Collective Conversations...Talking to Artist & Writer Juliet Miranda Rowe
At Collective Closets, we believe in individuality, authenticity, and celebrating the power of a woman. As businesswomen, we share the story of our influences and upbringing through our designs and the beautiful textiles we grew up with. We created Collective Conversations to spotlight the amazing women in our community and find out how they share their own stories. This series spotlights members of our tribe, gaining insight into their values, passions, and the drive behind what they do.
Describe yourself in three words.
Bold yet tender.
Who's a style icon that you are channelling this season?
My style icons are forever Dennis Rodman, Lee Lin Chin and my mother Celeste.
What has your personal evolution looked like?
How do you balance career, personal life and passions? Is there such a thing as balance?
Hahah, I keep a very thorough color-coded Google Calendar. That visually proves despite my best efforts I do not balance career, personal life and passions. There’s always an aspect taking up too much while another gets neglected all together. Which one could argue - is in fact balanced but the motto I follow is, you don’t manage time, you manage energy, effort and expectations. The past 7 years were really career focused for me to the point of sacrificing other aspects of my life.
This year has been much more about personal life and re-establishing what my passions even are. After monetising them removed some of the joy. Capitalism encourages a culture of constant progress but it's not sustainable. I prefer the natural world’s distinct seasons where in times that are cold and harsh (like a looming global recession after a pandemic ) resting, recovering and just staying warm is enough of an achievement.
How have you evolved as a person?
The most profound change in recent time has been intentionally developing self compassion. I used to hold myself to really unrelenting standards. I imagine a lot of people do because of the ways our culture uses shame as a form of punishment and punishment as a means to control behavior. But working for myself it became really clear that I had internalized a strict teacher/mean boss/bullying way of speaking to myself. Which probably never served me but was beginning to really negatively affect me. Now even if I make huge mistakes, I try to speak to / treat myself gently and kindly which actually means I’m able to find solutions a lot faster.
What are the ways you stay grounded and take care of yourself?
It’s very easy for me to spiral into either catastrophe or big delusions of grandeur. I have an incredible imagination. So staying grounded is something I need to actively practice. It’s a multi-pronged system involving the basics like keeping the house tidy, feeding myself and trying to get enough sleep. Then making time to support my nervous system like yin yoga, the sauna, dancing, walking outside in nature. As well as actively leaving room for things that inspire or entertain me. I wish culturally in Australia we’d talk about seeing/ making art as essential to our emotional health as exercise is for our physical health. Instead of it being viewed as either elite, pretentious or frivolous. If I’m getting depressed 9 times out of 10 going to the cinema, or listening to a new album OR wearing a Collective Closets piece will restore my joy of living and give me a new perspective.
Finally in an ideal world, I journal everyday, sometimes just dot points, sometimes multiple pages with returning characters, complex plots and big feelings . But always ending with a daily gratitude and a love note to myself. Honestly writing down “I love you Juliet, I’m proud of you xoxo” before I go to sleep has been a real game changer. Journaling in general has quite literally saved my life.
What stage of your evolution are you currently in?
I’m 33 - which some refer to as your Jesus year or an ego death. It does feel like I’m on the precipice of a new chapter (Although I am in the middle of house hunting so it could be that ). But in recent years I also started professionally mentoring younger artists and many of my friends entered parenthood. So I’m definitely no longer a “young person”. Throughout this time a number of my own creative mentors passed away unexpectedly, so it feels particularly profound to be entering this stage where I’m being asked for advice. Where my opinion and expertise seem to hold weight. I feel an immense duty of care and responsibility, which feels like an honor and privilege while simultaneously feeling surreal at times.
Why is it so important to honor yourself?
Australia celebrates self depreciation. It’s a culture that loves taking the piss out of itself and others. Despite my own adherence to this cultural tradition I still get accused of being “full of myself” to which I ask - "Who should I be full of?" Honoring yourself for me is not about being selfish, or narcissistic, for me it’s about acknowledging the privilege and random weird magic/miracle it is to be alive as a human being. It’s about respecting and taking care of that life. When you honor yourself you have more capacity to honor others and to honor the earth.
Which things felt important to you ten years ago that no longer matter to you now?
Fitting in. For example: 12 years ago, I made a decision that alcohol wasn’t for me but I kept drinking. When people I was with felt uncomfortable with my sobriety, I often wonder how many friendships wouldn’t have lasted as long if I’d kept to my own word. Or where would I have spent my time If I wasn’t chasing around drunk friends? Or who I would be? Now I like to romanticize my non-alcoholic drinks. I’m often in the studio drinking water out of wine glasses cause I love the theatrics of it all.
As you've changed and evolved, how have the people in your life adapted to your evolution?
How has your personal style evolved through the years?
What's that saying- necessity is the mother of invention? Both my primary and high school were non-uniform so I had A LOT of time to practice and develop a personal style. My family didn’t have a lot of money to spend so I grew up in second hand clothes. From hand me downs, swap meets, op shops and Coburg trash & treasure.
In the 90’s second hand clothing was actually affordable and often good quality so I won’t lie, I was a cool looking child. Then when I was a teenager my first “job” was volunteering at St Vincent De Paul on Sydney Road. I wasn’t paid but I had first dibs to buy stuff that was donated. My style evolved out of what I had access to combined with studying VCE fashion where I strengthened my skills as a seamstress. I actually used to make a lot of my own clothing (I nearly even went to Fashion School- which I had forgotten about until just now). Once I entered adulthood and started earning my own money I got really excited about buying new clothes but was also really keen on supporting local designers. So I used to frequent the Alice Euphemia sales and If people questioned the money I was spending on relatively unknown designers, I’d explain that my plan was to become a local legend and eventually donate my wardrobe to the Melbourne Museum. Hahahaha not a terrible plan to be honest.
What do you envision the final form of your evolution will look like?
When I feel existential about where life is heading, I often come back to this Mary Shelly quote “There is but one solution to the intricate riddle of life; to improve ourselves, and contribute to the happiness of others.” So when I envision the future it's always through this lens. I love learning and I love connecting, supporting, inspiring or just entertaining others.
I can imagine all kinds of paths for me, an antique store owner, a CEO, an Oscar winner, a foster parent, the Mayor Of Melbourne, a dancer, a poet, but in final form… I’ll either end up the leader of a cult or an eccentric patron to the arts. Living in the East End of the CBD, somehow with a garden?! Murals painted all over my walls. Hosting dinner parties on my lounge room floor, singing Fiona Apple songs like their show tunes around a baby grand piano. I’ll still go to all the shows, all the talks, all the events - supporting the arts community however I can and undoubtedly looking fabulous with a purple rinse through my hair. When ingenue’s question “Who is that?” other people will gasp and say “Juliet Miranda Rowe!”, my name will be on plaques on the back of seats in all the theaters and when I die I’ll donate my wardrobe to the Melbourne Museum.