Ally May Hayward: “You can literally achieve anything you want”

When you’ve only just recently launched your website, there’s no better words you like hearing than “Oh, Husskie! I know your site…” And so Ally May Hayward had me won over from her first twenty-two syllables (although, she may have been at a slight advantage due to the fact I was already completely infatuated with her Instagram feed).

Decked head to toe in Country Road, the two of us got chatting at the brand’s A/W 2017 collection launch held at a mind-blowingly insane house in Gordon’s Bay, Sydney – Ally as the face of the brand, me as media in attendance. As we browsed the upcoming collection, I began forming about a thousand questions in my mind for our interview later that day (refraining myself from peppering her with questions on the spot).

But I think it’s probably a good thing I held back, because it just means now I can share the interview in full here (with no parts left out due to premature questioning). Below, the lifestyle influencer chats to Husskie about everything from dissatisfying first blogs, the evolution of her website – Substance, to why the sight of a donut can make her lose self control…

First off, can I just say how epic that house was?!
I tried my best to move all my wardrobe and household items in but the owner stopped me at the door!

2017 seems to have already been such a big year for you. Can you talk me through what’s been going on over the last three months?
I love hitting the ground running in the new year – 2017 is going to be a great year. I’ve been working on creative projects for Substance and conceptualising some ideas for another project I want to get off the ground. We shot Country Road recently and we’re in the process of doing the post production for that – watch this space!

You originally launched Substance Blog in 2013, was this the same time as you started up your personal Instagram account?
This April is my seven year anniversary for blogging. I initially had a blog called The Unknown Pleasures. If you search the internet you could probably find it somewhere (OH GOD!!). It was my blog I had when I was modelling full-time. Around April 2013 I got really dissatisfied with The Unknown Pleasures, so went through a rebrand and figured out what kind of content I wanted to produce. That’s the great thing about having a digital space, it evolves with you and you can make it whatever you want it to be.

Instagram has changed the game for blogging – I love Instagram, but I love having control of my own site. I think I launched it around the same time. I used to go under the name @substance_blog but around October last year I changed it to my name. I see Substance evolving into more than just a blog, so wanted to remove that from my Instagram and be myself.

We love how your feed delivers a mixture of style, beauty, health and travel. Do you say these four sectors very much make up who you are?
It’s the core of who I am and what I define myself to be. I think it’s important to live a life filled with substance and these four sectors go hand-in-hand. It’s important to look after yourself and take time for yourself. I think they all flow nicely and I think my followers resonate with this – it’s relatable and it’s a way to keep things constantly fresh. They never know what they’ll be getting from day-to-day. There’s something for everyone.

If your best friend was talking about you, how would they best describe you?
I had to ask them to answer this one for me: They would say I am loyal, a bad story teller (they call these ‘Ally Stories’), genuine and pretty dorky! They also think I am great at giving directions. This last one is seemingly true – I am great at relaying what Siri says. Ha! They would say I’m definitely the person who spills coffee on myself (the captions aren’t lying), and cannot dance to choreographed hip hop to save myself. They’d say I’m driven, creative and have stayed true to myself throughout my whole career.

Are you currently a full-time influencer?
I am a full-time creative – I work on Substance full-time and also work alongside Jonathan [Hayward, Ally’s husband – who is also a photographer] in other ways: photoshoots, producing content. It’s very rewarding seeing the evolution of Substance. I never thought I would be doing what I am doing when I began in April of 2013. I love what I do and I think that shows in the work we produce.

Who takes most of your pictures?
This guy: @JDarcyHayward [Jonathan Hayward] – it’s fun!!

When you’re not working, what are we most likely to find you doing?
Reading, hanging out with friends, working out, travelling and writing! I really want to do a ceramic course or a creatively writing course – so maybe I will do that in my downtime over the next few months.

You have a great figure. Do you have to pay much attention to your exercise and food?
Moving your body and being conscious about the food you consume is so important. I love working out and I love cooking. I am all about balance – so I always balance what I eat. I am a sucker for donuts. Abs are great and all, but donuts get me every. single. time.

You looked very much at home during the Country Road shoot. What were your standout pieces from the collection?
Don’t make me choose! I loved the new denim cuts and the emerald green bomber is to die for. The velvet pieces were also a favourite – clean, simple and easy to dress up or down.

Your hair on the shoot was absolute goals. What would you say are your favourite beauty tricks of the trade?
I think less is more. I am all for undone hair – that ‘just done’ look. I wish I would take credit for the hair on the day but that was all Rach – my makeup and hairstylist (@themakeupsociety).

Are you very into beauty?
I am the anti-beauty-beauty girl. I love makeup and hair, but my approach is very much less is more. I love a good natural look. I have a core set of products I love to use and then I will introduce new ones monthly. At the moment I am LOVING a red matte lip and barely there eyes. It’s classy and it goes with EVERYTHING.

And lastly, what are your plans for the rest of the year? Where are you hoping to see yourself in 12 months time?
I love to have three, six and twelve month goals. I also love to play things by ear. I am hoping the next 12 months is my strongest yet. I really want to develop and push the boundaries of what I do and be creatively fulfilled. I think that’s the most exciting thing about working for yourself and in a creative industry – you can literally achieve anything you want to if you work your ass off.

All images feature Ally wearing the Country Road A/W 17 collection.

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