GENKSTASY CEA Evie Willsteed – a day in the life, Peppermint magazine
Evie Willsteed Genkstasy

A day in the life: fashion designer Evie Willsteed

When you’re a one-person show, the days can be long and the nights even longer. We took a peek into the daily routine of Evie Willsteed – designer extraordinaire at non-binary streetwear label Genkstasy – and talked all things sewing, cereal and why it’s so important to keep talking about gender fluidity.

What’s your morning routine? 
It’s pretty un-routine at the moment. Some days I get up at 4am, do a bit of yoga or meditation, then head into the studio. Other days I’ll get up around 7am, go to an aerial yoga class then do a fried egg brekkie at home before heading to the studio, where I often stay sewing til 10pm or later. There’s so much to do when you’re running a fashion business solo – especially when you do the sewing yourself – so it often means long days to get it all done.

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at work? How do you spend your morning?
When I get to the studio I set the space: put on music, make tea and set out everything I need for the tasks ahead (and if I didn’t get to it the night before, I make my list of what needs to get done that day).  I then start the practical jobs like patternmaking or sewing, as they’re tangible jobs and I can see what I’ve achieved. That keeps my motivation going into the afternoon for the switch to computer tasks (and on long days, back to sewing again). I can also be packing orders, making trips to the post office, doing mini photoshoots for the website and any number of admin tasks.

What’s a standard lunch?
If I’m on a roll with sewing I sometimes forget to eat – I’m trying to work on that, because it doesn’t make for a fun afternoon! I usually try to eat a hearty lunch, with a balance of protein, veg and carbs to keep my brain fed and my body energised – things like fish, potato and salad, or left over veggie pasta with toasted nuts. I have bad days too, but let’s not mention those – we all have ‘chips at the pantry’ days, right?!

Do you often work late into the night? 
Yup, late nights are abundant in this biz – I often finish between 8pm and 12am. I usually end the night with a mad dance around the studio, and wind down with chats with my bestie/wifey, music, hot showers, and journalling or poetry writing. Dinner is my worst meal!  If I work super late I’m often too tired to cook and take-away in Brisbane is not really a late night thing, so it’s toast or cereal. Seinfeld would be proud.

What’s the hardest thing about your job? And what’s the most rewarding?
The hardest part is the long hours working alone – it can be tricky in those late night moments when I don’t have someone to bounce questions off. But I’m so lucky that I’m based in the Creative Enterprise Australia (CEA) space at QUT – there are lovely people in the offices around me, and that gives me fun chat doses during the 9-5. The best part of my job is all the amazing people I’ve met! And of course the creative freedom, and getting to make things with my hands every day – something tangible that will give someone else comfort and joy – makes me really happy.

What inspired you to create ungendered streetwear? 
In my teens I felt I didn’t fit into the stereotypical female form. I didn’t want to, but I also didn’t want to be labeled a tomboy – I wanted to embrace my masculine side without it being a thing. I also saw how heavily gender norms affect men, and that really upset me. Words like ‘girl’ and ‘pussy’ are thrown at men like they can’t be men if they have an ounce of that in them. I want to help grow a world where people of all genders can express their gender and sexuality – no one should be seen as lesser for being ‘too femme’ or ‘too masculine’. I feel gender is fluid, but that doesn’t mean a certain gender won’t stick for a time. For years I felt like I was born in the wrong body – that passed, but it doesn’t for everybody. The more discussions we have, the more we can learn about each other. I can never know what it’s like to be another human, nor what’s best for anyone other than myself. But I can be open to hearing what their journey is, and helping them if they want it. I think more of us are adopting the philosophy of listen, embrace and support. And that’s going to make for a pretty amazing future.

What does the road ahead look like for you and Genkstasy?
My dream is to normalise non-binary dressing in Australia and around the world– to make it globally acceptable for men to wear flowy clothing (or anything they feel good in) and it not to call into question their masculinity, and for women and LGBTIQ people too – for all humans! – to dress how they feel and be accepted. It will take time, because those ideas of ‘normal and ‘acceptable’ are ingrained so deeply in our subconscious. But I believe it’s possible, and we’re working towards it.