Photo credit: Ashley Jahncke
Alicia grew up as an island girl surrounded by nature in Mauritius, a tropical island located in the Indian Ocean. Her love of fashion led her to move to London to pursue her dream, modeling as a teenager. Her career blossomed in New York City shortly after her relocation, landing campaigns for Victoria’s Secret and Ralph Lauren, as well as in high-fashion editorial spreads for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. As she continued to rise up as a top model, she ventured into the world of restaurant business with her co-founder and opened Tartinery in 2010 in Manhattan. Since then, they have expanded their business to three locations in NYC. She has also became a certified nutritionist, and shares her knowledge on Byrdie as a contributor. I had a chance to ask her about her visions, diets, favorite skin care products, and more!
Q: It has been a while since we first met on the Victoria’s Secret shoot back in 2010! There are so many topics I’d like to ask you about. You’ve accomplished so much in your 20’s - it’s really impressive because when I look back, myself, more than half of my 20’s, I struggled a lot to find and create a career path.. until I moved to NYC and really throw myself to pursue freelance makeup career in Fashion and Beauty industry. How did you know so early what exactly you wanted to do? Even since you were a teenager and leaving Mauritius to London to pursue modeling.
A: I always felt mature for my age, and I always knew what I wanted and how I wanted my life to be. I knew I wanted to travel and to meet interesting people, and I loved fashion. I never thought it wouldn't happen. That doesn't mean I haven't been through many struggles! On the contrary, I think what I have learned now and would tell my 20-year old self is that I should not worry about things not going the way I think they should go and that when something happens that is out of your control, you have to accept it and you have to know that it is part of the bigger plan. There are many blessings in disguise. I think being clear about what you want is very important and follow your heart and don't be discouraged if you don't get to where you want to be fast. Life is a journey not a destination!
Q: You have since ventured into a restaurant business while continuing to grow your modeling career. What has inspired you to open up Tartinery? And how has it developed since?
A: A restaurant like Tartinery did not exist in NY. We found that there was a place missing where you can meet up and have fresh local food, easy to share in an industrial-chic environment with nice music. We now have 3 locations in NYC, and we are developing more.
Q: Starting and running a business takes a lot of guts and you have to have a concrete vision. What’s the most important value for you to continue this journey? What would you like people to have “Tartinery” experience?
A: I went to Paris a lot as a child and have so many memories eating at French cafes. French people have a love of food that is different to anywhere else. Also, they don't care about eating carbs, they love a good fresh baguette or croissant! It was important to have the place be charming and sophisticated. I remember even painting the chairs myself to get them done the right way. I think keeping it real and focusing on the customer's experience is most important.
Q: Now you are also a certified nutritionist and contribute articles to Byrdie. What has led you to study nutrition and what’s the best part of doing this for you?
A: At first, I studied nutrition for my own knowledge and because I was curious about it. Then, I was overwhelmed with information I wanted to share. I love that now I know more about how to nourish my body for better performance in everyday life. And I love to share what I have learned with friends, family, and new people I meet. It’s nice to know I can help them in some way.
Q: I read that you have become a vegetarian. How long have you been a vegetarian, and how did it affect you mentally and physically?
A: I have been a vegetarian for about 7 years now. I am a lot less tired than I used to be. Especially with a busy schedule, I feel like I can do more. My mind is definitely clearer, and I feel lighter. I don’t need to watch my weight or feel bad if I indulge a bit because it doesn’t affect my weight anymore.
Q: You’ve always had great skin. Do you feel your skin has changed since going into your 30’s? Can you share your current favorite skin care products with us?
A: Sleep, staying hydrated and a balanced diet are the first steps to great skin.
I have used La Mer face cream - it’s so moisturizing and I love using it any time of the year, Charlotte Tilbury Goddess skin clay mask for baby skin, Sarah Chapman Skinesis overnight body treatment (it gets rid of any dry skin), and Molton Brown body wash (at the moment I am using ‘Coco and Sandalwood’ but I like to change it up and use a different scent when I finish the bottle). Now that I have tried MUN skincare products, I am hooked! I have not been using anything else. I love the way it feels on my skin and how natural it is. My favorites at the moment are the AKWI Purifying Cleanser, ANAROSE Hydrating Rose Toner and AKNARI Brightening Youth Serum. The cleanser cleans my skin without drying it out, the toner refreshes and the serum makes my skin feel dewy without being sticky. The scents are so pure and non toxic. I love it!
Q: What’s your exercise routine like to keep in shape and healthy?
A: I enjoy exercising but I always try to mix it up because I can get bored if I keep doing the same workout over and over again. Also, I think it’s important to switch up workouts to use different muscle groups in your body. I like doing a mix of low-impact exercises, cardio dance classes, yoga, and reformer pilates. If I am somewhere where I can hike, I love that, too. At home, in Mauritius, I love doing water sports like swimming, waterskiing, and kayaking.
Q: What are the new things you are working on and do you have any new future dreams?
A: I am working on the wellness side of life and I am doing some feature shoots in my hometown Mauritius to bring awareness to this wonderful place. I am also working on my beachwear brand that should be ready in early 2018 - be on the lookout for it!