There are few words that we’d use to best describe Alison Cotton, founder of Australian activewear label, First Base (known for their much-loved range of not-so-basic basics that have a place in every wardrobe).
The first is refreshingly real. We love her no BS approach to, well, everything. The second is effortlessly stylish. There’s not many people that can pull of baggy track pants and a midriff without looking like they’re straight out of a hip-hop music video. The third is hustler. She is constantly running around getting her hands dirty (yes, even though she’s the boss).
You see, the First Base offices just so happen to be across the hall to Sporteluxe’s HQ in Sydney, so we often get to see Ali in her natural habitat. Here, we sit down with the Bondi Beach babe as she shares what keeps her inspired in business and everyday life, how she stays fit and why she dislikes the word ‘mindfulness’.
First Base as a brand prides itself on sustainability. How do you personally lead an eco-friendly life?
I love to cook and there is so much wastage around cooking so it’s important to me to really try to limit wastage and namely purchasing product with any sort of packaging. We shop mainly at farmers markets and bulk food stores and put things in our own bags and jars always. I am also conscious of consumerism and try to lead an overall minimalist life.
I’m not really into ‘stuff’. But when I do need ‘stuff’ then I try to opt for the most eco-friendly version. My biggest contribution to sustainability is really expressed through First Base and all our practices that we have put in place there. That’s my platform for trying to spread the message and show it’s possible to do good while doing business.
What is one thing people may not know about you?
I have a black belt in Chinese Kickboxing. Most people don’t know what the hell Chinese Kickboxing is—basically it’s an offensive form of Martial Arts that blends Muay Thai, Kung Fu and Kickboxing.
How do you bring mindfulness into your everyday?
I’d be lying if I said I was actually successful at that everyday. I like to call it clarity or perspective because the word mindfulness causes me anxiety! With clarity or perspective around what is important, what you want to achieve, what’s worth your time and energy and what you really want out of your day or life for that matter, it becomes so much easier to navigate all the tricky stuff. Get clear = happiness.
If you weren’t heading up an activewear company, what would you be doing?
Pro Surfer for sure.
How would you describe your healthy eating philosophy?
80% healthy, 20% vodka and cheese.
What does your current fitness routine look like?
I’ve been injured most of this year so it’s quite lame. Yoga twice a week, Pilates, which I’m so rubbish at, twice a week and getting in a surf when my back feels up to it. Other than that, there’s a lot of lifting Negronis to my mouth, so I’m not sure if that counts?
One person who inspires you and why?
Tamarin Jackson! My production manager and dear friend. She always finds the positive in every situation. Always backs me even if I’m being unreasonable (and tells me I’m not unreasonable!) and reminds me constantly just by her actions, of what it means to be an all-round great human.
What would we find you doing on a Saturday night?
Lots of Negronis with friends and talking so loud that the people next to us hate us or just chilling and cooking at home with my husband in a face mask and a dressing gown.
A good book (currently reading Jay-Z’s DECODED. Bloody great) and an eye mask.
Ultimate beauty hack?
The only beauty thing I’ve ever nailed in life is my hair. But I didn’t really do anything—it’s just naturally got a lot of volume and is wavy so I just let it do what it wants. SO that’s my tip—don’t fight things! Work with what you’ve got and make it your thing. And then sit back and just take the credit! If all else fails use four different types of products and that’s sure to do something. And if that does fail, cancel your plans and don’t go out.
If we looked inside your wardrobe right now, what would we find?
So many white t-shirts, millions of denim and white collared shirts and a mash of vintage sports jackets.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Fall down seven times, get up eight.
If you’re in Sydney make sure you drop by First Base’s physical store at 5/168 Oxford St in Paddington– did we mention how awesome their stuff is?
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