Meet the team: Chelsea Donaldson

If you have followed The Harmonic for a while now I'm sure you'll be familiar with the beautiful Chelsea.

We first met Chelsea when she was working for Spell in Byron Bay and were immediately drawn to her warm spirit and beautiful smile. At the time we were looking for models for our launch campaign and asked Chelsea if she had ever modelled before - little did we know that she walked the catwalks of London, Paris and New York Fashion Week.

Six months later and Chelsea is an integral part of The Harmonic team, she runs our retail operations and thankfully is still happy to model our once-loved collections!

We sat down with Chelsea to talk about moving from Mullimbimby to Paris at 16, her fashion inspiration and circular fashion.

Chelsea Donaldson for The Harmonic Pre-loved Fashion

Images: Chelsea featured in our Launch Campaign, photographed at The Range by Claudia Smith.

You started modelling quite young, can you tell us what it was like entering the industry? Was it something you always wanted to do?

It was never something I dreamed of doing, but when it appeared in my life, I saw it as an exciting opportunity to see the world and have a big adventure.

I remember arriving in Paris when I was sixteen for my first fashion week, and I'd never caught public transport before.

My sense of direction was terrible, and suddenly, I had to find my way around to casting after casting on the metro. It’s a tough industry and it was pretty overwhelming to begin with but I learnt the ropes quickly.

You grew up in Mulumbimby, a small town outside of Byron Bay, has this influenced or shaped the person you are today?

Growing up surrounded by beautiful beaches and lush rainforests definitely gave me an appreciation for nature. I was outdoors a lot because we didn't have any TV reception at home. I was really into horses and constantly going on trail rides and exploring. I grew up with hippy parents, my dad always said I could be anything I wanted to be as long as I wasn't a 'sheep'. Looking back, my childhood was quite alternative, and I'd say it has definitely shaped the person I am today.

You worked throughout Europe and New York for Brands such as Calvin Klein, Max Mara and Issey Miayke, what would you say was the highlight of your modelling career?

The job that stands out is my first-ever runway show for Issey Miyake (image below). My call time was very early, and the show was in the Louvre.

The guard let me into the gallery and told me where to go. When I entered, I must have taken a wrong turn, and it took me quite a while to find where I was meant to be. There was no one around, and I was lost amongst all these incredible works of art. It all felt very surreal.

Chelsea Donaldson The Harmonic

Images: A selection from Chelsea's modelling career.

What attracted you to The Harmonic?

I love fashion, but I always knew that we had to drastically shift away from the status quo for it to be sustainable.

I was inspired by the concept of the Harmonic as I really feel like circular fashion is the way of the future.

Our founders, Ness and Libby, are not only lovely people but strong and inspiring women, and I knew I could learn a lot working with them. 

Can you tell us what a typical day looks like working for a circular fashion platform?

Every day is different, which keeps life interesting. I'm learning a lot about fashion sustainability and becoming more familiar with how the brands we stock approach this.

What does circular fashion mean to you?

To me, circular  fashion means being conscious of buying quality items of clothing that will stand the test of time and can be rehomed or repurposed when no longer needed.

Have you ever sold your own clothing or bought pre-loved?

Absolutely! I’ve always loved op shops and vintage stores. More recently, I've bought some incredible treasure from the Harmonic.

Who do you think is leading the way in fashion sustainability?

There are some wonderful brands out of Australia and New Zealand that are conscious and transparent about their products and processes, from production right through to packaging. A few that come to mind are Esse, KITX, St. Agni, and Maggie Marilyn. 

Where would you love to see the Australian fashion industry in 10 years?

I'd like to see a move away from fast fashion and for sustainable fashion to be more mainstream and accessible to everyone. I hope that there’s a drastic reduction in textile waste and that circular fashion becomes the norm. 

You love to wear colourful clothing which is quite a contrast to the usual style of Byron where you see a lot of people wearing neutrals. What do you love about colourful dressing?

It makes me feel happy and it’s uplifting. It’s true that you stand out wearing colour in Byron. That being said, the style of Byron has changed a lot with the changing demographic.

When I was young, I remember seeing lots of bright and colourful clothing worn by eccentric characters around the streets of town.

These days the style is breezy and coastal - you'll see lots of white linen and neutral colours. I still love colour, perhaps as an ode to my childhood. 

Chelsea Donaldson for The Harmonic

Images: Chelsea wears Once-loved Venroy from The Harmonic, photographed by Jude Cohen in Byron Bay.

What advice would you give young females entering the modelling industry today?

Strap yourself in because you're in for a wild ride! Modelling can be all-consuming, but it's important to remember that at the end of the day, it's a job and shouldn't consume your whole life. Remember that modelling isn't the be all and end all.