By Nicole Berrie
Photographer Libby Gray
THESE DAYS, New York is riddled with ‘model-slash-DJs’ running the streets from Madison Ave to the Bowery, but it’s safe to say that Alexandra Richards is one of the first of that burgeoning tribe who started it all. For years, the downtown-based beauty has juggled posing in front of the cameras with manning the turntables all across the globe, earning her other gig as spokesperson for Michael Kors. (No surprise, after one glance at her cascading Cali-blonde locks, sun-kissed complexion and statuesque frame—three hallmarks of the designer’s Americana look.) How does she keep healthy while doing it all? “It’s about planning ahead,” said Richards, barefoot and clad in a vintage T-shirt and jeans at her downtown New York apartment on an overcast Saturday morning. “When I was 21 years old I wasn’t
paying attention to my body, which I learned about the hard way. Now I’m more conscious about my health.”
Amidst salt crystals, aloe plants, Fornasetti incense holders and a trove of her own artwork, Richards discussed how she keeps grounded in the ever-tumultuous world of fashion and nightlife. “I love to cook,” she revealed, adding that she and mom Patti Hansen enjoy whipping up healthy meals like grilled sole at their home in Connecticut. (Dad Keith and sister Theodora are the carnivores in the family, Richards admits.) “We have these peach trees and in the fall, all the girls in my family get together and make our own peach and mango chutney.” Here, bonberi caught up with Richards who revealed her arsenal of health and natural beauty secrets, what she treasures in her wardrobe most as well as her efforts to promote low thyroid awareness amongst young women of her generation.
Working as a DJ and keeping healthy seem anti-intuitive. How do you do it?
I’m big on water especially since I’m flying a lot. Between meals and drinks, I’m always hydrating. I don’t drink alcohol while I’m djing because I like to focus on what I’m doing.
Do you ever get wiped out?
When I’m feeling low and my immune system is down, I make an amazing green soup. I put everything in it that’s green—zucchinis, kale, spinach, cabbage, celery, green pepper, jalapeño, curry and hot pepper. I have it as soon as I start to feel off. I puree it with a Vitamix and it lasts me three days. It’s really good. It blasts me back into reality.
Sounds amazing. What else do you cook?
I have an amazing chopped salad, which is basically the green salad version of the green soup. My dressing is usually olive oil, lemon and apple cider vinegar. I love sea salt. You can put it in your water; it’s good for your body for hydration, digestion and alkalinity. When you are doing those cleanses it replenishes your electrolytes.
Do you have favorite healthy snacks while on the go?
I love raw almonds, pistachios and Whole Foods’ trail mix with cranberries and nuts. I drink coconut water all the time.
Your skin is amazing. Do you have beauty any secrets?
Tracie Martyn has been my facialist for a long time. She has this rosewater spray that’s all natural. I make sure I bring that on the plane with me. I also use Mario Badescu cucumber toner, which is very refreshing and his drying lotion you want in your cupboard no matter what. But when you’re having a sleepover, you have to sneak it. Less is more with me. I try to wear not too much make up. I really try to keep my skin clean on my days off.
We noticed that contraption attached to your sink. What is that?
That’s my water ionizer! I have one in my shower as well. I notice a huge difference when I use it. The filter collects all the crap. I get my hair dyed it doesn’t turn brassy or green. It also stabilizes and purifies the water and makes the PH high.
Wow we want one! Are you into other homeopathic remedies?
Definitely. I have a book Coconut Cures, which I got when I was in Palm Springs on a cleansing weekend trip. I stayed at the Ace, and went to all these spas, hiking trails and salt-water baths around there. Someone told me coconut helps with your thyroid. I have a slow thyroid that acts up. It makes me moody, tired and not feeling like myself.
When did you realize you had a thyroid problem?
I had botched tonsillectomy when I was 16 years old. They did an ultrasound around my neck and noticed these nodules sitting on my thyroid. I was noticing that I was gaining weight. My weight fluctuates all the time because of it. It’s the most annoying thing. Every woman should get her thyroid checked.
We had no idea low thyroids are common among young people.
Yes, well, no one talks about it. A lot of young girls have it but they don’t know. They self diagnose, like, “Oh I have anxiety, I’m going to take a xanax.” Just get your thyroid checked! It’s not in your head. It’s probably acting up and it regulates everything in your body.
Is there a cure?
I used to take thyroid medicine but that can affect things like pregnancy in the long run. I did a bunch of different testing with diets to see what helps. Drinking is the worst thing you can do, but it’s in my life and I moderate it. I also don’t eat meat because of it. Now I take my vitamins and I’ve noticed improvement.
Do you feel more inclined to use natural remedies?
I believe that if you put energy into something and start thinking about it, you’re going to automatically become what you imagined. You’re depleting what is natural and what is human nature by just taking pill. I’m sick of seeing so many girls that are numb. They’re not alive. I get it, some girls really have it bad but I try not to think about when I’m having a bad day. I try to manifest good energy.
Has your mom passed down any homeopathic remedies?
She’s always been on the health tip ever since we were really young. She bought organic when it first became popular. She got bladder cancer four years ago, which is the surprise because she’s the healthiest one out of my parents. Since then she’s been raising awareness because a lot of women don’t talk about it. It’s such a personal thing and more women have it then men do now.
That’s so admirable. What is your biggest health accomplishment?
I quit smoking! I have the e cigarette thing. It really helps. I stopped cold turkey. I woke up one day and was just like it’s not me anymore. When I quit last summer, I gained that 15 pounds but once you get over the hump, it stabilizes. Now I nibble on tea tree toothpicks, which help a lot. I also liked Allen Carr’s The Easy Way To Quit Smoking.
Do you cleanse?
For the longest time I didn’t order juice cleanses because of the freshness. I’d rather get a fresh juice. I did a lot of cleanses to shrink the nodules on my thyroid. I was able to do that by not eating meat, eating right and not drinking— basically a fish diet. Now two are gone and the last one is so small so it really worked well.
What is your favorite workout?
I usually run the Brooklyn Bridge. I don’t like feeling like I have to compete. I have a trainer Marc Felberg who comes over and we do Pilates mixed with weight training and push-ups. It helps me to get motivated.
Do you have a go-to playlist while exercising?
I don’t listen to music when I run. I like concentrating on my breathing. I can go longer without music. I like to pace myself. It’s therapeutic.
Sounds it! Do you do anything else to keep your mind balanced?
I love doing laundry. Getting the stuff out of the dryer and folding. It’s my meditation. Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers is a great book about dealing with anxiety. I have a lot of family that have been in rehab and have drinking and drug diseases so this book just puts your mind in a better place to accept it all.
What is the most treasured piece in your wardrobe?
I have endless Rolling Stones shirts from when I was a baby. I cherish them because it says a lot about my past, my travels and the tours I used to live on. I also have an amazing scarf collection. I lived in Jamaica until I was five so we were always naked or wrapped in my dad’s saris.
How would you describe your personal style?
My street wear is jeans and a T-shirt. When I’m dressing up, I tend to lean toward the little black dress. It’s sexy and chic. Too overdone is ouch.
FOR ALEXANDRA’S GREEN SOUP RECIPE, CLICK HERE