There’s nothing more inspiring that seeing someone do what they love, every single day. That’s why I’m super stoked to share the latest collection from my buddy Tess through her epic label Ámes Collective. If you haven’t stumbled across her Soul Decks (skateboards) yet on your internet adventures, you’re in for a treat. Her Ámes Collective Instagram is feed is a visual feast that represents her nomadic lifestyle by the sea – surfing, skating, creating and basically Moroccan-theming the shit out of life while going on sun-filled shoeless adventures, but I digress. We’re here to talk about her latest collection of Soul Decks – a skateboard collection inspired by her recent exotic travels. Titled ‘Nomad’, the collection pays homage to the awesomeness of summer holidays – palm trees, coconuts, cacti, tropical vibes and imperfections. Handcrafted and painted in her paint-splattered studio, these skateboards are just as much a work of art as they are a practical mode of transportation.
Read Tess’ interview below, peruse the ridiculously cool lookbook that follows, and shop the ‘Nomad’ collection here.
And because you kids love your summer fashion, I’m going to preempt the questions about where Tess gets her killer style. The threads in this shoot are by First Base and hats by Lack of Colour – best worn with a sick new Soul Deck 😉
So in honour of one of my favourite humans, pour yourself her signature drink of choice (that’s a glass of red, or a Sailor Jerry’s and coconut water) and sit back and get to know her and her wanderlust soul. Even if you’re not into skateboarding or her spiritual land of Morocco, it’s impossible not to be inspired by her nomadic adventures…
TIL: Firstly, congratulations on your new ‘Nomad’ range – the collection is epic! What was the inspiration behind it?
Tess: Well, thank you goddess! The inspiration came from a 2 month road trippin’ holiday I just had across France, Spain and Morocco. It was one of the greatest times of my life, and I was so inspired by the different colour palettes the different regions have to offer. There are decks inspired by the pastels of the Andalusia region, and then some inspired by the stunning brights of Morocco. The basic concept behind all of my ranges is that everyone is perfect in their imperfection, so I try to keep most of what I do pretty free hand and unstructured. There is always beauty to be found in being a nomad, and wandering just for the sake of it. Who wouldn’t want that with a Soul Deck in tow.
TIL: Ámes Collective originally started out as an online store for Moroccan fashion accessories, how did it evolved to the custom designed Soul Decks you’ve become famous for?
Tess: I was so inspired by Morocco when I went there a few years ago and I wanted their beautiful wares to be accessible to people that didn’t necessarily travel. I had also done quite a few shoe lines under my label, which have all been designed by me, and gave another level to the brand. I was feeling as though, under the Ámes banner, there was something missing. Something that was made by me, by hand, with every inch of my soul poured into it, but I couldn’t quite pinpoint what it is I wanted to create. It was quite an awesome moment when Soul Decks came into the mix. I broke my skateboard and then quite serendipitously was taught how to make decks the next day. I illustrated one up for myself and posted it on my Instagram. It went crazy!! Since that day I have hand made over 200 decks for rad little Soul Sliders all around the world.
TIL: You designed and shot the range in your hometown of Margaret River in Western Australia. How big a role does your geographical location play in influencing your creativity?
Tess: I like this question. Mainly, because I have a completely paradoxical answer. It both has everything and nothing to do with my creative influence. I am lucky enough to find myself in some of the best places in the world, often, and I find huge inspiration on the beach, in the forest, amidst nature. But I won’t allow it to be a major shareholder in my creativity. I am a big believer that we need to find our calm amongst the chaos; we need to have that inner alchemy and be conduits of creativity in every environment.
TIL: Your first trip to Morocco seems to have had a huge influence on the Ámes Collective aesthetic. What is it about that place that inspired your soul?
Tess: Everything about Morocco, to me, is completely juxtaposed. You have this incredible hustle and bustle amongst a spiritual centre point. There are the most insanely bright textiles, spices, outfits, souks amongst what is quite a reserved way of life. You experience the harshest of conditions, but seem to sense an underlying grace in the people. I just love things that make no sense, or better more, where you have to find your own sense in it. You know, of course there will be people that visit the country and leave without being transported anywhere, but that’s the beauty of Morocco for me. You get out of it what you take.
TIL: I’ve seen you construct a legit Moroccan beach party from just the contents of your car boot. Can you talk us through the essential items?
Tess: Ha ha! Lezzzzbehonest and start with what we uniquely bring to a Moroccan beach party that isn’t entirely traditional – alcohol! Champagne, rosé or whiskey on ice thanks, all presented in small Moroccan style tumblers. You can smash out the basics of a Moroccan beach party with 3 essentials; bright rugs, cushions, blooms! Your textiles need to clash #tothemax! There is no rhyme or rhythm to what makes something look wonderfully Moroccan, just throw a bunch of bohemian loot together, and dress like you are Talitha Getty gliding across a Marrakesh rooftop in the 70’s.
TIL: You’re a big fan of living life barefoot and that includes skating. What kind of footwear do you recommend for those not as skilled on the decks?
Tess: I do love being barefoot, but if perchance a moment arises where shoes are required for cruising around on a Soul Deck, then high tops are what it’s all about. It just so happens that I am about to bring out some killer leather high tops, perfect for skating. They look shit hot (in both black and white) and allow for 100% nimble-ness and swagger whilst sliding the pavement.
TIL: You spent the Northern Hemisphere summer this year being a nomad for two months around Spain, France and Morocco. What were some of the most inspiring moments on your adventure?
Tess: Every single day. Not a word of a lie. Imagine that you are enjoying the worlds best glass of red wine, and you think to yourself, there is nothing in this universe that could top this moment. Then someone comes along and places the worlds’ best spread of cheeses in front of you and you think ‘oh damn, that just happened’. NB – I actually hate cheese, but you have to play to your audience, and 99.9% of the population would not have related to the worlds’ best ‘cracker’ complimenting a glass of wine. ANYWAY, that was every single day of my trip. The universe consistently delivered when I thought we were at the max of legitimately awesome things happening. We road tripped around Southern Spain with some gorgeous Aussie boys we happened to meet. Went topless boating on a private yacht in Barcelona (7 bottles of champagne down). Road camels through the Sahara and got to lay under a blanket of the brightest stars in the universe. Drank sangria and ate sardines on the beach in Malaga. Met some Kiwi boys and jumped on their road trip around Valencia. We actually lived like nomads, not planning more than 2 days in advance. It was epic!
TIL: In two weeks time you’re moving to London from Currumbin on the Gold Coast (via Margaret River in Western Australia). Did your recent adventures have anything to do with this, and will you have to start wearing shoes?
Tess: I’m going to be completely honest here. I have been in Margaret River (interim stage) for 5 weeks now, and I’ve worn shoes 3 times. I’m getting all my barefoot boho out before I relocate to London haha.
This year is my 10-year anniversary for Currumbin livin’. I knew when I embarked on this trip around Europe that it would be a life changer, so did all of my friends. I was already sitting on the cusp of massive change before I left. I met some incredibly beautiful and incredibly awesome people on my journey, and all signs pointed to a London move. In true Tess form, it took me about a day to decide I was packing up my life and leaving. I really think sometimes you just have to do those things. Throw caution to the wind and just be like ‘fuck it, let’s give it a shot’. I do worry about the lack of beach in London since I have been on it every day for the last 32 years, but I know it will bring things to my life that I have felt were missing. Plus the fact that I run my own business and work for myself means that I can fly to some of Europe’s best beaches and most wonderful places at the drop of a hat. IF anyone does happen to see a shoeless girl skating around the Shoreditch area, come and say hello though!
TIL: What does this new Euro base mean for Ámes Collective?
Tess: Right now, the plan is to set up the studio in Barcelona, and live in London. Sounds a bit extravagant right? Well why the hell not. I have a big client base in Europe, and I know the idea can really take off over there. Setting up shop in London is too expensive for a small business, but I know I want to be based there. So right now it’s looking like 2 weeks on 2 weeks of Barcelona / London! But WHO knows what will happen!! I am excited to take Ámes a little more global, and to grow the HQ. As a brand, I really encourage people to step out of their comfort zones and live their lives, so that’s what I’m doing. Fingers crossed it all works out, and Ámes will flourish in the European sector. If not, then at least I have given it my all!
TIL: What are you going to miss most about Australia?
Tess: SO much. My friends, the beach, the lifestyle, my family, being able to drive everywhere, being barefoot! But like I said, for every thing I will miss, there is something the European shores can offer me that I don’t have here. Home will always be here, as will my friends, and I know I have all of you coming to visit ASAP.
TIL: What are you looking forward to the most about the big move?
Tess: Possibility! I am halfway between absolutely shitting it, and being uber excited about everything! You know my favourite word is serendipity, so I am looking forward to a whole new place full of serendipitous moments and possibility. The idea that my whole life is changing and that there is a whole new horizon of opportunity, people, love, fun, is exciting. It actually makes me get the excitement jitters.
TIL: You’re a total summer babe and back in Currumbin the floor of your apartment was always covered in the sand we’d trekked in from the beach. How are you going to deal with the lack of ocean and sunshine in London town?
Tess: Being away from the beach is what worries me the most. That’s where I find my serenity. Not being able to surf, do yoga on the beach, take the dogs for a run, beach picnic with my friends. IT does make my chest cavity extremely tight thinking about it haha. But hey, I’m happy to create a boho beach vibe apartment in London. There are beautiful beaches at my doorstep all around Europe, just an hour flight away. Spending half my time in Barcelona will combat my beach worries too, so I really get the best of both worlds. Plus the Ames Collective van I am planning on buying and painting can take me to the beaches any time I like.
TIL: What are your summer wardrobe essentials?
Tess: Bikinis, distressed denim, anything white, brixton hat and a shit load of anklets, rings, necklaces.
TIL: Give us your top three summer destinations and why?
Tess: FIJI – I have been travelling here for 10 years and feel an absolute affinity with the beautiful people, the stunning beaches and the simplicity of life. You already know this, but my favourite place on earth is Qamea Resort & Spa in Fiji’s North. It is the perfect combo of everything for me. Surf, Serenity, Beauty
SOUTH SPAIN – Anywhere from Malaga to Seville. Road tripping around the beach sides, beaching topless, eating grilled sardines and drinking Sangria. THAT is paradise to me.
MARGARET RIVER – Stunning summer days, 4WDing to secluded beaches, surfing, followed by winery trips in the afternoon. Do you need another reason?
TIL: If you were stranded on a tropical island with only three things, what would they be?
Tess: Surfboard (obv), Hot Dude (or best friend, whichever showed up first) and an endless supply of Sailor Jerry’s. I figure I can MacGyver my way around hooking us some fresh fish and coconuts for sustenance.
TIL: And finally, can you leave us with some summer nomad words of wisdom?
Tess: If you can’t be good, be good at it 😉
Shop the ‘Nomad’ collection here.