One look at Vanesa Lorenzo and it’s not hard to see how she’s forged an international career in the modelling industry since she was a teenager. There’s the glowing skin, the sparkly eyes, the strong and lean body and the effortless stance, but when you delve a little deeper you realise that’s more thanks to her commitment to health and wellness than her desire to sell magazines…
When Vanesa’s modelling career took her to New York more than 15 years ago, her attitude towards her entire wellbeing shifted. She started practising yoga regularly, focused on wholefood eating and embraced gratitude and mindfulness as a new way of thinking each day. It was after the birth of her first daughter Manuela that this shift led her to write her first yoga and wellness book, Yoga, Un Estilo De Vida (Yoga, A Lifestyle), and give insight into her world of health, happiness, motherhood and style to her legion of fans via her ever-growing social media platforms and blog.
But if you think this is a simple tale of a model mum who likes green smoothies, think again. Over the years Vanesa has also dipped her toes into fashion design (her namesake label enjoyed much success and even nabbed the coveted Marie Claire Best Novel Designer Prix award), as well as collaborating on a kidswear collection with The Animals Observatory, a brand she was a founding member of. She also has a new book in the works around the topic of positive parenting due to be released at the end of the year.
If all this has piqued your interest even a little bit, we know you’re going to love our chat with Vanesa shot at home in Barcelona. Vamos!
Can you tell us how your modelling career started?
Ever since I was a child, I felt comfortable in front of the camera and I asked my parents to help me be in the TV commercials that I used to watch and love. At first, they hesitated, but then they saw that it was such a professional industry. One thing led to another and I started doing Barbie, milk and ice cream commercials. Then, the cover of VOGUE Spain at 17, followed by my first international fashion campaign – Pepe Jeans – when I was 18.
Paris was difficult and not a very welcoming city for a young woman who was on her own, but it brought me great modelling experiences such as an Yves Saint Laurent campaign, Elle Paris, Vogue Paris, L’Officiel… I was missing my family a lot, so I would fly back home every weekend. That really helped me carry on with my new independent life and keep myself feeling confident and safe. Later on at 20, IMG Paris – my agency – advised me to try New York and so I did. It was love at first sight and Manhattan became my second home.
Were you always interested in fashion as a child?
I grew up in a home where my grandmother was a pattern maker and together with my mother, they made clothes for my siblings and me. I enjoyed watching the creation process, but it was not until I lived the experience of the fashion industry as a model that aroused my interest and enthusiasm to find my own aesthetic universe through fashion design.
You started your successful namesake fashion label in 2012, which has now been put on hold. What was that experience like working behind the scenes in an industry you had been in for so long?
I studied Fashion Design at IED Madrid and I worked on my own project for my final degree, which was a women’s clothing brand that was already selling in different points around the world. Being the creative director of my own financial project made it a very demanding experience. The creative and the business sides don’t coexist very well and it is a hard process. When I had to make a big step ahead and grow as a business I got pregnant. I remember being back at home and kept working in front of the computer at 11pm, asking myself “what am I doing? I’m pregnant and I have an amazing and important personal family project on my hands”. I realised I couldn’t cope with such a demanding fashion business, so I decided to put the brand on hold. To be able to choose in life is the biggest freedom one can have and I’m grateful for it.
You created a capsule children’s collection with The Animals Observatory, any plans to do more with children’s clothing and design?
It was fun picking and adjusting the key garments from my women’s collections for the children’s capsule collection. And although in the present moment I don’t hold an executive role at The Animals Observatory, I’m part of the board and I’m excited about it. As for future plans, I’m in conversations about creating a sports clothing collection for a brand.
How do your own two daughters influence your sense of style and what you wear?
Although I haven’t lost my joy for styling, when you have kids, comfort and functionality often come first and there’s no time in the crazy mornings to worry about being cool. I learned to enjoy easy-going outfits that allow you to throw yourself on the floor at any moment and not worry about what will happen to the clothes. It’s something that I’m struggling with, because I’ve always been very tidy and careful with my stuff! Thank God my daughters Manuela and Maria are interested in colours, shapes and textures, as we explore creativity through clothing and styling by preparing outfits for the next day the night before as a game. It’s also wonderful how my daughters notice little details in my outfits, hair and makeup, which always prompt questions like “Will I be able to do, or to wear that, when I grow up?”
Travel comes with the territory of your job, how do you juggle travelling with the demands of children and family?
I had to renounce a part of my international career because I want to be present for my family. I miss my nomadic life and the solitude that comes with it a lot, because I grew up living that way, but you can’t have it all and I’m happy with my choice. I’ve found balance between my family and work. I still work as a model and I’m involved in many interesting projects that feed my creative self.
You credit yoga as “your constant companion” when you first became a mother. How did yoga help you during the postpartum period?
In my experience, keeping healthy and in shape in the pre-pregnancy and pregnancy period makes a huge difference in the postpartum period. What makes yoga a wonderful practice is that you can adjust it to your needs and it embraces you with kindness. Yoga helped keep my muscles and spine healthy, strong and flexible. That’s why carrying the heavy belly didn’t bring any problems with sciatica or similar.
In my first postpartum period, I took physical recovery very calmly, going step by step and following the guidelines of practices that include hypopressive training and Kegel exercises before returning to complete yoga practices. I recovered very quickly and six months later, when I put on the first bikini of the summer, my abdomen looked as firm and strong as before the pregnancy.
Bringing back my yoga routine in my second postpartum and with two babies in the house was harder. I had to learn how to take advantage of just 10 or 15 minutes if that’s the time I had left for myself. Also, it took more time to recover from diastasis and 3 years later, I’m still working on recovery since core work is always present in my Ashtanga vinyasa yoga practice. These days I’m incorporating more and more breathing and meditation practices because stress has hit me and I feel my body and mind needs more conscious moments for myself.
Your book, Yoga, Un Estilo De Vida (Yoga, A Lifestyle), approaches yoga, health and wellness in an honest and relatable way. What prompted you to write the book and share your passion with other women?
I always say that the wonderful community of readers of my blog and social media channels, which continues to grow day by day, was partly responsible for encouraging me to share in a book all my experience with the philosophy of yoga and healthy habits. I wanted to share the search for complete well-being through yoga and a life philosophy, offering my personal experiences that have helped me. As I always say, it is the practical and simple book that I would have liked to find when I introduced myself to yoga and healthy food when I was 20 in New York.
What does health and wellness mean to you today?
Everything. I don’t conceive life without taking care of myself. I only have one body and I want to grow old with a healthy physique, mind and soul.
To me health not only means my own, it also means others and the way we interact with each other and with nature. Respect is an important word for this purpose.
Most mothers are time poor, are there any small lifestyle or health changes you recommend to women who are juggling family, work and everything else?
It is hard on women, that’s our reality. Historically we have been dealing with lot of tasks and running the home, family, work… I think that’s why we’re strong by nature but that doesn’t mean we can deal with everything. We shouldn’t. Every one of us needs to find balance within our lives. I find myself reviewing with my partner home tasks and family responsibilities because we tend to reproduce what we have seen at home growing up. In my case it wasn’t balance: my mom had much more responsibilities than my dad. Still, she made a step ahead from my grandma’s experience and I find it fundamental to make another big step ahead to finally reach equality.
Something that I’m starting to do with my 3 and 5 year old kids is giving them little responsibilities at home that will grow with age and I hope that will also help with distributing home chores within the family.
Motherhood has given me the opportunity to relativize and not focus on pursuing an unachievable goal. It has taught me to be more flexible, kinder and more compassionate with myself. I do my best!
Can you tell us what a typical day in Barcelona is like for you and your family?
Awakenings are full of morning bustle, and while my kids are having breakfast like homemade oatmeal and apples I start the day with a green cold press juice. I eat solids later on at home or at the office, depending on if I’m running late. My working days vary from modelling shoots wherever in the world the client brings me to my office work day between developing my second book, personal projects, and creating digital content for my platforms (my website www.vanesalorenzo.com, my monthly newsletter and social media channels). Since becoming a mum, travelling for modelling feels like a little vacation where I can have a good night’s sleep, catch up on some reading, have long yoga practices and enjoy a nice room service treat.
What are your girls like at travelling - have you mastered the art of plane trips and time zone differences with little ones (please share tips!)?
I’m a well-prepared person and when I travel with the whole family I pack our luggage consciously, unlike when I travel alone or as a couple, when I wait until the last minute to pack my suitcase. Here are some of my tips that I also shared on my blog some time ago:
– I prepare a travel medical kit with generic and homeopathic medicines, especially if I am traveling to a place where it might be hard to get these.
– I take healthy snacks for the whole family in my hand luggage, as we don’t always like the plane food. We also try to stay well-hydrated during the flight.
– At take-off and landing, to avoid ear pain due to the change in air pressure, I make sure Maria, my youngest, has her pacifier, and that Manuela sucks a sweet or drinks water to keep producing and swallowing saliva and help them to avoid feeling unwell, which is a sensation they’re not used to having to deal with.
– To make sure they don’t get cold, I tend to take an extra sweater and a silk scarf for their necks, as well as socks so that they can walk around comfortably. I also always take at least one entire change of clothes for each of them, because with children you never know what can happen.
– On flights, everything goes, and to keep them entertained, I set aside the rules, I welcome all electronic devices applying the philosophy of “let’s have a good time” because there’s no way out! I download educational applications onto the tablet, as well as their favourite films and cartoons: Wall-e, Peppa Pig, Tarta de Fresa, Vaiana… Of course I also add notebooks and pencils and a small set of lego which entertain them a lot. As you can see, I take a full mobile entertainment kit.
What has motherhood taught you?
I’m living a vital moment that fills me tremendously. Motherhood means resignation, dedication, fatigue, change of priorities, but it is also rewarding: it forces you to be more flexible and to observe, to learn to prioritize, to reinvent yourself and to give without asking for anything in return. It’s a wonderful adventure. Raising children is the greatest responsibility that someone can take in life. I could maybe sum up my best wishes for my daughters in two concepts: I hope they can learn how to listen to themselves and listen to others, to respect themselves and respect others.
How do you handle the more stressful parts of motherhood?
Keeping a healthy diet helps you stay strong, and keeping a peaceful mind helps you deal better with the challenges of raising your children. When I feel overwhelmed and I’m losing my temper, I resort to Yoga learnings and Positive Discipline tools. Those two philosophies are the concepts I’m developing for my second book, this time focused on parenting. I’m in that moment in life in which I’m searching for help to do my best on raising my daughters and wanting to give them the best tools to grow with consciousness, confidence, strength, resilience and kindness. Everything starts from our own example and that’s why I think the key is to reeducate ourselves in order to educate our children.
I’m working side by side with two expert women in these fields – an adult and kids yoga teacher and a child psychologist. The book will launch before 2019 ends.
What is your definition of self care and how do you make time for it?
Self care is loving yourself, listening to your heart and cleverly managing your emotions. I don’t think you have to make time for it, it’s how you carry yourself every single second of your life.