E12 The Unlock Moment: Alexis Knox – Restyling Your Life
In this episode, I interview global style icon Alexis Knox, who has worked alongside the biggest names in popular music as an in-demand international fashion stylist, working with music’s most edgy personalities including Miley Cyrus, M.I.A, Charli XCX, Little Mix, Bruno Mars, Craig David, Rita Ora, Jessie J, Grimes, and more. She talks honestly and candidly about the personal toll her 24/7 globetrotting lifestyle took on her and how the pandemic lockdown in 2020 caused her to re-evaluate her priorities and design a more sustainable and fulfilling lifestyle without compromising her ambition. Alexis is a real force of nature and you can’t help but be drawn in by her relentless positivity and determination to find joy and fulfillment in everything she does. And of course, you get free fashion tips too!
Follow Alexis Knox on her socials:
Gary Crotaz 0:02
My name’s Dr. Gary Crotaz. And I’m a coach and author of The IDEA Mindset, a book about how to figure out what you want, and how to get it. The Unlock Moment is that flash of remarkable clarity, when you suddenly know the right path ahead. When I’m in conversation with my coaching clients, these are the breakthroughs that are so profound, that they remember vividly where they were, who they were with, what they were thinking when their Unlock Moment happened. In this podcast, I’ll be meeting and learning about people who have accomplished great things or brought about significant change in their life, and you’ll be meeting them with me. We’ll be finding out what inspired them, how they got through the hard times, and what they learned along the way that they can share with you. Thank you for joining me on this podcast to hear all about another Unlock Moment. Hello dear listener, and welcome to another episode of The Unlock Moment podcast. Today we’re talking with someone whose professional life was turned upside down in the pandemic. We’ll be finding out how that worked out and what they learned about themselves. Some days you just know you’re underdressed for the occasion and today is just one of those days. My guest on The Unlock Moment is DJ, producer and celebrity fashion stylist, Alexis Knox, I suggest you head straight to her Instagram and you’ll see exactly what I mean. For over a decade, Alexis has worked alongside the biggest names in popular music as an in demand international fashion stylist, working with music’s most edgy personalities including Miley Cyrus, M.I.A, Charli XCX, Little Mix, Bruno Mars, Craig David, Rita Ora, Jessie J, Grimes and more. After establishing herself as the go-to for cutting-edge fashion, Alexis is now set to establish herself as an equally in-demand DJ. Her love for all things fashion and music have seen Alexis travelled the world from Tokyo to Rome on a colourful and exuberant DJ schedule, veering from Fashion Week events and exclusive parties to underground raves. She has now signed a multi-single record deal with dance music label Perfect Havoc, and is enjoying releasing high energy house music. I’m looking forward to hearing all about Alexis’s adventures in fashion, music and life. Let’s get into it. Alexis, it is my great pleasure to welcome you to The Unlock Moment.
Alexis Knox 2:28
Hello, hello. It’s my great pleasure to be here.
Gary Crotaz 2:32
Thank you so much for joining, and you’re dialling in from a Portacabin, you tell me!
Alexis Knox 2:37
I am in a very glamorous location. And yes, it’s a Portacabin. I was going to record this from home. But our fabulous neighbours are doing a year-long renovation it seems and today they’re repainting all their woodwork. So there was lots of like ‘vrmmms’ and I thought, Well, that’s no good is it? So I stuck my head out the window, I was like, Oi, lads! And they’re like, Er, yeah, sorry! So I thought right I know, I’m going to come to the boyfriend’s office. And he is a builder. So his office is a Portacabin, but I have to say so it’s very nice, I’m very impressed. There’s a kitchen and a loo, and it’s all very clean. He’s a good boy!
Gary Crotaz 3:17
It says suits your style. I love it. So start out with telling us a little bit about what you were like growing up and where this incredible fashion and music persona came from.
Alexis Knox 3:29
It’s so funny when people use the word persona, because when, there’s no like, switch it on, switch it off, I’m working or I’m not, you know, and like… my name, Alexis Knox, people always say to me, Oh is that a stage name. And I’m like, No, my mom just, well no, it’s my name, it’s just like a name, you know. And so I don’t know, because I’ve always had a bit of a razzmatazz name from day one, it embodied this, this persona that was just, has become who I am. I’ve always been quite eccentric and had a natural flair for performance, and really understood clothes and style and how I wanted to present myself from day one, from day one. So yeah, growing up in Oxfordshire, and just wanting to entertain and try and look fabulous while I was doing it, really.
Gary Crotaz 4:22
So what, what kind of, what kind of child were you? When you’re at school and growing up, what kind of things did you do?
Alexis Knox 4:27
I was very loud, proud, happy, always trying to get involved, singing, dancing, performing. I was also very political. I really had a ‘power to the students’, ‘power to the kids’ kind of mentality and I think I’ve got a mother who herself is a very powerful, strong woman and she’s always raised me to speak up if I wasn’t comfortable with something. If there was something a teacher or another adult was doing, you know, it was totally okay for me to voice it and most importantly explain why first and foremost. So it was never really in a bratty, I don’t wanna do this! I always had to be eloquent. So yeah, so that kind of made me quite political and very involved at school. So when I left at 16, and I moved to Oxford College of Further Education, within a month, I was running for President of the Student Union. And I got that. And then my first job I did was I put on a big rave. And then I created a cheerleading team so I could become head cheerleader and perform, and yeah, and just walk around in my fabulous outfits! So yeah, and then I graduated and then moved to London. Yeah, pretty much just been the same.
Gary Crotaz 5:40
And what were your, what were your music influences when you were growing up?
Alexis Knox 5:43
Oh, everything. I was really lucky. My mum played a lot of music in the house. So it was very, very diverse, from dance music, to like Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, a lot of big icons, very upbeat, very happy sounds. So that was definitely, it was definitely very upbeat and happy. And I think that has been part and parcel of just the way I roll. You know, it’s great, because I’ve never been asked this question. So when you’re, you know, when you’re talking and you’re like, realising, some things you answer in auto-pilot, and then other times, you’re like, oh, my gosh, what was my soundtrack? What does that mean? How does that translate? And yeah, no, it was always upbeat, happy, lively, and very, a lot of icons. I would say like Madonna and yeah, Michael Jackson, very, very pop, but very cool at the same time.
Gary Crotaz 6:37
I was reflecting on this yesterday, actually, because I was, I couldn’t sleep and I was watching you know, those late night things where they they play like, you know, the, the music album of one of the years in the 80s or something like that?
Alexis Knox 6:50
Gary Crotaz 6:51
And you work out which one was your year? For me, it was like 1988. And they’re playing like, Now, whichever it was, you know Now 12 or something, in 1988. And I was like, I know every single one of these songs, and I listened to it over and over again, and I’m not sure I was doing that in 1986 and I’m not sure I was doing it in 1990. But there was just this window of time where, where, you know, you have these sort of deep influences around, around music. And for you was it music and fashion or one or the other when you, when you were growing up?
Alexis Knox 7:20
The word fashion I actually don’t really resonate, for me it’s always, everything is about being expression. So I think it just was natural I landed in a world of style and music and working with pop icons who were very expressionate a bit like a Bruno Mars or a Miley Cyrus, people who really communicated through the aesthetic. So I was never really one for trends, I have to shout out my friend Alexia, who was my junior school best friend. And at the age of eight, she was the person who introduced me to the concept of fashion, I didn’t really know about trends, I just knew how I wanted to look, how I didn’t want to look, and what that meant. So to, to perceive that something might be out of fashion or out of trend was like, so mind blowing, which added a whole new level to it, which was very exciting, because it meant then, I guess, my eye was then on the lookout for the newest thing, or the emerging thing. And I always like to be why just by nature, always sort of ahead of something, or yeah I’m just very excited and excitable. So if I catch a sniff of something, be it you know, a new genre of music or a fashion trend, I’m like, yes, let’s consume it fully. So fashion, for me and trends, no it’s about style and it’s about expressing yourself 100%.
Gary Crotaz 8:43
And could you describe your personal sense of style? Does that have a sort of way of describing it?
Alexis Knox 8:50
Whenever I work with a client, I always say, we go for coffee, and we chat. And we just have a normal chat like you were getting to know a new neighbour, and I’m really just sizing them up and finding out like who they are. And then you find out what they want to communicate to other people, you know, because all of us are very multi-dimensional, and we have loads of sides to us. So for example, I’m sat in a Portacabin right now and I’m a girlfriend and I live in Surrey and I’m very close to my family and I have a very homely energy to me, but that’s not the part of me that I want to communicate. You know, so even though I’m in like girlfriend, Surrey mode, I’m sat here in a, a diamanté tracksuit, and I’ve got a cap saying Baby Girl on it. So, it’s really what you’re choosing to communicate and express. So for me, it’s usually like, colourful or flashy or fun, but also very practical. And there’s a lot of trainers or sportswear but it always is, looks like I’ve made an effort but it’s actually very comfortable. So it’s comfortable and practical, but kind of zhuzhy.
Gary Crotaz 9:56
I love that and there’s something about the message you’re communicating that I think is really powerful that, you’re thinking about not just, I like what this looks like, but it’s there for a reason, you know, and when you’re working with people it’s there for a reason to do, to do something for them.
Alexis Knox 10:11
100%. You know, it’s in our human nature to look ahead and assess and judge immediately you know it’s there to protect yourself. You know, if you see someone coming, you want to know if they’re a threat or a friend, you know. And what we don’t realise is that we are reading so many subliminal messages in the things that we’re choosing to present. Be it our hair, our choice of trainers, they all means something, different things to different people. So for example, I’ve, I’ve had clients, they’ve come to meet me and they, they’ve decided to walk there. So top half of them, they’ve got a nice, sort of, they’ve made an effort, nice shirt and, or nice smart t-shirt and jeans. And then they’ve got what they call, Oh, these are just my running trainers. Of course, these are what I just put on to walk to see you, and they’re muddy, and they’re gross. And I’m thinking, that’s a massive, massive disconnect to me, like you’re presentable up top. And then down below, it’s like, What’s going on here? You look like you’ve been doing the gardening! And, but to them, it’s like, oh no, but they’re just my trainers. But what you have to realise that what something might mean to you, you might not be communicating that same thing outward. So that’s why a professional like me is helpful to come along and go, you might not realise but by choosing to do this or wear this, this is what you’re saying to someone who hasn’t had the benefit of knowing your backstory.
Gary Crotaz 11:29
And how did you go from a 16 year old, you know, joining College in Oxford and, and cheerleading, to working with the kind of people that you’ve worked with over the years? What was the beginning of that transition? Where did that all start?
Alexis Knox 11:45
So I’ve been so blessed that I’ve, I’ve got amazing friends and family and I chose to move to London. And so I put the feelers out. And I said, Look, I don’t know what I want to do. I want to do something cool and exciting. I know, I feel I’ve got a lot to give. Does anybody know anyone who might present me with an opportunity to do some work experience, just anything, anyone? My friend Lucy introduced me to her sister-in-law’s friend who was working for a magazine. That was one of my first work experiences. It doesn’t exist anymore. It was a magazine called More. But it was part of the big publishing group called emap. So I was going to this big, exciting building full of magazines, and… It was a bit you know, Devil Wears Prada, to be honest. And it was very exciting. And I had randomly come to London on a night out, met a boy, gone back for a house party, befriended his friends, and then moved in with all his friends a month later. So I was living in East London, with a flat full of skater boys. It was like me and seven skater boys. And I was like, Show me where to go, let’s go out. And they took me out, and it was amazing. But it wasn’t really the right scene for me. And an old uni friend reached out and said, Look, I’m in London, too. And they’d just come out and they said, Look, there’s this gay night. I really want to go, would you come with me? I’ve got no one to go with. And I was like, Ooh, a gay night, I love it! In Oxford, I had, I didn’t have one gay friend, a crying shame. And so when they offered to go to a gay club, I was like, Yes, off we go. That night changed my life. That night I met, oh my gosh, so many of my now best friends who 16 years later, I’m still so in contact with. And that was it. I found my community, that LGBTQ+ community was where I was at. And back then the term queer and… it didn’t exist. So it was like, no-one really knew what to call this world of like, gay, fashion, showbiz, colourful, it was just magical. It was like 2007, and social media was just bubbling. So everyone was very, still, in the moment, in real life, we all relied on a, you know, party photographer to take our picture. And then we’d go to the website, and we’d sit you know the next day, and we’d put it on our Myspaces, and it was magical and beautiful. So I was in this whirlwind of a really exciting lifestyle. I was going out getting work experiences, meeting new people, networking, and I really went in, it wasn’t like a couple of days a week, it was like, I lived this life seven days a week, 24/7. So it was inevitable that it was just going to happen. And I was dressing up and going out and people were presuming I was a stylist. So I thought, Ooh okay, this kind of media, fashion, but I love parties. And yeah, it’s, and that’s why it’s like people tell me you got a lot of, you know, different jobs. And I’m like, well, not really, the synergy between them all completely makes sense when you, when you get my lifestyle. It’s just fun, fashion, party, expression, music really.
Gary Crotaz 14:50
And did you ever have a moment where you had sort of imposter syndrome that, Maybe I can’t do this? Or did you feel confident that you could embody that thing that they’ve thought you were?
Alexis Knox 15:02
I’m one of those that, literally since the day they were born, is like, I’m a star. Ha ha! I’ve always been like, I’m a star. And I’m, this is really, I should probably, this is oversharing. Sorry mum, but the first time I was drunk, I was a bit like mwaah. And my friends were like shaking me and being like, Come on!, trying to get me to talk. And they were like, tell me your name. And I wasn’t a fan of Queen or anything and I didn’t even know who this person was. But in my, in my delusional state I went, I’m Freddie Mercury! These girls are like, these schoolgirls like, Who is Freddie Mercury? Why Freddie Mercury? And I was like, Because I’m a star! So I think, you know, imposter syndrome, kind of, no, but yes, because I’m human. And people say to you, Oh my god, are you nervous? Are you excited? I’m like, I don’t get nervous. But I don’t get excited. I get apprehensive. I’m competent, the fact that I know I’m prepared. I can take whatever can come my way. But I’m very ready for things to be going wrong, you know, growing up, amazing family, but definitely some very challenging family times. And I think when you have that growing up, you learn to be light on your feet, you learn to read people, you learn to recognise social situations you’re in. And it does bless you, even though it’s, you know, not fun at the time, the skillset it gives you is that when you go into an environment, you don’t realise how much you’re assessing it or reading it. And maybe that’s why my approach to clothes is the same. I don’t just see a jumper, I see, I see, Oh what does that mean? Or what could that lead to? Probably because of situations I’ve been in growing up, you know. That’s the thing, it’s… People say, Oh, is, are people bitchy in fashion? And it’s like, or, you know, Is their music intimidating? I’m like, Well no people in life are, and it, it all, it all really just blurs into one. So I think that’s my, been my general experience, that imposter syndrome, no, because I take on these challenges, just like I would being scared going on a plane alone for the first time, for example.
Gary Crotaz 17:20
Behind the camera, or in front of the camera? Some people, they love being behind the camera and are a bit petrified of being in front of it, some people love being in front of it and have no interest in being behind it. But actually, in some of the roles that you’ve played, some of the things you’ve done, you’re, you’re both, you know you’re supporting somebody as their stylist, but you’re also yourself on the red carpet, you’re, you know, you’re presenting yourself as a, you know, as an image as well. So how do you feel about behind or in front of the camera?
Alexis Knox 17:48
I’m 100% 50/50, 100%, I always have been and I think I always will be. I’m clearly a strong-minded person who likes to communicate and knows what she wants and knows how she sees it. I like, I bumped into a makeup artist I hadn’t worked with for about 10 years. And she was like, I loved working with you. We always created beautiful imagery, but she said I would just turn up on the day. And I’d expect to be told, This is what we’re doing today. And it would be, it would be stunning and amazing. But you were large and in charge, you know. So even when I’m in camera, or in front of camera, obviously I’m respectful to those who are in positions of authority. And you never, ever stop learning. You never know anything. There’s never any end goal, it’s a journey. So I love it when I am in front of the camera to shut up and listen, and learn. And then, and then put my two pennies in when I can!
Gary Crotaz 18:49
I love it. So you know, the pandemic kicked off in early 2020. So when you think back to that year before the pandemic really, you know, started off, what are the things that you, that, that you remember as the big highlights of that sort of year, 18 months leading into the pandemic? What were the kinds of things that you were, you were doing? What did your life look like before that all kicked off?
Alexis Knox 19:14
My life was wild! So I was living in this insane eighth storey tower flat that used to be Harry Styles’s flat. I had like a dressing room and a cinema room and bar room and it was like, it was like a princess palace and I was DJing and flying here, there, everywhere. I’d be like in Tokyo or Milan or Amsterdam. And, you know, Craig David was like my full-time styling client. So I was wherever he needed me to be. I had like assistants coming in and out every day. I worked from home at that point. And it was fun. It was exciting. I was going out to events and, I mean don’t get me wrong, it was exhausting, but because it was so fun, you’re in the adrenaline of it, you know. But I was definitely in a place where I had been in this world at that pace for about 10, 12 years. And I had definitely learned that crazy high-adrenaline lifestyle I knew wasn’t long term because I’d already experienced the consequences. I was Creative Director and Editor of a music magazine called Notion and we relaunched, it was going well. We’d launched it digitally, as well as in print. We had outsold Vogue digitally one month, we had beaten NME, we were number one in iTunes downloads, it was going so well, flying here, there, everywhere. Working with Miley Cyrus, and it’s hard work. As much as I’m making it sound glamorous and fabulous, working as a fashion stylist is very physical. You know, you can imagine just one day shopping and you’ve got your bags, and you’re knackered, all that thinking and walking. It’s like that times 10. And I was like, one of these people, was like, Oh, my neck, my back, my shoulders. Everything’s aching. I’ll go for a massage. Oh, I’ll put some heat packs on, and never took it seriously. And then one day I woke up and I couldn’t move my arms. I was like a Dalek, my little arms could only move from the elbow! So I was like a T Rex or a Dalek, literally, my arms could only come out of the front of me. Did I even take that seriously? I was like, You know what, I need to do a course of yoga. That’s what I need! Carry on! My mum was like, You’re mental, we’re going to a consultant now. And he said to me, Alexis, I’ve never met anyone over the age of 50 with what you have, and what you have usually it’s professional athletes at the end of their career. You have worn your shoulders out from work, from all the lifting, from all the physicality, from the up, down, arms in the air, everywhere. You’ve literally worn your shoulders to the bone. He was like you’re going to need two operations, but they’ve got to be like a year apart. This is going to take you a good three, four years to recover from. So I was like, Okay, so I won’t be moving to LA then, okay, let’s, let’s not do that. And, you know, my time at Notion was coming to a natural end, the relaunch had happened, the magazine had been out for a couple of years, it was going well. And I thought this is a perfect time for me to change my lifestyle. So I moved from East London, I moved to North London. And being me, I was like, luxury apartment North London and up pops this insane place. I’m like, How can I afford this? This is amazing. I go have a look around. They’re like, Did you know this was Harry Styles’s flat. And I was like, I’ll take it! So I thought right, there’s got to be some good energy in this building leftover and they’re like, Yeah, footballer Ashley Cole lived here when he met Cheryl Cole. And then I thought, Right well, this is where I need to live if I’m going to meet my Mr. Right as clearly romance is in the air around here! So moving there just represented a new chapter where I embarked on my shoulder operations, for the recovery, slowing things down, taking on less. It was still more than your average, but for me it was definitely a pace of life where I could make dating my part time job to find my other half, which I did! I gave up all the dating apps, because I was like, This isn’t working. It was a disaster. We could do a whole podcast on my dating life. I was like, this is just not going to work. So I did, I deleted the dating apps. And a week later, I got asked to go on a blind date. And I was like, Well, hey, I’ve never been asked to do that before. Let’s do this. And nearly four years later, that’s my Mr. Right. So yeah, and I’m living it up in a Portacabin!
Gary Crotaz 23:53
And it’s interesting because I, when, when you’re talking through those things, I often talk to people about the split between the things you need-need, the things that you want, and the things you’ll compromise to get it. And often I find that what people think they need is a longer list than what they really need. And it sounds as though even at that stage going from East London to North London, you’re starting to reprioritise what, what your need really is?
Alexis Knox 24:23
100%. 100%. I mean, I make it sound all fun and games and jovial but there were some really hard, dark times. When I moved to London, I hit the floor running and it was all about success, focus, live the dream, hard and fast. Did I have fun? Hell yes. Did I work like a machine? Yes. Growing up, success, ambition, what is your five year plan? What is your six month plan? What’s your next stage? What’s your next accomplishment? Where are you going? Where are you moving forward? That was like a definition, very much. That was very much the language. I have a sister and she owns a hair business. And she was exactly the same. It was like, next thing, next thing, next thing, and then you find yourself, you’re like, Am I an adrenaline junkie? Is this my adrenaline? Is work success? Go, go, go. And that’s all well and good. But when you realise, Oh, I haven’t actually had a holiday in eight years, which means just stopping for a period of time longer than three days. You know, it wasn’t about jetting off somewhere because I was doing that, it was the fact that I hadn’t stopped. And when was the last time I’d actually physically seen my family or been at a family event? And how many things were I cutting short or giving the bare minimum? Like a friend’s wedding? You know, I missed the ceremony because I was with Miley Cyrus at Wembley, which is the dream, but at the same time, this is one of my best friend’s weddings. That’s a dream. That’s her dream, our dream, a once in a lifetime dream. You know, my priorities were really, I won’t say wrong, but I will say different I would say to the average, and that went hand-in-hand with a financial, like work success, but a lifestyle success, no! I definitely had toxic friendships. I was never in a healthy, stable, joyful, content partnership, you know. Everything was adrenaline, or a drama or this or that. I remember I got asked to do a Diesel, the clothing brand, one of their campaigns, and one of the filming days fell on the same day as my granddad’s funeral. And I rang my mum and I said, I’m sorry, I can’t come to the funeral. I’ve got to work. And, and everyone in my world was so supportive, and they got it, like, that was who I was. And I hung up the phone and it was my housemate who, who didn’t really know me, so for them, me having that sentence was just wild! Like, you’re not going to go… My granddad was like my Dad, can I just say, he was like, my number one, the big man, you know, and they were like, I know how much you’ve spoken about him, you’re not going to go, like, I’m not gonna let you do that. And I went, I went to the funeral. And I thank, you know, I well up thinking about it. I’m like, Thank God, I did. But as if I was that person who thought it okay. And it’s so easy to get in a whirlwind of ambition and adrenaline where your priorities are so out of whack. Because you don’t necessarily even know any difference until hindsight, or something happens, that just makes you stop, the universe will strike you down and make you take stock of these values, health, home, family, priorities, you know, relationships that aren’t toxic, toxic and hectic. And so, yeah, having to slow down, it was like a very slow realisation. But the penny definitely didn’t drop and I did not have that moment until lockdown struck.
Gary Crotaz 28:18
I was going to say, because, you know, we’re here on the podcast, one of the things that, that we’re digging into is this idea of this Unlock Moment, the moment of real, a flash of clarity, and it sounds as though leading up to that, that you know, there’s some things starting to twig, there’s some things starting to land, some experiences you’re having where you’re starting to think, this isn’t quite, you know, this is how it’s been. But this isn’t how I want it to be, necessarily, in certain sort of key moments. So, so bring me into that moment where you had this sort of real clarity, you know, as the lockdown hit.
Alexis Knox 28:59
You’re so right there were, like, micro-realisations happening along the way, things weren’t feeling right, or things weren’t adding up, things weren’t panning out. People were leaving my life. And I was like, sad at the time then I look back and I went, Oh, yeah, but they only ever caused me drama. Like, that was always a nightmare and, and as things shrink down, you start to see the scale of things. It’s when you’ve got so much, so much texture, it’s a blur. And when things get less and less and less, everything gets a bit louder. It’s ironic, you know, in the, in the silence of being a bit alone, and I was realising that the pace of London wasn’t going to make sense forever. I’m, it’s in my ambition to have children. And for me, it’s just not what I wanted to do, living in a very built-up city environment. So I always saw in my future like living somewhere quieter and I’ve been in my relationship for a couple of years. We were so happy, I’ve met, I’ve been with my partner now for yeah about 18 months at this point. And things were simple. You know, you can enter relationships or a career and you get caught up in the adrenaline, in the drama of this, that and, oh my God, lalala. And then when you actually go into a new job or a new relationship or living someone new, and you’re like, hold on, this is, this is really easy. This is really simple. This is fulfilling and joyful. I’m not chasing highs and, and subsequently having crashes. This is just nice and easy. And I am calm. And you’re like, Whoa, okay, this is clearly making sense. So I started dropping the idea of maybe we should live together and we set the date in 2019. It was getting to the end of the year. And I was like, How about end of March 2020?
Gary Crotaz 30:54
Alexis Knox 30:55
22nd of March 2020. That feels like a day that my life is gonna change! I just was like something my blood said, My world is going to change and I’m going to need to be living in Surrey that day! Of course, it was the day before lockdown. So first day of lockdown, I’m not in London. I’m not in Harry Styles’s old flat for sure. I’m in a lad pad, a one bed lad pads in Surrey. I, now I’m getting messages where every single job, every single booking is cancelling. There is nothing in my diary. It’s me, the dog, and a chaotic lad pad in Surrey. The boyfriend’s off working. And I’m like, Wow, for the first time, I feel like, in my life, I’m alone with nothing in the foreseeable future to happen to me, this is down to me to figure this out.
Gary Crotaz 31:58
And before then, how far ahead would you have your schedule worked out? What’s your runway ahead of you of bookings?
Alexis Knox 32:08
Like 18 months? Well, yeah.
Gary Crotaz 32:11
So you’ve gone from this intense, really intense calendar, to nothing.
Alexis Knox 32:16
Literally, you know, I, first day of lockdown I thought in a week’s time, I was flying to Amsterdam. And I’m like, well, that’s not happening. You know, Craig David, you know, he’s in the same situation, my client, and he was like, you know, no one is doing live shows, you know, everyone is just scared and pausing.
Gary Crotaz 32:41
And how did you feel?
Alexis Knox 32:44
God, it was really hard. Because I was so aware of the privilege situation I was in. Healthy, safe, in a home with a loved one, in a beautiful environment. The privilege was real. But you can’t but help have moments where you still think your whole world is ending. When you’ve lived a lifestyle which is so interlinked with your self-expression, your sense of self, your identity, when you don’t have those things happening in your world, you don’t have those go-tos, it’s suddenly like, Well, who am I? What am I made of? What? What are the things that are fundamentally important to me? And like I say, you know, I am quite spiritual and it is like, sometimes the universe just goes, Well, you didn’t, you didn’t get the memo. So we’re gonna just give you the message, all in one, you know, and here you go, hard and fast, you’re gonna learn his lesson. And it was really like, I need to stop and take stock to full effect of what really, really matters. And it didn’t happen overnight. I tell you, it literally really only, it was a process. It was a good 18-month process, because obviously life started creeping back in for people, for me, for everyone, but then it’s taken away. So everything you felt you had learned and then was slowly getting back into it, and then it stopped again. And then you’re panicked and you’re thinking, God, is this ever? Are we ever going to go back to normal, you know, and we’ve talked about this new normal and what life could be, and conspiracy theories, and the internet and all these crazy wild imaginings of this dystopian world we’re about to live in, and you’re in limbo, and not having for the first time in my life, a six-month, three-year plan was, well, it, I didn’t know how to not have that.
Gary Crotaz 34:50
And what did you learn about yourself in that time where you didn’t have all of these things that were just going on, carrying you on that wave, and suddenly you’re sitting, kind of, in a conversation with yourself for the first time in years and years and years. And having that sort of time and space for some, some people I’ve talked to, that was a very enlightening time and a very positive time because they had the opportunity to stop and think, and for the people it was quite terrifying, precisely because they had to face into stuff that they hadn’t faced into before and all of that.
Alexis Knox 35:28
The lockdown for me was definitely a lot of polar opposites, of realising my privilege and how I wasn’t ill. And I hadn’t had any loved ones being ill or passed away, and I was safe. But at the same time, the things that I had defined myself by were all gone. And it was definitely, I couldn’t look forward like I had always done, my whole life was future plans. Where I was going, my career, and for the first time, I actually stopped and looked backwards, and tried to start to make sense of where I felt like things have gone wrong. I’ve been on television, I’ve been on radio, I’ve flown around. But I’d still not necessarily been in the most functioning relationships. I had not been in good health. I’d had home lives that were really turbulent, like things… work and superficial lifestyle were really successful. And then internally, it was just chaotic. And for the first time, I was in so much peace and calm externally. And then this contradiction entirely of wanting to get everything back, wanting to jet off to Ibiza, and play in drag queen clubs, but then at the same time being like, Oh, hold on, hold on, hold on. If I want to embark on that, again, I think I need to find a new way to approach this, I think I need a foundation that I didn’t have before. I realised that what I had been building before was only from the ground up. It was success, work, ambition, external image, and I really had never built anything from the ground down. Is this because I was dating a builder? Maybe I’m thinking about this, who knows?! But properly, no, I’m realising, sat in a Portacabin, like, oh, yeah, now I understand foundations! But you know, it’s true! If you need to be having a career success, I realised that you have to have the emotional, family, health, stability, foundation, successful first, first and foremost, if you don’t have a home life, that you feel safe, and balanced, and has order and structure, you, you cannot build upon that. You can, but it’s like a house of cards, it will fall down. And that’s definitely how I look back on my past successes in that period of time, I had built a house of cards.
Gary Crotaz 38:15
And I think when you were describing that time, leading into the pandemic, it sounds that you’re describing a few of these cards starting to fall over a bit, you know, your health was, you know, not the best and you’re just conscious of the number of years that you’d been doing that 24/7 lifestyle and so on. So I’m not sure you’d, you’d hit the buffers, but you know, you were starting to be mindful of that when you were talking about those little triggers that you were noticing.
Alexis Knox 38:43
Definitely, it was like I was a Jenga tower. And the universe was like slowly sliding out blocks, being like, We don’t think this is the right structure for you, we’re gonna start revealing pieces that really are not working and, and started to be removed, you know? And then yeah, eventually it sort of physically collapses and then emotionally it collapses. It’s, it’s, to be forced to stop working when that is who you are and what you do. Is, yeah, it messes with your head, for sure.
Gary Crotaz 39:18
I mean, I know that you’ve got a copy of The IDEA Mindset book and in the book I pick up on a widely used framework which is around the emotional journey of change. And this idea that sometimes to get to a more positive place in the medium term or the longer term, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll probably get through a dip first. Because, you know, as you’re describing, that’s the first experience of lockdown for you in terms of the, you know, the impact on your business and your life, was 18 months of, of, of clarity and bookings ahead, of knowing what you’re going to do, and all the things that you’ve built up all those years, disappears, and you’ve just got this void to sort of drop into so, you know, did you feel yourself going through a dip in that, you know, an emotional dip in the earlier stages of the pandemic?
Alexis Knox 40:16
Oh my God, were there tears? Yes! Were there tantrums? Yes! It was like, a battle, you have those moments, you have that realisation. And in one day, you’re like, Yes, I’ve got this clarity, I realise. And then the next day, you wake up and maybe your ego’s coming into play? And you’re like, No, but you know, Damn you, I was this, I’m gonna be this and I don’t need this. And, and you, it’s like a battle within you of like, these two identities. And it’s like, am I the horse? Or am I the horse rider? Which one am I? I don’t know. And you realise you’re kind of both, you really are, you’re just one unit, you have this, like, everyone has a sense of ego, which drives you forward and really values the external. And then you have that maybe be it your soul, or your sense of identity, which is the internal, fundamental knowing. I fundamentally knew it was going to be okay. And everything was fine. And I was blessed. And it would be good. But the fear and the externals, and yeah, it was really, I mean, God bless my partner, he was so calm throughout it, and just a great listener, and I’m very, what I needed, like, what can we do? What do we need to do? What can we take control of, what problems can we fix, because that’s how I roll, I’m a, I’m a problem fixer. And when problems that, say your ego is looking at, are global, it’s very hard to then be like, realising that there are smaller variations and controllables in your day-to-day which can stabilise you. And that’s where I started to be like, right, Well, I need a new routine, I need new goals, I need to shrink everything down. And I began to just try and live everything week-to-week. My life, I still, I don’t believe that we can necessarily fundamentally change who we have, are born to be or have been groomed to be through our programming and parenting, or life experience. But you can shift or reapply that mentality. So for me being someone who is goal-based and structure-based, if I could shrink that down to instead of 18 months, one week, I could get control over something which was happening to everyone in the world, which was so hard to feel, to not feel like a victim and sometimes, to be frank, feel sorry for yourself, which was never something I really had experienced. And I was like, What is this coming out of me? You know, Why do I feel sorry for myself? I have zero reason. You know, and I remember having these conversations with my friends, but I felt so guilty for the emotions I was feeling and they were like, Yeah, but you’re human, you know, like, we all have to feel these things, but we just got to get it in some kind of contextualisation and format that you recognise, and you can programme, so yeah, living life from week to week definitely gave me an ability to sort of get control. I think anxiety from my experience will, you know, rear its ugly head when you feel out of control, when you feel threatened by a situation, where you don’t know an answer, or you don’t know the values or the quantity of a situation and you feel overwhelmed and consumed. And there were times I felt so anxious. I thought no I’m not having this. I’m not letting anxiety take over me, I am, that is one thing I was like, Nah, pardon my French, I’ll make anxiety my b*tch. This is, no I’m not, you know, I’m not making that happen. So I definitely turned to Audible books and self development and really going inside because I couldn’t really do tons externally. Everybody was doing, you know, like, Oh, do online and do DJ sets and dadadah and I’m just not that person to be honest. I’m an in real world, energy, I need people, you know, people are my batteries. And so yes, I could, I could do it. And I love Insta stories and stuff, it, it didn’t give me the fuel I really needed so I thought do you know what Alexis, just go inside and just start from scratch.
Gary Crotaz 44:37
There’s something very powerful about the way you tell the story of before the pandemic and then during the pandemic in terms of your, your conversation with self because you’re describing, you know, from a young age being this very confident, outgoing, bold kid, you know, and then coming through and that whole personality landing very soundly in, in the world that you’ve worked in. But at some point, sort of not listening to yourself, not listening to your body and all of that, you know, it starts to sort of fall over, your house of cards. And then, you know, as you’ve gone through the emotional journey of change actually in the, in the pandemic, it’s being, you know, you’ve still got that boldness and positivity about the future, and you know, you’re going to come through and you’re going to achieve your, your goals, but you’re much more mindful of the journey you’re going through, you’re giving yourself more time, you’re listening to your emotions, and being able to name them. And I, you know, I work with a lot of people who struggle with the idea that they’re feeling guilt, or they’re feeling bitterness, or they’re feeling anger, when actually it’s just what you feel when you’re going through that kind of journey. And it’s normal. And if you push against it, and refuse to believe that it’s there, then all you’re doing is you’re pushing yourself back into that world of pretending that it’s not happening. And I know a lot of people tune in to Susan Davis’s work on emotional agility and Brene Brown’s work where you know, where you’re really starting to become much more cognisant of the emotions that you experience. And, and I love how you talk about the building of foundations. So, you know, when you reflect now and you think, you know, what foundations do you feel you’ve built, that you didn’t have, on the 22nd of March 2020?
Alexis Knox 46:29
Yeah, I think, Wow, that’s a good question, like what, what has created. Understanding the difference between happy, pleasure, being happy, and pleasure, versus joy and fulfilment. I feel I live a fulfilled, joyful existence, which comes, has to come from within happy as you know, it’s a classic line for anyone who is into self-development. Happiness is internal, it’s not external. And if you give your power to the external, you’re screwed because you’re giving away the ability of your own feelings to external sources. And I’m, I like to be on top, I like to be large and in charge! And I realised, Wow, I’m not even going to let a global pandemic kind of stop me being in charge of my emotions. It did a really good job. It really came for me and it was a journey and a battle. But I’ve got to a position where I’m like, Look, I need to be as happy recording in a Portacabin as I am in a central London flashy hotel. There’s no difference between my little Starbucks on Deliveroo or a glass of champagne. And I think it’s also realising you know, everyone has ego, everyone is superficial to some degree like, Okay, what little joys then will help a situation? You know, as soon as I got to the Portacabin, I was like, babe, we got to get a Starbucks in. Because that’s like, my little like, grounding, like my little thing. And you know, and I recognise that and I’m okay with that, you know, I’m also okay with the fact that if there’s nowhere I can get an iced latte, the world is not going to end. Prior to, prior, in the old days if I couldn’t get a chai tea latte in the morning. Oh, my God, nightmare! What a diva! But now it’s like, you know, no. So it is okay to have a bit of ego, it’s okay to have superficial materialistic things you need. But you need to have a coping mechanism for when you can’t have those, you can’t just crumble. It’s not how the world works, well we don’t even know how the world works. So all we can do is really just take charge of our internals, in this crazy world we’re in these days.
Gary Crotaz 48:54
And I think that’s a really important message, this idea that one of the things that shifted is the level of certainty that we have about the future. So, you know, even as we come out of the pandemic, what does the music world look like, you know, for the, for the future, we don’t really know, you know, it, whereas, pre-pandemic, you could kind of predict it to some extent, a year, two years, three years in advance, you know, you were going to get the sort of continuous development and growth, whatever, but, but suddenly, and this is the same in so many industries. There are these really sort of 90 degree shifts in how things are happening, and some things will never be the same again, and we don’t yet know quite what they’re going to be. So, so as you say, you know, learning to cope in a world of uncertainty I think is a really powerful thing and something that a lot of people are not very used to doing, because, because of the routine that they’ve, they’ve lived before. It’s, it’s, it’s really interesting to hear that journey and something I wanted to ask specifically was, I know I talk to a lot of people where they feel as though grounding, and finding foundations, and moving from the city into the country and so on feels like slowing down and paring back on your level of ambition. Do you feel that this sort of mindset shift that you’ve been through in the pandemic has, has, reflects a reduction in your ambition or not?
Alexis Knox 50:23
I was so scared of feeling less ambitious, not being in it, not being in London, being somewhere where the pace is slower. So I actually thought, you know what, I need to again take control of this thought process and test it. So I rented a little bedroom off my sister who lives in East London for two months and I, and it was available, she let me have it for like a sister rate. Thank you, Katie Knox, shout to you! And I was like, right, I have a bedroom in East London which I can stay in, I’ll live in, I went and bought everything and kitted it out, it was gorgeous. It was there for two months. Didn’t stay in it once, didn’t even make the bed! I bought all the linen, I didn’t even put it on the duvet. I did not stay there once, because every time that there was the option to go back to that bedroom in East London by myself, which effectively was my life before I moved in with my partner in Surrey, or go back to what was my new home with my partner and my dog, which was somewhere really beautiful, I would always make that extra little trek to go somewhere where I felt safe and comfortable and where I’d open the front door, and there’d be at least, you know, a little hairy four-legged creature welcoming me, you know. And, and sometimes in life, we get into a position because our subconscious decisions have taken us there. And we don’t even realise, like I, me moving to London and moving to the centre of Shoreditch and living in a house with eight boys. I thought that was just the way life kind of made it happen for me, but they were all decisions I was making without realising it. I’m putting myself in these positions because of what I wanted and liked. So being somewhere where I didn’t necessarily have that people and that texture, I didn’t even know, I didn’t even know that was something I needed and wanted. I didn’t realise that people were so important to me on a daily basis. Going from having a system, I was working from home, but I was having assistants coming in and out and housemates and noise and colour and texture, to waking up in the morning, being alone, going to my desk in the house and just sort of trying to Zoom or just work alone, I was getting really depressed. And I didn’t understand why and I thought the problem was just being not in London. I realised the problem was I wasn’t with people. So now I’m curating a world where, from, from the second I leave the house, I’ve got people and texture. And, Hi how you do, all those things I took for granted that I didn’t know I need, because I’ve kind of accidentally created a world where I took them for granted. And then when it’s sort of taken away, and you really have to recreate it, you think, Oh god, I really value, I really value so many things I took for granted. And you don’t think you take things for granted. You really don’t. You think yeah, I’m really grateful for my life. Yeah, be grateful and practice gratefulness. But there’s still like, to fundamentally, Oh, my God, with your whole heart appreciate and value something is very, very, very different. And often you have to have lost it.
Gary Crotaz 53:36
If you had to pick just one word, describe something that you have now that you didn’t have before, what word would you pick?
Alexis Knox 53:48
Security. Yeah, security, in the knowledge that, internally, I have all the tools I need to take on anything or anyone. And if I don’t have it, there’s so many resources out there to find it, be it other people like yourself to talk to or get guidance from the internet, friends. We actually all have everything we really need at our fingertips. We’re in the most privileged point in history. There’s so much to slag off about the world today, but really, anything you want to be or do. There’s really no reason why you can’t. We are given everything in a little little palm pad to take on the world or even just take on any situation we find ourselves in.
Gary Crotaz 54:37
I love it, and I love how you’re able to take all that experience over the last couple of years and put it together in really quite a deep self reflection on the journey you’ve, you’ve been through. So you know, we sit in the first half of 2022 and you’re, you’re looking to the year coming up. What are the things that are, that are coming up for you? What are your plans is as we gradually emerge from, from this pandemic?
Alexis Knox 55:01
Very excitedly I just had a single out. It’s called Think About It, it’s with a singer called Mila Falls, she’s amazing. I’ve just dropped a remix for it. It’s the first time I’ve done a remix of one of my singles and it’s really like dirty and hard and it’s ready to rave, like the last two singles. First single I ever put out, lockdown happened two weeks later. Ssecond single I was like, Well, I better get a single out, we could be a lockdown forever, even though I didn’t want to, so I was in a lockdown. So this third single finally we weren’t in a lockdown! So I was like, Do you know what I’m going to do a remix of this. The single’s very dance, pop, fun, upbeat. But I’m going to do something really dirty people can rave to, because now we can! So yeah, I’ve done a VIP remix of my single Think About It. I’ve got another single in the pipeline, it’s out in a couple of months. I was in the studio yesterday working on another demo. So it’s really releasing music, live gigs, I’ve just been booked for Ibiza, I’ve just come back from Amsterdam. Yeah, and then sharing it all on my socials!
Gary Crotaz 56:03
Amazing. And it will be, I’m sure my listeners wouldn’t thank me for having Craig David, Bruno Mars and Miley Cyrus’s stylist on the show and not getting some good style tips from you! So…
Alexis Knox 56:17
I won’t be invoicing your listeners, don’t worry! You can have this one for free!
Gary Crotaz 56:22
So coming out of the pandemic, people are cautiously obviously emerging back into the world. And with the cost of living crisis, people don’t have the spare cash to go buy a whole new wardrobe. So what’s a top tip for people to style themselves on a budget as they come out back into the world?
Alexis Knox 56:36
A top tip to style yourself on a budget post-lockdown is Be Resourceful. Often what I find is, when I go to a client and we go through their wardrobe, they have more than enough! But the reason they think they don’t have anything is because there’s a lot of cr*p in there that they don’t like. So you can’t see the killer for the filler, that’s what I say! So I’m like, right, I want you to go to your wardrobe and instinctly without thinking take out 10 items that if your house was on fire, and to get out alive, you could only take your top 10 favourite items, grab 10 outfits. And you could do that so quickly. And I’m like, grab another 10. And then when you get to the point where you’re suddenly stopping and thinking about it, all these different emotions start coming into play. It’s like the relationship people have with money, we have it with our clothes. Oh no, but that was 200 pounds when I bought it. Suddenly it’s got this value, but hold on, Okay, so you spent a bit of money on it. When was the last time you wore it? Two years ago. Do you really like it? No, but it’s worth 200 pounds! Look, the value of something when it was purchased then doesn’t equate to the value of it to you now, like value and money, it’s, it’s, forget about it with clothes. It’s a, it’s really just a tool to keep you warm and express yourself, have a bit of fun with. So unless you love it, or you use it, it’s out. So before you do any purchasing you’ve got to do an edit of your wardrobe. And only then will you see the gaps of what’s really missing.
Gary Crotaz 58:15
Alexis that is, that is amazing. I’m going to go through my sock drawer straight away now with with that in mind! And where can people find out more about you?
Alexis Knox 58:24
I am on Instagram @AlexisKnox. I am sharing LOLs on my TikTok @ItsAlexisKnox, someone took Alexis Knox, didn’t get there fast enough! I think some 12 year old in America beat me. But yeah, so AlexisKnox on Instagram and ItsAlexisKnox on TikTok, they are probably your best resources.
Gary Crotaz 58:43
Fantastic. Thank you so much. And we’ll put those links in the show notes as well so people can follow up.
Alexis Knox 58:47
Oh, and don’t forget to hit up my Spotify for my music as well if you fancy a boogie. Yeah, AlexisKnox on there.
Gary Crotaz 58:53
Thank you so much. The Unlock Moment is that flash of remarkable clarity when you suddenly know the right path ahead. For Alexis, after a nonstop life of fashion, music and glamour that was taking a significant personal toll, suddenly the global pandemic emptied her diary, styling work and red carpet events, and saw her moving out of the heart of the bustling city into a little corner of rural Surrey. That shift reframed her priorities. And as we emerge from the pandemic has allowed her to develop a new perspective on what’s really important to her as she shapes the next exciting chapter in her life’s journey. Alexis brings this source of relentless positivity to everything she does, and I’m very excited to see where her journey takes her next. Alexis, thank you so much for joining me on The Unlock Moment.
Alexis Knox 59:37
Thank you for having me. I’ve loved it.
Gary Crotaz 59:40
This has been The Unlock Moment, a podcast with me, Dr. Gary Crotaz. Thank you for listening in. You can find out more about how to figure out what you want and how to get it in my book, The IDEA Mindset, available in physical book, ebook and audiobook format. Follow me on Instagram and subscribe to this podcast to get notified about future episodes. Join me again soon!