Self-employed

21.7 What Do You Actually Do? Q&A with Cassie Smith by Ilsa Melchiori

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It's that time again! time to pry into the life of a freelance creative and find out what it's really like. This time we have Melbourne based Stylist and Graphic Designer Cassie Smith. This is one very talented young lady, who I've had the privilege to work with before, and who I also call my friend.

To see more of Cassie's beautiful work and find out how to get in contact with her, check out her website:http://www.cassiesmith.com.au/

No onto the prying, I mean questions...

I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist 3
I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist 3

Describe what you do in 5 words or less.

C: Make things look pretty.

Now expand...

C: Well I have two jobs - I’m an interior/prop stylist & an event stylist for a company called Lettuce & Co.

Essentially as a freelance interior/prop stylist, I get approached by clients who want their products styled for photoshoots whether it be for catalogues, online, social media etc. Most people only picture a stylist working on the set of a shoot but there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes first. It will start with a brief from the client and usually a follow-up meeting where we talk about the nitty gritty - budgets, look and feel, props, colours, lighting etc. Then in most cases, I’ll go out sourcing props for the shoot (yes I get paid to shop for a living and yes it’s as good as it sounds) before you know it the shoot roles around and it’s usually a blur of craziness but always comes together at the end of the day.

Event styling has a lot of similarities to prop styling which is why a lot of stylists have spent time in their careers dabbling in both. Event styling works the same as a photoshoot but there’s much, much more work in the lead up to the event or wedding as there is a photoshoot. We’ll get the brief from the client, find out their budget, the venue they’ve chosen and the overall theme and colour palette they want. Months are then spent sourcing products, briefing in florists, hiring furniture, designing stationary, liaising with the venue and other suppliers... I could go on forever...

I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist 1
I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist 1

What has your career journey been like?

C: Super challenging and super rewarding. It wasn’t until half way through my Graphic Design degree that I realised I wanted to get into styling so I had a few long, tough years between then and now getting to where I currently am. It was one thing to develop all the relevant skills for styling without studying or working under someone else (I put this down to stubbornness) but getting consistent work is a whole new ball game. I’ve only been styling for 4ish years now so looking back at what I’ve accomplished and the clients I’ve worked for in such a short time at such a young age is a massive pat on the back moment.

I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist Officeworks
I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist Officeworks

Best part of your job?

C: Every day is different and the final product makes everything worth it. Seeing your work in a magazine or standing back after you’ve spent 5 hours bumping in a wedding or event on top of the 6 months of planning prior feels pretty great.

Worst/hardest part of your job?

C: The stresses that come with freelancing are absolutely horrific.

I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist Mark tuckey x cotton on
I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist Mark tuckey x cotton on

What does your typical work day look like?

C: I don’t think I’ve ever had a typical work day in my life. There are that many activities/jobs I could be doing at any given time but I’ll give you a sample of a few. Prop sourcing, meetings, mood boarding, on set shooting, driving around all over Melbourne looking for the perfect prop, emails, invoices, setting up an event. Basically, there’s lots of driving and lots of time in front of a computer.

What are your favourite apps to use for work?

C: I guess Instagram although there’s usually 2 other editing apps, VSCO and Snapseed, that I use to edit before I upload to Instagram. A lot of people think the pictures I post are professionally shot by a photographer but I’ve actually just got really damn good at making my iPhone photos look legit. I know how cliche this is but it really is all about faking it till you make it.

I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist 2
I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist 2

What is it like working for yourself?

C: Really really really hard. Nothing can prepare you for freelancing. Literally, everything is on you - meeting deadlines, replying to emails, sending invoices, chasing up overdue invoices, liaising with clients, producing consistently good work the client is happy with, spending days on end on the road prop sourcing, holding onto a million receipts so you can get reimbursed. I know a lot of this sounds like small trivial stuff but when you’re juggling multiple projects and trying to do all the smaller things that come with running your own business it can get overwhelming. You have to be extremely self-motivated and self-disciplined which I find to be impossible 100% of the time. In saying that, I don’t think I’d have it any other way - I love being my own boss. I don’t think I could go to the same desk day in and day out and sit in front of a computer all day. I love that each day and each job is so different. What’s that quote.. ‘Variety is the spice of life’.

I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist food
I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist food

What is your current work playlist?

C: Just some cute upbeat boppy songs... in no particular order: Best Coast, Frank Ocean, No Doubt, Little Dragon, Passion Pit, Metronomy, Santigold, Tegan and Sara etc.

I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist The little moon
I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist The little moon

Best career advice/tips you could give someone?

C: Work hard and be nice.

Can you tell us about your next project?

C: I’m about to design the interior for a new Health & Wellbeing studio! It’s still very early stages, especially considering the build is running about 4 months behind schedule (typical) but I have a feeling this is going to be a good one!

I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist OFFICE WORKS
I am Ilsa Melchiori What do you actually do Cassie smith stylist OFFICE WORKS

What's your next step/move? Any future dreams/goals?

C: Where to begin!? Short term is definitely to work with some new clients and find time to collaborate with some photographers on folio work. Medium term is to move to New York (or Copenhagen or Paris) and spend a few years there. Long term dream jobs are set design for a Wes Anderson film (a girl can dream) and I’d loveeee to design a boutique concept hotel like Ace or QT.

26.2 What Do You Actually Do? Q&A with Jess Lafrankie by Ilsa Melchiori

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Ever wonder about the lives of self-employed creatives? How do actually make money? What does their work day look like? This new Q&A series will start asking creatives just that, what do you actually do?

First up we have Melbourne photographer Jess Lafrankie. To check out more of her stunning images head to her website: http://www.jesslafrankie.com/

Describe what you do in 5 words or less.

J: Fashion and commercial photographer

Now expand…

J: I’m a freelance photographer based in Melbourne who shoots for fashion brands. My style produces crisp, clean and colourful images that maintain a feminine aura.

What has your career journey been like?

J: I discovered photography when I was 15 and was put in the wrong class in high school. I started shooting paid work when I was 16 and from there relocated from a beach town to pursue this kind of career further. It’s been my sole focus ever since.

Best part of your job?

J: Having the chance to enjoy what I’m doing every day. I wake up excited to get to work and my favourite day of the week is Monday.

Worst/hardest part of your job?

J: Never clocking off. I didn’t realise I hadn’t taken a day off in 5 years and it started to affect my health. Putting my health above my career has been a struggle.

What does your typical work day look like?

J: As a photographer I don’t have a typical work day, which is probably the best part of all. I’ll either be shooting all day or in my office retouching and planning. Before this starts to become too much like a routine I’m generally on a plane for a work holiday.

What are you favourite apps to use for work?

J: Wunderlist - I’ve got my shooting gear list stored in here so I can literally just tick what I’ll need and what I have saves me heaps of time.

Ubereats -  I’m not even kidding. Having the piece of mind that if I’m exhausted from shooting or I’m too busy with deadlines I can just order some food is a life saver.

What is it like working for yourself?

J: It’s the best kind of job in the world. It’s important that you can self manage, self motivate and be proactive.

What is your current work playlist?

J: I’ve made a playlist on Spotify with all the songs that have the word WORK in the title or are about working. I’ll play this if I need a boost. I’ll play Ben Howard for good retouching vibes though.

Best career advice/tips you could give someone?

J: Read Timothy Ferris’s books.

Can you tell us about your next project?

J: It’s inspired by paintings. It’s going to be epic, my favourite to date.

What's your next step/move? Any future dreams/goals?

J: Become even more portable with my work life and get back to Europe!