Portugal-based mother, model, creative director and photographer Anastasia Yakhnina is living an idyllic life filled with nature, love and family above all else.
With her partner and two-year-old daughter by her side, Anastasia is worlds away from Russia, where she grew up and pursued a rhythmic gymnastics career for 11 years before relocating to London to study advertising and model. We caught up with the talented free-spirit to talk about her path to motherhood, and unsurprisingly her honesty that “all mothers are learning too” serves as a great reminder to be a little easier on ourselves, no what our journey is. Photography by Anastasia Yakhnina.
Talk us through some vivid memories of your childhood. What was it like growing up in Portugal? Did you have siblings? What did you spend your time doing?
Childhood is still my way of looking at the world- I don’t think I’ll ever trade it. I was born in Russia in a very young family – my mother had just turned 21 and dad was 24. I was always a very happy and rebellious kid, charming strangers with my curls and smelling every flower I could find! At the age of seven, I started my rhythmic gymnastics career which got to 5 hours a day, 6 days a week, 11 months a year. That was a very strong experience of rising, falling and choosing which dreams to follow.
Talk us through your earliest memories of being in front of the camera? What do you love about modelling and what do you find challenging…
When I was 18, I left London to study advertising and started modelling on the side. The most fascinating thing about it was meeting the brands I loved at their headquarters, shooting with celebrity photographers like Rankin, cat walking for Rihana and gaining some financial independence. On the other hand, the biggest challenge was and still is the perception by others. I organise events and shoot as a photographer, but it’s much easier for people to just see me as a model.
Did you always want to be a mother?
I never aimed to be a mother but I always loved and worked with kids, so I guess I was always ready!
What kind of mother do you aspire to be? How would you describe your parenting style?
Just like everything in life, my parenting style is improvisation. Observing her playing, growing and gaining her own personality is my starting point, then I add whatever seems to be missing. This doesn’t allow much planning (like kindergarten is still to be sorted!) but lets me be relevant and doesn’t interrupt her natural cycles.
What do you think mothers need to be more honest about?
I think mothers should be more honest about everything. Each time we lie to our child, their picture of the world gets distorted, and later there will be even more confusion. So to start with, we can just be honest and say that we haven’t got all the answers. That we’re still learning too.
Have you ever felt insecure and if so, how do you overcome these feelings?
I’ve always felt vulnerable and now my main concern is self-actualising – coming to the age of 30 and having much more to show to the world than what I’ve already done. Ageing is another thing, and I could probably come up with a million more things to be insecure about. But to feel stronger just takes accepting your current state, practising yoga (or anything new/exciting) and having your house clean!
In a selfie obsessed world, what will you teach your daughter about self-love?
I’ll teach her that she is magic. And magic is always beautiful.
What excites you about being a woman today?
I’m excited about life and being a woman only makes it better. I love our sensuality, intuition and infinite love that we can use or keep for later.
Motto you live by?
Not all those who wander are lost.
What’s a typical look for you? What items in your closet are on high rotation?
I’m a bit of a hippy especially in the never-ending Portuguese summer, so mid-length dresses of natural materials are certainly my thing. But what’s also on repeat these days are jumpsuits both smart and casual – making the body look longer and oh, how comfortable they are!
What about your beauty essentials – what products do you use?
My beauty routine is really simple: I just use face cream from Clarins or Shiseido because they have both natural and active ingredients. Put a little bit of light luminous foundation under the eyes, brush my eyebrows up and add a touch of mascara. The less we put on- the younger we look, you know? And if you have dry hair like me, I’d recommend Hemp & Meadow shampoo from Faith in Nature and Coconut by Dr Organic – they really do the job.
What are your time management tips – how do you stay on top of work/kids/life?
You’d better tell me how to do it!
Are you a night owl or early riser?
Right now both – to manage my work and life.
What kind of things do you typically eat in a day?
I eat the same things as my 2-year-old daughter – natural, preferably local, unpackaged and fresh. Lots of yogurt with oats, avocados and ripe tomatoes, fresh fish, lightly cooked vegetables, and a variety of fruits and nuts with honey as dessert.
Do you ever take time off Instagram/social media?
Of course! I’d live without a phone if my boyfriend wouldn’t mind!