Summer Rayne Oakes

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Summer Rayne Oakes
Summer Rayne Oakes headshot, Houseplant Master Class.jpg
Oakes discussing her Houseplant Masterclass in 2018
BornJune 1984 (age 35)
Known forEnvironmental activist, writer, entrepreneur; eco-model
Modeling information
Height5 ft 10 in (178 cm)[1]

Summer Rayne Oakes (born June 1984) is an American fashion model, environmental activist, author, and entrepreneur, known as the world's first "eco-model".[2]

Early life[edit]

Oakes was named Summer Rayne due to being born during a downpour in June 1984.[1][3] She grew up in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania,[4] a town 20 miles (32 km) north of Scranton.

Oakes's concern for the environment began early: while growing up, she would post photographs of appliances and dead animals left alongside local roads, hoping to shame the owners into removing their litter.[2] While she attended Lakeland High School,[5] she also worked at the Lackawanna County Conservation District biosolids program, which applied treated sewage sludge onto farmland.[2] After graduating, Oakes earned scholarships, including a Udall Scholarship,[6] to Cornell University, where she studied natural resources, ecology, and entomology. There she jointly published two papers on sludge toxicity and contaminants,[2][7] but she was frustrated by how she couldn't communicate the relevance of her work beyond a narrow audience of scientists, and noticed how much more attention advertising and media received.[2][5]

In 2003, while a student at Cornell, Oakes became involved with "The Organic Portraits Project", a project to produce a book of photographs about humanity's connection to nature by New York City photographer John F. Cooper that had been put on hold due to the September 11 attacks. Oakes applied for and got a National Wildlife Federation Campus Ecology fellowship for the project, which was instrumental in moving the project forward. The book Organic Portraits: A Photo Book of Polaroid & Film Images was published in 2015.[8]



Behind the scenes at the Pirelli Calendar 2013: (left to right) Summer Rayne Oakes, Petra Němcová, Stuart Chapman, Kyleigh Kühn

Oakes began modeling in New York City during her sophomore year in Cornell.[2] Within two months, she was working for lingerie company StockingGirl.[5] When she graduated in 2004, she moved to New York City to model full time.[2]

The title of world's first "eco-model" was first bestowed on Oakes by Grist Magazine in their 2006 Earth Day issue, since she models only clothes made from organic or recycled materials.[2][9] The moniker has since been taken up by multiple newspapers in the US, UK, and Canada.[10][11] These principles lost her multiple campaigns and her first New York City modeling agency contract, before she signed with Faith Kates of Next Model Management, who approved of them.[11]

In 2007, Oakes was profiled in Vanity Fair's "Green Issue",[12][13] and was featured in a CNN video interview as part of the series "Young People Who Rock".[14] In 2011, Oakes represented Aveeno beauty products in creating a temporary "pop-up" forest in Times Square.[15] She also appeared in an environmental short film, eXtinction, which was shown at festivals around the world.[16] She was photographed for the 2013 Pirelli Calendar by Steve McCurry.[17]

In 2012, designers for the Toyota Prius C said that they created the subcompact hybrid electric vehicle with Oakes in mind and named the "Summer Rain Metallic" paint color after her.[18] Ironically, since Oakes lives in New York City, she does not drive.[19]


Oakes speaks at the 2014 Copenhagen Fashion Summit

Oakes says she sees modeling as "a conduit to get into socially responsible causes" such as fair trade and pollution from the textile and garment industry.[5] Since 2009, she has worked to promote the Mezimbite Forest Center conservation project in Mozambique.[20] She spoke about fair trade and the textile industry at the Hong Kong World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 2005[2] and attended the 2012 "Rio+20" United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, where she was profiled by the magazine of the United Nations Environment Programme.[21] She teaches others to grow plants in a Brooklyn neighborhood community garden.[22]


Oakes holding her book SugarDetoxMe in her plant-covered apartment, in 2017

Oakes was interviewed in New Zealand fashion magazine Lucire in April 2005. She went on to write for the magazine, starting with "Behind the Label", a series of articles on ethical and sustainable fashion designers. Oakes became Lucire's acting editor for two issues in 2006, then US editor in 2007, and editor-at-large since then, contributing stories on body image, fair trade, and trends in sustainable design.[12][23] She hosted the 2007 season of Singapore-based environmental television program Eco 4 the World.[24]

In 2008, Oakes became an environmental reporter on Planet Green, an environmental-focused network from Discovery Communications. She served as a correspondent for the program G Word, during which she reported from a methane-recapture farm, climbed windmills, and swam in the Pacific Trash Vortex.[25] She had her own environmentally friendly fashion and beauty advice column "Ask Summer Rayne" on the Planet Green web site.[26] Discovery relaunched Planet Green with a different focus in 2012.[27]

Oakes launched her first book, Style, Naturally, in early 2009.[28] It is a shopping guide to eco-friendly fashion and beauty products.[29]

SugarDetoxMe began as a 2014 blog and website to document Oakes's 30-day removal of free sugars from her diet, then grew to a program to help others do the same.[30] In 2017, it was joined by a book of recipes of the same name, partly based on Dr. Mark Hyman's book The Blood Sugar Solution; Hyman also endorses Oakes's program.[31]

Oakes teaching at a New York City community garden, in 2018

Oakes's third book, How to Make a Plant Love You: Cultivating Your Personal Green Space, scheduled for July 2019, grew out of her experiences with the hundreds of plants she cultivated in her apartment and is accompanied by a website "Homestead Brooklyn", a YouTube series "Plant One On Me", and an online course "Houseplant Masterclass".[18][32]


In April 2009, Oakes partnered with Payless ShoeSource to create "Zoe & Zac", a line of eco-friendly low-priced shoes and accessories. Products were made of organic cotton, linen, hemp, jute, recycled rubber, and water-based glues and priced at or below $30.[33]

Her website, Le Souk, formerly Source4Style, founded with business partner Benita Singh in 2010, connects environmentally conscious fashion designers to small-scale, ecologically friendly fabric producers.[11] Oakes says that up to 85% of a designer's time is spent sourcing fabric, and the site eases this task for the designer and makes sustainable design possible.[34] Oakes says that companies listed on the site were put through a sustainability questionnaire based on the Eco Index, and their certifications were checked.[35] The site also contains articles about sustainable fashion.[36] Celebrity "curators", including Amanda Hearst, Angela Lindvall, and Ada Zanditon, wrote content for the site.[37] Source4Style won a 2011 Cartier Women's Initiative Award, including $20,000.[38]


Oakes and Kippee, repotting a plant in her home, in 2018

Since 2005, Oakes has lived in a 1,200-square-foot (110 m2) loft apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which she has filled with plants: over 500 plants by 2016, and 670 by 2017.[39] [22] A bedroom served as the headquarters of Source4Style for the company's first 18 months. When the company left, Oakes began transforming the room into an indoor vertical garden. Her first plant was a Ficus lyrata fig, which had grown to 15 feet (4.5 m) tall and conformed to the ceiling by 2016. Others include herbs, sweet potatoes, pineapples, and bananas. Her kitchen hosts a mason-jar plant garden that Oakes built with her father, as well as compost and vermiculture bins. A closet is filled with kitchen plants, succulents live in the bathroom, and vines drape over walls and furniture. The plants take 30 minutes each day to water, and 90 minutes each weekend to fertilize and prune.[40]

In June 2017, Oakes began to foster a Rhode Island Red hen that was an abandoned Easter gift. Oakes named her Kippee (from Dutch: Kippetje, lit. 'little chicken') and took her on the street in a bird carrier, on the subway, and to photo shoots, attracting attention from media and passersby. Eventually Kippee got photo shoots of her own, including commercials for Lululemon and Celestial Seasonings tea.[41]


Peer-reviewed articles[edit]

  • Harrison, Ellen Z.; Oakes, Summer Rayne; Hysell, Matthew; Hay, Anthony (August 2006). "Organic chemicals in sewage sludges". Science of The Total Environment. 367 (2–3): 481–497. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2006.04.002. hdl:1813/5295. PMID 16750559.
  • Harrison, Ellen Z.; Oakes, Summer Rayne (February 1, 2003). "Investigation of Alleged Health Incidents Associated With Land Application of Sewage Sludges" (PDF). New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental Health Policy. 12 (4): 387–408. doi:10.2190/0FJ0-T6HJ-08EM-HWW8. hdl:1813/5319. PMID 17208785. Retrieved May 11, 2019.



  1. ^ a b Heyman, Stephen (May 4, 2010). "Going Green for Summer". T: The New York Times Style Magazine. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Sabel, Mike (September 8, 2006). "Meet the eco-model who's changing the face of fashion". Grist. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  3. ^ Pesce, Nicole Lyn (August 24, 2014). "New Yorkers love having unique names... until a celebrity copies them". New York Daily News. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  4. ^ Licea, Melkorkea (July 24, 2016). "Inside the concrete jungle's secret garden". New York Post. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d Bonifanti, Terry (August 19, 2005). "Model's roots in NEPA's trees". Namedropper. The Scranton Times-Tribune. Archived from the original on March 23, 2009. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  6. ^ Segelken, Roger (May 1, 2003). "Two Cornell undergraduates are awarded Udall Scholarships". Cornell Chronicle. Cornell University. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
  7. ^ Gellerman, Bruce (December 1, 2006). "Green Fashionista". Living on Earth. Public Radio International. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Our Earth Day nod to the year's goodies, oddities, and inanities". Grist. April 20, 2006. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b c Siegle, Lucy (October 23, 2010). "Summer Rayne Oakes's innovation: sustainable design". The Guardian. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  12. ^ a b Yan, Jack (April 26, 2007). "Lucire's US editor, Summer Rayne Oakes, profiled in Vanity Fair 07/04/25". Retrieved February 9, 2019.
  13. ^ "The 2007 Green Issue: Online Resources". Vanity Fair. May 2007. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  14. ^ Lapin, Nicole (August 22, 2007). "Summer Rayne Oakes". Young People Who Rock. CNN. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  15. ^ Pantin, Laurel (April 12, 2011). "Aveeno and Summer Rayne Oakes Plant A Forest In Times Square". Teen Vogue. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Pirelli calendar for 2013 features Summer Rayne Oakes, Adriana Lima, Petra Němcová, Liya Kebede". Lucire. November 27, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
  18. ^ a b Green, Penelope (November 8, 2018). "Meet the Plantfluencers". The New York Times. Retrieved May 11, 2019. Also published as Green, Penelope (December 4, 2018). "How millennial 'plant influencers' are creating their own urban jungles". The Independent. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
  19. ^ Oakes, Summer Rayne. "Toyota Prius C". Summer Rayne Oakes. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Summer Rayne Oakes" (PDF). Our Planet. United Nations Environment Programme. February 2013. pp. 34–35. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 5, 2015. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  22. ^ a b Brosh, Bianca (October 13, 2017). "Summer Rayne Oakes grows 670 plants in her Brooklyn apartment". Today. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  23. ^
  24. ^ Schults, Chris (April 26, 2006). "Summer Rayne Oakes hosts new television show". Grist. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
  25. ^ McAuliffe, Josh (June 22, 2008). "Former Montdale resident, model and activist becomes environmental reporter for new Discovery channel". The Scranton Times-Tribune. Archived from the original on March 23, 2009. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  26. ^ "Ask Summer Rayne". Planet Green. Discovery Channel. Archived from the original on March 13, 2010. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  27. ^ Schneider, Michael (February 12, 2011). "Discovery Plans to Revamp Planet Green". T.V. Guide. Lionsgate. Retrieved February 8, 2019.
  28. ^
  29. ^ Vartan, Starre (March 19, 2009). "Style, Naturally: Summer Rayne Oakes' Guide to Green Fashion and Beauty for Every Woman (Not Just Greenies!)". Huffington Post. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  30. ^ Shreeves, Robin (March 2, 2016). "Take a sugar detox with Summer Rayne Oakes". Mother Nature Network. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  31. ^ Peek, Cameron (June 14, 2017). "Sugar Detox Plan: why you should do it". Retrieved May 11, 2019.
  32. ^ Upadhayaya, Venus (February 8, 2019). "Woman Takes a Greener Path, Grows Career and Life out of a Forest in Her Apartment". The Epoch Times. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
  33. ^
  34. ^ "Model Summer Rayne Oakes Launches Online Eco-Textile Marketplace". Inhabitat. August 25, 2010. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  35. ^ Markowitz, Eric (December 14, 2010). "How Model-Entrepreneur Summer Rayne Oakes Became a Sustainability Guru". Inc. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  36. ^ Matthews, Susan E. (September 12, 2012). "A model on an eco-mission". Scienceline. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  37. ^ Hearst, Amanda (January 9, 2012). "Source4Style Sustainable Fashion Website - Summer Rayne Oakes New Textile Site". Marie Claire. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
  38. ^
  39. ^ Nosowitz, Dan (July 14, 2016). "Meet a Woman Who Keeps 500 Plants in Her Brooklyn Apartment". Modern Farmer. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  40. ^
  41. ^

External links[edit]