FASHION Model, entrepreneur, fashion designer and actress: 25-year-old Joy Corrigan has a passion to protect our planet’s endangered species through the fashion label she founded with her sister. Jack Yan interviews her
Jack Yan is founder and publisher of Lucire.
Joy Corrigan and her sister, Gina Corrigan Smith, are the duo behind US fashion label Naked Species, a streetwear brand with a commitment to donate to charities that support preserving endangered species, bringing them back from extinction.
The sisters have chosen Wild Tomorrow Fund, to where a minimum of 10 per cent of their profits go. The Fund works in southern Africa, dedicated to protecting threatened and endangered species and their habitats. It’s a cause close to the sisters’ hearts as they create their limited-edition fashion pieces.
Joy Corrigan, 25, juggles her design and art work with her careers in modelling and acting, working with such luminaries as Bruce Willis (in Bill Lawrence’s Out of Death, which has started filming, and, earlier, in the 2018 thriller Reprisal) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (in the 2017 thriller Aftermath). She’s even cultivated a following of a million on social media (a sizeable 668,000 on Instagram, @joycorrigan) to promote her various interests.
K. R. McManus
‘I’m not going to say it’s easy to juggle all my passions,’ she tells Lucire. ‘I try and dedicate certain days for certain projects, that way I can focus in and give proper time to each endeavour. My day typically starts with a light workout and healthy smoothie to energize myself for the day ahead. After that, I try and tackle my to-do list, always trying to knock out the hardest tasks first.’
It sounds like the life of a busy Hollywood actress and model, and it’s a world away from where Corrigan had her early years. Born in Hadley, Massachusetts, a town of c. 5,000 and part of Hampshire County in the west of the state, Corrigan’s family moved to North Carolina when she was six. ‘I grew up in a small town, on a remote farm, surrounded by forest.’
She wasn’t alone, by any means: ‘Having six brothers and three sisters, and being home-schooled, has been one of the best gifts my parents could give us! Having a strong support system, growing and learning together, has played a big role in helping get to where I am today. This is also a big part of why I treat every human encounter as a potential new sibling-like bond!’
It was on the farm where Corrigan found an interest in nature and wildlife. She explains, ‘Growing up on a farm has given me a great appreciation for every species of plants and animals. We had llamas, horses, chickens, ducks, rabbits, sheep, dogs, and goats on our farm, and I can’t imagine life without nature and wildlife. We grew so attached to the animals that we never ate any of them, but rather had them as pets.’
She made a decision to join the modelling industry as a teen, after having explored other career options, none of which ‘ever felt right,’ she says. And, if anything, the doubters made her even more determined. ‘I had a deep passion and gut feeling that I couldn’t ignore if I wanted to stay true to myself. With the inner self-confidence my parents instilled in me by saying, “Joy, you can do anything you set your mind to!” It helped me ignore the naysayers and I never gave up. I would hear things like, “But you aren’t a model!”, “That’s unrealistic and dumb”, and “When are you going to get a real job?” from people in my town. I always kept pushing and decided to use the negative comments as fuel, wanting to prove everyone wrong.’ Corrigan’s upbringing and experience also helped her develop a strong mindset, where she would not be fazed with what the industry can throw at a model—‘this industry is full of rejection,’ she recently said in another interview.
At 14, she was approached by an agent to model. That part of her career took her around the world, and she has graced magazines internationally. ‘My favourite part of modelling is getting to travel to interesting places and meet new people. From Capri, Italy, to Medellín, Colombia, I have travelled to many remote and exotic locations around the world and have met lifelong friends. Being immersed in an array of diverse cultures has helped me to have a unique perspective that I apply to my life. And one thing I have noticed, some of the happiest people have less and find joy in the small things!’
Acting was also one of Corrigan’s passions, and probably her deeper, truer one. With her siblings, she liked to make up scenes, write plays and perform, and it was a natural development.
Fortunately, fashion design also benefited from her years in front of the camera and her contact with designers. On shoots, if the designer was present, she would ask about their methods and production. ‘My sister Gina and I both have always had a passion for fashion and endangered species. With my knowledge in the fashion world, and her expertise in the business side of things, we became the perfect match to create a clothing line. After brainstorming for weeks, we came up with Naked Species, an edgy streetwear brand that gives back by donating 10 per cent to help save the endangered species.’ It’s Corrigan’s art that appears on the clothing, with each piece expressing part of her own thoughts and feelings about the conservation and protection of life on our planet.
She says, ‘I’m inspired by the beauty and uniqueness of the many species on our planet. I constantly am pulling ideas from photos of these beautiful rare species, painting and drawing them onto my blank canvases. Then, I will transfer them digitally to be printed onto the clothing. I try and make every design wearable, stand out and ultimately portray the essence of these species.’
The label intentionally keeps the quantities of each style limited, with Corrigan saying that both the environment and exclusivity are important. They want their customers to know they are supporting not just a great cause, but that they are wearing something from a limited collection.
‘The Naked Species customer is not afraid to stand out and stay true to what they believe in; someone who is environmentally conscious and ultimately a fashionable human being,’ she says.
Naked Species’ socially responsible mission was no accident. ‘Gina and I always knew that philanthropy would have to be a part of everything we do. With our love for plants and animals, we knew we had to find a way to help the species that are most endangered. After spending a large amount of time researching different charities, we decided to partner with Wild Tomorrow Fund. WTF is a charity that is currently in the field making a difference by stopping poachers, buying land for the rhinos and elephants to run free, and by training the locals on how to maintain a healthy habitat for optimal health and life for many endangered species.’
Corrigan believes that people can do their bit for the planet. ‘First, we must educate ourselves on how we are impacting our planet and the many benefits that result from a greater species’ diversity. If we all make efforts wherever we can and demand that governments also prioritize our planet’s biodiversity, that’s when I believe we’ll see real change.’
She has her own personal mission, too: ‘My ultimate goal is to make a difference in the world. I have been given a platform to use my voice and I don’t ever want to take that for granted!’
Nevertheless, it’s the simple things in life that Corrigan enjoys, something she witnessed when modelling outside the us. ‘I feel most connected when I’m surrounded by nature and always fill my house with plants and flowers. Even though I might not have room for a full garden right now, I planted tomatoes in large pots that are growing on my balcony! I miss playing outside for hours a day building forts, riding horses, and planting gardens. One day I would love to have a farm again.’ •
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