The Stables is a property styling company in Sydney, lead by their Creative Director - Catherine Heraghty. Catherine has been in the styling industry for over 10 years and has developed a distinctly simple, clean and vibrant style!
'For Catherine, The Stables is about blurring the lines between work and life. She has created the type of lifestyle she desires, she is able to satisfy her creativity and also her love for spending time with her family. Never overlooking smaller details, Catherine works closely with her clients to create beautiful, timeless spaces'.
I asked Catherine questions to get an understanding of how she started and what have been the biggest struggles, surprises and even strangest things that have happened, as well as what keeps her inspired and motivated!
How long have you been in the industry and what was your first job?
I have been in the industry now for approx. 11 years. My very first job was looking after a Property Styling business when the owner went overseas for her winter European vacation. It was a contact through a friend of a friend. It was extremely daunting, but I jumped in head first and loved it. At that point in time, I had no experience in running a business, how to raise an invoice or install a job but I took on the challenge head first! Admittedly, she was only gone for about a month but that was my first exposure to working in the industry. At the time I was studying design full time at Enmore and I knew from that very moment that Property Styling was something I loved, so after a series of other jobs throughout my time at Enmore I started my own Property Styling business which I ran for around 8 years.
What was the biggest struggle you encountered when starting out in the industry?
I would say that lacking the confidence to charge for your services and skills was a big challenge that I had to overcome. I absolutely loved what I did and found it difficult to charge clients for my time, I guess I struggled to see the value in what I was adding to my clients homes. When you are starting out in the industry, you are also doing a lot of learning on the job – it’s such a huge industry and it is impossible to have done everything so you are constantly learning. At the beginning however, you are learning everything cause EVERYTHING is new! So this added to the pressure I felt not to charge for my services, how could I justify charging when there was so much time spent on learning. That has changed off course and now I value my services as I should! I have a lot of experience, I have built up a lot relationships with suppliers and I am good at what I do. It took a while but I got there! I talk to others now starting out and they too have the same feelings so I always encourage them to believe in themselves and value what they do so hopefully they get to the right place quicker than I did!
What’s the strangest thing that’s happened to you since starting your career?
You meet some interesting people along the way, some amazing and lovely and some a little left of centre. So whilst I have had lots of stressful moments mixed in with a whole tonne of exciting, fun and rewarding times…the only strange things I can think of would be the interesting characters I have met along the way. Being a designer, you are entering a stranger’s home every week and seeing how theylive. You get up close and personal really quickly, within five minutes of meeting someone you might be in their bedroom talking about their bed linen or in their bathroom…you need to ask questions about their habits and how they live. Within an hour, you have a pretty good understanding of a person’s living habits so I guess that would be a strange part of my job too!
What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t a stylist?
Probably Architecture, I was so close to studying that when I originally went to University. Instead I did a Commerce Degree thinking that would be the sensible path to take. It didn’t take me long to figure out after graduating that it wasn’t for me so I went back and studied design. I have loved interiors for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is styling my dresser when I was about 6, I used to take off all of my jewellery boxes and special trinkets and put them on the floor and then start rearranging all over again. I would do it weekly, I loved it. It’s so funny when I think of it, I was styling even back then and I didn’t even know it, I didn’t know what styling was until nearly twenty years later! I can happily say that I am doing what I am meant to be doing!
Do you have a favourite Instagram/website that you follow?
It would be impossible to name just one, I am an avid Instagram user and there are different accounts that I follow for different things. I look up to Tarina from Oh Eight Oh Nine and I adore Design Stuff Group. I could probably list 50 memorable accounts that I love. Even though I have a consistent style on my Instagram page, I am always doing lots of different styles for my clients. I am currently working on a few Hamptons inspired homes, a classically styled home and I recently had to do a Japanese style bedroom! I do it all, so for me it is so important to follow a mix of accounts to I am exposed to more than one style.
What is it that continuously inspires you?
New trends and other designers. I am never driven by trends but I am fascinated by the new products that come out into the market place, and then how the general public respond to them. The rate at which new product is released has definitely sped up in the last few years, it’s incredible how the industry has changed since the advent of social media. Whilst I love looking at what it coming out, it is so important that I stay true to what I love – I prefer to work with timeless pieces that are not going to date but rather stand the test of time. I am constantly inspired but the amazing talent we have in Australia, design practices such as Mim Design and Hecker Guthrie are so good at exploring new materials and finishes, for me they are the pinnacle of Australian design and they continue to inspire me daily.