We first met Summer Bellessa of Girls With Glasses and Eliza Mag a few years ago, and naturally, were struck by her pretty face (she was a model, after all!). Yet beyond that flawless skin and infectious smile is a heart of pure gold, a devoted love for her husband and sons and a lifelong mission to embrace imperfection. Read her inspired thoughts below and see how Summer is redefining beauty for women everywhere...
Growing up, you were a model(!!!). So let's get those preconceived notions out of the way first. What rumors or myths do you want to dispel about models?
In general, the fact that models are stuck up and only care about looks. I have met all types of people in this world, and most of my model friends are thoughtful, generous and smart. It was always hard meeting new people, especially girls. The moment I would tell them what I did, there was this weirdness. There are some girls who are secure with themselves and think it's fun. Those are the girls I spend my time with, and those are the girls that make the best friends.
You're clearly more than a (very!) pretty face, co-hosting an online show and running a magazine. How did the creativity of a modeling career foster a love for the arts? And what has your creative path looked like since then, with all of its detours and forks?
I didn't go to full time college, instead I was able to work in some of the most culturally rich cities in the world: Paris, Hamburg, New York, Tokyo, London, etc. I was able to take in a lot of art, new cuisines, live music, and creative people in their element. They were all experiences that I wanted to share with others. Creativity is contagious, and I have an insatiable adventurous nature. I love trying new things, even if I fail at them. Usually I gain skills with each venture, that leads into the next: modeling into fashion design, into ELIZA Magazine, into Girls With Glasses. Without my former clothing line, my business partner Brooke White wouldn't have connected with me (she Myspace messaged me about a dress and the rest is history!).
Your husband is an incredibly talented filmmaker. How do you two balance the spotlight at home?
Sometimes it's hard, but it works best when we plan and use our Google calendar. We know what's most important and step in with the kids so the other one can get done what they need to, and then we take turns with the rest of the time that's up for grabs. We are always working on respecting what we are both working on, and not making the other person feel guilty about not getting done everything that we wanted to do. As a woman we feel guilty if our house isn't clean or if we had to get take out, but at the end of the day you have to be a team and delegate the things you want to get done. Or give-up something that you would like to do, for something else. It's not a matter of cutting out the bad things you're doing in your life, like watching too much reality show television, it's about picking the best things from a list of really great things you can be doing. At this point, I give up having a clean house a lot, sometimes my suitcase stays on the floor filled with clothes 'til it's time for the next trip.
As a mother of two young boys, you have a particularly inspiring take on motherhood and the work/life juggle. Please share your philosophy!
Thanks for saying that! Motherhood is so much fun, wrapped in with so many challenges. When I first found out I was pregnant I was preparing for the worst. Will I be able to get anything done? Will they whine and cry all the time? Will I have to stop working so that I can be a good mom? Those are some pretty daunting thoughts. With my expectations for being productive fairly low, I shocked myself with how much I could get done before Rockwell woke, or during nap time, or while he was building a train. I also found if I spoiled him with attention when he needs/wants it, I had longer windows where he would be independent and focus on his book or paint on his pad. When we travel, we bring the whole family. I understand this is not for everyone, but it works for us. Last month we rented a house for a few weeks in Los Angeles, then stayed in a hotel in Chicago for a week, then home to Arizona for 24 hours, and back to a hotel in LA. I am not sure if my kids are easy going because we are, or we just lucked out. But just like my opportunities to travel helped me develop certain characteristics, I hope they are able to learn a lot from being on sets and traveling to some of the best cities in the world.
Clementine Daily is a space for women who believe in embracing simple pleasures, setting realistic expectations and bettering their lives to better the lives around them. In your eyes, how do you fit in with that mission?
Those are such important and amazing themes to bring into your life! Embracing the simple pleasures is great way to add more happiness to your life. Love every minute, even when Rockwell is having a breakdown because he missed nap time and now wants a chocolate bar, I try to look at the experience from 20 years in the future when he is out of the house or married. I give him a big hug and think "How lucky I am, that I get to be his mom." Then he hits me in the face and I have to count to 10 in my head, ha. With Girls With Glasses, we are okay with our videos being a little rough around the edges. Sometimes you hear a baby cooing in the background, sometimes we don't get a video out on time. We try our best and, even though it's hard, we try to be happy not with perfection but with the journey. Lastly, there is nothing more worthwhile then helping make people's lives around you better. When I am in a rut, and feeling sorry for myself, I try to find some way to serve those around me, whether it's my husband, or a neighbor or a complete stranger. Doing good automatically puts a smile on your face.
If you had to sum up the life of a model in one sentence, what would it be? What advice would you give to a budding model?
The life of a model includes: 49 rejections for each job, if you're lucky, booking that job on your already planned vacation, traveling, doing silly things, doing fun things, and doing it all over again.
You're forced to choose a style uniform for the next 30 days. What's your go-to outfit?
A rock tee, long flowing skirt and some comfy gold ballet flats.
What is your personal motto or mantra?
Create lovely things, including friendships, memories and cupcakes.
What are five everyday items you can't bear to live without?
iPhone (music, pictures, communication), Sonicare, lipgloss, Trader Joe's, and my bike.
Thanks to Summer for an inspired kick in the pants! To hear from another multi-faceted creative with a refreshing take on beauty, read our interview with portrait photographer Karen Walrond.