She’s stylish, she’s mindful, she’s prolific, she loves animals unequivocally – and to the appreciation of her half-million reverential followers, she lays bare her pursuit of a healthy, ethical and unapologetically positive lifestyle for all to see. Grant Fell asks Buzznet cornerstone Audrey Kitching about being ‘A most photogenic Miss’, speaking (out loud) for Peta, Charlie Browns’ creator and Japanese ‘FRuiTs’…Photos: Liz Besanson Make-up: Alyne Halvajian Hair: Ashley Miller
Grant Fell: Where were you born and where did you grow up?
AUDREY KITCHING: I was born and raised in Philadelphia. I have such a soft spot for the city. It’s got an amazing art and food scene which are two things I’m totally about.
You began your modelling career at 14, how were you discovered and was that your first foray into fashion?
I was getting my hair done at an Aveda concept salon, and they wanted me to model for them and suggested I took classes at a modeling school. I ended up enrolling and going to a huge convention in NYC where thousands of girls fly in from around the world to compete for agencies. I won Most Photogenic at age 16. From there I experimented with print agencies, comp cards, and fun editorials with photography students. Over time everything snowballed which is strange because in a room of models, I’m most definitely the purple cow in the room, which is actually probably what gave me a career! I’m a firm believer in being yourself and having originality!
Your blogging career took off when you were discovered by Buzznet in 2006. Tell us about the LiveJournal site you ran that captured their attention. Were there elements of your blogging then that still apply to your online output today?
I used to blog all kinds of silly stuff from videos with friends to modeling photos and touring, doing hair for my friends’ bands. I was just a kid then and didn’t think anything of it. When Buzznet reached out to me they weren’t really a legitimate company yet. At that time it was more of an idea and they wanted to build this massive integrated site around what I was doing and my followers. The rest is kinda history: now they are this massive online presence owned by Spin Media with countless celeb and culture sites! It’s pretty amazing to have been one of the key starting people on a project like that. Now my blogging is a bit more structured: I post about vegan recipes, astrology, fashion trends, DIY and a handful of photo diaries. Not so much of me running around with friends as I did in my teens, but still the same concepts; things I’m passionate about and enjoy!
Your appellation is ‘style editor’ but how would you best describe what your role on Buzznet entails?
I’m a content curator, hands down! I find awesome photos and create fun stories and content that I would want to read and I think a lot of my followers can relate and be inspired by it as well! I’m pretty picky when it comes to what I post and the stories I choose to highlight!
Your modelling career, and now your business initiatives, feature a vast number of collaborations. Have you always been a collaborator?
I would say yes. I love coming up with concepts and creating ideas. I actually help to art direct most of my magazine shoots which I know most models don’t do. That’s the most fun part for me, having an idea and getting to create it and watch it come to life!
One of the things we love about Audrey Kitching is the fact you impart a number of strong, positive messages to your readers and followers. For example, you are strongly against animal testing and are recognised as a leading spokesperson for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). How aware are you, of your ability to educate and influence your half-million or so followers online? Is this an important part of your work as you see it?
Thank you! It’s where my passion is. I feel like it’s my job to educate people on real issues. The Internet is either a brilliant tool or a terrible crutch. I use it to constantly learn; every day I’m reading new articles. Way too much of today’s generation only uses it for selfies and internet bullying. I’m trying to plant positive seeds in peoples’ minds in the hope that they will grow into using all this amazing technology to spread knowledge as I do! Every little post on environment, food, animals and positive culture can have a great effect. You never know who is reading it and looking for a sign to change!
Similarly, you are a practicing vegan and often post delicious-looking dishes! Veganism is a highly individual choice, do you find yourself pushing that cause or is it simply a case of showing a nutritional and lifestyle alternative?
It’s a bit of both. I am really into nutrition and holistic healing. I’m always taking courses and learning more when I can. We all know that eating vegan, sugar, and gluten free, as well as non-processed organic food, can reverse many illnesses or health issues when done correctly. To me it’s more a matter of promoting what I love and I’m passionate about in hopes people will choose to better their own existence. I’m not big on preaching. I want people to want to change on their own. You can lead a horse to water… but you most definitely can’t make it drink. That has been a big lesson for me.
You are also a designer! Talk us through your line LUNA – how it came about?
I recently finished the first collection of my clothing line, called LUNA. It’s inspired by all things cosmic, positive and enlightening! My goal is to have a high-end luxury line of pullovers and shirts that make people not only feel beautiful but inspired as well. I’m so tired of seeing all these negative clothing lines that promote self-loathing. I think we’re all a bit sick of the negativity!
Then there is Crystal Cactus – jewellery for the mind, body and soul as you say. A mantra of balance, the yin and the yang, and a marked quest for spirituality and a sense of conscious living. Talk us through Crystal Cactus and your own sense of spirituality…
I have always been huge fan of spiritual shops, but they also seem a bit cheeky or tacky in a way. I wanted to merge fashion and spirituality in a way that didn’t make people shy away. I think it’s the most natural and beautiful way of living to be connected with your true self. Being able to express this in a shop where I curate and make all the products has been an amazing journey! I have gotten more positive feedback than I ever could have dreamed.
You have a significant following in Asia, why do you think the Asian population are such big fans?
I have always loved Asian cultures! When I first started this, my biggest inspiration was, hands-down, Japanese street fashion. My walls as a teenager were plastered with FRUiTS magazine pages!
Your output of content online across your sites and social media is significant, describe a typical full day online – how would your day start, what sort of research and browsing do you do and how do you translate that to your own output as it were?
I normally spend the first 4-5 hours a day online creating content, blogging, making files and weekly post plans! The second part of my day is more hands-on with LUNA production, Crystal Cactus and interviews, traveling, photo-shoots, etc! I create my content by whatever I’m inspired by in my personal life at the moment. It’s important to keep it authentic!
With your rapidly developing online fame comes challenges, the cyber troll thing seems to be expanding exponentially, especially on Instagram. Do you have trolls and detractors online? If so, how do you deal with them?
Funny you bring this up! Last night I must have blocked about 50 people, ha ha! It used to get under my skin but now I just block everyone and anyone who shows any signs of negativity. It is poison to me and my followers; no one wants to see that. The only thing that ever makes me sad about it is the stupidity, ignorance and self-hatred behind it. I’m sad for the people who spend their days doing this.
If you image Google ‘Audrey Kitching’ you will find a sea of pink but really, and perhaps progressively, you appear to just have a fabulous appreciation of colour. Are you a colourist as such, and is pink still your favourite color?
Google Image is my worst nightmare! I’m confident in saying 93% of images that come up are me in my teenage phases. Most people go through that and grow out of it and move on. Mine forever haunts me via Google Image search, ha ha! I love all colors though, and I’m more of a pastels and dark colors lover rather than neons! I love navy blue, royal purple, lavender, ballerina pink, mint, gold, and nude.
You come across as a woman with plans! What does 2014 hold for Audrey Kitching? What is going to be special for you this year?
Lots of collaborations and designing! I have a vegan shoe line, clothing collaboration and even a chakra crystal juice line coming out! This year is all about celebrating and sharing ideas with like-minded companies and individuals!
You have a rare day off. Describe a perfect day off for you.
I don’t get them often but when I do they are amazing! I’m very low key. Since my job is so fast paced, when I’m not working I really like to enjoy the simple things! A morning hike, spa date, cooking brunch, museum hopping, dinner at a new restaurant, walks in the city, movies with friends, porch parties… I love having people over and cooking for them, it’s one of my greatest pleasures!
What was your last dream about?
I have been having some CRAZY dreams this past week. I have no idea why! Last night my friend’s girlfriend was interviewing the creator of Charlie Brown and wanted me to sell my house on the Ellen show.
You are holding a dinner party for four very special guests with no concern for cost or location. Who would you invite and what would be on the menu?
It would be held outside a beautiful temple in India, and we would eat the most beautiful vegan Indian food and all wear amazing Henna and colourful jewels! Ryan Gosling, The Olsen Twins and Elvis would be my invites.
Your all-time favourite designer wants to make you something special, who are they and what would it be?
Ashish and I would have them make me a wedding dress. Living that Carrie Bradshaw moment!
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
I truly believe eliminating judgment, lack of knowledge and greed would solve every problem in the world.
Favourites: What are you listening to at the moment? Beach Boys Pandora radio station! Is it summer yet? What are you reading? ‘Eating In The Light’ by Doreen Virtue. Your current favourite TV series? ‘Homeland’. Fashion blog? Refinery 29. Form of exercise? Hiking. Film? ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’ and ‘Igby Goes Down’. Cosmetics brand? Tarte. Hair brand? Derm Organics. Nail brand? Burberry nail polishes are pretty fantastic. Footwear brand? Dolce Vita. City in the world? That’s a hard one. I love traveling so much but I haven’t been to them all yet. Let’s say Milan and NYC for now. (To be continued!). Restaurant? Real Food Daily in LA. Jeweller? Pamela Love. Indulgence? Spa days and late night takeout. Drink? Carrot, yellow beet, orange, lime, ginger and apple juice. Store? Topshop.