REBECCA ELLIE STUDIO
This weeks Stylist Session highlights Melbourne based stylist, Bec Astrinakis.
She is the Creative Director/Stylist of her own company Rebecca Ellie Studio and a co-founder of the super talented Nathan + Jac creative trio. With a Bachelor of Business and a background in marketing, she followed her passion to styling. Bec's portfolio is now brimming with interiors, weddings, events, fashion and motion.
I really love this interview as I saw many similarities between Bec and myself, including studying interior design while working to break the corporate 9 to 5, feeling like you have more to give but not quite knowing how and of course both being impartial to the odd Netflix binge
Check out the below links and the interview below to find out more!
When did you know you wanted to become a stylist?
I don’t remember a moment where I realised I wanted to become a “stylist”, it just sort of happened. To be honest, for a girl from Tassie, I’d never really heard of the concept of styling when I was at school – the most creative field I could think of when I graduated high school was marketing, so I did that. While I was studying at Uni I worked many different jobs to fund my travel addiction, so I didn’t really stop to think about what I really wanted to be when I “grew up”.
After, somewhat by accident, landing myself a job in advertising at the local newspaper, I spent much of my twenties feeling like I had so much more to give to the world and dealing with the uneasiness of not knowing exactly what that was.
It wasn’t until I saw an opportunity to grow the fashion section of the paper, that I had my first taste of ‘styling’ and the creative freedom I’d been craving. In a “pinch me” moment, I’d convinced them to put me in charge of styling the monthly fashion shoots. It was here, completely green to the world of styling, that I first realised I had a natural instinct for it. My curiosity was sparked and from that moment on I guess I just blindly navigated my way into that world.
I joke that it was a case of ‘faking it ‘til you make it’ but in a lot of senses, it really was. Even when I felt completely out of my depth, I learnt to listen to my gut and trust in myself. To me that is the most important part of being a stylist, particularly when you work for yourself! In order to offer value to a client you need to completely back yourself.
How long have you been in the industry and what was your first job?
I started Rebecca Ellie Studio, as a freelance stylist, when I left my job in advertising at Vogue Magazine at the end of 2012. I’d been at News Limited for 6 years and knew that the corporate world wasn’t really my thing, so during my time there I’d studied interior design & decoration at night school. When my course came to an end, the timing was right to turn my back on the comfort of a 9 to 5, and venture out on my own
I was fortunate to have met Jacqui, while we were studying at RMIT, who owned a property styling business with her mum Tammy. After we graduated I started freelancing for them at Styling Properties and learnt so much about the industry during my time there. Tammy and Jacqui were both so generous with their knowledge of the industry and took me under their wing, which is something I’ll be eternally grateful for. Years later, the three of us co-founded and run Nathan + Jac (www.nathanjac.com.au), an online homewares store offering curated collections for home decorating.
After Styling Properties, my first private design jobs were for friends or friends of friends and it just all grew from there
What was the biggest surprise/struggle you encountered starting out in the industry?
There are been many surprises and struggles!
Building a solid network of suppliers is something that is very daunting when you’re just starting out, as this is possibly your most important tool of the trade as a stylist. I was very fortunate to have amazing mentors guide me through this process when I was starting out.
Pricing and quoting has also been one of the hardest areas of business for me. Knowing how to price and value your time is something that gets easier with every project you do, but it’s very difficult in the beginning. When you’re starting out you do a lot of work for free or you say yes to every job in fear of being without work. It can be difficult for people outside of a creative field to see the value in what it is that we do, and therefore sadly a lot of creatives under quote or give away their time to stay competitive. Now, I know that my time is my most valuable commodity and I’ve learnt to recognise where it will be wasted and where it would be best used.
As cliché as it is, work/life balance is definitely a constant battle, particularly when you are growing your business. The novelty of ‘working your own hours’ can quickly wear off when you find yourself working around the clock, well into the night, all weekend, and public holidays (I miss them). Now I’ve learnt that it’s important to switch off and give yourself some down time without feeling too guilty.
Spending the odd weekend binging on Netflix isn’t just an indulgence; it’s good for productivity ;)
Has your career evolved how you expected?
Well, when I was little I wanted to be one of three things; Ariel from the Little Mermaid, an archaeologist like Indiana Jones or a fighter pilot, so I guess you could say things didn’t exactly turn out the way I had expected ;)
But in all seriousness, my career has evolved so organically for me that I had no real expectations about exactly how it would turn out. I was bursting with ambition, but I found it hard to visualize what I wanted to be or what I would be doing in five, ten years time. All I knew is that I wanted to be working for myself so that I could have a sense of freedom over my work and my life.
What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about being a stylist, and what’s the most enjoyable part of your job?
Definitely the ‘glamour’ perception of this job. Sure, the styling world is beautiful and fun but the actually ‘styling’ part that people perceive it to be, is only a small part of the job of being a stylist. It involves a lot of hard work! It can be very physical work, expect to carry a lot of furniture, pack boxes, get your hands dirty, work long hours, do a lot of unpaid work, juggle many different roles, answer a ton of emails every day, and do a LOT of hustling! Wearing many, many different hats at once is what I love most about what I do, I would get bored doing the same thing day in, day out, but that kind of intense pace is not everyone’s cup of tea.
What piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to get into the industry?
Put yourself out there. Make sure you’re on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest – social media is a great visual platform to show off your aesthetic and make really valuable connections with the design world. I generate most of my business leads from social media and I’ve been really fortunate to work with clients that have come to me because they share a similar aesthetic. It’s also one of the best ways of discovering new suppliers and makers, and connecting with people in the industry. You never know when they might be looking for someone with your expertise, or vice versa.
Finding a mentor or getting hands on experience in the design industry will also get you a solid foot in the door. Be creative with the way you approach a potential employer or mentor, this isn’t a regular job, it’s all about creativity so show that you have some.
And finally, just get out there and create. Volunteer to style your friend’s wedding, help a friend re-decorate, take someone shopping. Make sure that when you do work for ‘free’, and you will, that you can photograph the work to build your portfolio. Try not to spook yourself with the idea of running your own business and just go out and do it. One of my favourite quote’s is “she believed she could, so she did”. I truly live my life by this motto.
All Styling by Rebecca Ellie Studio
Image 1: Rachel Lewis
Image 2: Alex Reinders
Image 3: Alex Reinders
Image 4: Eleanor Landford
Image 5: Eleanor Landford
Image 6: Alex Reinders
Image 7: Eleanor Landford
Image 8: Rachel Lewis
Image 9: Alex Reinders
Image 10: Alex Reinders
Image 11: Rachel Lewis