Madison Salters is a journalist, ambassador, social activist and entrepreneur. She has accomplished a staggering amount at a very young age. Aside from having her work featured in The Huffington Post, United Nations Press, The UNTITLED Magazine, TikiChris, and Wanderlust Magazine, she finds time to be an advocate for human rights and is Editor-In-Chief of Peter Gabriel's (yes, that one) social good website called The Toolbox. As a UNESCO Youth Ambassador of Peace and Dialogue, she’s spoken to European Parliament in London on the topic of gender and education, to the United Nations in Istanbul on Human Dignity, and has worked at home on NY State environmental policy. But that’s not all! She’s somehow found the time to live in six countries and serve as a world travel guide writer for TripAdvisor, and their go-to linguist for Japanese translation.
So, what makes this inspiring wonderkid tick? We sat down with her to find out:
T'zikal: You’ve managed to accomplish a lot at a relatively young age. When did you start ‘working’ and what are your long-term professional goals?
MS: That's very kind, thanks! I began working at about 18, when I started my own photography company. Photography had been a hobby of mine, from making my own pinhole cameras to learning to use the old-fashioned dark rooms, and I've always been extremely driven to try all sorts of new things. I wanted to expand what I could do, so I put myself to the test and my little venture quickly grew from artistic to event photography, and then to capturing the runways of major international Fashion Weeks. Since then, I've participated in many areas of work, from green tech entrepreneurism to documentary translation. I'm a part-time model, I work with the UN on the media and research side, and I'm a full-time journalist and news editor. While it sounds like a 'jack of all trades' mentality, everything I do is focused very strongly around two main callings: writing and activism. Every new experience helps me shape a broader perspective that I hope I am able to employ in writing, as well as in other areas that create social good: documentaries, eco-tourism, international policy creation, sustainable and ethical fashion, and accurate reporting on worldwide events. My clients these days range from news outlets, to fashion magazines, to TripAdvisor. It's broad, and I'm loving it. The ultimate goal is to hunker down and write a book worth publishing, and worth reading.
T'zikal: Wow. That is an admirable motivation and very elegantly expressed. You’ve lived all over the world – where have you felt most at home and why?
MS: A truly difficult question...! I've always felt that cities are like people: they grow, change, and have their own humor, perspectives, and personalities. So I've grown into (and out of!) quite a few places around the world. At the moment, I'd have to say I feel most at home in Paris-- I love the calm energy of the place. The cool cafes spilling conversations onto the sidewalks, the random stretches of fresh food markets, the lazy picnics straddling the Seine. It's a great place to have a coffee, read, think, daydream. But the moment you start to feel too solitary tends to be the moment you're suddenly swept up into a house party, or listening to a famous chef from Monaco excitedly explain how Notre Dame was the inspiration for their salad plating, or racing to write the fastest poem on an 19th century typewriter, or being invited by a local to the best hole-in-the-wall breakfast joint in town... all of these things, from experience! It's quiet, but it has so much energy bubbling under the surface-- if you're wearing a good heel while you wander, you're bound to burst its bubble and find a little adventure.
T'zikal: How do you prep for a speech to European Parliament or the United Nations?! Do you ever get stage fright?
MS: I get terrible stage fright! I have the jitters all day and sometimes even get a little sea-sick-on-land leading up to making any kind of speech, no matter how big the stage or audience. I prep by doing extensive research so I'm ready for any last-minute change-ups I commit to on the spot, and so I can answer meaningfully during Q&As. Then I pour over the lines I've written and speak them out loud a few times, making corrections to tone and content, and playing with flow. The prep work all seems to click once I'm actually on stage, my mind goes warm and buzzy, and the confidence is just there-- fashionably late and ready to tango. The most important thing is having passion for whatever you're speaking about, and inviting the audience into that passion. Making eye contact, reading the mood to see if they're jiving with what you're saying, if they're connecting to the subject, if they stay curious-- improv is so important to giving a good speech, because you can tell when you need to insert an example, a statistic, or a joke to really communicate with the people you're speaking to, just like in any normal conversation. Once it feels like a conversation, suddenly, it's so much easier. Afterwards, once all the weight of that stress is lifted, it feels the same as taking ice skates off-- like I could float away! The process is torturous but I love it. The speech writing is definitely the fun part.
T'zikal: What are the most important social issues to you, right now?
MS: For me right now, I am very invested in both the women's equality movement and the refugee crises. For women's equality, it's a big omnipresent topic-- it's a different uphill battle per country, per community, and sometimes even per individual office or educational culture. It can seem like a gargantuan and clumsy task to try to tackle a problem on so many fronts, but it's essential to the wellbeing of all people. Making sure that women worldwide have access to education and are given fair and equal opportunities just seems... incredibly obvious. But we aren't there yet. It's equally obvious that men make excellent caretakers and devoted fathers whenever they are given the opportunity, and these stigmas hurt everyone. Similarly, it seems every generation has its own refugee crises-- how will we be remembered, how will we respond? These people are running from truly awful situations, they're facing dangers unimaginable, their lives are on stuck pause: how do we do a better job of communicating that helping our fellows doesn't mean hurting ourselves? I come from a largely immigrant nation, and I can't overlook that. Compassion is always a good idea.
T'zikal: We couldn’t agree with you more, on both fronts. And, not to change the subject so abruptly, but, we must ask: walk us through your hair care routine! You have a gorgeous mane.
MS: It's a process. I start by putting pure argan oil in my hair from root to tip, and I let that soak in for about ten minutes before hopping into the shower (a great opportunity to listen to a few music tracks and let the water heat up). The oil penetrates the hair to soften it and to help fight any signs of daily damage. Then I wash that out first thing with baby shampoo, just to get it cleaned up-- baby shampoo is ultra gentle, so it doesn't strip away essential oils. Afterwards, I use T'zikal Deep Hydrating Shampoo to amplify the moisture I've already set into my hair, followed by T'zikal Deep Moisturizing Conditioner for an optimal combo. When I step out of the shower, I towel dry my mop a little roughly for one minute (I never blow dry, unless I'm in a rush!) and then I tip my head upside-down and apply a volumizing solution to the roots, fluffing with my hands. I use very little, to keep the scalp from feeling oily. Last-- and most importantly, for me!-- I have a TON of hair, so it has a tendency to go flat on top with all the weight. I combat this by pulling my hair into a very high ponytail at the top of my head while my head is still turned upside-down. I then go about the rest of my evening and go to bed with my hair in this (admittedly very silly looking) high ponytail. The next day, it has a ton of volume just from drying like that. A really nifty trick!
T'zikal: Well, the effort is paying off. How do you spend your Sundays?
MS: My typical Sunday is 50/50: 50% motoring, 50% relaxing. I have to start the day with a cup of cold brew coffee and some kind of book-- a novel or nonfiction. After a few chapters, I'm on my feet for the rest of the day, running errands in the morning and typically going to an event (or three) in the evening-- for work or pleasure, ranging from a lecture to a concert, a brainstorming meet to volunteer job, an award ceremony to a fashion show. Every day is extremely different, and Sundays don't let me off the hook! By the time I get home I usually realize for most of my day I've subsisted on coffee and power-walking, so I get to work making a multi-hour meal from scratch: I love healthy cooking, and as a vegetarian, I take great pleasure in experimenting with all types of new flavors and cuisines. My favorite to make is savory pumpkin soup on an autumn-y Sunday, and Japanese mirin-soaked cucumber salad on a summer-y one! Cap it with a nice glass of white tea, fuzzy slippers, and Facebook scrolling.
T'zikal: How was your experience with T’zikal?
MS: I am absolutely loving T'zikal. The shampoo and conditioner smells of lavender so strongly, it instantly transports me to the wild nature of Furano and the dried flower bundles of Provence. More than that, I love the strong ethos of the brand: the use of natural and nourishing ingredients. I don't want artificial oils or harmful chemicals going onto my hair or skin, and as a result, I'm generally very picky about my products. The fact that the T'zikal line is paraben-free, dye-free, cruelty-free, and chock full of genuinely good stuff (coconut, olive, and ojon nut oil? yes, please.) makes me happy I've added it to my bath-time ritual. It has a permanent position in my caddy.