21.05.2018

At Home + Work with: Sam van Kan, Città Stylist


There aren’t too many Dream Job opportunities for interior stylists in New Zealand. Surely one of the best of them all would be the role of Head Stylist and Display Designer for New Zealand homeware leader Città. It’s a position that belongs to 26-year old Sam van Kan, a graphic design graduate who brings a can’t-be-taught taste level, discerning eye and fresh creative feel to the design of Citta’s retail stores, and the art direction of their seasonal campaigns. One to watch (and be inspired by)…

Hey Sam! Tell us about your job…
I work closely with the textile design team to translate the inspirations for each seasonal collection through to the imagery for each collection campaign. I plan the layouts and interior design elements for our Città stores, and work with our content team on all the styling tips and advice on Style Your Space on the Città website. I’m also the #askthestylist for Città!

 

BTS on a winter bedroom feature for Homestyle magazine and the Città Style Your Space website.
These looks were a styling collab with Homestyle Editor Alice Lines.

What has been the career journey to get to this point? 
I started working for Città part time in 2013 in our Britomart store while I was studying Graphic Design. Once I graduated with my degree, I took up an opportunity to move to Wellington for a year to set up and work in our new Thorndon store as Visual Merchandiser and Assistant Manager. The Stylist & Display Designer role was a new position created in the marketing team while I was in Wellington. I loved living in Wellington but this was pretty much my dream job. So, I applied, and here I am!

What projects are you working on at the moment?
The Spring Summer 2018 campaign photo shoot is the biggest project right now! I am currently going through the process of immersing myself into the minds of Immy and Soph from the design team, and seeing where they went through their creative process while designing the collection. From here, I take their ideas and inspiration and come up with a concept that translates them into aspirational (and attainable) lifestyle shots.

 


A little of Sam’s work


Can you share the schedule of a typical day or week in your work life? If there is no ‘typical’ for you, what constants remain?

This definitely varies from week to week! There is usually a shoot of some sort, whether that is campaign, product, promotion specific, organic, or Homestyle Style Your Space. Which, for the larger offsite ones can take up a good portion of the week – with half to one day beforehand spent prepping and packing, the day (or sometimes two) of the shoot, and another half day post with unpacking and piecing the showroom back together!

Outside of that I create content for our Style Your Space blog, answer #askthestylist questions (via Instagram), create content for social, and work on larger brand projects, with the occasional commercial interior project thrown in for good measure as well.

 

Lovely things on set

Showroom display planning

Città team round-table

The only thing that remains constant is the team coffee run in the morning, to which we always BYO mug (in an effort to reduce the use of disposable cups), read our horoscopes in the herald and solve the word wheel. I mean, how else are we meant to know how to attack the day ahead without the planets informing us?

Oh, and our Monday morning marketing team meeting! Those are great to find out what everyone is up to and to start the week off all on the same page.

In what ways do you give yourself work/life balance?
I feel like I need to start this answer off with a disclaimer: I live for my job because I absolutely love what I do, so clocking off doesn’t come naturally to me! You can often find me scrolling Pinterest or Instagram for inspiration into the wee hours of the morning. But that doesn’t count as work though… Right?

Which is why I find it easier when I am actually doing something. I have just recently picked up embroidery again! We have even started an embroidery club at work with monthly meets and have aptly named it Stitch & Bitch. It’s pretty neat to work with such interesting and clever people that share common interests. Although, not a whole lot of embroidery gets done at the meets – the main focus is on the later of the namesake, devouring home baking and topping up glasses with gin and tonic…


Forms of meditation for the creative mind – flower pressing and contemporary embroidery

On sunny days I love strolling down to the waterfront from our apartment and paddle boarding or going on outdoor adventures with friends. Rainy ones too actually – strangely, there’s something so satisfying about a hot shower after getting soaked to the bone!

Throwing in the occasional film, RNZB performance or a show at the Basement never goes amiss either.

What was a highlight of your past week:
There is nothing more rewarding than finishing a shoot day and feeling like it went well. That sigh of relief that it all came together. Maybe except for seeing those images in print… That’s pretty rewarding too! Seeing Tessa Waters at the Basement as part of the Comedy Festival was a definite highlight as well! She is utterly ridiculous (but I also secretly want to be best friends).

A challenge/frustration you’ve been dealing with lately:
Overcommitting… I’ll admit it. This often means booking myself out every night and slotting things in between other things over the weekend to fulfil friend and family duties. Although, I wouldn’t really want it any other way – I love seeing all of their lovely faces! I just need to get better at not feeling guilty about wanting some me time. I guess in a round about way, that’s just something else I need to commit to!



van Kan vignettes – corners of Sam’s Auckland city apartment

Advice you would give to someone wanting to become a stylist:
Gain experience, play and have fun! Unfortunately there is no clear-cut way to become a stylist, but if you have the passion and drive for it, you can make your own path to get there. I’ve always thought that styling for photography is much like Graphic Design, only on a 3D level. So having that skillset under my belt has been invaluable. Starting as a Visual Merchandiser in a store is a fantastic way to show your skills (and grow them!) and get your foot into a company that you align with. Outside of that, you could approach stylists with a small portfolio or link to some of your work and offer yourself as a shoot hand to gain experience and see how the industry works.

What’s the best thing that’s happened to you work-wise/creatively over the past year?
Going to China to showcase our products at an international design show was pretty amazing! It’s rather neat seeing something go from 2D guesses in a rendering of a space that you have never seen, to 3D actuality. Seeing how the other side of the world interacts with our products and responds to the styling of them was a cool part of the experience too.

The space Sam created for an international design show in Shenzen, China. Imagine travelling halfway around the world to unpack 46 cartons and layout and style 276 square metres of homeware and furniture. So proud of you Sam.

How would you like to see your career path unfold in the next few years?
I would love to further develop my skills in editorial styling and interior projects. I’m massively into the idea of being able tell visual stories and elevate everyday life through inspirational styling. Wherever it goes, as long and I’m spending my time making a living doing what I love.

Finally, we’d love to know what you’ve been getting into lately…

Listening To:
Guilty Feminists podcast as I bake or do the housework (rather ironic, I know), Spotify playlist Mellow Beats in the background as I read and write, Tash Sultana (or secretly, Beyonce) up loud as I walk to work. I think I have a problem with silence…

Reading:
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland. Admittedly, I fell in love with cover first, but have since fallen in love with the book also.

Looking Forward To:
My sister coming home from London for a few weeks in July!

Doing/Visiting:
I have a few weekends away to inconspicuous North Island destinations planned with a few good friends – a good chance to refresh and break up the (always) long(er than summer) winter ahead.

Eating/Drinking:
Shortly, my first batch of homebrewed kombucha! Fingers crossed it’s not a complete disaster.

Wanting to Buy:
This beautiful oversized blazer from Shjark (and maybe the pants as well…)
 

 Follow Sam on Instagram 

 
 

01.05.2018

At Home & Work With: Stacey Weaver of Just South West


31 year old Stacey Weaver is a fine art photographer based in Christchurch. A couple of years ago, she founded Just South West – selling botanic art photography art prints. She’s now developing the brand into the gift market  – botanic fabrics are on the way, and Stacey also has a growing stationery line that includes new notebooks and custom wedding favours.

We visited Stacey at home (also the place she operates Just South West from) and asked her a few questions…

What projects are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I am working on the fabric I have had printed with three of my photographic prints. Plans are to develop this into pouches in two or three sizes but who knows where else it will take me!

In what ways do you give yourself work/life balance?
Meditation and getting fresh air is important to me to keep focused the creative energy flowing… and I always say ‘yes’ to my friends and family.

One of Stacey’s most popular prints, White Magnolia

What was a highlight of your past week:
Talking with Auckland’s Graphic Glass about our up and coming collaboration – so, if you have a splash back, shower wall, feature wall that needs filling…

Advice you would give to someone wanting to be their own boss in the design/creative industries:
Self motivation – you gotta have it!! Make friends with constructive criticism and keep believing in why you do what you do.

White Roses print

Pink magnolias – my fave

Peony

Packaging beautiful Wisteria prints, alongside samples of Stacey’s new custom fabric

What’s the best thing that’s happened to you work-wise/creatively over the past year?
Probably buying my house, with my own little Just South West cave. I didn’t have a specific set-up prior and it is so valuable to have a designated studio space.

What’s coming next for you (career-wise/creatively)? There are a few things up my sleeve at the moment and I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds in the coming year, in particular seeing JSW in situ on custom glass installations with Graphic Glass.

Bouquet I in Stacey’s home office

All images of Stacey by Kelly Shakespeare Photography

Finally, we’d love to know what you’ve been getting into lately:

Listening To:
Julia & Angus Stone – Snow

Reading:
I have just bought a copy of Big Magic to read

Visiting:
Melbourne in May – my second home

Eating/Drinking:
Not Caramilk now that my stash has gone!

New Just South West botanic notebooks

Just South West Online Store   /   Instagram

26.04.2018

Baroque Bouquet


Imbue

I fell in love with Runa + Holly’s first collection of velvety, romantic, 17th-Century-but-contemporary painterly prints, and now my credit card is about to get a little hiding because their sophomore collection is equally as awe-inspiring.

And the judges of prestigious international art prize Arte Laguna obviously agree with me, because one of the works from this series – Volucris – was selected as a finalist in the Photography Section for Arte Laguna’s 2018 honours.  Gisborne-based friends Holly (Tong, florist) and Runa (Kuru Kristjónsdóttir, photographer) made the trip to see their work on display at the Arte Laguna final exhibition in Venice.

The second collection, like the first, is limited to just 10 or 20 prints of each size (right up to 1100mm x 1650mm – that’s bigger than an A0!), and each is printed with archival inks, on the most high-end, German made Hahnemühle 308gsm cotton rag paper. Things that matter.

Fluit

Lucent. I love how wild this one feels, with wheat and partially-dying petals

Volucris – nominated for an international art prize

Holly and Runa at work creating their baroque-oil-painting-like prints

Volucris on display in Venice, at the Arte Laguna Final Exhibition

Picking market-fresh flowers for an impromptu photoshoot 

Holly and Runa extended their Venice trip to include Milan, Rome and Bologna, and while in Rome decided to shoot another artwork using local market spring flowers.

They ended up at 6:30am one morning in the centre of Rome, in the Piazza Navona, submerging flowers in the famous Bernini fountain.  They have since added one of the images from that shoot to this new collection, this is that image:

(Postscript: This is your monthly reminder from me that you can do things that you love, that people will also love, and create a business and a life from it. And yes, you can also do this after having kids, or just be starting over in a whole new career if you’ve fallen out of love with your current one.)

26.03.2018

At Home & Work With: Erena Te Paa


Insta is gold for connecting us with inspiring creatives and good humans. That’s how I first discovered the work and aesthetic of
34-year old Hamilton mum Erena Te Paa  – fashion and product stylist, lifestyle blogger (Erena’s blog is devoted to writings on life, motherhood, confidence, style, interiors and more) and woman with all-round-amazing taste.

I’m excited to share Erena’s home and workspace with you, and ask this babely babe a whole heap of questions about her design-lead life…

 

Tell us about what you do?
I’m a freelance stylist and copywriter by trade, blogger by night (or when time allows!) and also stay-at-home mum to my two year old son Costa (with one on the way eek!)

In a nutshell I am hired to source products and style them for client campaigns (magazines, e-zines, catalogues)/photoshoots. Fashion styling (and personal styling) was my first passion and what I was originally ‘called’ to do (and how my business came to be) but in recent years that has evolved into more product styling (homewares/lifestyle) which I absolutely love. The copywriting side of my biz came from having worked in PR, and marketing but also the fact that quite a few of my clients follow my blog and liked the way I wrote (haha I don’t know that last bit for sure, but I think it helped!)

What projects are you working on at the moment?
I have recently just finished writing content and sourcing for my clients Autumn/Winter 18 campaigns (i.e. fashion/homeware trends – in-centre magazines).

We are near completion on a guesthouse/air bnb so I am immersed in finishing that space and when it’s ready, maintaining it (chief cleaner!).

Also personally, trying to finish decorating my sons room and a couple of other spaces before baby arrives, the results of which will be shared on the blog (soon I hope!).


 

What was a highlight of your past week:
On a personal note, meeting my new niece Zoe and on a professional note finishing a writing project on time and before deadline.

A challenge/frustration you’ve been dealing with lately:
Being in my third trimester while also juggling work, motherhood and renos.

Or something you’ve learned recently:
I’ve learned to listen to my body first and adjust everything else accordingly. If that means I don’t get everything done or I need to rely on the help of others more than so be it. I can do plenty of things well but I can’t do everything and I would rather do a few things really well and be completely happy than do a lot of things so-so only to burn out at the end.

 


What advice you would give to someone wanting to be their own boss in the design/creative industries:
Do it but know that being your own boss doesn’t happen overnight and you may just find you’ll work harder and longer than any other job you’ve ever had. Generally, if it ignites your passion then it won’t feel like work.

I have been my own boss for 5 years but I started out being in a full-time job and setting up my business on the side. I was working twice as hard (doing two jobs essentially) while trying to promote my business in order to drum up a consistent client base (in a ‘niche’ market). Eventually all that hustling paid off and I was offered a contract which gave me the peace of mind to quit my day job and go full-time on my own.

Over the years my work has evolved and taken different twists and turns and as I’ve become a mother my priorities have changed but I am still here, still working, still passionate and still grateful for how far I’ve come. So I would always say ‘just do it’ and surround yourself with people who are just as passionate about it as you are.

Erena’s freakin gawjuss home office


What’s the best thing that’s happened to you work-wise/creatively over the past year?
I have really settled into my style in the passed year. I know what I like, I trust my abilities (more than ever before) and I think that has shown in both my personal projects (home renos) and in the work I produce for my clients.

How would you like to see your creative path unfold in the next year?
I’d like to continue doing good work for my clients but also step up my blogging. It’s always the first thing to stop when life gets busy, but its an important creative outlet for me and so I would love to be consistently producing content there.

 

(She’s a vignette maestro)

Can you share the schedule of a typical day or week in your work life? If there is no ‘typical’ day/week, what constants remain?
Our weeks have been very unstructured lately, simply because I have been juggling a renovation with pregnancy, motherhood and styling/writing projects. So it varies day-to-day but generally I have two days that I dedicate as ‘work’ days. On those days I’ll get up with Costa, get him ready, put the washing on, take him to kindy and then head back home to work.

My work varies depending on what deadline is coming up and what project I am focusing on but for the most part it involves researching trends, tracking down products, making phone calls, planning meetings or scheduling projects, replying to emails, writing copy and when time allows taking pictures or writing content for an upcoming blog post. I am lucky in that all of these tasks I can do from home or close by but when I am booked on a shoot I am generally required to be away from home for up to 3 days so this requires more planning but is less frequent and therefore easier to juggle. I also have an awesome husband and Mum who can help out with Costa when I am called away.

As a Mum I find it easier to dedicate days just for work so that I’m not trying to do work and parent at the same time and on the odd occasion when work spills into a day when I’m looking after Costa then I’ll try to do that when he has a nap or at night (thankfully this situation doesn’t happen too often and my clients are very understanding).

I love being a Mum and for me family will always come first but I have been very fortunate to also have this side hustle which can work around Mum life but also satisfies me creatively too.

In what ways do you give yourself work/life balance:
I am a self-confessed homebody and I also work from home so switching off for me has to involve getting out of the house at least once or twice. Whether that’s taking Costa to a park or to the zoo, going for a walk or arranging a meeting or catch up at a cafe.

I am still working on digitally switching off, but generally I don’t like to be too immersed in my phone especially where little eyes can see me so I’ll put it aside for a few hours and pick it up selectively.

A huge thanks to photographer Ash Muir for the stunning imagery

 

Finally, tell us what you’ve been getting into lately…

Listening To: Léon and LANY

Reading / Watching / Clicking on: Falling down the Youtube rabbit hole (Into the Gloss), binge-watching Love on Netflix and clicking on @_roomonfire and @nycbambi

Looking Forward To: Finishing our Airbnb

Eating/Drinking: Currently craving (because pregnant): Dumplings from The Chilli House / Mama’s Donuts and so old school but would love a Baileys (in a few months time!)

Wanting to Buy: A new camera

~

Follow Erena’s Blog  /   Erena’s Instagram

 

 

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