Community Always | Ashlee Tough & Sweet Bitter

Community Always | Ashlee Tough & Sweet Bitter

Sometimes moving forward means to take a step backwards. Taking inspiration from the many decades of art, design and technology that precedented our digital age, we turn our heads to the past and walk backwards into the future through the many forms of contemporary style and self-expression. For our latest COMMUNITY ALWAYS, we're celebrating the Billie Eilish x Nike Sequoia Collection and speaking to two Australian creatives Ashlee Tough and Sweet Bitter founder Annelise Cavenoni, to share their own genre of self-expression, what inspires them and ask for some of their advice to those who want to start their own projects!


Ashlee Tough | @ashleetough


It wasn't always about film for Boorloo (Perth) analogue photographer Ashlee Tough. Starting in digital photography, it took Ashlee a few years to finally bite the bullet and shoot analogue seriously. Stumbling across film photography at university, she instantly loved the authenticity and labour of hand-developing film in a darkroom. "I felt like I wasn't growing anymore with digital, and I just found film way more exciting."

"Once I put down my digital camera, I never looked back."

Describing her aesthetic as anything analogue, Ashlee rejects the electronic representation of numbers of digital. Analogue signifies everything that is not digital. She creates and directs experimental works, generally shooting fashion and portraiture, adding her unique perspective of motifs poised in her style and self-expression leveraged from analogue technology. Yet she never lets this metaphorical box keep her from growing, as she regularly likes to step out. For example, her latest projects mix and play around with different formats and mediums. You will typically see her with at least three cameras harnessing a creative common ground blending the past with the present.

"I feel like I grow more but putting myself out of comfort and the familiar. My favourite style now is definitely my neo-fantasy work; I love directing and styling these kinds of shoots. These shoots are a challenge for myself to push the boundaries creatively through a melting pot of reality, fantasy and fashion."

Don't let all the creative jargon intimidate you though! On the other side of the spectrum, she doesn't shy away from highlighting that she's a huge animal lover and really enjoys shooting wholesome content, aka pet portraits!

If we had to choose, "multifaceted" is probably one word we would use to describe Ashlee and her work. Taking inspiration from people, art, fashion, and nostalgia, just to name a few, her work is her art and equally a reflection of herself – more than just one dimension. She describes Ashley Armitage, Petra Collins and Nas Nixx as her biggest inspirations. "They are all amazing female film photographers." Drawing inspiration for her neo-fantasy work from their portrayal of the weird and bizarre to rediscover her inner child who loves fantasy while incorporating it with her present self's love for fashion.

For Ashlee, community is a big part of culture, and as a creative, she feels it is ingrained in her work. "Really, without everyone and their unique skills, I'm just a girl with a camera and big ideas; they're the ones that help make my visions a reality." She is honest with her projects, encouraging a supportive space that brings other creatives together and elevates each other's works and businesses. Every project is a collaborative effort, uniting everyone's strengths to contribute towards creating something that is everyone's as a whole, not just yours or mine.

To close our interview, we asked Ashlee what advice she would give someone trying to start a project or business… "Find your niche or passion that gives you joy and run with it, bring something to the table that others haven't to help stand out from the rest. You may stumble at first while you're working it out, there may not be instant gratification, but if you love what you're doing, then you're on the right path. So long as you're true to yourself and what you love, everything will come at the right time."

See more of Ashlee's work via her Instagram @ashleetough


Sweet Bitter | @thesweetbitter


Handmade clothing brand Sweet Bitter's founder and creative director, Annelise Cavenoni, joins us from our Mt Lawley space, sharing what inspires her and how important community means to her. Organically growing her brand from her Boorloo (Perth) home, Annelise handmakes each garment to introduce staples with an idiosyncratic twist into your wardrobe and challenge all pre-conceived rules for what you can wear and when.

"If Sweet Bitter had a party, the dress code would be no dress code. You do you."

As she grew older, fashion became more personal, a powerful tool in grounding herself and expressing her authentic self without words. "I came to realise was that through my clothing, I was able to truly express whatever aspect of myself I wanted to tap into that day… Expressing myself through style means limitless possibilities for how I can express who I am, how I think and what I love in that current season of my life. It's truly empowering and so much fun."

Highlighting her visit to Japan as a key inspiration that truly opened her to the world of possibilities when it came to fashion. Describing everyone in Japan as dressing so authentically and without concerns or judgement, dressing solely for themselves and taking pride in it. Her trip inspired her direction with Sweet Bitter and share what she experienced in Japan - using fashion as an opportunity in our daily lives to express our constantly evolving yet, authentic selves. Sweet Bitter is an extension of herself, self-expression that is ever-changing and growing.

"I don't believe I will ever have one true aesthetic… I see beauty in this as it allows space for my creativity to constantly expand and be manoeuvred into whatever collection I am working on at the time. I'm inspired by other creatives, lifestyles, places in the world I have travelled to and those I wish to travel to."


Community means everything to a creative. And as Annelise aims to inspire others with her work, it's as though she is displaying pieces of her identity out in the open. "It can feel very lonely at times… however, as soon as someone expresses their love for what you do, it's an incredible feeling. I will never tire of seeing someone wearing Sweet Bitter."

It's because of community I can do what I love.

To close our interview, we asked Annalise what advice she would give someone trying to start a project or business… "Start now. Just start. What you create now doesn't have to be a masterpiece. You have to create shit now for it to evolve into everything you imagine and more later on. Lastly, don't focus on the outcome. Focus on the process. It truly is the most rewarding part and the part you will grow the most in."

See more of Annelise's work via Sweet Bitter's Instagram @thesweetbitter

DEFINE YOUR OWN SELF-EXPRESSION - BILLIE EILISH X NIKE


Every action counts. Billie Eilish has teamed up with Nike to inspire creatives and create a new wave of style and self-expression. Defined by no one else but you, take a step outside of your box and challenge yourself to grow. The latest collaboration features a undefined collection ready to compliment your wardrobe. Sweatsets, a t-shirt and a new colourway of the Air Force 1 High '07 in Sequoia round out the collection with the the AF1 pulled into a future-forward realm.

SHOP BILLIE EILISH X NIKE NOW


COMMUNITY ALWAYS SERIES


Call us biased but we believe we live in one of the best places on Earth! COMMUNITY ALWAYS is taking our lens and zooming in to focus on our local Australian community and their world-class talent. We believe in celebrating the diverse skills, talents and achievements contributing to the community spirit that makes Australia so great. COMMUNITY ALWAYS is dedicated to you, our community, going above and beyond, kicking goals and pushing boundaries – Always evolving. Always collaborating. Always creating – and showcasing you to the world.

Australia. COMMUNITY ALWAYS.

Talent : Ashlee Tough (@ashleetough) & Annelise Cavenoni | Sweet Bitter (@thesweetbitter)