When I speak to stylist Stephanie Stamatis – aka. Stephanie Somebody – jetlag has only just faded from her five week holiday in Europe, and things are a little more hectic than usual.
Impressively balancing commercial, editorial and publishing styling work, hosting workshops at The School, and producing events with her friend Sarah Cooper through their business Local Gatherings, Stephanie credits her success to developing a bold aesthetic, and strong relationships with photographers. ‘I’ve never had to push for work, I have always been really lucky with always having something to take up the weeks’ she says.
Stephanie doesn’t wear her busyness as a badge of honour, though. She’s simply excited to be doing the work, and couldn’t imagine it any other way. ‘I’m not sure I’m made to work for other people – I’m meant to be my own boss,’ she said.
While still susceptible to burnout, she recognises this is part of the ebb and flow of freelance work, where a routine can shift from crazy busy, to a more ‘normal’ pace from one day to the next. To find equilibrium, Stephanie is conscious of taking mini-breaks throughout the day.
‘I think the best way I can sustain everything is to have mental breaks during the day. A good coffee break, sitting down for lunch, Instagram breaks’ Stephanie says. ‘Also, once every couple of weeks I’ll try to have a mid-week day off – or at least half a day. This is spent in coffee shops and catching up with people I don’t get to see on weekends. My studio pretty much always needs a sort out, so I do that as well.’
Usually I’m up between 6.30am and 7.00am, but I’m really not a morning person. Right now I’m waking up early out of necessity, because I’ve been so busy, but I remember a time six months ago I was getting out of bed later!
A typical breakfast is avocado on toast, and sometimes I boil an egg. That said, I am notorious for forgetting breakfast, so I will often go to my coffee shop across from the studio and get a coffee and a croissant. My eating habits are terrible, and I need to be more mindful of my health because I’m trying to cram so much into a day.
I take a long time to do things in the morning. But I try not to rush. A couple of times a week I try to get coffee with my partner before work, but often I have a lot of packing and unpacking to do after shoots.
I try to start shoot days at 8.30am, so I have time to unload everything and set out all my props before the photographer arrives. If I’m doing any special preparation or painting, I’ll arrive a bit earlier, and it can also depend if the shoot is in a studio or on a location in the country.
For every day of shooting there are about three days of preparation. You think you can fit heaps into each week, but even if two shoots are back to back, that can be really crazy – my mind has to be split between the two. That’s when my assistant comes in, but it’s also why I often work late.
If I am having a day in my studio, I like to be there by 9.00am. My studio is a 10 minute drive from home. I have my desk set up with my favourite things, and always have good music on.
If it’s a sourcing day, most shops don’t open until 10.00am, so I usually do admin first thing in the morning from home. I won’t get my computer out, I’ll answer emails from my phone. The best thing with sourcing is I often bump into people, and it’s so lovely to have an unexpected social moment on a busy working day.
Typically, I’ll spend between one and three full days sourcing for a shoot, depending on the brief. If I have a shoot say on a Wednesday, I’ll spend half of Monday morning doing admin, mood boards, talking to clients, talking to my agent and then I’ll do half a day sourcing. Then the Tuesday will be an entire day of sourcing and we are on set the following day.
Lunch is often the meal I take the most time with during the day. My favourite, if I am in the studio, is our local cafe called Kines, where I’ll get an amazing pickled beetroot toastie and sit down with a coffee and my notepad. I’m a manual worker, so all of my planning happens using handwritten notes – every job will get a page so I can cross things off a physical list.
During the in between moments, when I’m waiting for coffee or having lunch, I’ll check Instagram.
My work with Local Gatherings is scheduled in like any other job. If I have another job that clashes, Sarah Cooper and our assistant manager will carry a lot of the weight. When I can, I’ll do a couple hours of packing boxes, or creating mood boards for upcoming events at night.
My days are like when you used to go to school and have classes broken out into periods – I allow myself an hour to do each thing. But that is also why I tend to work late – my entire day has been driving and running around, picking things up and having meetings, so most of the admin overflows into the evenings.
The end to my workday is usually when the shops close! I try to be home by 6.30pm or 7.00pm because that is when my partner comes home, and we have a proper dinner together. Making a nice simple dinner is my wind down and I really value that. If we haven’t had time to cook, we will get some Vietnamese or Tibas or something, but we always sit down together and have dinner. That is the one thing I do every day because otherwise we probably wouldn’t see each other that much!
After dinner I do a little bit more admin and emails and things like that, and prepare work for the next day. I’m probably a really bad example of a balanced routine, I don’t take much time for myself at the moment, but I am working on it.
Usually late on a Sunday or Monday night I will sit down and go through all of my tasks for the week and split what I have to do and what goes to my assistant – she is brilliant. The ideal plan is to do only one shoot a week, that would be ideal, and my routine would be a lot more settled, but when an offer comes in I don’t want to pass it up, I still get really excited!
Generally before bed we watch a little bit of Netflix and have a cup of tea and possibly a piece of chocolate.
My partner might go to bed and I’ll keep doing a bit of work. I’ll often be awake until after midnight because that is when my brain is working best.
“The excitement to be doing something different each day is what keeps me going. If I wasn’t happy in my work I wouldn’t be happy in my life, I don’t really separate the two. I am tired, but it’s exciting to be tired.” – Stephanie Stamatis.