A couple of weeks ago, I put a call out on my Instagram for people to send me through their questions for an “ask me anything” type thing in celebration of my birthday and as a way for you guys to get to know the person behind Tomgirl & Threads aka me… Karissa.

Most people voted for an insta-stories Q&A but I decided to share the questions here on   my website so everyone gets a chance to read them (also incase you don’t want to hear me blabber on)…. And as a bonus I thought I would share an additional few things you may not have known about me!

QUESTIONS YOU ASKED.

1. WHAT DID I STUDY AND AT WHICH UNIVERSITY?

I studied Occupational Therapy at University of Sydney here in Australia. Prior to that I did study for Social Work at University of New South Wales to gain entry into my desired course.

Just goes to show that your HSC marks aren’t everything – you can always find a way. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in school and hence didn’t really apply myself. Also one of my older brothers had a serious motorbike accident and was in hospital with head injuries, broken ribs, arm and foot for the first 3 months of my schooling year which really affected my grades because I didn’t tell anyone at school what was happening.

Advice #1 – It’s always okay to ask for help. I should have reached out for support at school during such a stressful time in my life

Advice #2 –  For my younger readers. Don’t place your whole life in the hands of one set of exams. Do your best in school, but know that there is always another way. I got into uni, worked hard and found my way into my desired course.

2. AM I STILL WORKING AS AN OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST?

No. Not at the moment, but I’m sure I’ll go back one day. I loved my job, but it was a matter of timing. Straight out of uni, I worked for most of the year in a private paediatric clinic. It was hard, but amazing. But I decided to take a break and throw myself into my creative work for a while knowing that the opportunity may not always be around. My boss was one of the most incredible women I’ve met and she encouraged me to explore this opportunity and have no regrets. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made as the flexibility I’ve had in the last year has given my husband and I the opportunity to do so much together in these precious young(ish) years of our life.

3. DO I SURF?

Yes, but I’m still learning. I’ve given it a good crack over a number of years, but it was living home in Byron for 6 months and surfing almost everyday that got me over that learning hump. I longboard, and thats all I want to do. I love watching so many amazing surfers at the Pass just gliding so effortlessly across the wave. It’s mine and my husband’s favourite activity to do together.

4. WHAT IS MY ADVICE FOR MOVING TO NEW PLACES AND MEETING PEOPLE?

I’ve had to do this a fair bit over the years as I’ve moved from the Byron region, to Sydney, to Port Macquarie, back to Sydney, back to Byron and back to Sydney (and now onto the next adventure). I’ve always been very lucky to have my husband (and best friend) with me along the way. But aside from him, I’ve always met beautiful people and lifelong friends through work. I’m still in touch with a number of girls from my days working at Sportsgirl.

Aside from that, I’ve met people through shared hobbies. I do yoga, and always get to know the teachers and some of the other people who practice there. I think the key thing (which isn’t new information) is making time and putting yourself out there. And just so you know, this defintiely does not come naturally to me. But taking the extra minute before or after a yoga class to chat can help build those networks that turn into friendships.

 

5. BEST PLACES TO DINE IN SYDNEY AND FAVOURITE BEACHES

I’m definitely only apt in vegan dining options, so sorry about that. My favourite places in Sydney to eat which are vegan, but are AMAZING are – Gigi’s Pizzeria in Newtown, Soul Burger, Lentil as Anything, Golden Lotus, Bodhi, Kawa cafe in Surry Hills (actually not entirely vegan). Beaches wise…. I love Gordon’s Bay, Coogee is my local and always fun, Watsons Bay and Neilson Park are beautiful and the beaches down the South Coast if your keen for an adventure.

 

6. HOW DO I TAKE & EDIT MY PHOTOS?

This year we bought the Fujifilm XT20 and primarily shoot with a portrait 50mm lens. It’s a nice little mirrorless camera (and a good price point) with beautiful quality images, especially for portraiture. One day I’m sure we’ll upgrade to a Canon something something, but for now I’m really happy with that we have. I edit my photos with Lightroom and presets have been a real gamechanger for me. Apps I also use sometimes are VSCOcam, Snapseed, PicTapGo.

 

7. WHAT DO I EAT ON A TYPICAL DAY?

I usually shy away from questions around diet, as it’s such a topical thing that varies SO much from person to person. So I will preface this with – I am not a dietician or nutritionist.

What I eat day to day is really variable to be honest, but I always follow a vegan/plant-based diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables and limit processed food as much as possible. I plan my meals each week so I can do one grocery shop and limit food waste (watch War on Waste and you’ll know why).

Also I generally do time-intermittent fasting as it has a growing body of evidence in support of its many health benefits. This basically means I try and limit my eating to a 8-10hr window and try and eat my dinner as early/close to sunset as possible i.e 6pm (NB you eat the same amount of food each day, just in a smaller window). I first learnt about this via the Tim Ferris podcast and Dr Rhonda Patrick (the whole episode is great and covers A LOT of different topics, however just a heads up the science does go above and beyond what I can follow, but here is the transcript if you’d like to read her thoughts about fasting etc. It’s one of the first questions). As with anything though, do you’re own research (try to find good sources that aren’t just bro-science too). I track my fast using an app called ZERO and listen to my body each day, which means I don’t always eat breakfast. An average day might look something like:

Breakfast
Morning coffee first of all. Next, either no breakfast or a smoothie/smoothie bowl (usually about 1L) or Loni Jane’s superfood burcha (recipe here). I might eat earlier or mid morning around 11am.

Lunch
Lunch is usually quite snacky if I’m at home i.e. fresh fruit, rice cakes with avocado, tomato and spinach, vegetable sticks with hummus. Or might be leftovers from dinner the night before. If I’ve had no breakfast, I’ll usually have a smoothie/burcha at around 12pm. If I’ve had a late breakfast, I’ll usually eat said snacky food around 2-3pm.

Dinner
Typically my largest meal of the day (hence why I like to eat early). Abundant, wholesome food with a crap load of veggies i.e. rice paper rolls, buddha bowl, Mexican, sushi. I don’t portion control this meal, I just eat until I’m full. My favourite go to recipe ideas are The Minimalist Baker, Elsa’s Wholesome Life cookbook, Loni Jane e-books

8. WHAT LIGHTS MY SOUL ON FIRE AND KEEPS ME INSPIRED?

Nothing lights my soul on fire more than getting out in nature. Particularly the ocean, something about the energy there that makes me feel alive and all sparkly. But also swimming in waterfalls, hiking through rainforests and basking in the beauty in this world in general.

Keeping inspired is really challenging at times. But I try and find inspiration through all kinds of art and creatives. Painting, reading poetry, listening to music (Tash Sultana especially, she awakens something in my soul), trawling Pinterest and magazines, listening to podcasts and talking with new, interesting people.

9. TOP TRAVEL TIPS, FAVOURITE PLACES AND BEST TRAVEL ACCESSORIES?

I’m yet to explore so much of the world, but this year my husband and I are heading to Europe and hoping to explore as much as we can. Also on our list in the next couple of years – South and Central America, India/Sri Lanka, Phillipines, New Zealand and back to the US. (ps send me all your favourite places, please and thankyou).

However my favourite places so far….

Bali will always hold a special place in my heart. Lembongan is one of my favourite places of all. Samoa was an incredible untouched paradise. I LOVED New York (can’t wait to go back) and the road trip from Vegas to the Grand Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. Both were breathtaking. I’m obsessed with Fraser Island – a little pocket of paradise right here in Australia.

Top travel tips
1.  Ditch travel money cards if you haven’t already and get with a bank that has zero international transaction fees i.e Citibank or ING or the like. SO MUCH EASIER.

2. It’s not so much a travel tip, but just plan things and book things in (even exploring areas around where you live). It’s so easy to let time and weekends slip by just bumming around at home. When Tom and I lived in Byron we wrote a list of places we wanted to go and things we wanted to do while we lived there aka a hike in the national park, Fraser Island, Noosa etc and just locked things in.

3. Switch off! And actually enjoy the places you are visiting. In this age of social media I fear we spend too much time trying to take the perfect photo and too little time actually experiencing things (another post coming on this soon)

Best travel accessories:

1. My sister in law helped me create my perfect little carry on pack and now I can’t travel without it. In a clear bag (and all the right travel sizes) I pack: An eye spray, a face mist, face moisturiser, face wipes, tinted moisturiser, a toothbrush, melatonin (to help me sleep) & hand cream.

2. Kindle – bring all of the books with you with no real extra weight.

3. BYO headphones.
The ones on the plane are always SO uncomfortable.

4. Birkenstocks.
Love them or hate them but they are actually such a practical travel shoe. They are incredibly comfortable, support your feet unlike most slide or thongs so your feet stay happy all adventure long. I actually left mine at the beach end of last year and can tell you travel has not been the same without them. Will be investing in another (vegan) pair before Europe!

 

10. WHAT ARE MY SKINCARE TIPS & ROUTINE?

A couple of questions around this one. I think one of the biggest “skincare” tips is taking care of your body from the inside out – so regular exercise, drinking plenty of water and eating a diet full of fruit and vegetables. Aside from that, and given that everybody’s skin is different and our own skin changes over time, here is my basic routine.

Morning
 I’ll use a moisturiser like this one from Charlotte Tilbury or a light oil like this one from RMS before anything else i.e makeup.

Night
I use a cleanser every night from like this one from SALT store or I also love the Cosmedix range and I use a face scrub 2-3 times a week. I love this one from SALT and am currently using this one from MUKTI. Lately I’ve also been using this toner from The Beauty Chef. Then I apply a face oil like Jojoba, or this one from The Beauty Chef mixed with a beauty blend of essential oils (including frankincense, lavender etc – this is the one I use and you can shop it here search for SALUBELLE). I also have a spot treatment I’ll use on problem areas. Recently I’ve just started using a micro dermal roller, so stayed tuned for results.

11. HOW DID I BEGIN AND GROW MY BLOG & INSTAGRAM?

To be honest I really lucked out with timing on this one. I started my blog and instagram when I was at university as a creative outlet, never really intending it to go anywhere. I used to dream with my husband (then boyfriend) how amazing it would be if a store would let me borrow clothes and shoot outside the store. My first blog I started with a friend and we used to attempt more themed editorial style shoots.

After a year, I decided to branch out on my own, got a camera for my birthday and started shooting. What really helped me out in the beginning was winning a Street Style comp Friend of Mine was running with Street Smith. From there I gradually started getting contacted by brands and growth was very natural and organic. I think building my own style – then a very oceanic and minimalist helped me stand out at the time. Also just chipping away at it, posting consistently, creating fresh content and always trying to focus on producing high quality imagery. Nowadays I think it is a lot harder to grow and standout amongst it all – hence why I think it is even more important to be your unique self.

12. BEST TIPS TO GET INTO THE INDUSTRY?

As above, I never planned on getting into the industry. It was just something for fun, that grew very organically. Even now I still feel like I’m learning all the time and am never really sure I know what I’m doing… But some general advice knowing what I know now is:

Be yourself
Find what makes you unique and focus on sharing that with the world. No point trying to copy what anyone else is doing.. they are already doing that.

Focus on high quality imagery & post content regularly.
Consistency in the style of your imagery and high quality content helps you to stand out. I’m not saying go and buy the best camera money can buy straight away but do the best you can with what you have.

Reach out to brands you TRULY love, but don’t EXPECT things to be given to you for nothing.
I’m so grateful for the friendships I have with people on the other side of this industry and what I hear a lot of is brands being fed up with entitled people with high expectations or demands. I’m not saying don’t reach out, but do it genuinely and always ask the brand if and how they would want to work together. Don’t just tell them you want free shit. It doesn’t go down well.

Share the love
Networking and sharing love and support to those around you helps you grow too. I’m not talking about those like pods or anything (I don’t know much about them), but I mean just generally be a nice person when you meet people in person and online. Support others on their journey too. Just… be kind.

13. WHAT ARE MY FAVOURITE BRANDS – EXPENSIVE & INEXPENSIVE?

Right now, I’m really trying to focus on investing in quality pieces that have been made ethically and sustainably. So hence my preferences are becoming slightly skewed in that general direction. However some favourite brands are as follows:

Inexpensive

 Zulu & Zephyr, Lottie Hall, With Jean, Faithfull, Chosen the label, Realisation Par, Sir the Label, Spell, The Fifth, Apero, Third Form, Bec & Bridge, Reformation, She Made Me, Vale denim & of course VINTAGE!!!

Expensive

Stella McCartney, Kit X, Re/Done denim, Zimmerman (love them, but actually don’t own anything haha…yet), Her Line, Kowtow, Tome, Dion Lee, Ganni, Ellery (same story as Zimmerman).

 

14. TIPS FOR WEDDING PREP AND ON THE DAY TO MAKE IT EASIER AND MORE ENJOYABLE?

I actually wrote a whole post talking about what we did on our wedding day and my advice to help make your day your own and as enjoyable as possible. So head on over to read that one here.

The only other piece of advice that I didn’t mention is having that all important person to hand everything over to on the day. I was one of those DIY brides who went sans wedding planner, but I had a trusted girl boss I could hand over my vision too on the day and make sure everything ran as needed without me having to think about it. Lists and a run-sheet are SUPER important. That way you’re not the go-to person to find out whats happening when and you can enjoy your day stress-free.

 

15. TOP 3 MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS OF MY LIFE SO FAR?

1. Keeping with the above theme… My wedding.
Definitely my most memorable and most favourite moment of my life so far. After being with my love for almost 10 years it was incredible to finally celebrate that journey, our love and commitment to each other together with our closest friends and family.

2. My first overseas holiday…and getting engaged.
Tom and I went to Thailand together when we were 21. It was the first time I had been overseas at all, and Tom had only ever been to Vanuatu as a child. So it was a pretty mind blowing trip to experience a completely different world to our own. The whole trip was incredible, but the most amazing part was him proposing to me at sunset on Phi Phi Island at the end of our trip.

3. Seeing Tash Sultana perform
I’m not sure if its more that it this moment is fresher in my mind than others, but I have to say seeing Tash Sultana perform live twice this year is right up there (first time at Splendour, second time at her own concert here in Sydney). She is an insanely incredible and talented musician. I would say one of the best of our time in terms of sheer number of instruments she plays and the love, joy and rawness she brings as a performer. Can’t praise her enough, she is so amazing.

 

 

15 THINGS YOU {PROBABLY} DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT ME.

 1. If you didn’t know it before, after reading the above you would certainly be looped in now. But I have been married for a year now. My husband and I started dating when we were 15 years old and have nearly been together for 11 years.

2. I have 3 older brothers (the oldest being 10 years older than me)… so hence why I’m a bit of a tomboy (probably from all the years of hand-me-downs….

3. I grew up on the Northern Rivers in NSW about 30mins south of Byron Bay and have gone between there, Sydney and Port Macquarie for the last 4 years.

4. I HATE unexpected lumps in my smoothies. It makes me gag and I seriously can’t deal. Even though logically I know the smoothie still tastes good – the whole thing is pretty much ridden off for me…

5. I have done my yoga teacher training, but have not yet started teaching. This is one of my goals for this year

6. I used to play guitar, sing and write my own songs and was in a talent development program when I was 17. I kind of got burnt out and haven’t played much over the past 5 years, but it is another goal of mine to reconnect with this.

7. I’ve been pretty much vegetarian since I was about 10 years old, and then vegan since I was 21 (my husband too since then). Initially I wasn’t vegetarian for any strong reasons, just didn’t like meat. Apparently mum said I stopped eating it after seeing a chicken slaughtered on a friends farm. These days I’m vegan for environment, ethical, sustainability and health reasons.

8. I’ve suffered with anxiety for a number of years, and just this year I experienced my first depressive episode which lasted a few months (thankfully). I also struggle with my body image and self-worth every single day which I understand seems ironic given what I do.  I literally can’t take a compliment without undermining it or shrugging it off. It’s battle I am still fighting with the help of psychology, books, podcasts, yoga and meditation. It’s something I didn’t feel ready to open up about until I was “past it” or had overcome it. But I’ve come to realise that you give away so much power when you try and ignore or hide something. There is no shame in our mental health struggles, and I choose to help in any small part I can to reduce the taboo around seeking help and constantly striving to grow and develop yourself.

9. I’m such a scaredy cat. Absolutely cannot watch scary/horror movies. Tom has literally made me cry multiple times from startling me in the shower from even just saying ‘hello’. Tom only has to make a move like he is going to chase me and I beg him to stop as I cannot take the pressure. When we were 16, Tom and his two best friends (also happened to be two of my good friends….. as I didn’t really have girl friends in school) pranked me with that zombie maze game. I proceeded to scream back at the computer screen for a good minute before running out of the room crying… Not sure who was more traumatised… Them or me….

10.  I dyed my hair auburn red (from white blonde) when I was 17.

11. I used to HATE people copying me and my outfits when I was kid. I used to cry to mum, who consoled me that it was in fact a compliment. These days I love inspiring people’s outfits and to try new things.

12. I’m fairly obsessed with Avatar the Last Airbender. I didn’t 100% plan it, but my first 4 tattoos were the 4 elements, which I was proud to get in same order that Aang mastered the elements. Our first rabbit was called Momo. For my birthday this year, my husband bought me a comic book that the writers of the series created to fill in the story following on from the first book. In general, I also LOVE kids movies.

13. I frequently have uncontrollable laughing fits (mostly at my own jokes) which if go on for long enough, inevitably end up with me crying.

14. I had an old VW beetle from age 17-19. I sadly had to sell her when I moved to Sydney. I’m generally obsessed with old/vintage cars and would pick them over fancy new ones any day.

15. I’m painfully bad at Maths. Pain-ful-ly.

 

 

That’s all for now folks. Karissa over and out.

 

2 thoughts on “Q&A: ASK ME ANYTHING.”

  1. Hey karissa!! You said you wanted to travel to New Zealand in the near future and I genuinely could not recommend it more! I went on a road trip in June/July this year driving around the South Island… Words escape me it was that beautiful. I became so close to nature and so aware of life and beauty it was magical, I can’t wait to go back!! You can check out some photos on my Instagram if you would like – @miaraszewski Also loved reading this post so thanks 🙌🏼

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