Welcome to our #StayHomeEdition, where we virtually shoot and chat with our muses from the comfort of their homes.
Meet Sarah Ball (@sarahball12), a 32-year-old model, host, design thinking coach and co-founder of Zazzie.
After 14 years of modelling, Sarah is running a swimwear empire and thriving as an Innovation Experience Manager at Ananda Development, Thailand’s leading real estate firm. Lastly, but best of all, she is an absolute ray of sunshine – how does one radiate so much good energy through a simple phone screen?! We are shooketh. Read on to catch some positive vibes.
💃🏻 || How It All Began ||💃🏻
· Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I originally grew up in Africa because of my dad’s job, shuffled between the UK and Thailand for a bit and finally settled in Thailand when I was around 11 years old.
I studied at Regent’s Pattaya throughout high school and moved to Bangkok to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Communication Management at Chulalongkorn University. Subsequently, I did a masters’ degree in Mass Communication at the University of Leicester.
· How did you get into modelling?
When I was around 13, my mum and I ran into an actor at a restaurant. He said:
“Your daughter is really pretty, she should try getting into acting.”
… and then gave us his TV channel's business card.
My mum called up the TV channel but when they discovered I couldn’t speak Thai, they advised me to give modelling a shot, instead. Nothing happened in the first year or two because I had braces (no Invisalign!) and a huge mole right under my nose … It was one of those awkward times. [laughs]
From there, my mum kept on pushing me to go to castings to build my confidence. Not long after, I won the Priew Supermodel Competition and that’s when things started to pick up.
· The model life looks full of glitz and glamour. Surely, it’s not that easy – what were some of the challenges?
Fashion shows and photoshoots always come out looking super glamorous, but the behind-the-scenes are a little less so. There’s a lot of early mornings, a lot of waiting around. Sometimes you do feel like a coathanger – you’re expected to mould into different looks to cater for different needs.
Also, I’ve always known it was a career that’s very much based on your looks and your body. And undeniably, you naturally change as you grow older. Therefore, I’ve always made my education a big priority so I have Plan Bs to fall back on.
I modelled for around 14 years, until I was 28 and really enjoyed it. I definitely think it gave me a lot of great opportunities and I would certainly do it all over again.
· Was there pressure to look a certain way all the time? What was your relationship with your body like?
Oh, definitely a lot of pressure. It’s a very difficult relationship to try and build.
When I was younger, I picked myself apart sometimes, but with age, my relationship with my body evolved. Because I’m half-English, putting on weight is super easy for me [laughs]. So as I grew older, it was harder to keep the weight off. It used to terrify me to pop a hip and have a little skinfold – when actually, it’s totally natural. It was a major learning curve to be like:
“This is your body. This is who you are. You are older and don’t need to fit into that mould anymore.“
· What’s your overall philosophy on beauty/self-care?
Personally, I prefer a more natural look but I think everyone is beautiful in their own way.
I grew up with lots of people telling me I should get a nose job or a chin job. I definitely felt the pressure, but luckily, my mum was a very strong positive influence. She always insisted that “You’re beautiful! You don’t need to change a thing!” So I’ve always stuck to my guns – if I didn’t want it, I wasn’t going to do it.
· With the rise of social media and photo-editing, what advice would you give to young people struggling with self-confidence?
I think it’s important to know that it’s not all real. You may think all these cover girls look so great, but they don’t even actually look like that – there’s Photoshop involved. And if you can remember that, I think it’s easier to focus more on yourself.
With self-confidence, I think that’s hard. I still struggle with it sometimes, but I try to remind myself that I am where I am because I’ve worked hard to be here, or somebody thinks I’m good enough to be here. At the end of the day, all I can really do is try my best.
💪🏻 || The Ultimate Girlboss || 💪🏻
· What led you to start Zazzie?
Bralettes were a huge trend at the time, so my friend, Nathalie and I went shopping together in search of cute bralettes. However, we noticed all the bras looked very generic and we couldn’t find what we wanted.
Nathalie studied fashion so she was set out to design the bralettes herself. She asked whether I wanted to join forces, to which I said yes, because it sounded so fun!
· What’s your role?
I oversee the business expansion and most of the behind-the-scenes stuff. I manage our partners e.g. The Wonder Room, as well as our e-commerce website.
· About 5 years ago, Instagram shops weren’t as popular as today. What were the initial major challenges of your business?
It was both a curse and a blessing that we started that early. A curse, because people weren’t used to the idea of shopping on Instagram. So it definitely took a lot more effort to persuade them to make a purchase. A blessing, because there weren’t many competitor brands around. So once we gained customers’ trust, it was easier to expand.
· How did you shift from modelling to real estate?
Just before turning 30, I wanted to try something completely new.My parents did a bit of real estate on the side, so I thought about looking into that.
I met someone from Ananda and was offered the Management Trainee role in the sales department.
Within 2 months, I learnt that sales wasn’t really for me and coincidently met the Chief Innovation Officer. He was looking for someone to manage internal communications and offered me the opportunity.
· What does an Innovation Experience Manager do?
My job is to boost an innovative mindset within the company, through events, workshops and communications. It’s interesting because you find a lot of people want to be innovative but aren’t always willing to take the steps. It’s both a challenge and a lot of fun to try and get people to open up.
👄 || UP CLOSE & PERSONAL || 👄
· What does your stay-at-home life look like?
I don’t dress up! I made a huge effort for you guys today [laughs] I’ve been doing YouTube workouts and some cooking too – I’ve learnt that I don’t suck as bad as I thought I did!
My fiancé and I have been apart for a year and a half, so we’ve been trying to fit in many video calls. Surprisingly, trust is not the toughest part – its making sure we give each other our full attention during our calls. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of multi-tasking on your laptop/phone.
Actually, I planned to move to the UK but since I got pregnant, that plan’s been delayed. I’m reading “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” and “The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read” is next on my list.
· Any advice that has stuck with you?
My mum always told me if I really wanted something, I could get it, as long as I worked for it. For example, I’ve always envisioned myself starting a business, but not sure what. So when the opportunity with Zazzie arose, I just grabbed it. I’ve never had clear-cut paths but I’ve always been willing to try new things and put in the work.
· In your own words, what is love?
Love is respect. When you respect someone, it helps you get past difficult points in your relationship, like when you’re arguing or have different interests. There’s lust which is fun, but eventually that fizzles out. At the end of the day, you need to have some degree of respect for the other person.
· How did you meet your fiancé?
I met him on Tinder! [laughs] It all started when I was complaining to a friend about how I didn’t have a boyfriend. Despite my skepticism and protests, he convinced me to let him set up a Tinder profile for me. 30 minutes into dinner, he says:
“I’ve set up your profile … and talked to 20 guys for you.”
I ended up dating one of the guys for a bit, but it didn’t last.
A couple of months later, I caught the flu and was stuck at home. I wasn’t even thinking about dating, but played around with Tinder just to kill time … and that’s how I matched with my fiancé! Completely unexpected! I can confirm love finds you when you’re not looking for it.