I arrived to interview Sarah-Jane Adams at a little door in Newtown next to a row of shops.
Besides wondering if I’d found the right place I was wondering what I’d find. Walking into Sarah-Jane Adams house I was surprised at the size of the levels and living space behind the little door. Who knew such space existed behind the shops of Newtown?! The living space contains a lot of Sarah’s antiques and I’m instantly intrigued about this woman and her fabulous house.
B: When did you start modeling?
S: I’m not just a model, I’ve signed with Grey Models as one of the specials. As an ambassador to the agency, that does slightly different things than just modeling. I’ve turned down modeling work previously and said no a lot, because it’s never been quite right. I signed with Grey because spending a lot of time in London is more suitable and is my home country.
All sorts of work have come up through not just the agency but also Instagram (@saramaijewels), which has just gone crazy from a few posts. Some people made a few smart comments and my husband took a photo of me leaning against the wall with my finger up and to kind of stick it to them and that photo went crazy and it was the beginning of it all. I think it’s because I’m real and honest and people like real self-expression. Now it’s like a creative process where I edit what is on there, and I consider it from an aesthetic point of you. It’s my representation of me in pictures.
B: Can you tell me about your oil?
S:Have you heard of StylelikeU? It is a mother and daughter combo in New York who do very intense therapeutic sessions with people for a program called the ‘what’s underneath’ project. They ask people who have a unique style to come and do the project and they invited me to come and do the project in New York. What you do is sit on a stool against a wall fully dressed and they ask you nitty gritty questions. You disrobe down to your underwear and at the end your sitting in your underwear having revealed a lot about yourself. When I got there they told me about the collaboration with Olie Biologique and had chosen me to be part of it. We went to an aromatherapy studio in NY where we had one on one time with them and we mixed our own blend.
B: I swear it smells like the colour blue, tell me about that!
S: I’m coming out in goose bumps! It came from the fact I’m a jeweler and a gemologist and heavily into gem stones and where they come from. They are loaded emotionally for me. Kashmir is a place where the beautiful blue sapphires in the world come from and are famous for it. The grounded force in the oil is vetiver, a root comes from Haiti, which connected with me so much it bought me to tears, I had to have it because its very grounding. Every woman’s oil was for a different function. I needed something to moisturizer my delicate skin, Kashmir lavender, blue tansy… all this blue stuff happening, it was really weird. Even the colour of the oil is blue, so we decided to call it Kashmir Bleu and to me it was the reference to the sapphire and its very personal and I just adore it. I use it on my skin all the time and take it every where I go.
B: Well it’s amazing and I’ve never smelt anything like it before.
S: It’s also made in a base of olive oil, which I love. I use olive oil everywhere, on my skin, I eat it. I don’t really have a beauty regime beyond that.
Sarah’s oil is called KASHMIR BLEU and is available at Olie Biologique
“Saramai’s Kashmir Bleu body oil is infused with 3 main ingredients: The aroma of the earth, present in Vetiver root from Haiti, keeps me grounded, and cools me through my hot flushes. Kashmiri Lavender’s woody lightness calms agitation, helps me sleep and transports me to beloved India. The Nomadic people of Morocco use Blue Tansy for medicinal purposes and it perfectly suits my own nomadic lifestyle.”
B: What do you do for your health and wellbeing?
S: Until a couple of years ago I just worked which involved a lot of running around, travel and walking. I’d always take the stairs rather than the elevator. Besides that nothing, I don’t like formal exercise or organized sports.
I’ve never been a formal exerciser, however that has changed very dramatically, because I’ve become a devotee of Yoga. When I turned 59 I had a great house, family and huge business and I thought ‘Is this it’? I’m working myself into the ground with demanding customers, and decided I didn’t want to play that game anymore, so we decided to sell the family home. The only person able to look after me and make me happier is me. What’s the point of all this? I knew I didn’t want to end up living in suburbia. So we sold the house, I sabotaged my business (which I do every 2 or 3 years) by that I mean change how I work. I’m constantly needed to stimulation and to re-invent. So we sold and downsized and I started attending Yoga class. At the beginning I was wondering if I can do this and I thought of course I can, its just practice. So now I practice yoga every day, I go as often as I can. When I’m travelling I try to find studios to go to and I’ve become a total devotee to yoga. There are some types I prefer to others and Jivamukti Yoga is the one that resonates for me. To me it’s more than exercise, it’s exercise of the heart and mind and soul as well, but for my body if I don’t practice yoga daily I can feel my body tightening and seizing up and my mind as well, it’s incredible. So now I’m a changed woman, totally stimulated, and able to relax. I was very stressed because it was too much. So I pulled the plug and now I’m much happier and having a much better quality of life. My aim is to be living in a small space at the end and just do a lot of travel. I feel like I’m un knitting my life now, I’m unraveling it all so I have the yoga and exercise and the time to just sit and talk. I’m much more content and satisfied now.
B: Tell me how your life with Jewellery started
S: While I was a university in England, I was a huge underground music fan. I moved into London and lived with a bunch of musicians. I was a lighting technician with them and would travel around to gigs, and we had no money. The guy I was living with was signed to Virgin records so we would go on tour to Europe when I was 19-21. In those days they’d have jumble sales and I was a total addict and every Saturday I’d go on my push bike and buy stuff and that’s how I got into strange clothes. Back then it was Thatcher’s England and it was very, very grey, post war and very depressed. The beginning of the punk time. It was very hard to get jobs and earn a living and it was very hard to find anything that wasn’t very boring like an office or factory job and that was all you did. I couldn’t deal with that so I went and collected stuff at these jumble sales and went on the road with the band and travelled to exotic places and go to antique shops. So I had a house full of rubbish and we had no money. So one day I had to decide if was going to spend my last 40 pence on toothpaste or potatoes and I thought, ‘this is ridiculous’ because I had a house full of junk. So I decide to put all my stuff into suitcases and I found an ad in the Evening Standard in London for stall holders wanted for a new convent garden market (the old market was fruit and vegetables that had moved out) and they’d turned it into a marketplace. So I got a stall there and I was one of the first people in the market. I would go around the house and pull stuff off all the shelves, and on my first day I made 86 pounds, which was a phenomenal amount back then (500-700 pounds now).
So gradually I cleared the decks at home, of course I had to keep going out and buying stuff. But it became really apparent selling big vases and things were not a good thing to do so over the years I honed it down and went more and more into jewellery because you can have a big value in your pocket and nobody knows you’ve got it. I’m fascinated by the history and symbolism of antique jewellery so I self educated and read all the books, I studied gemology, I was like a sponge. So gradually over the years I became a jewellery dealer and that’s’ where my career started. I was working in all the old English markets, eventually I borrowed 50 pounds from my then boyfriend who I was living with and his friend was selling an old car, so I bought it. That was a major breakthrough cause I could then go off to all the flea markets in the country and that’s how my business started. First thing I bought for myself out of the business was a leather punk jacket. Then my business took me everywhere, Morocco, to Bali, I’ve traded my way around the world all the time, especially with jewellery and it’s what my passion is.
B: Do you design or just trade?
S: I was with antique jewellery dealing for 30 years and said I’d never sell reproduction, but then around the time of the GFC a lot of people were going out of business, they changed the import laws and put more taxes on jewellery. A lot of things changed and for the older people, it became too hard and my clients were becoming fewer and it was harder to get the good antique jewellery. I started to design and manufacture antique style and art deco style, some of my old clients were buying my work and selling them as antiques. So I thought I didn’t want to be part of it.
I source all my own stones and get it manufactured in different parts of the world so its all high quality stones, jades and diamonds and all totally unique. Art deco inspired. It was going crazy, so I thought if it works at the top end I’m going to do it with silver as well so now I’m manufacturing 4000 styles. Still all antique style, everything has a story and symbolism. So this is my passion. Everything else I’m doing at the moment is very secondary to this. To become this icon or whatever for the other part of my life is quite bazaar, because this is the core of me. This other part is also me, but not what I thought would be of importance to others. The point that I’m saying is its incredible when you change tack and you takes risks and make decisions that are odd it opens up opportunities. I’m still a jewellery dealer but now I’ve also got this other side that runs parallel to my life.
B: Tell me about your book through unbound
S: The video was shot over a couple of days, here out the back and in the local park. Plus we shot over at Bondi with hills hoists because I wanted iconic Australian.
Its going to be a 200x 200cm book square. And its mainly photographs, probably 100, of my clothes and the way I mix and wear things together. Often I won’t wear the same thing. I’m always pulling different things together weather it be vintage, Indian or Adidas or what ever. So that is what the book is about, my clothes and what they represent to me. A lot of my clothes I’ve had since the age of 18/19 and are literally falling apart and that is what I still wear. Because I’ve been living in Newtown for so long and been self employed people know that know me really well can see past my clothes. Seeing me it’s enabled me to wear exactly what I want and be exactly who I want to be and be valued for who I am and what I want to do without playing games. It’s not huge amounts of words, just to explain what it represents, why I’m wearing these clothes. I don’t have the answers yet but I will in the next few months.
Unbound is like a crowd funding for books. Unbound Publishers launched MyWrinklesAreMyStripes a beautifully hardbound limited edition book that collects all Saramai’s edgy, eclectic outfits together along with notes from the author deconstructing the outfits to show how pieces can be put together differently depending on your mood, your personality and your event.
The book will give an intimate insight into Saramai’s inclusive yet unapologetically frank approach to life and clothes. This is a must-have for anyone interested in styling and beauty, the new generation of Grey and the celebration of beautifully-ageing confidence and Advanced Style.
Fronting a major European fashion brand campaign this year, her own body-firming oil (Olie Biologique), numerous press interviews and features around the world, a key member of the Advanced Style fraternity and with her Instagram followers growing by 1000 per week, Sarah is fast becoming the pin-up girl to represent and inspire the New Generation Grey.
Watch Sarah’s video submission and support Sarah’s book https://unbound.co.uk/books/saramai
B: Sarah’s best natural beauty tip:
S: My gift to you, this is from England, a nail white pencil. I used to use these when I was 12-14 and started to do my nails. Because I don’t do manicures and I’ve got reasonable nails, I use this. It’s very old fashioned, once you have done all your nail and cuticle work, moisten the tip of the crayon and go underneath your finger nails and colour it in. Buff then of course, we used to use a shammy buffer from the market. It lasts for a day or a so, it takes 5 seconds, if you want to have natural nails that’s what you use. That’s my manicure tip. The only colour nail polish I ever wear is blue but it requires too much maintenance.