For those of you that don’t know much about me, here is a little background info on who I am and where I came from!
I grew up in small town Monroe, Michigan, which is about an hour south of Detroit. I attended St. Mary's Catholic Central High School, where I was a three sport athlete. I loved sports (still do!). After having a lot of success in high school athletics, I was recruited to play for the University of Michigan volleyball team as a setter. After two great years at U of M, I decided to transfer to the University of Georgia to continue my schooling, and finish my 4 years of college. I earned my Bachelors Degree and graduated from University of Georgia with a double major in Psychology and Sociology, and a minor in Spanish (little bit of a geek). After enjoying some time off from school, I was recruited by Wilhelmina Models, and was asked to join their team! After spending some time in Los Angeles, I relocated to Miami. There I spent 6 years as a model, and was lucky to work with some amazing brands and people from the fashion industry.
After modelling for some time I met my fiancé Ryan, who is Canadian. After some time together, I decided to move to Toronto with him and give my modeling career a much needed break. Not knowing what my next venture would be, we made the decision to start a family together, and sooner than maybe expected we were absolutely blessed to welcome our beautiful Aria into this world! Ryan and I had decided to have Aria close to my family and moved back to Michigan for my pregnancy and birth. After some time in Michigan, we decided to pack the three of us up (and Gus, my boxer and “first born”) and move down to Key Largo, FL.
A few months passed living in Key Largo, when Sports Illustrated Swimsuit announced a first ever in-person open casting call in Miami to become a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model. This had always been a dream of mine since I was a little girl and throughout my modelling career. So I decided to give it a shot. My only hesitation was the fact that I didn’t have any friends or family down here to help watch Aria, so I would either have to bring her along to my first casting in over 2 years or not go. I decided to go for it and took Aria with me. When we got there bright and early, I was surprised to see thousands of girls waiting in line for this opportunity. I figured this was just going to be a great memory to look back at as I knew how unlikely it was to even be seen by the Sports Illustrated Team. To my shock, out of thousands of girls, I was asked back for the next round of 67 girls, and then from there only 16 of the 67 were chosen to walk in a runway show. And I was one of them! Because Aria is exclusively breastfed, she was a part of the entire casting process throughout the weekend, as I was juggling my modeling dream and mom duties. As everyone on the SI team grew to know Aria over the few days, the Editor MJ Day asked if I wanted to do a “mommy and daughter” look in the show.
I loved this idea and if Aria was ok at the time of the show, I wanted to do it! How amazing would this memory be for her and I! When the time came for the show, Aria was good to go. But after some delays to the start, Aria got very hungry. And when Aria is hungry, Aria eats!! So I started to feed her backstage. Of course, it was then announced it was go-time. MJ noticed that I had started feeding Aria, and as a mother herself she understood the hardship of stopping a child from feeding, so she suggested that if I felt comfortable, I could walk the runway while nursing. A 30 second conversation led to me deciding to do my first walk with Aria nursing. After I finished my walk and let Aria finish feeding, Ryan took Aria back to put her to sleep while I walked twice more on the runway, fulfilling a lifelong dream. Little did I know this was only the beginning. After going home that night, news and entertainment outlets started calling the next day from around the world, wanting to hear about how “the walk” came to be. Women and mothers around the world were reaching out to me through letters, emails, and social media outlets to show appreciation for what I had done. Positivity and gratitude was coming from every angle to our little family. That week and the months after have been the most amazing experiences so far, as doors and opportunities have continued to open up for us! Since that moment, I have done interviews with People Magazine, Teen Vogue, TMZ, and E News to name a few. We have done photoshoots, television segments, and appearances for so many. But the best part has been the overwhelming amount of support, and a new mom community I have been welcomed into! I have been given a platform that I want to use in an empowering and helpful way to all women and mothers out there. So here is a start. I hope this page is a tool for all of you to share, explore, learn, and realize that we are here to lean on each other for support as mothers, and as women.