Elyse Knowles is a woman of many talents! We were lucky enough to ask the all round leading lady about her career and how it has evolved from international modelling to now also include The Block, J&E Projects, ambassadorships and her very own biography!
We ask Elyse about working with the right people and brands that align with your values, the importance of having a strong support network and speaking up when your gut tells you too!
Q1: In your own words, please tell us what you do and how it came to be...
For the last 17 odd years I’ve been working as a model & more recently as an Australian brand ambassador. My job allows me to work with brands in a range of industries to help them showcase their best qualities.
Aveda for example, are one of my clients. Aveda are a leader in sustainable, eco- conscious haircare. I work closely with their team to make sure that consumers are aware of how innovative and unique their research efforts are, the quality of their premium ingredients & how green their manufacturing processes are becoming.
I partner with brands I truely respect and admire.
Q2: You are most well-known for modelling, but we know you have quite a few more hats when it comes to your career. Can you tell us a little bit about what you do in addition to modelling, what’s involved and what’s your favourite part (e.g. The Block, J&E Projects, ambassadorships and your very own biography!).
I love to keep busy, and there is nothing more satisfying that to feel constantly challenged and energised by new industries.
My partner Josh & I were lucky enough to win The Block in 2017 and since then we’ve been building our own building company, J&E Projects. Josh is a very talented builder so the show was a great opportunity to showcase his talents. Now we are working with residential and commercial clients in Australia to create and build some incredible spaces.
Property is an exciting world to be apart of. It’s creative, hands on and very satisfying when you watch a client light up when they discover their new space!
2020 will introduce a few more new and personal projects I’ve been chipping away on, so you'll have to watch this space ;)
Q3: We know you’re an avid contributor within the philanthropic and sustainability spaces! What is it that you are most passionate about and how have you used your varying career success to fuel these passions?
Eliminating plastics from the ocean is a huge passion for me at the moment and I honestly can’t see myself stepping away from being a hard core advocate for years to come. The health of our planet is far to precious for me to ignore.
I cannot encourage people enough to think twice before purchasing single use plastics, knowing that such a huge percentage will end up in our oceans where they'll harm or even worse kill marine life and cultures. There’s no point denying that this is the modern day reality.
There are so many eco-friendly alternatives within reach that cost us all much LESS in the long run. So please encourage your friends, families and colleagues to ditch the plastics and think smart.
Q4: How do you choose to work with brands that align with your passions and values, and what are important deciding factors in this process?
If a brand is doing the right thing by their consumer, their consumers health and the health of our planet - that’s usually a winning combination for me! I admire brands who go against the trends and who fight for what is “right” instead of what is “trendy”.
Styles and trends will come and go... but this planet and our health is something we only get one chance at getting right in our lifetime. We are all completely responsible for the state of the world around us. We ALL need to act with both our heads and our hearts.
If a brand reaches out to me & wants to create positive change, I’m usually all ears!
Q5: What does the future look like for you... do you have a plan in place, or do you like to keep things fluid?
Ooo that’s always a tricky question as these days I am trying to focus on being present & living in the moment. The past couple of years have been about building our new home and settling into a new lifestyle. We are so fortunate to live in a place that makes us beam with joy everyday, so I think the next few years will be be focused around immense gratitude and continued hard work!
I have a beautiful family including amazing friends, great clients and a few new & exciting projects up my sleeve... so the future looks bright.
Q6: What does a typical day look like for you when you’re working (and when you’re not!)
Easy! Wake up early (first light is the best light!), take the dogs for a big beach walk/ swim, complete a sweaty workout and then I’ll make a chai latte and eat something full of nutrients for breaky. Depending on the day, I love to get to the farmers markets to stock up on fresh, organic product. Everything from veggies, fruit, flowers, eggs, nuts & meats. Knowing exactly where your food is grown/farmed and by who - is key!
After breaky I normally settle into emails and chat with my team. Desk work is super important for me as I like to be actively involved in every project I out my name to.
When I finish up, I’ll usually take the dogs for another walk with Josh or i’ll just chill out with friends. Josh and I love entertaining and cooking for people - so a relaxed, home cooked dinner around our dining room table is very common!
If I can find 30mins of “me time” each day (which trust me, is hard!!), I like to turn off all technology and just be in the moment. Life is too short to be rushed.
Q7: With your busy schedule we can only assume that you’re very good with your time management and prioritising workloads. Do you have any tips on how to manage this?
Lists! I am old school and I write lists with a pen and paper. I also keep diary (a paper diary... not a digital one!). Lists are great for your mental state too. When you achieve something and you can “cross it off” - you feel good and very satisfied!! It’s important to give yourself some credit when you work hard!
Q8: We love your active, outdoor lifestyle! Is this something you prioritise and if so, how do you ensure you make time for it?
100%. Keeping active & getting fresh air can honestly be the difference between a good day and a really tough day.
Moving your body and getting a healthy dose of Vitamin D is good for your energy levels. You feel strong, calm and able when you look after yourself physically. It should be a priority for every single person.
Q9: We find it so important to have a strong support network in both business and in life. Who is in your support network?
Josh and my family (including the dogs ;)) are a huge part of all elements of my life. They are grounding, real and honest. You need honest people in your life. People who know you better than you know yourself... and can spot when somethings a little off before you even think to tell them.
I also have a management team of about 4 people who I work with everyday. These guys feel like family too! What I admire about our team is that we are all really similar people. We all work hard and truely respect hard workers! I love that my team all lead active, healthy & balanced lives, and they have families who they prioritise. It’s very special to work with and around people who share in my value set. It makes for an easy working relationship day-after-day.
Then of course there are my friends who I cherish. Some happen to work in the same industry as I do, but many don’t. My friends take my mind away from work. They make me laugh... they give me purpose.
My support network is big! I am incredibly lucky and always try to provide them with the same support they give me. Life is a two way street. Too many of people these days seem to forget that.
Q10: What or who is inspiring you at the moment?
Fresh open air, the ocean, good people and living an honest life.
Q11: What’s one habit you wish you had started sooner?
I’ve been switching offline for longer stretches of time lately. Just to give myself a complete “digital detox,” so that I can focus on & appreciate the world around me with zero distractions. I’ve always been wary of “switching off”, but perhaps I wish I knew the importance of this at a younger age... back when I was a teenage & more likely to fall into the trap of comparing myself to other people.
Q12: What roles have you found to challenge you throughout your career so far, and what lessons have you learnt from these challenges?
Learning to manage the business side of my career was challenging but vital. I have a great team working with me now, but I like to be involved & aware of what’s going on 100% of the time. Because at the end of the day, if anything goes wrong it’s my name & image attached.
I’ve had some wobbly moments over the course of my career - but along the way I have learned that standing up for yourself and letting no-one walk all over you is a respectable way to conduct yourself. If you want to be a respected business person, you have to be strong & confident. You need to back yourself 200% of the time & speak up when anyone tries to make you feel inferior.
Q13: What are your top 3 superpowers?
1. I make a killer Chai Latte ;)
3. The ability to see the silver lining. When everything seems dark, look for the light at the end of the tunnel. It’ll aways be there if you’re open to finding it.
Q14: What advice would you impart on the next generation of women, and women in business?
Speak up when your gut tells you too! People respect those who are honest. You’ll respect yourself a lot more when you learn to be brave and forthright... trust me.
Q15: One last thing... share with us a quirky fact about yourselves! Something that people might not know about you?
I can’t stand raw tomatoes! I collect mugs and I am a dog whisperer!