Yasmine Ganley has been part of the Anaak family from the get-go, wearing the hats of creative collaborator and muse. An independent publisher, curator, and brand consultant based in New Zealand, we’re drawn to Ganley for her entrepreneurial spirit, creative generosity, and ability to push interesting conversations forward. Always in pursuit of the exploration and exchange of ideas, she attracts and motivates a circle of women from around the globe who contribute to her various commercially-exempt projects, including online platform anyonegirl.com and the printed journal WAIST, now in its third edition. Her latest endeavors include photography and motherhood, which have only served to stoke her imagination and expand her mind even further. We chatted to Ganley about why balance is an overrated concept, how collaboration is her greatest ally, and the wild ride of parenting.
— You have been an important part of (and muse for) Anaak since the beginning. Why were you drawn to working with Marissa and the brand?
Marissa and I have a very close working relationship, even from so many miles apart, but it works because we are extremely open and honest with each other. I adore her and everything she is fighting for. Anaak is a powerful undercurrent in the fashion industry, quietly building exceptional pathways for a future of ethical and social equality. I feel protective of her and Anaak and want to do my best to help build her vision.
— Your approach to work appears fluid and free...what is your relationship to the idea of work ethic and productivity?
I really love what I do, so I find it difficult to draw the line between work and play. It helps that my actual day-to-day work changes all the time, even within the same brand, but what remains constant is the spirit of respectful exchange. All of the people I work with are friends; I truly respect and admire what they stand for and believe in what they are trying to achieve, so I feel motivated to make things happen for them. This enthusiasm does cloud my work/life balance and the two blur quite easily, but I've come to realize that “balance” is just an ideal, and really, what is more important is gravitating towards happiness, not structure. I find if I make work or life decisions based on what makes me feel best for right then and there, I can only make good decisions, and everything after that is about listening to my instincts and navigating accordingly. Being productive is a bi-product of the love and energy I have for others. If I'm feeling slow or unable to move on a project it's usually because I'm not feeling it. In terms of productivity, I tend to work fast naturally. I am also aware that tapping out for the afternoon and going for a swim is just as productive and necessary. I guess it is in these slower moments that I map out how I'm going to approach the next thing.
— You're a true renaissance woman. How would you describe what you do?
Always a tough one to answer, but more and more I find myself assisting brands with refining their direction and building their community. The work that I do touches on these two aspects frequently—sometimes behind the scenes, sometimes with written word, sometimes with photographs. For my own personal projects, I am in a constant state of trying to thread my history with dance into my more recent love of writing and publishing. And now that is all squished into a few hours each day because my most important job is being a mum.
— As you’ve touched on, no woman is an island! How is collaboration a part of your work and who do you love to collaborate with?
Collaboration is everything to my work and me! I feel so lucky that I get to work with the women I do. Greta van der Star, Ophelia Mikkelson, Sherie Muijs, Natahsa Mead, Kate Megaw, Lauren Cassar, Ali McIntosh, Lucy Marr—the list goes on. These ladies inspire me so much with their devotion to their craft, beautiful intentions, and collaborative spirit. It's just an absolute pleasure, always. We've been working together for a few years now, so we know how to navigate each other's space with respect. We started a little focus group where we all express the things we were feeling burdened by and the direction we'd like to be heading in, and held each other accountable. Because sometimes you're so entrenched in the daily that you forget to reflect back or look forward any further than next month. We have only managed a couple of these meet ups, but having each other's support and guidance really gives us all the confidence to act upon ideas or make decisions accordingly. When you're a freelancer or business owner, it's so important to have these people in your life who understand or, at least, can share their accountant's details.
— Tell us about your home in Titirangi, Auckland…
I grew up in Titirangi, so after leaving home at 17 I've come full circle. Our little house was one of the last original baches from the 1960s—a farmer's cabin from when our side of the ridge used to be acres of strawberry fields, and the other side was a Kauri tree farm. I love it out here. The air is fresh, and because we're at the start of the Waitakere Ranges, we get misty mornings and clear, still afternoons with all-day sun. We're 20 minutes from the coast too, which is a bonus. I guess if I have any balance in my work/life, it is this place. It gives me space and quiet, disconnection from any hustle, I feel lucky to live here every day.
— Tell us about your projects, anyonegirl.com and WAIST.
Anyonegirl started ten years ago as a place to put work that I did for other magazines, like a portfolio. I would fill in the gaps with musings, things and people I liked. Eventually that sort of curation took over, and now it really serves as a platform for creatives who want to explore ideas devoid of any commercial aspect. I feel most proud of the community that exists around anyonegirl. It seems that everyone included is supportive of everyone else, and I'm glad to provide a safe space for this to happen. The WAIST publication was realized for a few reasons. I was beginning to feel bored of the kind of messages female magazines were pitching to their audiences. It felt stale and lazy, and just full of negativity. I wanted to give something to women that made them feel good about themselves and for them to know that there were other women all feeling the same way, and say, “Look: here we are all talking about it!” I wanted to open conversations up about intuition and instinct in a way that was visually appealing and thoughtful. I also wanted to give the kind of content I was sharing on anyonegirl.com an elevated platform, as a way of honoring the creatives and contributors that submit and create work. I think it's important that there are platforms devoid of commercial agenda, so I take on all costs myself and try to make the project pay for itself, as well as fund the next issue. I work with designer Natasha Mead who does a beautiful job of creating a visual language for the journal. She is the best; I admire her so much. We've just released our third issue, and I am currently working on the fourth, although I don't like the idea of making a fourth. Three is fine, it's like a trilogy and you can stop there. Four, you're suddenly held responsible for creating issues for eternity and beyond, so maybe the next issue will be a three-point-five. I'm really excited about the next one; the entire contents will be created on one day by many different collaborators, which gives the project a sense of being alive. This has always been my motivation: to create a printed publication that is almost 3D, living and breathing.
— As someone who clearly thrives within self-directed projects, how do you stay creative, inspired and disciplined?
I'm not really sure. I guess I only take on work that I want to be part of and feel excited by. I'm also extremely lucky to have the most brilliant circle of women around me who are equally as motivated and open to exploring new things together. It’s because of them that I manage to bring anything to realization. I also feel it is important for me to have some personal ideas I want to explore, and sometimes that means just exploring them on my own, in my own time.
— Are you a woman of routines and rituals?
I guess everyone has their ways. I've had to learn to let go of a lot becoming a mum; my day is really guided by Emily and what she needs. I love having cuddles in bed with her each morning. We have a little routine after her afternoon nap (usually called the witching hour for good reason), where I take her out for some fresh air and we find flowers to pick and play with. It sounds a bit idealist but I find she's so much happier outside. She's calmer and I love watching her discover things in nature for the first time.
— You became a mother to Emily last year. How has this changed the way you approach things?
It has given me the ultimate perspective. Everything stressful, niggly or hard that would have bothered me before doesn't because I have realized that I only have so much energy and time to give, and I want to make sure Emily gets everything she needs from me first, so I have no choice but to instantly let it go or deal with it head-on and move forward. I've become more selective about the work I want to take on, knowing that each project takes me away from spending time with Emily. To be honest, I struggled with guilt getting back into work; I was worried I was sending Emily into care too early, and felt selfish that I wanted to work on personally fulfilling projects instead of watching her grow. I think I have come to terms with it now, understanding that my work does indeed nourish me, and that I bring that energy back into our relationship. But it is an ongoing conversation that I battle with internally. Becoming a mother has made me more sensitive. While making sure I am open enough to read Emily and her needs, I open myself up to the rest of the world at the same time, which can be overwhelming. I also have a profound respect for my body and everything it offers. Motherhood has stretched my deepest and highest emotions and they continue to grow beyond anything I thought possible. It's high voltage, good and bad. I feel pushed to my limits at times and then, bam! I'm like honey again. If anything, it has taught me to surrender and just ride things out.
— What does your home life look like?
Well, right now it's Saturday morning and we've rolled around in bed for an hour, and made each other breakfast. My partner Matt's new playlist is playing, including Betty Davis, Duane Eddy, CAN, and Sonny & the Sunsets. Matt's refreshing the sourdough starter—he makes a new loaf each weekend for us, playing with different grains and flours, never satisfied. Emily is putting all of her teddies into one box and taking them out again. And I'm working—ha! I love the weekends. Time together as a little family has become sacred; knowing we'll never get this time back, we're mindful to make the most of it, as much of a juggle as it all is. We've recently built a new deck off our living area, which is providing a new space for play, fruit trees, and a view over the ranges. We're about to get stuck into our garden, preparing our summer vegetables. I've requested a sunflower patch, so that's my allocated job.
— What is on the horizon for you, creatively and professionally?
Aside from the fourth issue of WAISTand launching a new venture of educational and experiential children's wares, Greta and I just started seriously speaking about putting on a female-only art show in Auckland, so hopefully we can pull this off!