Marle Women is created to celebrate our philosophy of designing pieces for women of all ages and stages of their lives.
Here, we speak with former magazine editor, actor and TV host, Jess Molina about the creative upbringing which led her to be the trailblazing storyteller she is today. Jess talks us through her creative journey, and why she is passionate about using her voice to challenge beauty standards in today's industry.
Full name: Jessica Molina
Location: Auckland, NZ. From Manila, PH
Can you share a little bit about yourself, your background and upbringing? What aspects have contributed to the women you are today?
I was born and raised in Manila, Philippines and we moved to New Zealand in October 2009, two days before my 18th birthday! I was born to wildly creative parents - my dad was a film/TV director and my mum was a production assistant. That's how they met! Growing up I was surrounded by creativity - there are photos of me as a baby perched on my dad's shoulders while he directed a film. My parents also managed a band and worked for a record label so as a kid I spent a lot of time at concerts and gigs. Growing up in such a creative environment really did wonders for me! I drew and wrote and had quite a vivid imagination. I still do. Growing up in such a big city filled with constant creativity has definitely set me up for a life of telling stories. When I moved to New Zealand, I thought I would struggle with the quieter, slower pace of life, but I realised that there's so much beauty in the stillness too. I lived in a small town called Hamilton for 8 years before moving to Auckland. I may not have grown up in NZ but I feel more at home here than anywhere else. I guess it's because when you move somewhere new where you don't know anyone at that age/stage of your life, you suddenly find yourself with this complete fresh start to be who you really want to be. It's here in NZ where I started truly becoming who I want to be. And who I am now is someone I am completely in love with.
Your career as a writer and magazine editor has led you down a path to be a passionate storyteller. Tell us, how did this passion and talent come to be?
It definitely had a lot to do with being exposed to so much creativity growing up. I started reading magazines when I was a pre-teen and loved everything about it! Just seeing words come to life on a page, paired with exquisite imagery really inspired me. I also do a bit of acting and it's still one of my biggest passions. And then blogging came along and that just changed my life! I was 12 when I started my first blog and I'm 29 in a few months and I am still absolutely in love with the medium. Being able to find my voice, connect with other people, share stories and photos. We are all united through great storytelling.
How would you describe your personal style? Has it always been this way, or has it evolved over the years?
It's definitely evolved over the years! I went through a really grunge phase when I was a teen and I still wear dark/brown/black lipsticks to this day. My style has evolved into the opposite of that - I LOVE a neutral, clean palette with a lot of texture and volume. The more voluminous, the better in terms of sleeves and silhouette. But I balance it out with a dark lip!
Your soon-to-launch website, Loudly Quietly, is a platform for stories to be shared around beauty, body positivity and inclusivity. Why are these topics important for you to cover?
Loudly Quietly is an extension of my blog in a way. I've always said that the best thing to ever happen to my blog was that what was once just my home, a place to share my thoughts and photos and things that inspire me, also started becoming home to other people too. It's such a privilege and honour to put something out there and have complete strangers resonate with your thoughts. Everytime someone tells me I made them feel less alone or seen from something I shared, I really do feel like my heart is going to explode with joy. I wanted a place that was truly inclusive especially around body positivity. In this industry - fashion and beauty - I feel like there's this perception that adding 1 person of colour in a photoshoot is enough for 'diversity'. There's not a lot of places that include fat girls like me or those that look 'different'. Loudly Quietly is a space to share those stories and inspiration, like showing the same outfit in different types of bodies, and beauty reviews featuring people of all skin tones/types and age too. It's important to me that when people browse Loudly Quietly, they see the world we live in reflected back to them on the screen and I want to challenge beauty standards and 'aesthetics'.
Have you always been confident in your style of is something you have learnt with age?
I definitely have always had my own sense of style but my biggest problem was accessibility. In the Philippines where majority of the population are thin and petite, it was so hard to find clothes that fit, that suit me, and that are my style! I had ideas for looks/outfits but struggled to find the right pieces. Moving to NZ where there was a much more inclusive size range, I found myself suddenly having access to all these looks I had in my head! I felt like my appearance was finally what I envisioned in my head. Like I became the girl I was dreaming I could be and that made me feel even more confident.
What is your take on personal ritual? Do you have any non-negotiable morning rituals that set you up for a productive day ahead?
I need to have a tall glass of water when I wake up and I listen to Abraham Hicks' morning meditations while I get ready. I also weirdly can't eat anything until after a couple of hours after I wake up, which makes breakfast more like morning tea!
Feeling beautiful means something different to everyone – when do you feel most beautiful?
I feel the most beautiful when I'm doing something I love, when I'm being creative, when the vision I have in my head is executed perfectly in real life, when I talk to people I love and honestly after a shower and washing my hair. Which often means I feel most beautiful at night after a long day and just before I jump into bed, where no one will sadly see me.
Who inspires you?
I grew up watching people around me go after their biggest dreams and I've been lucky enough to see a lot of them come true! I'm inspired by those people who pursue their dreams relentlessly, no matter how big or small, no matter what's thrown their way. I'm inspired by the 'underdogs' - those who are on the fringe, who are outcasts, who don't fit the mold. Style-wise, my biggest inspiration is still the people I see on the street. It’s one thing to see an outfit on Instagram or to go to events where people are styled to perfection, but nothing compares to seeing someone’s personal style in real life, while they go about their day to day. I love people watching in my morning commute! I always get so inspired by the outfits I see.
What is a piece of personal wisdom that you carry with you?
I'm a big believer in the power of the mind, imagination, and believing in myself so I have this personal mantra that says 'If anyone could do it, it would be you' and I love it so much. It reminds me of my inherent power and how I can do anything I set my mind to.
What do you love most about Marle?
I love that Marle is designed with the female body in mind. I knew that the moment I tried on my Georgette knit - it's beautifully made and fits so well. The way this piece flows with the curves of my body is amazing! I also love how Marle is all about pieces that we'll treasure and re-wear for a long time. Everything goes with what's already on my wardrobe and adding a Marle piece to it makes me feel really special.
Most treasured accessory?
I got myself a bracelet with charms from my favourite fairytales. I bought it a few years ago after a particularly challenging time in my life. I wanted something I could carry with me everyday that reminded me of magic and fairytales and how good always defeats evil. It makes me so happy! I never thought I'd ever be a charm bracelet lover but now I just want to keep adding to it.
Texture or colour?
Texture! I don't wear a lot of colour but I wear a lot of texture. I think it's the key to keeping things interesting when it comes to tonal dressing.
Summer or winter?
Winter forever. Give me all the layers! Cover me up in wool and coats and warmth.
Believe by Cher on repeat. I wish I were kidding. If I manage to persuade myself from hitting repeat on that again, my go-to playlist is filled with songs that make me happy and nostalgic like Heartbeats by Jose Gonzales, This Must Be The Place by Talking Heads (it was the song I was listening to when I thought about 'loudly quietly' as a name for a potential website), Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen, all of Bleacher's albums. I also love a good showtune/Broadway hit and of course, The Greatest Showman soundtrack. Someone asked me the other day what was the # 1 song I'd choose if I could only listen to one song for the rest of my life and it's got to be 'A Million Dreams' from that soundtrack.
I'm currently re-reading some of my most favourite books. I think I've been craving for comfort so getting back into these familiars worlds and characters I adore has been therapeutic. Gmorning, Gnight by Lin-Manuel Miranda ,The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes, and the Shopaholic Series by Sophie Kinsella! It's the book that made me want to be a writer when I was 12 years old because back then 'chick lit' was a genre that was mocked and looked down on but reading the first Shopaholic book and having a character like Becky Bloomwood who loves shopping and is girly and enjoys the frivolous things while also being smart, witty, headstrong, clever, and powerful was such a revelation for me as a kid. It made me realise that I could be both - I could love shopping, beauty, makeup etc while also being all these other things. I guess as women we are so conditioned to only be a certain way to be accepted, or that if we liked makeup/shopping etc we were shallow and therefore not smart. But this book made me realise that wasn't the case and that I could write strong, beautiful characters who were well-rounded and real too.
Pasta! I'm always cooking pasta I may as well be half-past at this stage. My spaghetti bolognese is a crowd favourite! It's even come to a point where some of my friends immediately start craving for it as soon as they see me! I once showed up to my best friend Simon's house and he surprised me with ingredients to it already there because he and his partner were both craving it. Haha! I'm also trying to perfect my penne alla vodka recipe. I'll let you know how that goes!
I have a lot of favourites but lately so many people have been asking for my homemade fresh ginger tea recipe! It's the perfect winter evening treat. I make it in a very traditional way, just like my nana would make it back in the Philippines. We call it 'salabat' and I'm addicted! The secret is in the way it is brewed. You only need a few ingredients - fresh ginger (I like to use 2 thumbs but you can add in more ginger if you like it strong), about 2 - 3 cups of water, and a teaspoon of Manuka honey and freshly squeezed lemon juice. I peel the ginger and cut it into cubes, put it in a medium saucepan, add the water and bring it to a boil on the stove. Once it's boiling, I reduce the heat so it simmers in very low heat for around 30 - 40 minutes. Make sure you keep an eye on it so it doesn't evaporate! I usually add a little more water in as needed while it's simmering. Serve it with a teaspoon of honey and a drizzle of lemon! That warm, ginger burn down the throat is sooooo good. It's how I like to wind down after a full day - something about peeling, chopping, brewing tea at the end of the day relaxes me. I also use the simmer time to catch up on emails! Haha.