To get things started, we’d love to hear a bit more about your creative journey. How did you first dip your toes into the prop styling world? I’ve always been creative - that was definitely something I was born with - but prop styling was quite an unexpected focus that I first found in my mid-20s. Straight out of school I studied costuming for theatre and film which taught me a lot about symbolism and purpose in visual creativity. When you’re designing for a film or theatre set EVERYTHING is considered. Nothing appears on stage by accident. I went from this into fashion and have a degree in fashion design, so spent time styling on bodies and also did a lot of visual merchandising.
When I was 25 I had an unexpected pivot - my father was terminally ill so I moved back to Perth, Western Australia, to do end of life care with him, leaving my home in Melbourne and completely pausing my career. This was quite a stressful time and to create a little order among the chaos I started doing flatlays of my outfits every day. It was just a natural coping mechanism (I’m OCD so neatness and order make me calm), but I discovered that I loved the challenge of working with product and the way one could create a story just with objects. I was just posting these on insta, then I started getting booked for flatlay work, then that evolved into more complex still life. While this was happening I had decided to study physiotherapy so had quite a busy few years balancing anatomy classes with editorial shoots, but it was all an amazing learning experience. Fast forward a few years and I’ve ended up as a specialist product stylist, but I’m still learning new things about prop styling with every shoot.
- It’s safe to say that we’re completely impressed by your ability to not only run a thriving brand (ACID.FLWRS), but also work as a prop stylist. How do you balance each work week?
Without much sleep haha. I’m currently balancing ACID.FLWRS and prop styling with startup brand consulting and growth marketing in tech - so it’s fair to say that I’m in hustle mode at the moment. This year has presented some unexpected opportunities, which, along with the uncertainty of Covid lockdowns, has made it a big one. I always work across multiple spaces - as a true left brain/right brain thinker I need both to stay engaged - but next year I’ll be focusing the client list a bit to ensure I’m giving everything (including my personal life!) enough space. I do genuinely love the work that I do so it’s mostly how I’d choose to spend my time anyway, and often use any spare moments to do creative development or research that feed into my work. I’m a runner which helps a lot with the physical balance of a busy schedule. Getting outside for some KMs is a mandatory part of each week, and I find that this regular interaction with the outside world keeps my eyes attuned to interesting things.
- What inspired you to create ACID.FLWRS?
AF started as a creative experiment - I was dating a graffiti artist at the time and wanted to paint flowers for a shoot so we were just kicking about in the studio. It’s evolved into something above and beyond the flowers themselves, but at core it’s about the dynamic between classical and futuristic, natural and the chemical, real and surreal. I hope it inspires people to see things differently.
- By the way, congrats on having your flowers featured in Australian fashion week! What was that experience like?
Thank you! AF was featured on the runway with Australian designer Mariam Seddiq. This was such a fun event and really special as it was thanks to the vision of one of my oldest creative industry friends, fashion stylist Monica Morales, who was working with Mariam to bring the show to life. They’re both incredibly talented women with an eye for colour and bold design. Like all good creative collaborations we got really excited about the potential and ended up going above and beyond - I was painting garments and flowers on my balcony at midnight before the show which was a bit terrifying, but it all came together. It was a great experience to be backstage with all the energy of the show, where I spent a lot of time as a fashion student but it’s so different to the prop styling work I do now.
- What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs and solopreneurs on launching a brand on a budget?
Just start. I’ve been fortunate to have worked with brands across the spectrum from heavily funded to hopeful side projects and the bottom line is that it doesn’t matter how great your idea is if you don’t have anything out the door. Don’t get stuck on trying to do it all or make it perfect. Work out the MVP (minimum viable product) you can launch with to get something out into the world, then evolve from there.
- What are three must-have styling tools you can’t live without?
1 - IKEA blue bag. Seriously, this is a necessity in your kit. I always say that being a stylist is 90% being a professional courier. You need strong guns and to be able to haul a few of these at once.
2 - Blutack and fishing line - because as much as I wish they would, products do not magically balance on their own.
3 - Kenzan, which is florists’ equipment - little heavy metal spikes that hold flowers upright.
- We can’t leave the interview without referring to your experience and career in PR and Marketing. What were some takeaways from your time in the corporate world that came in handy in your business?
I consider myself very fortunate to have worked across a huge range of roles in different industries as it’s given me a very end-to-end view of brand communications/operations in a dynamic digital landscape. The best thing I’ve learned from a PR and marketing perspective is that not everything will move the needle, so it’s important to prioritise according to what will have the most impact at any given moment. Very few businesses have the luxury of doing everything at once, so think strategy before executing anything. It’s better to do one thing well than 10 things badly. Having also sat on the receiving side of press releases and brand outreach I’d also say that making it easy for people to understand what you’re doing is 90% of the game - package assets and information in a way that is easy to access will definitely improve your chances of getting a response. I always create press packs with multiple image formats and clear brand copy so it can be easily repurposed by media, and ensure there are contact details and baseline information readily available on any brand touchpoints.
8. Okay, and we have to ask for the good of all who are wondering: what is one non-business or brand-related account that you are currently obsessed with on Instagram?
Ohh I live on insta so can’t choose just one. Can I have three?
@70sdinnerparty - self explanatory. Food that was hot in the 70s and absolutely terrifying now.
@brutal_architecture - solid concrete buildings from a severe Eastern Bloc era. Many people find them offensive, all I see is future dream homes.
@pattiegonia - an environmental activist drag queen who hikes in heels. An absolutely vibe and always with messages we need to hear.