Discovering Paradise | The inspiring mother-daughter duo from our latest Collection
The story, and the two incredible women behind our newest active lifestyle collection.
Our newest limited edition collection, Paradise, is designed to bring harmony and wellness to your active life. Created with the purpose of inspiring tranquility and serenity for the wearer, once the collection emerged we set about the difficult task of finding the women who embodied that mindset in everyday life. We knew we wanted to find women that inspired us, who led extraordinary lives, and who exemplified the qualities that brought about the Paradise Collection to begin with.
Enter Sophie Miller and her daughter Portia Talib.
If you're a regular visitor to the Energetiks blog or any of our social channels you'll recognise Portia as the Energetiks 2017 Model Search winner, 2018 VDF Ambassador, and as the face of our recent Florise and Oasis Collections. What made the fifteen year old dancer such a clear choice as an Ambassador for Energetiks and the Victorian Dance Festival - aside from her love of dance - is a winning set of characteristics, self-conviction, and an appetite for life that she clearly shares with her mother, Sophie. A passionate yogi and Bikram Yoga instructor, Sophie is a shining example for Portia that doing what you love, and loving what you do is paramount. Yet as laudable as these two women are as strong, empowered females in their own right, what's equally enthralling is the bond they share as mother and daughter. Seeing Portia and Sophie together gives you the overwhelming urge to call up your girlfriends or your own mum for some one-on-one time, because they're an enviable example of how priceless meaningful female relationships can be. In a world that's still navigating a path to gender equality, having real-life female role models who encourage you to find your voice and define your own self-worth deserves celebrating.
It's a fraction before midday on a foggy May morning, and Sophie Miller and her daughter Portia are just returning home from a busy day that began long before sunrise. Sophie is vibrant and alert, despite the early start, and laughs and chats with an equally happy (if somewhat more drowsy) Portia as she unlocks their front door and shows us inside. On the heels of two full days of shooting the Paradise Campaign in their hometown (an outer coastal suburb of Perth), followed by a quick brunch at a nearby cafe to revive us all, Sophie and Portia lead us into their Balinese-inspired lounge room to sit and talk. In spite of the 4am wake up, I can't resist plying them with a few questions before our team fly back to Melbourne to launch the Collection. The aim is to get their perspectives on finding paradise, self-empowerment, and what it's like to be part of the coolest mumma-daughter duo around, and after a moment to get cozy on the sofa, they oblige.
Sophie's story is one of triumphant reinvention. Mid-way through raising a toddler she was confronted by an incontrovertible impulse to change her life. After a long and successful career in child care, she had the urge to walk away and seek something new. So she did. This lead her to her first Bikram Yoga class; an impromptu decision that was intensely transformative for Sophie. I begin by asking her what she loves about it, and her reaction is instantaneous. She lets out a serene sigh, a little smile turning up the corners of her mouth, "Well that's a long story. Have you got around ten hours?" she teases, "I love that it heals from the inside out… and then it just goes through you; your spiritual healing, your mental healing, your physical healing, your emotional healing. Like peeling back an onion, one layer at a time. You heal one thing, and then there’s something else to heal. And then the next." Even just speaking about yoga has an immediately soothing effect on Sophie, she relaxes back into the sofa, her voice softening slightly. "I love how it heals broken bodies; any injury. It takes a long time, but it will heal. Then I just love the calmness and the vibe of the energetic tribe of people that come together in a yogic world, because they are trying to heal themselves. That butterfly effect goes out into the world, to their children, their partners, their friends."
Perhaps it's that concept of self-restoration that first drew Sophie to yoga, even unwittingly. Sophie agrees that it was more of an instinctual decision, "I didn’t know why I loved Ganesha, or why I was drawn to the colour red, and the colour orange." She explains that the colours are all Hindu colours, and yoga itself originated in India, where Hinduism was born. "Ganesha is lord of the Gods, he’s the protector of everything. And my soul was drawn to Ganesha ten or fifteen years ago, though I didn’t know what he stood for, and those colours of the chakra. Then my heart’s whisper got louder and louder, until it was like a roar. It said ‘you’re not meant to be healing other’s children any more, it’s time to take a different path’." That's when she stepped into a Bikram studio. "After seven years of being scared, of thinking ‘Oh I can’t do that. It’s too scary. I’ll be too hot, I’ll be too red in the face, I’ll sweat too much.’ But my body was broken, my soul was broken, and I was injured. So I took myself through those doors… and the rest is history. Now I live, eat, breathe yoga, and everything it stands for." She says, full of brightness.
It's much more than the transforming effect of yoga that appeals to Sophie though, she's intent on the ripple effect it creates, and pro-actively passing on these positive experiences is something she notes as an inspiration in others. "Strong women inspire me, powerful females that speak their truth, and those that are kind, that want to change the world a little bit at a time. They inspire me." I turn to Portia, who has been sitting on the couch opposite her mum, content in soaking up Sophie's answers like the rest of us. Is that how she defines sisterhood? " I think it means having a close bond with the women around you; your friends and family. And allowing yourself to be inspired by others, and wanting to inspire in return." She concludes as Sophie nods approvingly. Portia has her mother's same relaxed, easygoing nature, it's one of the first things that struck us about working with her. A relative newbie to the modelling scene when we shot our first campaign together, she was instantly at ease in front of the camera. Striking poses and making jokes with equal aplomb. And whilst she's still incredibly young, she carries herself with such steady conviction that you feel she could handle any situation the world throws at her without breaking a sweat. I ask her if there's a secret to being so self-possessed and driven with her career, and she credits the example set by her parents. "They’ve always supported me in going after what I want. I’m also really lucky to have found the thing that I’m passionate about. My parents taught me that if you find what you love, then that’s what you should pursue."
Where yoga is Sophie's passion, dance is Portia's. And with her dance school within walking distance from the family home, you'll find Portia in the studio at every available moment. But just like her mother she has her own rituals for unwinding and reinvigorating her mind and body. Firstly, she tells me that the most important thing for her to relax is making sure she's accomplished everything. "Then I like to put some music on and rest and recharge by myself. Nice and chill." I'm curious what music she unwinds to, but she flashes me a sheepish grin, "Any and all music," she answers adamantly, with a little laugh. Portia is much more specific when it comes to her mum on the other hand, and when I ask her what she admires about Sophie, there's no hesitation. "I really admire how strong she is; how she’s so independent; how open-minded she is, to everything. And how she isn’t scared of change." This seems to be the greatest take-away from Sophie's journey so far; that maybe embracing change isn't such a scary thing after all. Instead, change might be pivotal to happiness. The past twelve months have seen a lot of change for Portia too. After featuring in two campaigns for Energetiks at the start of the year, she was whisked back to Melbourne in February for her debut as the official Ambassador for VDF, a role she relished and excelled at. She handled an impressively smooth address to the whole festival, received several exciting offers from attending dance directors and instructors, and left many a young dancer instantly spellbound. She's just wrapped her first music video, with the rest of the year a patchwork of events and trips the busy fifteen year old will juggle between a normal home and school life, with Sophie by her side for all of it.
After having Portia adequately embarrass Sophie with compliments, I decide it's time to even things up, and ask Sophie what she loves most about Portia. "Awww," she coos with a hint of mockery, and Portia jumps in to echo her with a theatrical and nasally "awww" of her own. "Well, her kindness." Says Sophie, "Her beauty inside and out; and that beauty is her compassion and empathy for everybody and everything. Whether you’re one, or one hundred, whether you’re a challenge or not. She is just there for all,” Sophie smiles, “That’s way more than one thing! But I’ve got one more, I love her drive. She knows where she’s going, she’s so focused, no matter what. With her career, and with herself too, she’s ok just being herself. And people love her for that." The conversation turns to Sophie again, and I wonder, having embraced such tranquility in her day-to-day life, in what moments is she happiest? - I'm expecting to hear something about her yoga classes, but she surprises us all - "When I’m on the plane going to Bali!" she says with a burst of laughter, then takes a moment to contemplate. "When I’m in Bali, that’s where my soul is most happy" she affirms, "And when I’m around my child, who I love and adore, as well as with my tribe of beautiful friends. But," she adds with emphasis, "I’m most happy when I see people trying to make a change in the world. We can’t change everybody, and everything, or everything that’s wrong. But we can all change little things in our own world, that creates reverberating change in other places."
The more time you spend around Sophie and Portia together, the clearer it becomes that whilst they're incredibly close, and defined by the same trademark resilience and warmth, they're also fiercely independent. Sophie seems blissfully uninterested in finding a mini-me in her daughter, and Portia seems equally content to explore unchartered territory, and interests of her own outside of her mother's realm of expertise. You definitely won't find Sophie living through vicarious side-stage vantage points and dressing room visits, and there's a good chance in any given month you'll find them on separate continents, both completely in their element. Sophie believes that it's this purposeful independence and mutual sense of freedom that makes them work so well as a team. "I think what keeps our bond so strong, is that from the moment I was pregnant I started working on myself, and my demons, and my healing, and my darkness. To ensure it wouldn’t be transferred to Portia. To have that lightness, and that higher vibration as a parent." Whatever the case, it's clearly built a relationship of reciprocal trust and respect. "I feel like I can tell her anything, and talk to her about anything." says Portia, flashing her mum a smile. "I’m the person that’s here to create the safest environment possible for her," adds Sophie, "I’m the person that will nourish her: physically, spiritually, emotionally, everything. I’m here to allow her to become her own person, not who I think she should be, or what I think she should say." This doesn't mean there's no rules in place for Portia, Sophie always aims to provide complete clarity as a parent. "Yes means yes and no means no, there is no grey area, no confusion, which creates a calmness and balance that lets us work really well together." She pauses, "Most of the time, not all the time of course!” Portia grins mischievously from her spot on the couch, and Sophie smiles back affectionately. “But also just having that openness and honesty. I always tell her that she’ll never get in trouble for just telling me the truth.”
It might seem like the pair have got life pretty much all figured out, with nothing left to work on. However, both Sophie and Portia are happy to dispel any illusions of flawlessness. For Sophie, having a healthy relationship with herself is a work in progress. "I’m still on that journey. The secret is learning self-love, but that’s really hard, you know; honest self-love. That’s a challenging journey. Sometimes it’s going back and unlearning everything we’ve been conditioned to believe, how we’ve been brought up at school, at home, or in our friendship groups." And whilst Portia admires her own positivity, she admits there's still qualities she's working on; she gets nervous just like the rest of us, and no one is immune to insecurities, so building her self confidence is something she's still working on, day by day.
The sun is well and truly up in the sky now, but I have just one last question for Portia before we head off. I ask her to describe her own personal idea of Paradise, and she goes quiet for a moment as she thinks about it. "I think it's reaching a point where I know that I’m going to succeed. Being surrounded by friends and family, and getting to wake up every day and do something that I truly love; and the unique kind of happiness that brings. That’s paradise." I think everyone would agree that's the paradise we're all hoping to find, and what's best of all, it's completely within reach. As for success, there's no doubt Portia's going to succeed at anything she sets her mind to, even if she doesn't know it yet. She's a force to be reckoned with just like her mum.
Reluctantly we start to make a move, leaving behind the comfy sofa and the gentle aroma of incense that wafts through the house. I thank them for a wonderful photoshoot and all their hospitality (remembering how Sophie was up and about before the rest of us this morning, offering to make our bleary-eyed team bulletproof coffee, or how Portia cheerfully hiked up endless hills in stiletto heels whilst we scoured King's Park for picturesque locations). Sophie plies me with throat lozenges before we leave, "for the plane" and Portia confesses with a laugh that she's ready to nap the afternoon away. I have a sneaking suspicion Sophie will be off to meditate or something equally enviable. Before the car pulls up we wish them a great time at the Pink concert - they've been chatting excitedly about the upcoming show over the past two days - and I can't think of a pair more capable of owning those girl power anthems. They wave us off, looking every bit the powerful mother-daughter duo they are, the kind of role models we could all take a little inspiration from.
Introducing Portia Talib: Energetiks 2017 Model Search Winner