An Interview with Actor and Model Elisabeth Donaldson
A year ago, I was leaving my favorite Goodwill when I noticed that they had a magazine and on the cover was this fiery redhead in a sweater with a horse head on it. I was like, Goodwill has a magazine? Who is this awesome girl? And where did she find that sweater? I found her on Instagram and have spent the better part of this year amazed at the outfits she puts together - all thrifted.
I finally had the pleasure of meeting Elisabeth a few weeks ago when we were both tapped to host a shopping event for Goodwill. I was in the back of the store furiously trying to organize my rack and hang magazine tear-out sheets onto each individual hanger. Elisabeth came in and was like, don't do that, your rack is going to get destroyed in the first five minutes. She was right. I mean, I still did it, but she was right. Friends, meet the thrifter taking Instagram by storm, Elisabeth Donaldson!
What do you do and what is the name of your blog?
I am lucky enough to create many different forms of art and entertainment for a living. My bread and butter is acting and modeling and I have been lucky enough to work for some really wonderful film and music video projects over the past few years. My blog is 365daysofthrift.
When did you first learn about fashion bloggers? How did you know it was what you wanted to do?
In this millennial era I feel like blogger presence has sort of crept in like a fog over the past several years, so it’s not something I can really put my finger on. If I’m being honest, I knew I wanted to start a blog when this adorable hip grandma at the GW with her granddaughter kept saying, “Oooh girl!” when I would come out of the dressing room, and then enthusiastically told me that If I had a blog, she would follow it. Truly, that was the spark that started it all.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
That to keep anything going, you have to be constantly creating it. I love this because it really puts me as the cause point of my personal, professional and creative life. If I’m feeling bummed because something has ceased to exist, I just have to start creating on it again.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
That you absolutely cannot ever violate your own personal integrity - ever. Everyone always has an instant knowingness of what is right and wrong for them. This can be as simple as buying a shirt or as far reaching as what choices to make regarding your life and future or difficult ethics situations. I think we all have an awareness of what our own personal truth is and whenever we violate our own truth and personal integrity, it never ends well.
What would you do with 2 more hours a day?
I would create more. If I had my way, I would want my life to be totally set up so I can simply be creative almost 100% percent of the time. I’m getting there.
What has been the best thrift find you’ve made?
Dang, that’s tough, but the first thing that comes to mind is a red plaid long blazer with embroidered purple and yellow eighties gloves on the chest and pocket, complete with a tissue and a piece of butterscotch candy in the pocket. I keep the candy in there because is so freaking novel...
What is your greatest success, or something you’re most proud of related to your blog?
Last year Betsy and I were awarded as the Goodwill Ambassadors of the year. This really meant a lot to me because I really believe in what Goodwill does as a charity and I feel so honored to be able to do my part to help others get rehabilitated through the power of work, while also showing that you can have high style at a low environmental, as well as financial, cost.
Do you have a morning ritual that helps you set the tone for the day?
LOL, I wish. Being a freelance creative means that your schedule is eternally changing, which I actually love, but I’m constantly wishing I was one of those morning ritual people… Having a cup of coffee is about as close as I come.
How do you decompress at night?
I think I’m lucky. I’m a high energy, yet relaxed person. Not that I don’t ever get nervous or anxious - because I have ample experience with both, but when I come home at night, the decompression is just a natural process. If it’s been a rough day, or if I’m worked up, I go for a run outdoors if I can. I find that getting actual physical space, without the interference of conversations or technology, is one of the most therapeutic agents there is.
What helps when you’re stuck? Do you have a motto or quote that inspires/motivates you?
If I’m stuck I just get into physical action, like cleaning, running, bad dancing, doing. I’m a hardcore do-er. I’m a huge believer that action is very senior to thinking. If I’m stuck, I certainly don’t want to dive into my mind where all the stuck thoughts are. I want to move, I want to do, I want to create, I want to engage, I want to make physical contact with the universe around me. All of my very best ideas come to me when I’m jogging or engaged in some sort of rapid physical action.
What does self care look like in your life?
I think the most vital piece of self care that anyone can engage in is to never invalidate yourself. I think self invalidation and self doubt are powerfully destructive and usually lead to other destructive habits and behaviors. I think we all have that little asshole in our head who says negative things to us. I work hard to treat that f--ker like a bully at school. Ignore it, stay away from it, don’t engage with it. If it gets loud, I just get busy and out-create it. I don’t even let my friends put themselves down around me. Especially as women. It’s so vital that we love ourselves, like every single freaking part of ourselves. When you do it opens the door to give others permission to do the same. I think loving yourself is one of most ethical things you can possibly do, because the more you give yourself permission to be, the more that will flow out into the way you regard others and the world.
Are there any women who helped pave the way for your success?
I am so incredibly lucky to be surrounded by so many amazing women. From my mom, to my sister, friends, mentors, colleagues… Maybe this sounds Pollyanna of me, but I feel like every single woman who is out there holding her own, being present and bravely contributing herself to this world is paving the way. I am incredibly lucky to have friends and family who support the wild crazy creative that I am. Creative life is a beautiful challenge and being surrounded by a tribe that believes in you is VITAL.
Lastly, and most important, what is your favorite TV show and what is your favorite snack?
Panda licorice, chips and salsa, homemade waffles and mangoes (not together). My favorite TV show is The Get Down because when I grow up I want to be Baz Luhrmann.
All photos courtesy of Elisabeth Donaldson