Internet famous, crystal toting, designer/model/writer, Audrey Kitching is a celebrity for the modern age. She talks to us about her unique career and what’s up next. Interviewed by Kerri Jarema; Photographed by Liz Besanson
When I first met Audrey Kitching, I was struck by two things: First, how small she is in person. That’s not to say she doesn’t look waiflike in all of the many photos she posts of herself on Instagram and Twitter, both from professional magazine shoots and from the many daily selfies now required of a social media star. She does, and she is. But she’s also just… tiny. Compact. Someone you don’t think will take up much space.
But that’s the second thing you notice about her: she does take up space. She may be physically small, her voice soft, but her personality (and her hair) is big. She’s someone who demands attention without asking for it. She’s all pink tresses with thick, heavy crystals usually adorning some part of her body, and she possesses the sort of something you just can’t identify; that certain je ne sais quoi that explains why the 29-year-old model/designer/writer has such an overwhelmingly large following on the internet, in the fashion industry and beyond. People are just drawn to her; and she’s building an empire on that.
My story is really very strange,” Kitching remembers. “I was getting my hair colored at an Aveda salon and was asked to model and stop by an agency for photo training to understand how to work in front of the camera.” That was when Kitching was just 14 years old, and she started posing for newspaper adverts. It wasn’t until years later, when many of her friends were attending art school, that she began taking center stage in their work.
“The projects were very avant-garde, like, [I was] painting myself green and standing in the moon light,” she says. “This was kind of around the time the internet was just blossoming and I used to blog and document my life online. Companies really liked what I was doing and took notice of my following and started to hire me for different modeling jobs. It was a strange art project hobby that snowballed into a career for being in the right place at the right time!”
Kitching didn’t automatically translate her art school stand-ins into a fashion career, though. First, she was mostly known for blogging, both on Myspace and Live Journal, ostensibly the Facebook and Twitter of the early 2000’s. At that time she was what many called a “scene girl,” known mostly for the people she hung out with, the music she listened to and the way she wore her hair.
“This was all really just an outlet for teenage angst if I’m being completely honest,” she recalls. “The internet was a place where I could be myself and escape from all the crap that comes with growing up and dealing with high school. My goal was never really to become ‘known’ online it was more of a place to be weird and accepted.”
Of course, now Kitching is nearing 30 and her teenage angst years are far behind her, but the photos, articles and feud speculations on message boards still remain. She has, for all intents and purposes, been living under a microscope for most of her life. And while she is not the sort of celebrity to be hounded by the paparazzi, the prying eyes of the internet can sometimes be even harsher to deal with. After all, when you post dozens of pictures a week detailing everything from your bubble baths to what you ate for lunch and what events you’re attending, people can mistakenly assume they know as much about you as they do their own friends—and they never forget.
“It’s totally a double ended sword,” Kitching says. “[The internet is] what allows me to live my dream today, but I’m forever haunted by my 16-year-old mistakes and photos. Most people get the luxury of being able to bury them in a photo album in their childhood basement. When I first started all [of] this, the internet was so new, people didn’t really grasp it yet. Today everything is so thought out and polished and you really have to put energy into what you post. It’s like building your reputation.”
It’s clear that Kitching is not going to repeat the media mistakes of her past. During the photo shoot for this piece she not only carefully crafted an Instagram shot of the makeup table, she was sure to take multiple videos and photos of the shoot in progress, all with an intense attention to detail. This is not a woman who is going to be okay with seeing an unflattering shot on Google images. And that is a big part of what makes her such a social media queen. Her feeds are authentic, but they are also curated. While so many people have a grasp on one or the other (beautiful photos that don’t feel real, or real photos that are someone’s own worst press), Kitching has found a way to show people her true self while avoiding missteps. So, what’s her secret?
“I actually have been trying to figure this out for myself,” she admits. “I’m kind of crazy and have no limits, and will post or share anything. Over the past year [I’ve been] trying to reel that back in a bit and keep [my feeds] more professional, and my personal life more private in a way. I think it’s about showing who you are but keeping a bit of mystery at the same time.”
Perhaps the ease with which she seems to communicate with her followers comes in part from the lifestyle she chooses to lead. She is well known for being a devotee of crystals, astrology, numerology, homeopathy and veganism, and even considers herself to be clairvoyant.
“I’m extremely sensitive and clairvoyant and have been my whole life. A lot of people with those gifts would never choose to be in the situations I am in on a daily basis for my job,” she says. “Being able to sense and see everyone’s motives all the time can be overwhelming and pretty draining. I use all these tools for balance and grounding so I’m able to weave in and out of energies throughout my day while still being able to function properly.”
Beyond the computer screen, though, Kitching has immersed herself into the fashion industry in a way that can only be described as unique. While her devotion to the alternatively spiritual might be considered trendy by some, the often stuffy, exclusive, fur and leather wearing fashion masses might consider it kitschy and low brow. Kitching has made clear through many posts on Twitter that she is not always on the same wavelength with some of the people she comes across during her work at New York Fashion Week and elsewhere in more traditional industry settings.
“Totally, it’s a struggle at times. I just try to always make sure whatever I’m doing is with integrity and I’m being true to myself,” she insists. “If I start to feel like I’m being turned into a character or something outside of myself I kind of try to bring it back on track. I think it’s about sending out positive vibes and having faith that you’re going to attract as much of that back into your career as possible.”
So far, it seems, she has been able to do just that, and she is certainly reaping the creative rewards. Her jewelry line, Crystal Cactus, has grown exponentially since she first started selling small batches of handmade necklaces. She now employs people to help her make and ship orders of necklaces, rings, bracelets and even items including chakra balancing wands and floral sage bundles. In December, she will also release about twenty new home products that include candles, books, and cards, as well as higher end jewelry.
“I live such a conscious life, but I also work in fashion. I think people feel like they have to either be material or spiritual and it’s just not honest or true,” she says. “I want to show people you can have self- love, style, hobbies and appreciate the beautiful things in life and still be awake and aware in a different sense. My goal is to blend spirituality and style and inspire today’s generation to think a bit outside that cookie cutter box we have been told is all that exists.”
Kitching has also designed a clothing line, LUNA, which stands on much the same principles as Crystal Cactus. The line is full of t-shirts and sweatshirts that prominently feature astrology, positive thinking and ancient ideologies.
“LUNA is a line made in the USA, all fair trade, which we’re slowly merging into a higher end luxury apparel wear,” she explains. “The next collection is all 100% cotton, hand beaded and dyed pieces. I’m really proud of it. The first collection was a little introduction to who we are and what we’re about.”
It is, of course, unclear whether her hordes of followers actually practiced crystal toting and tarot reading or misting themselves with Good Vibes Spray (a blend of purifying essential oils and selected quartz and crystals that are meant to give you “the highest vibrations possible”) before Kitching came along and made a business from her beliefs, but it is clear that her followers trust her opinions and covet her lifestyle—and there are far worse things to encourage than mindfulness, healthy living and shutting out negativity.
That, in fact, has been a huge part of Kitching’s rise to notoriety. With a high profile come internet trolls, those anonymous commenters and discussion board fixtures that will make your life a living hell if you happen to inspire their hate—which pretty much everyone with a certain amount of success is bound to do.
“When I was younger I used to really be bothered by it,” she remembers. “[But] the less I focused on it, the less it seemed to be prominent. I block people when I need to, but for the most part I try to ignore it. The more you feed the beast the bigger he grows!”
It sounds easier than it probably is, but Kitching also just doesn’t have time to dwell on her detractors. Not only does she continue to shoot multiple editorials every month along with her work on Crystal Cactus and LUNA, plus blogging for BuzzNet (which she did for nearly 10 years before recently announcing her plans to move on in order to focus on new projects), she has also been busy designing multiple capsule collections. A new vegan and cruelty free shoe line for Kerol D., a faux fur collection with Rome-based brand Blessed Black, and partnering in a new line called Valley City, in which she will design five clothing items monthly, each of which will be limited edition. On top of all that, she is also set to release a limited printing of a book, Inside Audrey’s Mind.
“[Everything I do is] important in their own ways. If I take on too many modeling jobs in a row I get really burned out, so running Crystal Cactus and doing design capsule collections gives me some time to balance it out,” Kitching says. “If I’m not on set or traveling, I’m normally running around with my employees in the studio trying to make magic happen. We do everything [including] conference calls, emails, styling for shoots, production, creating new products, mood boards, approving samples, shipping, interviews and press releases, Whatever needs to be done we get it done… sometimes in sweatpants and slippers depending how late the day runs!”
It’s that non-stop go-getter attitude that took Kitching from her early days as a teenage It Girl to a woman that is now running two businesses, designing, writing, and doing it all while maintaining her composure and keeping her eye on her definition of success.
“Work hard and be original. Don’t do anything for money only. The moment people only care about income in a creative field is the moment your career stops advancing. Do what you love because you’re passionate about it and the money will follow.”
Photographer: Liz Besanson; Producer: Kerri Jarema; Hair: Erin Bradley; Makeup: Dinessa Roccia; Producer’s Assistant: Jessie Marie
See more from the Winter issue of Lydia Magazine below!