Kate Leabeater is an Interior Designer and Stylist based in both Sydney and Melbourne. She has been in the industry for over eight years and works on both residential and commercial interior design, styling, colour consultancy, editorial work with magazines such as Real Living and also branding.
Kate has also just rebranded her business as Studio Oscar Lea! You can view her brand spanking new website here to swoon over her work.
As I’m sure you all know, as a new designer/stylist I just love doing these interviews and hearing about how successful creatives started in the industry and what path they took. One thing that has become extremely obvious is that there is no straight career path to follow and each creatives makes their own way - which is pretty awesome!
In our interview Kate talks about how she broke into the industry, hunting for rubber ducks and what keeps her inspired.
How long have you been in the industry and what was your first job?
I have been in the design industry for about 8 years now. After studying Interior Design I got my first interior role at the furniture company. It was a sales role but a great way for me to put my styling skills into play. From there, I moved into property styling, photographic styling and back to my roots of interior design.
What was the biggest struggle you encountered when starting out in the industry?
Getting a chance to get some experience and be paid for your hard work! Unfortunately as many stylists have experienced when starting out, people in this industry want someone with experience to get the job done well and fast but nobody has the budget. Even in the Interior Design side of things, a junior role often requires years experience so it can be very disheartening. I didn’t catch a break until I started emailing photographic stylists to assist on shoots and then the lovely Jackie Brown gave me a chance!
Whats the strangest thing thats happened to you since starting your career?
To be honest, so many things are strange in this industry! It is definitely not a glamorous life and not what it looks like in the magazines and on television. When I was an assistant, I would have to do things like hold artwork up until my arms felt like they would fall off, hold up things like pendants and later be photoshopped out of the images. Once I was even sent out on random trips during shoots to find things like a rubber duck….one day is never the same and you pretty much do anything to get the final shot!
What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t a stylist?
I was a dancer growing up so if music is on I can’t stand still. Even if there is no music I will just have to sing for something to dance to. If you have been on a shoot with me you would know I would probably not be very successful, so maybe I would have to be something like be a flash mob co-ordinator!
Do you have a favourite Instagram/website that you follow?
Kelly Wearstler. I am obsessed with the way she uses diverse styles, materials and colours and it all just works so well together in any space whether it is residential or commercial.
What is it that continuously inspires you?
I listen to a few podcasts that interview creatives and hearing their stories of how they got to where they are today and what inspires them. This makes designers that I follow seem more human and my end goals seem more achievable.
And then of course there is Instagram! Its an obvious one but I am guilty of scrolling through my feed and before I know it I’m 20 profiles deep and know what a a strangers niece or nephew look like! I just love all the imagery and use it to put together concepts for photo shoots and design clients.