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Behind the Couture with Nicole Trunfio

Modeling provided the perfect runway to pursuing creative passions

Article by Jennifer Birn

Photography by Cydney Holm

Originally published in Austin Lifestyle

2020. While many were binge-watching TV shows, catching up on sleep and consumed by the news cycle (all of which is okay), Nicole Trunfio birthed her third baby, started two businesses and launched Chef Trunfio. The serial entrepreneur already had found success with her line Erth Jewelry and in the last year expanded it, added a sustainable swim line (made from discarded fishing nets!) and a line of maternity and beyond clothes that make dressing a pregnancy bump chic.  While a prolific creator, you likely recognize her from her time in front of the camera. The Australian-born Trunfio has modeled since she was scouted in her native Australia at 15 and went on to win “Supermodel of Australia” and become a finalist in “Supermodel of the World” before signing with Ford Models and moving to New York City at 16-year-old. Since then she’s worked with designers including ChanelVersaceChristian DiorGucciFendiMissoniValentino and Dolce & Gabbana.  

And, although she still has fun donning gorgeous designer looks as she did for the Austin Life shoot all around the grounds of the Commodore Perry Estate, she says these days she often falls asleep and wakes up in a Bumpsuit and barely bothers with a beauty or workout regimen because she’s happiest spending the time with her family (children Zion, Gia and Ella with husband Gary Clark Jr) at their ranch or creating.

Over lunch at Joann’s Fine Foods, around the corner from a new office/creative space where she’ll host piercing parties and do appointments for custom jewelry, we caught up to talk ranch life and all of her many endeavors.

 

How long have you been in Austin?
Seven years. We moved here when my husband was doing his second album and I was pregnant to do the album and have the baby. 

 

How did you meet your husband?

Friends in New York set us up and we got married at Coachella because that was the only time he had time off, a week between Coachella weekends. But, we really fell in love at Coachella, it’s when we knew we were going to be together forever, so it’s a sentimental place for us.

How do you like ranch life?
I love it. It’s a lot of work, but I come from a very hard-working family, so I’m up for the work.

How does it compare to how you grew up in Australia?
It’s really similar. The area is similar to where my family is now, down in wine region in Southwestern Australia. It’s all wineries and breweries, olive oil factories and chocolate factories. It’s really fun and very scenic. When Gary came to visit my family in Australia he was like, ‘I know this place, it’s like where I’m from.’ And when we moved out to wine country where we live now, it’s the same. It’s the same terrain, just no ocean, which is a big bummer for me, but I can live without it. 

Where I was born and raised when I was younger was the outback, the middle of Australia. It was like 200 people, very rural, wheat farmers, mostly aborigine. Our Main Street had a post office, a hair dresser, a grocery store, a shoe shop and a clothing store for men, women and children, just one warehouse store with everything. The liquor store was attached to a hotel that was miles away, there wasn’t anything else really.

Did you like that?
Yeah. I’m from a really big Italian family and family is everything. We didn’t really do anything else. I didn’t even know who Nicole Kidman was, when I grew up in Australia. My dad was a musician. He played in a cover band. I used to play the tambourine for him. When we moved to the coast, to wine country, when I was in grade school, we were driving in the car and The Doors came on and I said, ‘That’s my dad’s band, and someone said, ‘No, that’s not, that’s Jim Morrison.’ I had no idea, I was very sheltered. Not on purpose, we just had our own world.

And now you live rural on a ranch and drive your kids an hour to school.
Every morning.

What do you do to pass the time?

We read books. Recently, “How to Raise Successful People” by Esther Wojscicki. We read Michelle Obama’s book and “The 5 Love Languages” and we’ve been really loving Chris Bosh’s book “Letters to a Young Athlete.” We also listen to all sorts of music, we love listening to Joe Rogan’s podcast and I love a local podcast called Therapist Uncensored that’s a group of female therapists.. Someone recommended it to me because I’m so interested in the human condition and all of that stuff. I love the drive. Otherwise, I would never have time to listen to books or podcasts. My kids have learned to love it too. I stay off I-35 and I always go the back way. It’s better energy and a lot of people in Austin probably don’t even know we have a beautiful wine country out there. 

And you’ve gone from model to serial entrepreneur…

My intention was never to be a model. I’m having so much more fun working behind the scenes and collaborating with women. I know my life and career is in front of the camera but I much prefer being behind the scenes and the creative. 

Your first company was Erth Jewelry…

I started the jewelry in New York. I never wanted to model, ever, so I always filled the rest of my time with something. I studied sociology and 20th Century Literature remotely at The New School and I studied jewelry art in school and became obsessed with it. I used to go to the jewelry district to an amazing Italian model maker and sit with him and we would create jewelry together, old-school carved metal. Then I started the business there. 

And you recently relaunched the Universe bracelet…

Yes. It’s a ritualistic solid gold bracelet to empower women because you have bracelets like the Cartier Love bracelet where the concept is for men to have a screwdriver, lock the bracelet and then take the screwdriver away, so it’s like a chastity thing for women, which isn’t very relevant to these times. The Universe bracelet is meant to empower women. You engrave your favorite mantra, quote or affirmation into it and as you’re screwing the charm in you repeat it over in your head. You can also take it off by yourself when you want. It’s so beautiful. We have a new gold weight. Usually it’s a 60-gram gold weight which is really chunky and heavy. The new Universe bracelet is an 18-gram gold weight so it’s much more wearable and accessible with the price point.

Then early 2020 you started Bumpsuit…

Yes, and it has exploded, which is really fun. Each company is different and has its own personality. Bumpsuit is a needed item. At the time I had a couple of babies, I was on my third and I hated what I was wearing when I was pregnant. I always felt like I was squeezing myself into something that didn’t fit or wearing clothes that had been butchered and had an extra part in it for a bump. I didn’t want to buy maternity clothes because I thought it was wasteful because you throw them away afterward and I’m not a person who likes to waste anything and it all makes you feel more alienated than you already are. There was such a gap in the market for it.

You can wear them after your pregnant, so do many people who aren’t pregnant buy them too?

So many. I wanted to create a line you can wear if you’re not pregnant - and then it might make you pregnant because you look so hot in it. Everyone needs a Bumpsuit, they’re so comfortable and the most buttery soft material. We also have shapewear, not like a Kardashian waist trainer. We have a lot of women who have desk jobs and want better posture. It’s also really good for post-partum recovery. It’s modeled after Ayurveda binding of the stomach to bring the organs back in and take away the vata energy. After you have a baby you lose so much weight of the baby you feel like you’re flying, like when you get off a boat. You feel like you could lift off because you don’t have all that weight, so the waist trainer helps ground you again and support all the organs coming back in.

And mid-2020 you launched sustainable Erth Swimsuits…

There’s so much waste in the ocean and being I Australia we’re so aware of that so when the opportunity arose we did a few classic staples made with good ethics from abandoned fishing nets. But the fabric is still super high. It’s amazing what they can do with recycled goods these days and we should really be focusing on that.

So what’s a typical day for you?
Wake up. Snooze my alarm like three times. cook my kids breakfast, drive into town, work all day in my office, pick my kids up, go for a swim, play outside, do some ranch stuff, maybe go fishing, then do bath time, bed time, go to sleep and do it all again. Then I spend my weekends in Wembley or wine country. My life now is pretty consistent and basic. It used to be jetsetting and three countries in a week and I’m so much happier now. I love routine and simplicity and I’m not want for anything. Just the chance to keep being creative, that’s all I really want.

*And because Trunfio does too much to fit into one issue, look out for an appearance (and recipe!) from Chef Trunfio in a future issue! In the meantime you can follow @cheftrunfio on Instagram, in addition to @nictrunfio.

SIDEBAR
Find Nicole’s Creations

1 ERTH Jewelry

You can check out the Universe bracelet and selections to curate your ear here at https://www.erthjewelry.com/

2 ERTH Swim

Stylish and sustainable suits to flatter any form made from fine Italian materials – and discarded fishing nets! https://www.erthswim.com/

3 Bumpsuits 

Whether you’re bumping because you’re pregnant, want to be or just dancing around the house, check out the large selection of buttery soft onsies at https://www.bumpsuit.co/?sscid=81k5_nipi&

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