DAMDAM

Conversations with

Ally Walsh

BY GISELLE GO

Photographs by Ally Walsh

Model Alexandra Walsh is the co-founder behind the buzzy L.A.-based artisanal (and aesthetically on-point) coffee company, Canyon Coffee. Together with her partner in life and work, Casey, they source for organic coffee beans directly from small-scale farmers around the world and pay them above fair-trade cost. This ethos of sustainability and slow living is imbued in her personal life where time is carved out every morning to devote to meditation and purposeful rituals. Love lives in her personal space, a home filled with handmade artifacts, souvenirs from travels, and punctuations of greenery that enliven every corner. Here, a chat with the beautiful Ally.

Hi, Ally! Tell us about yourself.

I live in Los Angeles — currently looking for a new home on the East Side! I grew up in New York, on Long Island, and moved to Milan when I was 18 to model. From there I lived in London, New York and Miami. In 2009, I came to Los Angeles for a couple months of work, but that turned into 8 years! I moved straight to Venice when I arrived, and loved every minute of my life there. Being by the beach, the community, the freedom.

Last year I started a coffee company, Canyon Coffee, with my partner and boyfriend of 5 years. I also have been a full-time model with Wilhelmina for 10 years.

Canyon Coffee began as a labor of love for Ally and Casey, her partner in life and work.

“Casey and I have always loved coffee… Canyon Coffee came from a desire to share that love and passion for coffee with people, and to bring warmth and happiness to people’s mornings… We put so much love and time into creating a brand that, to us, represents community and ritual.”

Please tell us about Canyon Coffee. Why coffee?

Casey and I have always loved coffee. Since we met, we’ve enjoyed traveling for coffee, making each other a cup in the morning, visiting roasters, and sending new beans home to each other when we’re on the road for work. Before long, we became the go-to “coffee people” to our friends, who would reach out to ask where to find the best coffee in a given town they were visiting.

It wasn’t until Casey worked in the industry as a barista and met our roaster, James, that we asked ourselves, “Why don’t we start roasting beans ourselves?” Canyon Coffee came from a desire to share that love and passion for coffee with people, and to bring warmth and happiness to people’s mornings.

We loved so much about the process. We put so much love and time into creating a brand that, to us, represents community and ritual. As for our coffees, we basically just find and select organic coffees we would want to enjoy every morning! Our business includes selling coffee direct via our online shop, wholesale to select boutique shops and markets, as well as cafes and restaurants who serve it on-bar. We also help companies set up their coffee programs by consulting and providing coffee equipment. With no shop of our own, we averaged 2-3 pop-up coffee events per month during our first year of business.

Why is it important for you to support fair trade?

Regarding our buying practices, we only work with importing companies that have transparent, beneficial relationships directly with farmers. Small-scale farmers and their families depend completely on the check they get after their one, sometimes two harvests of the year. We buy the green coffee based on the quality of the coffee, which means we’re almost always paying higher than fair trade cost – which is just 10¢ above the market value… If the coffee market plummets, so does the “Fair Trade” value.

Beginning every day with routinely slow, soothing rituals.

“I’m an early riser. Lately, I’ve been starting my day with water and apple cider vinegar. I always meditate, first thing, for 20 minutes. Then I’ll boil some water, grind coffee, and set up to make a chemex for me and Casey. I try to not be on my computer or phone in the morning.  It’s really nice — and important — to start my mornings mindfully, and ease into the day.”

Do you have a morning ritual?

I’m an early riser. Lately, I’ve been starting my day with water and apple cider vinegar. I always meditate, first thing, for 20 minutes. Then I’ll boil some water, grind coffee, and set up to make a chemex for me and Casey. I try to not be on my computer or phone in the morning.  It’s really nice — and important — to start my mornings mindfully, and ease into the day. Finally, I like to light some Bodha incense, take a shower and get ready for my day.

Are there things you look for in particular in your beauty products or brands you support?

I only like to use products that are as natural as possible. No synthetics or sulfates.

What inspires your work?

I love taking photos for Canyon, and always get inspired when I’m able to visit a new home or space. Traveling, meditating and beautiful publications featuring art, creatives and travel. I just picked up the recent Openhouse magazine!

Seeking inspiration wherever she goes.

“I love taking photos for Canyon, and always get inspired when I’m able to visit a new home or space. Traveling, meditating and beautiful publications featuring art, creatives and travel [inspire me].”

What do you do on days when you need to unwind? 

I love to visit the Self Realization Center in Mount Washington here in East L.A., read a book, and lie in the sun. Taking long walks, or a hike in the mountains. Sitting for a tea ceremony with friends. Yoga is a daily routine that gets my blood moving and brings a meditative calm.

Where are your favorite travel destinations?

Japan, Mexico City and the northern California coast.

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