Interview with Emily Rose Theobald

I have been inspired by Emily for over three years now, and I am so happy to have had the opportunity to interview her, and to be able to share this with you! Hopefully you find some inspiration as well. 

My name is Emily Rose Theobald, I am a 29 year old Sagittarius with one boyfriend named Bryan, one cat named George and too many house plants to count. We all live together in the Catskill Mountains in a house that was built in 1830 with a great backyard and maybe a ghost who slams the window shut from time to time. I currently work at an Inn called Foxfire Mountain House where I hold many positions, but mostly I like to call myself the "Vibe Master" where I help maintain the 100+ year old building, meet and greet our amazing guests, and help manage our wonderful staff. Since working there I have also become a florist, I started making arrangements for our dining room and lobby, and before I knew it, I was introducing myself as the in-house florist, and booking gigs for some of our many weddings.

I am no stranger to this jack of all trades life style, I have always gotten my creative hands into many things. Including, but not limited to: stylist, photographer, model, fashion director of a magazine and producer of photo shoots. Vintage clothing dealer, vintage clothing hoarder, as well as vintage clothing shop girl. Novice ceramicist, collage artist, creator of weavings, embroideries, macramé plant hangers, and other funny things you can do with fiber arts. The list goes on and will continue to grow no doubt, I love learning new things and honing new crafts. In the grand scheme of things, I want to live a happy long life along side the people I love, living off the land as much as possible, and making a safe beautiful space for others to come to create and learn. Maybe in New York, maybe in California, maybe else where, but for not I like it just where I am. 

Tell us something more about yourself.

I was raised on Long Island in the house that my mother grew up in. I always felt a little out of place there, but I was happy to be growing up so close to the city. As a kid I thought I would one day move to the city and spend the rest of my life there. I lived for 5 years in Brooklyn, and moved up to The Catskills this time last year. So I guess my life plan has changed a bit, but I think they always tend to anyway. I am an optimist at heart, I love meeting new people and making friends. My truest form of artistic expression always has been and always will be my personal style and the way I choose to dress myself. It makes me feel like myself to wear funky vintage clothing, and it seems to bring out a lot of happiness in other people too.

 Have you always been so creative? - When did you get started and why?

I grew up in a very creative household. My parents met in art school, my dad was a truly amazing artist who could create literally anything in any medium if he set his mind to it. It was always just second nature I guess to be creative, and to find a multitude of outlets to express that. I think I got a lot of those qualities from my father, he was a jack of all trades, and like him I will try anything and will most likely excel at it at some point or another. I just love working with my hands!

 When do you feel most like yourself? 

I feel most like myself when I am dressed up in a really great outfit! I love being around my closest friends and my boyfriend. I love being out and being social, but I also really love the home I have create for myself. I am quite the collector, and love to nest, so I love just being at home surrounded by all those things that represent me.

 Whom do you think has influenced you the most?

More and more I am realising, my father. He passed away from cancer almost 3 years ago and the longer he is gone the more I see how much I am like him. Grief is a funny thing, it never gets easier, you just learn how to get along. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and if my father had to pass away I might as well learn from that and grow. All of these great qualities I have, and the way I think and dissect things with almost this enginering eye the way he used to. I try to honor him every day in my life and the things I do.

 What inspires you on a daily basis?

I decided to move out of Brooklyn a year before I did, and I am glad I set the intention and followed through with it. My choice to move up here and start down a new life path is something that inspires me all the time. It makes me feel like I can do anything if I just set my mind to it.

What projects you are currently working on?

As said I work at an Inn called Foxfire Mountain House, and this time of year we have weddings every weekend. I started doing flowers for us around the inn last year, and booked a few of the weddings through that. So floristry is a new thing I have delved into and I love it so much! I never thought I would be a florist, but it makes so much sense! Like I said, I love to create with my hands, and so this is just another medium. It also feels extra special because I get to help decorate this super monumental day for these couples, being a part of that beauty is really amazing.

 What do you do when you’re not working?

Recently I moved into a new apartment with my boyfriend, we have a great yard and I have been gardening for the first time! I just like spending a lot of time in our yard, sitting in the hammock, or lighting a fire in the fire pit. I don’t need much at all to be happy in my down time.

 One advice you would give to your younger self.

Appreciate what you have when you have it. Everything in this life, including life itself, is fleeting and gone before you know it.

 How did you get into buying more vintage and living a more sustainable and conscious life? 

I grew up shopping at thrift stores. I think it was a combination of my mother's love of it, mixed with growing up without a lot of money. I just remember loving that feeling of going to the little church thrift store and digging through all the racks and finding that one thing that was so cool and fit me, like it was made for me and put there just for me! The older I got the more I learned about past decades fashions and I just fell more and more in love. I have clothing that is 100 years old and it’s made to last longer than the fast fashion retailers of today. Back then people made things to last! Now they are made to break apart so you can consume the next thing. I think it’s unfortunate, so I just keep living my life where I buy all the old funny things and give them a loving home again.

Photos by Cassie Carello

 Is there any advice you have for people who want to start buying vintage/second hand and living more sustainable?

It’s more work than just walking up to a rack and selecting your size. Sometimes you have to really hunt, or get dirty, so just stick it out! Also, learn how to take care of your clothing. Vintage often times needs more care, mending and hand washing. Teach yourself about the fabrics and how to treat them. You can make your old clothes last for another 50 years if you just care for them.

Tell me about your photography

I've always loved photos, my mom probably is the one who really got me into it. She took so many photos of us growing up, and they were always special in some way. She knew how to use light and composition. She gave me one of her old Canon's when I was a kid, and although I never really shot a roll with it, I played with it all the time. The mechanisms of a manual SLR camera really fascinated me. When I was in high school I took photo classes my Junior and Senior year. I learned how to develop my own film and print my own photos. Again, it was another thing I was amazed by, to have so much control over every aspect of a photo was a wonderful discovery. 

In my Senior year of high school in 2005 I met my very best friend Alison Scarpulla, she was a few years younger than me, but I could already see her budding talent as a photographer. We started hanging out and shooting photos nearly all of the time. We would come up with these concepts and I would model for her. It was the most collaborative natural creative process I had ever had the joy of experiencing. During that time I really pulled away as a photographer myself, leaning more into styling and fashion and being the model. Seeing how crazy talented Ali was made me feel a little inferior, but I didn't really think about it one way or another. 

It wasn't until 2010 that I started shooting again. Ali gave me a little old minolta camera and I just began carrying it around. The first roll I shot probably took me quite a while to finish, but once I finally got it developed I remembered "Oh yea! I have an eye for this too!" And then I just began shooting more and more, and just generally carrying a camera with me always, to document. Especially as we came into this age of having little personal computers on us all the time, I still wanted to only shoot film. It has this quality that digital just can't compare to. It also makes you a better photographer, having limits and not just shooting rapid fire because you can. It still took me like 4 years to even call myself a photographer though! I knew so many great artist and it felt strange to put myself on their level. But over time I saw I really had developed my own style and totally had something to add to the medium. 

I began taking a lot of self portraits a few years back. Partly because I love modeling and I know best what I want to see in a photo, so why not do it myself. But also to document my life in different and sometimes seemingly mundane moments. To be able to look back over time and see myself from my perspective. I am so glad to have these photographic memories even though some are only a few months old. One day they will be evidence of my youth.

I also like to shoot myself in the nude, I love the freeing feeling of being naked/ Getting to feel comfortable in my bare skin led to a lot of self discovery for me. I know every inch of my body, and I love it for what it is. I own it, I take these photos of myself and I put them out there, there is no mystery about it. The naked body doesn't have to be sexualized all the time, I like the idea of normalising it. There is nothing more honest and timeless than the naked body.

I love to play with light and color and film manipulation. The possibilities with film are so endless if you just take the time to learn about the device you are using! I used to do a lot of double exposures where I would shoot through a roll, and then rewind the whole thing and shoot over it again. You have no idea what combinations you are going to get, and sometimes they just come out so perfect! It's like magic, and it's so satisfying. I think I love portraiture most of all. Getting to capture someone in a moment and make them feel beautiful in the process. You really get to connect with a person that way.

Touch on your spirituality

I was never the type to really have a faith, I didn't believe in a higher power, and I didn't really know too much, or think too much about if there was an afterlife. When my dad passed away I feel like for the first time I fell into my own spirituality. There is no name for it, there is no practice really, but it's all about energy. We are all made up of it, we are all part of this world, universe, each other.. There is positivity and negativity, but it's all the same energy. It's just a matter of how you channel it and choose to put it out there. 

I have seen and physically experience the benefits of positive energy. It's like, give others what you would like to receive. The more positive you are, the more intentions you set for yourself, the more things fall into place in the most perfect of ways. It's a bit abstract, but the feeling over whelms me sometimes, how connected we truly all are. It's really quite beautiful. 

I have always been an optimistic person, I don't know why, and when my dad passed away everyone told me I was handling it so well. But I didn't know any other way to go about it. He was sick with cancer, diagnosed only 6 months before he passed, he was a smoker and a drinker most of his life. And it took him in the end. Maybe I saw it coming, maybe I didn't care then. But I do now. We didn't have the closest relationship because he was very introverted and quite selfish about his addictions, but I see now all the ways we are alike and all the things I leaned from him. But for me, now that he is gone, I see him in everything. I get signs from him, I feel I have knowledge I didn't have before, almost like I absorbed some of him when he passed. Gone from his body, but his energy had to go somewhere. And because of how receptive I am to these things, some of it came to me. It's a comforting idea, and one I use to move forward knowing he isn't around anymore.

But I wouldn't be where I am right now, I wouldn't be this very person writing this all out if he had not died. So I choose to be grateful for his death. Because if I can't change it, why sit and wallow over it. I am going to take every opportunity I can to be glad I am alive today and that I am the person I am because of where I came from and the experiences I had. 

Where do you see yourself in the near future? – Travel plans, work, personal journey?

I want to buy and live on a farm with all my closest friends and family. I really see myself in a communal living situation, one I would like to create. A place where creatives can come to visit for workshops or residencies. A place where we who live there can be as self sustaining as possible. I want to feel more connected to nature and my surroundings and the people who make my life worth it. Those human connections are so so important.

Photo on the left by Arden Wray

 Any last words?

In the great words of Led Zeppelin.. “NOW’S THE TIME, THE TIME IS NOW!” 


All photos by the lovely Emily if not otherwise indicated

- Nora Marie