14 Sep My Interview with Courtney Smith – Stylist – Fashion Expert – Business Women
I am so excited to share my interview with the amazingly creative and talented Courtney Smith . Some may know Courtney from her styling on Xpose some may know her from her collaboration with H&M but Courtney Smith is one of Ireland’s Leading Fashion Stylist and when Courtney agreed to do this interview i must say i had one of those moments … OMG can’t believe this!!!
I have followed Courtney’s career throughout the years and love how creative she is and how normal at the same time . She has such a visual mindset , with the ability to make you live and feel the story of her work without any words , she is so good at bringing the clothes to life and telling a story with them.
I myself would rather look at pictures than read a book , I am visual person and I am able to digest things quicker this way and this is the very reason why I admire her work so much as she is a visual artist of her time .
Courtney how did you get into styling ?
I was always going to end up in fashion. I taught myself how to sew aged 14 and used to make my own clothes and my friends clothes too. There’s actually pictures of me putting on my first ‘fashion’ show aged 7. I spent so much time in school doodling and sketching designs in my journals so eventually ended up studied fashion design in college, which seemed like a natural progression.
One of my tutors there suggested I look at styling as a career as I used to do fashion shoots with all my designs and collections. So I did a post grad in London College of Fashion and it all started from there really.
Did you ever think you would be as successful as you are ?
I still don’t consider myself successful really. I have so many things on my to-do list before I will feel like I have really made it!
Obviously I am proud of the work I have done thus far, I work really hard and it’s nice to see that pay off and other people appreciate the work I do.
The fashion industry can be very hard to breakthrough and can be very intimidating at times, have you ever felt like you weren’t taken seriously?
Absolutely! I was just 21 years old when I decide I was going to be a freelance stylist… I didn’t get my first paid job until 10 months later and it was only €300 for 3 days of work… but I was just glad to be doing what I loved. I had a goal and ambition and wasn’t going to take no for an answer… I was also lucky with how supportive my family was.
The constant knock backs for the first few years can be really tough, you have to have a thick skin, and at such a young age people assumed I didn’t have the talent or experience necessary so it took time to convince them otherwise.
What is the one piece of advice you have been given that you still follow today ? who gave you that advice?
“Always trust your instincts and don’t try justify your job”. Constance Harris, the fashion editor of Sunday Independent LIFE magazine told me that at the beginning of my career and again to this day.
What she means is to trust your work and instinct in the looks you style but also not to try justify your job by over-styling, sometimes less is more.. sometimes the jacket is enough and you don’t need to have 5 necklaces and a bangle to prove you did a job ‘styling’ it.
That has always stuck with me to this day.
When was the moment you felt yes i made it , i am established stylist that pinch me moment ?
Haha, to be honest I have new pinch me moments every few months when I achieve something new! Like I said I am always striving for the next big thing.
Have you ever put a campaign together and felt out of your depth? And why
I’ve never felt out of my depth but I have been stressed and anxious to perform to the best of my ability. I think any creative is the same way when they are passionate about something.
With bigger brands especially you know it’s more money and there is a lot more riding on the images we produce and sometimes you have things out of your control like weather or models not working on the day but you just rally around as a team and make it work.
There’s definitely some shoots I am less impressed with in the past, but you learn from those things too and become a better stylist and producer for it.
The days can be so long up 20 hours some days , how do you keep going , what is your motivation?
Yeah the shoots that involve travelling can be anything from 16-20 hour days. Usually survival is lots of coffee and being surrounded by a great enthusiastic team.
And I think being fit helps too, I work out 5 days a week which means I am able to keep up with the hectic days.
What is a day in life of Courtney Smith really like?
I get asked this a lot! There’s no such thing, my days change literally every day!
The only regularity is that I get up at 5am and go to the gym.
From there it could be anything from being in my studio on the computer replying to emails, booking models, prepping rails of clothes, to pulling clothes for a shoot, styling a shoot, meeting a client, returning clothes from a shoot, making moodboards, researching, attending a press event or launch, going to fashion weeks, travelling to a location shoot, writing my column etc etc etc. It’s usually a combination of many of the above.
How do you feel when you see your shoot in a magazine ?
I still get excited, I don’t think that ever goes away.
Who has been your favourite brand to work with and why?
That’s so tough. It would have to be Louis Vuitton; H&M and Lipsy. Because they have all given me the biggest opportunities so far and really showed their trust in my as both a stylist and someone who may influence others.
I have hosted Xpose features with Louis Vuitton and been invited to special events in London; H&M gave me a collaboration called Courtney Covets where I did a STUDIO edit and had my own posters and windows and Lipsy let me host the red carpet for the Kardashian Kollection where I interviewed the fab Khloe Kardashian.
Who would you love to work with and why?
I would love to work with someone like Peter Lindberg just so I could watch how he shoots and take inspiration from him directly.
Is there any other area’s in fashion you would like do , would you ever consider launching your own label?
Watch this space…
Where do you see yourself 5- 10 years from now?
I’d love to do a stint in New York, even if it was just for a year.. it’s my soul city!
Career wise I just want to keep excelling at what I do, work for bigger brands and magazines and grow my brand into something bigger, perhaps a book or a show or a clothing brand… who knows!
What is the favourite part of your job?
The variety and getting to do my dream job every day and get paid for it! I still don’t take that for granted. EVER.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone starting off?
Don’t be afraid of hard work! I am coming into my 9th year working freelance and nothing happened overnight… I didn’t book my first big campaign really until year 3 of my career and I still to this day work 6 days a week. If you REALLY want it you will have to graft for it……..
Hope you all enjoyed
Love Nikki xx