Hello Aaliyah! Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. First off, tell us about you, your passions and share five fun facts.
Hi Maryam! Thank you for having me and hello to the beautiful Infinitely a Daydreamer readers! I’m a seventeen year-old creative based in Sydney, Australia and I love all things artistic. My heart belongs to fashion- I have enjoyed putting together outfits and sewing my clothes since I was around nine or ten. I am currently pursuing further education in and have plans to continue studying fashion in the future. My other passions lie in food, writing, filming and editing.
Five fun facts about me are that I’m a huge Harry Styles fan, I’m the youngest in my family, I cut myself bangs during quarantine, I’m an indoor hockey player and I love the somewhat strange combination of carrots and peanut butter (trust me on that one!)
You’ve grown up in an interracial household- what is your heritage and how has it influenced your upbringing?
I am proud to have Kttisan Heritage on my Father’s side, coming from the small dual Caribbean islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis. Growing up in Australia is a very culturally isolating experience as the Caribbean (and Black community for that matter) are quite small and physically distanced from where I grew up. If I’m completely honest, I feel like my race didn’t have much of an effect on my upbringing, partly because of community isolation and partly because it didn’t start playing a huge role in my life until my teen years. The first time I visited my Islands was at thirteen- I didn’t have that connection or awareness of the role race would play in my daily life until I was older.
How do you maintain strong ties to culture? Do you identify more with one side of your heritage or is it balanced?
Maintaining strong ties to my culture is something that I’ve managed to do throughout the past five years or so. On a daily basis, taking pride in my hair is something that makes me feel connected. I understand now that my African hair is sacred and taking care of my curls or wearing braided styles allows me to honour that. Following Black creators and engaging in learning about Black history is also something I do to build a community for myself since where I am has left me with limited connections. Despite being half white and growing up in a white society, I do identify more with being Black. This is partly because I’m not outwardly white-passing and because of the culture and history connected to my heritage. I’m lucky to have the best of both worlds.
What creative work are you involved in and how do you seek inspiration?
I have always been a very creative person- I remember that my childhood was mostly spent playing with barbie dolls and doing arts and crafts, which has eventually evolved into my love for fashion and the arts today. I am currently creatively involved in anything I can get my hands on- sewing, painting, writing, filming + editing. Most recently, I’ve been getting into making trinkets. I find inspiration everywhere, however, I’m more of a visual person. Pinterest is where you’ll find me but I also like to take inspiration from songs and other creatives in my life.
Your snaps are always highly detailed and have unique concepts behind them. How do you scout locations and prepare for a photoshoot? On the contrary, are the majority of your photos taken on a whim?
Most of my photos are taken on a whim, apart from the photo series I direct and shoot myself. I love to find inspiration all around me so whenever I’m somewhere pretty, it’s just a matter of taking a few snaps that build up the majority of my feed. When I’m feeling especially creative, however, I love to put together looks and create sets in my room to shoot on self-timer. My process usually begins on Pinterest, putting together boards of the overall ‘vibe’ I’m going for- this could be cottagecore, the seventies, space-themed etc. Other times I find inspiration in songs or other content. Next, I put together an outfit. I aim to go for something eccentric and out of my comfort zone or try to pair items I’ve never worn together before. I feel this adds to the overall ‘editorial photoshoot’ aesthetic. After my outfit, location set up is next. I’ve done a few shoots in my garden but most of the time I work in my bedroom, setting up backdrops with unique fabrics and props. My main goal is to take as many pictures as I can to pare down and edit later- everything has potential!
Where do you live and what is the best thing about your hometown?
I live in Sydney’s lower North Shore. What I love about my area is its close proximity to the city and that it is so environmentally diverse. If I want to go on a hike, my closest reserve is only a short stroll away and if I want to go to the city it’s about twenty minutes by train. I love that I have grown up with such close access to the city as there is truly so much to do there in every season. I enjoy a good adventure- sometimes that could mean a hike through bush and beaches or a day spent wandering through art galleries and picnicking in the botanical gardens. I feel so blessed that my location makes this beautiful place so accessible.
What is your philosophy on life and why?
If I was asked this question even a year ago, I wouldn’t have known what to tell you. The unpredictability of this year has made me realise that life is too short not to enjoy yourself and that everything becomes so much more enjoyable when you let go of the idea of perfection. I can’t stress this enough- if something makes you happy and isn’t hurting you or anyone else, you have to go ahead and do it! Wear that outfit that makes you feel like a cool girl, compliment that stranger you think has a nice style and don’t be afraid to be your own best friend. At the end of the day, the only person you have to spend your whole life with is you. Making sure it’s the best relationship you have is one of the most valuable things you could possibly learn to do.
What does your morning and night routine look like and what would make up the perfect day in your life?
To be honest with you, I don’t have much of a specific routine. I am an early bird so I do like to wake up well ahead of time. This way, I get to bask in the serenity of the morning. I’ll get ready first as I feel happiest and most productive when I’m wearing a nice outfit. During the evenings, I like to wind down with a candle or my aroma diffuser. Recently, I’ve been getting into doing a ten-minute meditation before I sleep. A perfect day in my life would start early and involve something slow and creative. Perhaps a morning walk to enjoy the sunshine and time spent sewing or browsing through an art gallery. My favourite days are the ones spent finding peace amid a busy life.
How would you describe your journey to Veganism? What have you learnt along the way that has made that lifestyle sustainable? Share a few easy meal ideas!
I love this question because I have so much to share! My journey to veganism has been wonderful. I had grown interested in it during twenty seventeen and twenty-eighteen. In January of twenty nineteen, I decided to go fully vegan. Because I am the only vegan in my family, I suddenly found myself responsible for making most, if not all, of my food myself. This opened up a lot of new paths for me. I found that in the first six months or so of being vegan, I had tried more new foods than I had in my previous years combined and learnt plenty about cooking and the importance of knowing the value of what we put in our bodies. Something that has made this lifestyle so sustainable for me was building a positive and healthy relationship with food, knowing that my body deserves filling and nutritious meals and remembering that I can allow myself to have fun with it at the same time. A lot of people seem to hold the false belief that veganism is restrictive. I love it so much though because it’s what works and feels best for me. My go-to meals this year include pasta with a simple tomato sauce (kudos to a recipe I learnt from TikTok!), berry smoothies with lots of fuelling add-ins (think oats, cacao powder, chia seeds) and falafel salads and wraps.
I know you enjoy thrifting and shopping sustainably when possible- how do you manage to score clothing that is reasonably priced and suits you? Tell us about your style and favourite ethical brands.
I believe that the golden rule of thrifting is to shop often and shop widely. The downside of second-hand shopping is that it is quite unpredictable and fairly hit or miss. I was fortunate enough to live next to a Vinnies store last year so I was able to pop in on my way home or whenever I had a few spare minutes. This was fun because I could always sift through the new arrivals and find some gems. I have recently expanded my second-hand shopping adventures to other realms. This includes markets, suitcase rummages, clothes swaps, depop shops and pop-ups- you’d better believe that the world of second-hand shopping is wider than your local Salvos!
I’ve also found that the prices vary greatly depending on where you go. Suitcase rummages and markets tend to be more affordable. Prices and stock also vary a lot between areas, so whenever I’m out of town I love to pop into local stores first chance I get. I’ve found some of my favourite pieces this way! In terms of finding clothing that suits you, having a general idea of what you want before embarking on a trip is so worth it- I always make note of particular colours or items (eg sweater vests) to look for and try everything on when I can. My style has definitely evolved to be what it is today through second-hand shopping, I currently have a hippie/indie aesthetic going on with lots of looser bottom pieces and statement tops. When accessible, I do love to shop for new pieces from ethical or sustainable brands. My favourites are California/New York City based brand reformation (very pricey but worth it in the sales) and Australian/Indian brand tree of life.