Running a business, raising a one year old, and having her own artistic practice doesn’t come without sacrifice, but Betony Dircks (co-founder of ALAS) says it’s crucial to her wellbeing and health to balance all three. Georgia Blackie visited Betony at home with her one year old son Otis, to talk about how she finds time to dedicate to all of the loves in her life.
ALAS: You have so many skills! You're a designer, painter, singer/songwriter, seamstress and you're absolutely crushing it raising Otis, who has the most winning smile we've ever seen. Even without motherhood in the mix, that is plenty going on! What have been your strategies for making sure you get to dedicate the time you want to each endeavour?
B D: Sometimes I feel like the epitome of the saying 'Jack of all trades, master of none' ... haha! Seriously though, I think my dedication to so many different fields is the natural result of my curiosity and fascination with the world, and my place within it. Like any creative person, I use these skills/projects/hobbies to release my thoughts.. you can't just keep that stuff all bottled up. If I haven't painted or picked up my guitar in a while I get this niggling, uncomfortable feeling in my stomach... so sometimes it is more of a necessity to do these things. Throw a baby in the mix and you get a pretty interesting landscape over the course of a day! One minute I'm changing a nappy, the next I'm working on a business spreadsheet, the next I am doing some drawing. But I wouldn't have it any other way. I love being busy, keeping active and productive. I also write a lot of lists! And I keep a paper diary, to keep organised. Unfortunately however I am only human, so some things have to take the backseat... music has definitely been the one to miss out in the last two years. But I hope to get back to that soon!
ALAS: How do you like to escape?
B D: I love to go walking in the bush, visit my parents in the country, go for a long run or a swim in the ocean. Also drawing for me is a great escape... sometimes I do very fine, repetitive line drawings which are a form of meditation for me.
ALAS: What is an early memory you have of drawing or painting?
B D : I was constantly drawing as a little (and big) kid. My grandfather was an amazing painter and I remember watching him work when I was really little, and thinking that his patience and focus were really wonderful, and I hoped to one day possess those same qualities. I was obsessed with drawing horses, and girls with big hairdos and even bigger ball gowns, it was the 1980's, after all!
ALAS: Can you name a few of your favourite ALAS moments to date?
B D: Having the opportunity to travel to India and meet our producers was a real highlight. We were only really comfortable with producing off-shore if we were 100% certain that our producers were true blue, in the ethical and environmental sense. Seeing our designs come to life in the workshops over there, seeing the screen printing and dyeing in action, and visiting the organic cotton farms was incredible. Also just meeting all the wonderful people in our supply chain in person, and building relationships with them was super valuable.