women over 40, and showing that the next couple of decades should be the best ones in our lives.
Even if like me the previous ones might have been a bit rocky and painful, you are never too old to turn your life around and follow your dreams.
Age definitely shouldn’t stop you following your aspirations. Alongside blog travelling for EssyEntials, I am also aiming to push my brand EssyEntials to the best of my ability.
If you are interested following me on this journey please subscribe to my website www.essyentials.com for free.
What’s your favourite place in Manchester?
My favourite place in Manchester is without a shadow of a doubt Albert Schloss in Deansgate.
Every time I end up there for a quick drink I am the last one leaving.
The atmosphere is always full of good vibes.
Not only can you eat the best sausages there, you are always guaranteed a dance-off on the floor when the acts start and most probably go home having made new friends for life.
What’s the aim of the Charity?
The white ribbons aim is to end male violence against women, once and for all.
They engage men in the hope they will call out violent, bullying behaviour amongst their peers, and spread the message of equality and respect.
Whilst there is inequality in our society, it’s vital that we encourage men to recognise and stand against sexism and gender-based violence in all forms.
How can people get involved?