The Tale of Helena Vestergaard
Before we visited Helena Vestergaard in her home on Sydney's Northern Beaches for this photo shoot, I had done my research. I knew that the young mother-of-two would be laid back, incredibly cool and of course, impossibly beautiful. But there was a whole lot that took me by surprise...

For one, many mothers who show off the free-spirited beachside persona that Helena embodies so naturally will say that they'd like to have a "house full of children." Helena, however, tells me in a no-nonsense tone that, "We are absolutely done with two. Three would be total chaos."

When I then share that I have three children of my own, she nervously apologises (not necessary – she's right – it is chaos) and then proceeds to ask me just as many questions as I ask her. A rare quality in many of the models of Helena's calibre.

Helena is also brutally honest and despite being dreamy herself, doesn't look at life through rose-coloured glasses. When we ask her about the concept of "the village," for example, Helena tells it how it is. "I wish I could say yes but my family all live in a different state and Nathan's do too," she says. "We would love a village but that's just not how it worked for us. I guess you just make your own situation work."

And making it work, she is. Her two children, River (2) and Sway (nearly 1) are divine. Happily playing by her feet for much of the photoshoot, they clearly adore their mama, who keeps them lovingly but firmly in line. She's the first to send them off for a nap, dashes between shots to prepare a snack, and regularly instructs Nathan to slather them in mosquito repellant. (River hilariously parrots much of what comes out of Helena's mouth, which at one point is, "And hurry up, babe! Oh, and I love you!")

In this peaceful home that's minimally decorated with wooden toys and gorgeous dried flowers at every turn, the outdoor and indoor blend perfectly together, which is clearly a passion of Helena's. As a family, they spend much of their time outdoors, and are deeply committed to the environment.

Which is why she was also such a natural fit to model clothing from sustainable fashion brands, styled with Pandora jewellery, given the brand's recent announcement to reduce emissions in its full value chain by joining the Science Based Targets initiative. In fact, Pandora has committed to being 100% carbon neutral in its operations by 2025, in direct response to climate change, showcasing its leadership in the jewellery industry. What's more, over and above Pandora's goal of achieving carbon neutrality, in recognition of the adverse environmental impacts of mining and their accountability to develop a more responsible supply chain, Pandora also uses recycled grains in core materials. And it's not just lip service. In 2019, of the core jewellery materials sourced by the brand, 98% of silver grains and 100% of gold grains came from recycled materials. It's a brand clearly leading the way in sustainability, much like the model herself.

Now, let's take a look inside the beautiful, natural, loving world of Helena Vestergaard.

Photography by Julie Adams | Hair and makeup: Sarina Zoe | In association with Pandora

Since we last photographed you, you’ve welcomed a new baby into the world. How is life with two children?

It's crazy! It's completely overwhelming but the best fun I've ever had.

What have you found to be the biggest difference parenting second time around?

The second time around is so much less stressful for me. I found I connected much quicker and could enjoy all the little moments more because I knew they would go so quickly!

You take a really considered approach to sustainability and the environment. Can you talk us through your mantras?

I just believe that nature is the only pure thing we have left and we need to take care of the planet and each other for us as humans to have any kind of peaceful and respectable existence.

What prompted you to take this approach? Or did you grow up with these values at heart?

I'm very sensitive when is comes to nature the ocean and other human beings. I've always wanted to help more or do more to make the world a better place.

What does sustainability look like for you on a day-to-day basis - from the products you use, to the clothing you buy …

I don't analyse everything I do to harshly. I do put a little thought before I buy a new product to make sure that it doesn't offend any of my beliefs. I try to buy lots of things from second-hand stores and not from the big easy mass produced stores.

What lessons are you hoping to teach your children?

Happiness is a state of mind. It comes from within not from anything on the outside of your skin. Our planet the only one we have so look after it like it's your most prized possession.

What type of mother do you aspire to be?

A good one.

How has motherhood changed the way you live your life, and the way you work?

I find myself not fretting over the small things like I used to. I'm much more efficient with my time and I'm much more present than I ever was. With work, I'm stricter with any job I take as it's one less day with my children.

Can you share with us your journey with mental health and why this is a focus for you?

I've always struggled with mental health, it runs in my family and has put some very dark moments into my life. I know how hard it is when you are in that place and for me, I feel like I've come out the other side. So I guess I felt I owed it to myself and others who are suffering to offer support in the sense of 'you are not alone'.

What does an outfit look like for you on a typical day?

Most days I don't change out of my pyjamas if I don't need to.

What are some of your favourite brands or places to shop?

Op shops! Any sustainable small businesses and I always try to buy local. Markets or local businesses. It's important to support your community as much as you want to buy all the things thrown in front of our faces online.

Talk us through what a typical day looks like for you - if there is such a thing...

We always make it to the beach or the park. Being outdoors with your bare feet on the earth is the best way to stay grounded. Plus kids are their happiest playing in nature, you never need to bring toys when there are sticks and rocks and bugs to look at.

How do you manage the juggle in your household?

My husband and I share all household responsibilities pretty evenly. We are both pretty much stay at home parents most of the time so for us, we found a rhythm and most of the time it's flowing pretty fine.

Do you feel mother’s guilt?

Oh yeah, all the time. I just put both my babies into daycare for two days a week and half the time I'm feeling so bad about it I don't know if it's worth it. But I know it is important for me to get the separation so I can be a better mother on those other five days a week.

Do you subscribe to the notion of ’the village’ when raising your children?

I wish I could say yes but my family all live in a different state and Nathan's do too. We would love a village but that's just not how it worked for us. I guess you just make your own situation work.

What was your own childhood like?

I remember it being really fun. My sister and I could entertain ourselves in an empty room.

What type of future do you hope is ahead for your children?

A really happy one!

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