Canadian-native Simon Nessman was discovered at 18 years old when a friend of his sister sent a picture of him to a local modeling agency. Still in high school at the time, he chose to finish his schooling before pursuing his modeling career. Simon saw success on the runway, walking for some of the most notable designers and fronting luxury fashion campaigns. He has recently branched out to become a director of the Cedar Coast Field Station, an independent, not-for-profit society with a mission to preserve ecological health through place-based research and education that celebrates the cultural and biological diversity of Clayoquot Sound, A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Tell us how you got inspired to start Cedar Coast Field Station?
At 17 I was kind of plucked out of Canada and shipped off to New York to start doing some modeling work. I was kinda quickly swept away in that world. I spent about five years working full-time as a fashion model and traveling back and forth. I think during that time I was able to experience a lifestyle that was in many ways disconnected from nature, I would describe as nature deprivation disorder. For me, it was an amazing experience that I appreciated, and it really gave me a greater appreciation for nature and the way that I grew up.
At that time I moved back to the west coast of Canada to a very remote area, and sort of fell in love with the lifestyle here in Clayoquot Sound. Ultimately, I decided I loved that lifestyle but didn’t want to be a total recluse. I should find some way to facilitate similar experiences for others. So this is what ultimately lead to Cedar Coast Field Station. A place where people from all over can come and either researchers to study the local ecology, or education groups coming to learn.
Was there a memorable moment as a kid that factored into your love of science?
I was in an outdoor leadership training group in 11th grade it was called the Explorer program and was a semester-long program. The program included a week-long hiking trip, a week-long kayaking trip where the field station is located now. Part of the program was a biology credit, and really for the first time, I experienced being able to be in the field studying as opposed to sitting in the classroom sitting under florescent lights. That was a big shift in my motivation and inspiration to get engaged and involved.
What would our reader be surprised about with the shoot for the Illisuione fragrance campaign shoot?
Well, it is a bit of an illusion! One surprising thing is that it was kind of like a cold rainy day. The incredible film crew worked their magic by adding some big lights and large tarps suspended in the sky. They were able to create this illusion of a beautiful warm sunny day in the Italian countryside. It was an impressive production adapting to the challenging circumstances of the weather.
How did you personally connect with the fragrance?
I definitely have been working with Bottega Veneta for a long time and it is one of these iconic and classic Italian brands I have always held in high regard so it was a real honor to be with the brand in that capacity. In terms of the fragrance itself, it has these woody notes of balsam and cedar which for me is really strongly connected to my childhood and upbringing in the woodshop with my dad building cedar furniture. There is definitely a nostalgia associated with the fragrance.
What challenge(s) have you had to overcome in the modeling industry?
One of them was dealing with this identity thing. In modeling, you are forced to let go of your own identity. Which is an interesting exercise, since I was somewhat like high school jock for lack of a better term. Having to do things like wear makeup. I think there are some aspects of masculinity you have to strip down or let go of momentarily. I had to learn to be quite flexible with my image. The biggest challenge was trying to find a healthy balance outside of work and not allowing my life to revolve around the fashion industry and keep everything in a healthy perspective.