Byline: RACHAEL JANSEN
"ECO-MODEL" may sound like a contradiction in terms given sustainability and environmental credentials aren't typically associated with fashion, beauty and the catwalk.
But Queensland model Amanda Rootsey is defining a new approach to modelling, staking her claim as Australia's first eco-model.
A former international jetsetting model for labels including Salvatore Ferragamo, Cartier, Alex Perry, Morrissey, Gail Sorronda and Myer, the 28-year-old now only works for companies that produce sustainable, ethical or environmentally friendly products.
It wasn't an intentional shift. One minute she was slipping into a fur coat on a photo shoot in Italy, the next she was receiving a shock cancer diagnosis at 24, which saw her step off the catwalk and head in a whole new direction that eventually led to living a year off-grid in a shipping container.
"I'd just come back from overseas and thought I was a bit tired. I had a lump on my neck - someone at the modelling agency in Italy pointed it out to me," she says.
"The GP said to me 'I think it's probably lymphoma' and I didn't know what that was.
"He said to me it's cancer. I never thought I'd get back into modelling after going through cancer. I didn't feel the same passion for it or for the fashion industry either.
"After all the research I did (while sick) into healthy living and environment, I decided it wasn't an industry I wanted to be involved in.
"But now I try to use my work to shine a light on businesses that are trying to make the world a better place."
It was during the month-long wait to see an oncologist that Amanda's life started heading in a new, unintentional direction.
Online research into how to fight her disease saw her and her partner David Rafter switch to a vegan diet (they launched Vegan Era, a website dedicated to the vegan lifestyle), cut out stress, incorporate raw food and meditation.
Amanda also underwent radiation and chemotherapy in Brisbane and, after her treatment was finished, the couple took themselves west, setting up home in a recycled shipping container and living for a year off-grid.
They rented a block of land in Cooroy, west of the Sunshine Coast, for $50 a week and made their home in the revamped shipping container. But they had no water, sewerage or power connections, instead using one solar panel for energy and creating 18 veggie patches to live off the land.
It was a far cry from the international catwalk Amanda had graced just months before.
It wasn't long after that adventure that Amanda was approached to model again, this time by a company with eco credentials.
Now in remission for a year and a half, the former Townsville primary school and Brisbane high school student has a growing list of clients she is modelling for.
She has also produced a self-development course for teenage girls, Shine from Within, soon to be launched on the Gold Coast and northern Queensland, in which she encourages teenage girls to treat themselves and the world around them with respect and love.
"I have a real sense of peace in my heart that I never felt before."
Amanda will be on the Gold Coast next Saturday hosting a Raw Beauty Workshop. Go to earthevents.com.au