Ally Walsh is a model and co-founder of Los Angeles-based organic coffee company, Canyon Coffee. Though we’ve never met, we love Ally’s easy-going approach to wellness, her beautiful instagram, and what her and her partner are doing over at Canyon. It’s an all-around girl crush :)
In this interview, Ally tells us about her transition from a vegetarian diet to a feel-good, intuitive diet, the tonic she always takes before bed, the books she’s found to be instrumental to her well-being, exercise, beauty, and much more.
— Is routine important to you or do you like things to be more open and free?
I love routine, but that probably has a lot do to with the fact that my schedule is constantly changing! I really enjoy my morning routine, waking up early and making coffee at home. But it’s always nice to switch things up and come back to that.
— What do your mornings look like? If they differ from day to day, describe your ideal morning.
I definitely try to ease into my morning. I used to grab my phone first thing when I woke up—now I keep it out of the bedroom. Instead, the first thing I do when I wake up (on a good day!) is sit upright and do a 20 minute meditation. To me, there’s no better way to start off the day.
Meditation is always followed by some Canyon Coffee. At home, I typically make a pour-over, which is another little opportunity to be mindful as I start my day. On a day off it’s so nice to sit outside on the porch with some friends and read and have coffee together. We get the New York Times delivered to our house on Sunday mornings and I could spend the whole day reading and relaxing outside in the sun. It’s honestly one of my favorites things to do.
If I’m shooting though, or out of town for a job, most days start early and end late. The schedule for modeling is often last minute—I sometimes don’t know my schedule until the day or night before. In contrast, it’s nice to have Canyon, where I make my own schedule.
— Do you have any bedtime rituals that help you sleep well?
I make a glass of calm/magnesium before bed every night! I take that with me wherever I go—security always pull me aside at the airport to ask about what this white powder is ha :) Aside from magnesium, I’ll sometimes make a warm tonic with some ashwaganda. And reading always helps me to fall asleep. I guess I wouldn’t call it a ritual, but I do love watching a show or movie before sleep, too.
— Describe your typical or ideal meal for each of these:
Breakfast: I have a cup of black coffee and almond butter or avocado toast with gluten-free bread every morning. I’m a creature of habit… I have my favorite go-to’s, and I’m happy eating them every day. If I have to work super early sometimes i like to make overnight chia seed oatmeal. I’ll mix in some oats, chia seeds, almond milk, maca and flax seeds, and then in the morning top it off with some fruit and almond butter.
Lunch: Usually a salad with quinoa, avocado, kimchi, roasted seasonal vegetables, seeds, lemon and different oils like grapeseed, olive, and white wine vinegar. I would also be very happy with just roasted kabocha squash and pesto :)
Snack: Cashews, pumpkin seeds, Dates and almond butter, green juice, avocado toast, and currently addicted to Honey Mama’s Chocolate!
— Do you partake in caffeine and in what form? If not, what is your drink of choice in the morning?
Well, it kind of comes with starting a coffee company ;) Some people are surprised to learn, though, that I only drink one cup of black coffee in the morning! That’s pretty much it. I can’t do too much caffeine. Only on rare occasions, like when I’m on vacation, will I have an afternoon espresso or cortado. I was in Copenhagen and Stockholm recently, and fell in love with oatmilk cortados! Definitely pushed my caffeine limit there!
— Do you have a sweet tooth? If so, how do you keep it in check?
I honestly don’t! I love raw chocolate, but I’m really sensitive to sugar! So I’m kind of weird in that I really don’t love sweets.
— Are there any particular supplements, herbs, or tinctures/tonics that you take regularly and find to be helpful with your energy level and general wellness?
— Do you exercise and do you have a particular exercise routine that you repeat weekly?
Yes. Yoga has been such an important practice to me, for years. I usually go to a class a couple times a week. I intersperse that with hiking in the Santa Monica mountains and walks on the beach.
— Do you find exercise to be pleasurable, torturous or perhaps a little of both? How do you put yourself in the right mindset in order to keep up with it?
I actually look forward to exercise. I don’t really partake in any forms of exercise that aren’t enjoyable. For example, I’ve never really gotten into spinning or boot camp-style workouts. I love getting out in nature for hikes, and I find an hour-and-a-half in the yoga studio to be very meditative. After a long work day, I really look forward to being able to do something nice for my body.
— What is your idea of beauty – external, internal or both?
I really think the most beautiful people are those that feel confident in their skin and are who they want to be—not what society expects them to be. Someone that’s naturally comfortable in any setting.
As a model, so much emphasis is put on the external, and that’s important for a photograph or video. But in person, beauty really does come from within.
— What is your skincare approach – face and body?
I think the most important thing for healthy skin is to eat and drink clean. Especially drinking lots of water. As for products, I use the most natural that I can find. I love Earth tu Face, True Botanicals, Osea and Linne! I use oils for moisturizing and just use water to wash my face in the morning. I love using Bodha and CAP Beauty rose water spray, too. I’ll try to do a face mask once a week from Wildcare while taking a bath! It’s very relaxing :)
— Are there any foods, herbs or supplements you find to be helpful to your skin/hair/general glow?
Water! I also think getting a good night of sleep is just as important!
— Do you have any beauty tips/tricks you’ve found to be especially useful throughout the years? Family heirlooms are very much welcome.
Stay hydrated. My mom is 59 & has the most beautiful skin – not one wrinklel! And she swears by drinking lots of water!
— Do you practice any consistent routines in order to avoid stress?
I’m trying to get better at this, but acupuncture has been a life saver! Its a place to relax and reset. I see Maria at Elysia Life Care and she is life-changing! I think getting into a regular routine of acupuncture and meditation can help so much with stress. After having a consistent routine with both, you start to notice things that used to stress you or make you upset no longer have the same power or effect on you. You can laugh it off, or just observe it and not be affected by it.
— If stress cannot be avoided, what are your ways of dealing with it?
Going on a walk always helps.
— What measures do you take when you sense a cold/general feeling of being under the weather coming on?
Lycopene vitamin C packets, lots of ginger and tea tree oil (usually just put it in my water!)
— Do you strive to maintain a healthy work/life balance or do those things overlap for you? What is your approach?
This has been a learning process for me, how to balance everything. Modeling, Canyon Coffee, relationship with my partner, my friends, and time for myself. Especially with starting a company with your partner, that start-up grind can be all-consuming because there’s always more work you can do! So we’ve had to learn how to turn off- and make sure to make time for a date night!
— Describe the actions you take or mindset you try to tap into in order to stay on track with your self-care practice and being nice to yourself?
My goal is to maintain a state of love (as opposed to state of stress, or lack, or anger, etc.). I was lucky to learn from a qi gong master named George Falcon for a couple years before he passed, and I feel like his teachings provided me with tools to help stay in this mindset throughout the stressors and obstacles of daily life. One of the big ones is to take responsibility for our actions and state of being. It’s easy for us to blame, to say he, she, or it made me feel this way. But really it’s our decision.
Of course, we sometimes fall out of that consciousness of love. When I’m not feeling well, my first step is to take a break. To meditate, listen to a recorded guided meditation of George, go on a walk or a hike.
— What do you consider to be the single most important change you’ve made to your routine or lifestyle in terms of wellness?
I’ve made different changes throughout my life that have been substantial in terms of my wellness. I stopped eating meat when I was 19, then introduced fish (mainly salmon!) back in years later. Acupuncture has perhaps been the most substantial in helping me maintain balance and wellness.
All of these changes or decisions are really informed by just listening to my body. You can get caught up in the mindset and identity of, say, “I’m vegan.” But it’s important to check in with yourself and ask, “Am I feeling good? Is this helping live a balanced and vibrant life?” If not, then it’s important to make a change!
— A book/movie/class that influenced your view of self-nourishment or self-care.
So many books! If I had to pick two, I’d say Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Anatomy really opened me to the power of our bodies to heal and self-nourishment. It helped me connect my mental and spiritual state to my health and well-being. It’s a book you can go back to, re-read and continue to learn from over time.
Big Magic was instrumental in motivating me to start Canyon Coffee. It made me feel like I had more to give, creatively, and pushed me to start something with a greater purpose. It brought clarity to the creative process for me, breaking it down in a way that makes it approachable and applicable to my own life. It’s one of those books that really inspires you to follow your dreams, and what could be more important for self-nourishment?
— You run Canyon Coffee together with your boyfriend, Casey. What was your path to starting your own coffee company?
Personally, I was feeling uninspired. I felt like I wasn’t making the most of my creativity and talents. I’ve always been grateful for my modeling career, but I had also always wanted to start something of my own, and I was feeling that itch.
Casey and I had both fallen in love with coffee over the years… through making it at home together and visiting coffee shops in our travels and around LA. Casey actually started working in the coffee industry, and we became friends with a roaster, James. Eventually, our passion for it grew to the point that we had the thought: why not start our own company?
It really was a natural culmination. The moment we decided we wanted to do it, we just never looked back.
— What is your process when choosing beans for Canyon Coffee? Are there certain growing practices, flavor profiles, or geographical locations that are important to you?
The universal practice of tasting different beans is called cupping. It involves preparing small roasted samples of different beans exactly the same way and trying them at the same time. For Canyon, our parameters narrow down our options. We usually decide on a country first, and then see what organic, seasonal beans grown at high altitudes are available through the network of importers near us in California. Then we order samples, cup, and choose the bean that smells and tastes best to us.
High altitude is important because the elevation makes the coffee plant grow slower and put more energy into producing cherries. The slow growth results in cherries (and coffee beans) that are much more flavorful and vibrant.
To start Canyon, we focused on Latin American coffees and wanted to find amazing-tasting beans in the chocolatey / caramel flavor profile. We went with beans from Guatemala and Colombia first, because they’re known for these flavor profiles and they have great infrastructure for small coffee producers to process and export their beans.
Fun and Inspiration
— What do you do to unwind or treat yourself?
I love going to the movies :) And a nice dinner out before or after.
— A book/song/movie/piece of art to feed the soul:
Song/Album – Paul Simon – Graceland, Feist – Let it Die, Lord Huron – Lonesome Dreams
Movie – Beginners
— What are your favorite places to eat in LA?
— We are captivated by Joan Didion’s compact travel packing list. What are some essential objects that would be in yours?
I’m actually in the process of moving out of my house right now! We’re taking advantage of the end of our lease to do some traveling and try out living in some new neighborhoods. As a result, I’m having to put a lot of my stuff in storage. It’s been really nice to get rid of a lot of things and simplify to the essentials.
But as far as traveling goes, I always have with me..
– new book and magazines
– Jesse Kamm pants
– Bodha rose water spray
– magnesium and ashwaganda
– sparkling water
– ursa major rings
– eye mask
– almond butter packets
— Is there anyone you would like to hear from next in this interview series?