Prop cupboard in the studio of Melbourne stylist Stephanie Stamatis aka Stephanie Somebody. Photo - Tara Pearce for The Design Files.
Stephanie Stamatis taking a photo for her Instagram! Photo – Tara Pearce for The Design Files.
Stephanie’s styling work for Est Magazine, photo - Tara Pearce.
Studio details. Photo - Tara Pearce for The Design Files.
Stephanie Stamatis in her studio. Photo - Tara Pearce for The Design Files.
You probably know Melbourne interior designer turned stylist and multidisciplinary creative Stephanie Stamatis by another name – Stephanie Somebody. Under this familiar pseudonym, Stephanie has amassed over 130,000 loyal Instagram followers across the world who are hooked on her thoughtfully curated and beautifully styled photo feed. Let’s face, Stephanie is basically Melbourne’s very own mini Instagram celebrity. But, as you’ll learn today, there’s a lot more to Stephanie than her iPhone photography skills!
After studying interior design ay RMIT, Stephanie landed what was, at first, her ‘dream job’, – a role at one of Melbourne’s big, respected interior design firms. Within a few short years she outgrew her junior position, and moved halfheartedly from role to role… but after five years, Stephanie’s enthusiasm waned. She yearned for something more hands on, more personal and more truly creative.
In 2010, just a few months after Instagram first launched (and long before the rest of us had jumped on the bandwagon!), Stephanie discovered this exciting new social media platform, and quickly became addicted! At the time, she was still working her ‘desk job’, and Instagram was the perfect creative escape. It put her in touch with likeminded creatives across the globe, and inspired her to generate and share her own beautiful imagery. She taught herself how to use different apps to modify her iPhone photographs, and began to gather followers.
About a year later, Instagram promoted Stephanie as one of their ‘Suggested Users’, and from there things took off. Her following quickly climbed into 6 figures – back when the rest of us were still experimenting with filters!
To Stephanie’s credit, with unwavering focus and determination, she’s worked incredibly hard to leverage this unlikely windfall and build a solid reputation as a stylist and versatile freelance creative. As she explains below, when her Instagram account took off, she gained the confidence to leave her full-time job and in her own words, ‘become more connected with the world’. She’s grasped every opportunity since then with both hands – including launching her events business, Local Gatherings with likeminded creative Sarah Cooper, co-hosting a Kinfolk workshop event in Melbourne last year, sharing her social media wisdom with others through her immensely popular ‘Instagram Debunked‘ class at The School nationally, and more. From her studio in Brunswick, Stephanie juggles these various commitments with her her first love - styling.
As she says below, ‘a year ago I couldn’t have predicted I would be where I am right now, but through a series of leaps of faith and lucky opportunities I have been allowed to explore my love for making images’. And what exquisite images they are, Stephanie! Thankyou for sharing your picture perfect world with us today!
Tell us a little about your background – what did you study and what path led you to what you are doing today?
I have always been a collector and a curator of things, and I come from a family of people who work with their hands. My grandmother is the most gifted and hard working person I know, and I think her talent of translating what she sees into what she makes has made its way to all 6 of her children and 12 grandchildren in various ways.
When I left high school, through a lack of guidance and confidence I didn’t quite know how to channel my inclination toward art and design. It wasn’t until six months later (and a few rejected writing course offers) that I came to the realisation that I could make a life out of my passion for interior design.
After studying at RMIT I took a junior position at a large interior design firm. Reading the job description I thought it was the most perfect job I could ever land, but the reality of the industry hit me not long into my time there. I grew out of my position and into new ones, but after five years I felt there was nowhere else for me to go. Maybe (definitely) I was there too long. I was a part of the team responsible for concept development and selections, which was the part of the job I loved. Now looking back I use all of these skills in my own practice, but am doing it in a way that I find so much more fulfilling.
When my Instagram account took off I was just beginning to find my visual voice, and I gained the confidence to leave my full-time job and become more connected with the world. A year ago I couldn’t have predicted I would be where I am right now, but through a series of leaps of faith and lucky opportunities I have been allowed to explore my love for making images.
Stephanie sorting through work and inspiration. Photo - Tara Pearce for The Design Files.
Many of our readers might know you from your Instagram alias @stephanie_somebody and amazingly curated feed and 137,000 followers! You were using Instagram before many of us even knew it existed, can you tell us a little bit how you became a bit of an Instagram renegade?
I discovered Instagram about four months after it was launched in 2010 when a blogger I followed religiously from Berlin mentioned that she was trying out the platform. I very quickly became addicted to creating content that was my own, and connecting with creatives around the world.
I discovered the most successful Instagrammers were producing high quality photos and mastering the art of mobile photography and editing. They were also very active in the Instagram community. I taught myself how to shoot on my phone and made an effort to be sharing content that made my feed unique.
At the time I was working my desk job and was desperately seeking a creative outlet where I could explore my style, which at the time was much grungier than it is now. For example, I used to ‘find my way’ into many more abandoned spaces than I do now. I haven’t intentionally polished my style, I think it was something that evolved.
About a year into having my account I was contacted by Instagram and they told me that I had been put onto their ‘Suggested User’ list, and from there things took off. Australia was just discovering IG and the platform was moving over to Andriod, so I think the influx of new users meant it was a pretty crazy nine months. It totally took over my life as I tried to keep up with the comments/ likes/follows and I am pretty happy to have it more under control these days.
Studio details with so many beautiful pieces. Photo - Tara Pearce for The Design Files.
Working now as a stylist and interior designer, what have been some of your favourite projects you have recently worked on?
Over the last year I have been lucky enough to work with some of my good friends, which I think has helped produce some of my favourite work. The Abby Seymour and Beth Emily shoots I worked on with Guvnor and photographers Tara Pearce and Sean Fennessy are still some of my favourites.
The partnership I have formed with my good friend Sarah Cooper is the most exciting project I have worked on recently. When I was given the opportunity to host a Kinfolk event, there was no question who I would ask to help me out. From this event we have formed the most incredible team and it’s always a joy to work together. Since launching Local Gatherings this year we have had the pleasure of collaborating with the incredibly talented Jessica Tremp on an editorial shoot, and have just finished working on the Chai Championship event for T2 amongst other events with so much more to come.
Kinfolk Natural Home Decor workshop, a Local Gatherings event styled by Stephanie in partnership The Brainery Store, Katie Marx, Fig and Salt and Historia Films. Photo - Lauren Bamford.
Aside from doing your freelance work, you also teach your ‘Instagram Debunked’ class at The School, which gives small businesses the low-down on the dos and don’ts of Instagram. What would be three top tips you’d suggest businesses keep in mind when dabbling with this kind of social media, or working with prominent instagrammers?
Produce high quality content – taking beautiful photos and producing valuable content is the best way to gain organic followers and keep your audience interested. Taking the time to clean your image up, even if it’s just a little straightening or increasing the contrast can make all the difference.
Become a part of the conversation – there are endless opportunities to be made with the Instagram community and the connections we make. Nearly all of my project opportunities have been made thought my Instagram account and the relationships I have formed there.
Keep up – like any other social media, Instagram only works as hard as you do. We only get out what we put in.
Turkish Coffee feature styled by Stephanie, photo - Tara Pearce.
Recently you’ve formed a creative partnership of sorts with local photographer Tara Pearce, where you produce and style photo shoots together. How did this partnership come about and what else can we expect from you guys in the future?
Tara and I joke that we were set up in an arranged marriage. When I first entered the world of freelancing, Sian MacPherson of Est Magazine offered me some of my first interior styling opportunities. Tara was shooting for Est at the time so we were sent out to shoot a house together on the coast. We instantly bonded over our shared aesthetic, talking about shooting raw fish and octopus, a passion for the local makers and foresty landscapes.
We are currently cooking up ways that we can work on some larger projects, and both get a kick out of seeing our work in print.
Can you tell us a little bit about Stephanie Stamatis Inc? What does a typical day at work involve for you?
At the moment I balance my time working as a freelance stylist and creative director, and designing events for Local Gatherings. I also moonlight as an art director for my partner Timothy Melville, who is a film director.
It may sound terribly clichéd, but there isn’t a typical day and that’s why I love it. I start in my Brunswick studio most days. From there I split my time between running around doing pickups/drop offs and working from my desk answering emails, making mood boards and having meetings with clients. When I’m lucky I sneak in a cheeky coffee or lunch date with other creatives in the area.
I live for the shoot days, when all of my preparation and sourcing are bundled into my tiny car with my recently acquired Tetris/magician skills. There is nothing I love more than creating images, so the thrill of being on location never gets old. When I have spent the good part of a week looking for the perfect coloured pears or crumpled linen, and they look amazing through the lens, that is pretty satisfying, sadly enough!
Stephanie’s styling work for the soon-to-be-released new website of local illustrator Beth Emily. Photo - Sean Fennessy, art direction - Guvnor.
Can you list for us 5 resources across any media you tune in to regularly?
Pinterest & Instagram are my most regular stops. Kinfolk Magazine and blog for their unwavering perfection and inspiration. Broadsheet Melbourne is my go to for finding new restaurants and cafes to visit or events to attend. Beth Kirby of Local Milk inspires me endlessly to cook, create and shoot.
Which other local event stylists, designers, creative people do you admire?
Oh boy! There are so many here in Melbourne! If I had to condense it down it would have to be these five.
Beci Orpin – I am so inspired by the seemingly endless creative projects Beci puts her hand to.
Stanislava Pinchuk/Miso – Stan is one of my favourite artists. She is next level talented and so incredibly intelligent.
Megan Morton – Powerhouse. Enough said.
Phil aka. A Floral Frenzy – He is the most ridiculously generous, hardworking and talented guy around. I don’t think he sleeps!
Studio details. Photo - Tara Pearce for The Design Files.
What would be your dream creative project or collaboration?
I am always looking for a way to create some kind of permanence in what I do, so one day I would love to work on a book. Something that I can pull out for the grand kids and say ‘I made this’.
What are you looking forward to?
In September I will be teaming up with Luisa Brimble to help host Beth Kirby and Rebekka Seale from the USA for a Slow Living Workshop. We will be spending two days exploring the art of creating content through food, florals, photography and textiles. I feel so lucky to be collaborating with the dream team, Katie Marx Flowers and Phil and Cassie Morris of Fig and Salt who I have so much admiration for, at my ultimate favourite location – Butterland!
Studio details. Photo - Tara Pearce for The Design Files.
Your favourite Melbourne neighbourhood and why?
Brunswick. It makes me feel at home.
Where in Melbourne do you shop for styling gold, and/or the tools of your trade?
I spend a lot of time at The Establishment Studios sourcing for shoots. The Junk Company is a gold mine for beautiful vintage postcards and Psarakos for fruit and veg props. My favourite shop in Melbourne is Mr Kitly. Most of my special pieces come from this perfectly curated store.
What and where was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?
Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?
In a café having a lazy breakfast with my fiancé Tim. By the time Saturday rolls around I am craving poached eggs and bottomless cups of coffee.
I do have a confession though, All Day Donuts have only been open for a month I have already made a habit of donuts for breakfast.
Melbourne’s best kept secret?
A venue for my wedding… It’s so secret I haven’t even found it yet!