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.
This week we're talking to Sasha Sarago, a writer, filmmaker, activist, director, and the founder of Ascension Mag, Australia's first-ever digital lifestyle platform for women of colour. A proud Aboriginal woman of the Wadjanbarra Yidinji and Jirrbal clans of Cairns, Sasha has dedicated her creative career to raise awareness around diversity and equality in the industry for women of colour. We visited her in Sydney and headed to (almost) Marrakesh at The Grounds of Alexandria with incredible photographer + creative Yasmin Suteja. Despite the overcast sky, we were vibrant- the backdrop was beautiful, the colours were rich and Sasha's passion and enthusiasm never wavered. A former model, she became tired of the lack of representation in the fashion industry for women of colour. In an effort to change this, she founded Ascension in 2011, opening a new dialogue of cultural identity and self-representation. Currently, you can support her work through Ascension Mag and their store, or watch her inspiring TEDxSydney talk "Pretty Hurts: It's time to decolonise beauty" here.
1. Describe yourself in three words?
Inquisitive, Truth-Teller, Lovable.
2. Where do you feel most at home?
Home on my traditional lands in the rainforest of Far North Queensland.
3. What do you do to nurture your individuality?
I carve out time to explore new things that pique my interest. I engage in conversations and visit places that take me to new territories.
4. What do you love most about yourself?
My ability to feel, heal and love. It’s taken years to stop running from myself and to honour this gift.
5. When did you last push the boundaries of your comfort zone?
Writing and delivering my TEDx Talk Pretty hurts; it’s time to decolonise beauty. The process stretched me emotionally, intellectually and professionally.
6. What does it mean to honour yourself?
Speaking my truth and listening to my intuition.
8. What have you recently become obsessed with?
Building my fashion collection from scratch. I love this new version of who I am, and I want to express her to the world through bespoke pieces that have a story - like me.
8. Where is your favourite place to escape to?
Books. It’s been a while since I’ve had quality time to smell, carefully flip – reflip a page to re-read a passage. The library is another great escape: it’s nostalgic – I was a bookworm as a kid. My library card is my pass to freedom.
9. What are some things that you are leaving behind, letting go of, or unlearning in order to move forward? (These could be beliefs, attitudes, emotional blockages, habits, even relationships)
Saying goodbye to the pressure ‘to do the most’. Quality over quantity. Establishing and maintaining boundaries.
10. When was the last time you laughed so hard you cried?
Speaking to my sister and father on a 3-way call. Talking to my family is joy, and therapy all rolled into one.
11. What's your favourite Collective Closets piece at the moment?
The Zamani jumpsuit! I love this print so much.
You can follow Sasha on the Ascension Mag Instagram here, visit their website here or watch her TEDx Talk "It's time to decolonise beauty" here. Some of her previous work that we love includes her article on SBS Voices, her documentary "Too Pretty To Be Aboriginal" and her article for The Guardian, "Don't tell me I'm 'too pretty to be Aboriginal."