NAME: Sophie Westley
COMPANY: Love Find Co & LFC Creative Studio
How would you describe yourself in 5 words?
Loyal, energetic, driven, Positive, creative
What is the long version of how you got to where you are today?
I guess you could say I have always had a connection with the bridal industry. I was working at a Bridal boutique throughout year 11 and 12, and then while I was studying fashion at Whitehouse Institute of Design I had the opportunity to intern for some incredible Australian brands like Colette Dinnigan & Vogue Australia. After a few years of working in the fashion industry, I fell back into bridal working as the National Fashion Coordinator for One Fine Day Wedding Fair. I realised over this time there was a gap in the market for an online platform that combined a website to help brides find wedding dress designers and an online accessories shop which would allow brides to style their wedding day look. I love styling brides, and have been styling more and more bridal shoots, especially for LOVE FIND CO. Recently I have also been working with some amazing bridal and accessory brands to create and execute their campaign photoshoots.
I think it is really important people can explain their main message in a concise paragraph – if the above is the full version - What is your elevator pitch on what you do?
We are your personal online bridal stylist. We will find your dream wedding dress and the accessories to compliment your look.
Are you doing what you thought you would be doing 10 years ago? (If not, what did you think you would be doing?)
I thought I would be a primary school teacher! When I graduated from school I originally enrolled in a teaching degree and was confident that was going to be my career path. However, I changed at the last minute to study fashion at Whitehouse and that started my journey into the fashion industry… It’s funny to look back and think how different my life could have been!
What does ‘success’ mean to you, and do you consider yourself ‘successful’?
Success means having happiness through hard work. I don’t really think you can be successful if you don’t enjoy what you are doing and strive to have a work / life balance. I would say that I am ‘successful’ at the moment as I am still working on my work / life balance but I am loving what I do, and enjoying where LOVE FIND CO. is taking me each day.
What do you still want to achieve (personally and/or professionally)
I want to travel more - there are so many incredible places that I still want to see. I have also have made a goal for myself in 2018 to spend less time on my phone, and to be in the moment more!
Professionally, I have a lot of goals and plans for both LOVE FIND CO. including expanding the online offering to a physical space and for LFC Creative Studio to continue to grow my portfolio of work - so watch this space!
Did you study anything specific for the career you are in?
At Whitehouse Institute of Design I studied a Bachelor of Design in Styling & Creative Direction.
What have been the most rewarding things in your career to date?
Probably having repeat business. There is nothing like a happy customer or clients after nailing an experience with them! I also find it rewarding and a real ‘pinch me’ moment being on the set of an incredible shoot location… standing back and reminding myself that this is my job!
Tell us about your workspace (Office/café/couch/aesthetic) what inspires you about your workspace?
To be honest, it is nothing exciting at the moment! It mainly consists of my bed (with a top knot, pjs and a green tea beside me if it’s been a long day) on the lounge, or if I want a change - my local cafe. I guess having a laptop allows me to open up and switch on anywhere.
What are some frustrations you have experienced on your career journey?
I want everything straight away, so I find it frustrating when some things do not happen fast enough. I love to move at lightning speed with lots of things happening at once, so I try to take a moment to slow down and not rush into decisions.
When was the last time you were overwhelmed & cried from something provoked by work/workload?
To be honest, probably last week. I am quite an emotional person (yes, I know my boyfriend will laugh when he says my written confession of this!) but 99% of the time I am a super positive and energetic person so when I haven’t had enough sleep or any down-time I crumble. Fast.
Would you say you put pressure on yourself? Has this increased or decreased as you progress in your career? Absolutely! I think to be an entrepreneur the pressure you put on yourself to succeed increases all the time as you move on to the next plan, goal or milestone. In the early days, I would compare myself a lot to others, putting pressure on myself, but as time has gone by I have also realised that I need to stop comparing myself to other people who have been in the business for years. I have so many dreams and ideas, however I sometimes need to remind myself that LOVE FIND CO. is only a year and a half old and I am only 25!
If you are a business owner, and you often can’t just check out/ have a week off when you are dealing with personal things, how do you keep on keeping on with your business when things get tough?
Having your own business means that you don’t ‘check out’ but that's partly what I love about it! - I am always on the pulse and know what is going on. There are times & places where I make sure I don’t check emails / answer my phone however when things get tough I take 2-3 days of time out. I usually start to get antsy after 2 days, and want to jump straight back into work.
Has your career affected your personal life/relationships? If so how?
Yes, especially as I am still quite young. A lot of my friends are into going out for big nights out, but I’ve found that I really need to be making most of my weekends. I literally need to schedule in when I go out drinking because my weekends are so packed I need to prepare for the next day! Probably sounds dramatic, but true!
Has your journey at times felt lonely? How?
No, not really. I have a great support network around me. So I can always rely on my family, boyfriend & friends to be able to chat to about whatever is on mind, whether it be work related or a more personal issue.
What causes you anxiety/sleepless nights?
That I have so many things to do with nowhere near enough time - but I guess that is true for anyone who owns a business! I try and work out super early in the morning, or late at night so I know I need to get enough sleep, otherwise the entire next day will be affected.
If you had your time over again, from when you started your career to right now, would you do anything differently? No, absolutely everything has happened for a reason and has lead me to where I am now! I am so glad I started my business when I did, because I am young with no kids yet so I can hustle and put in the big hours without feeling guilty.
What advice would you give your 21 year old self?
Keep going girlfriend! When I was 21 I had just graduated uni and I was so worried about my ‘aesthetic’. I felt at uni I was pushed to try and be more edgy and different but I always loved a feminine aesthetic, which is probably why bridal is so appealing to me.
Who are some women in business you admire & why? Incredible female entrepreneurs! Sara Blakey, Alli Webb, Bethenny Frankel and Emma Isaacs - all of those women are also mums - I have the greatest admiration for them because I honestly don’t know how they do it all!
I also used to work for Karen Willis Holmes who is an amazing Australian bridal designer, who i like a mentor for me.
What traits do you admire in people you surround yourself with?
Good work ethic! Nothing frustrates me more than people saying they are so busy and so tired! I also try and surround myself with only positive people.
Work life balance; does it exist (I don’t think it does!) and how to maintain it, or a sense of it?
Yes! I think it has to work! Otherwise what’s the part where you’re enjoying life? I would probably say that I like to schedule a balance between the both (although my family and friends probably don't agree) but when I unwind and switch off emails I try and be way more balanced.
Have you ever thought about giving up / quitting? If so, does that feeling hit from the same triggers? Why haven’t you quit?
Yes, for a split second, I have felt like giving up, but looking back on it, it is probably when a few things in my life aren’t great and I am really overwhelmed. I think the passion, enjoyment and end goal gets me through it each time.
What is the biggest misconception about what you do?
That I just play with pretty wedding dresses all day! I think a lot of my friends think that I get to go to photoshoots, and see new designs but there are a thousand emails back & forth, organising and confirming every single detail.
What advice would you give someone who is starting out in your industry?
Roll with your own aesthetic. When I first started out I wanted to try and keep up with what everyone else was doing but as I have progressed I would say the image & brand identity of my business has grown stronger and I am more confident with portraying a look that I feel so strongly about.
If you knew what you know now, about how much work was involved to get you to where you are now, would you do it again or do something different, if so, what?
To be honest, I think when I first started I was quite naive with the business world, but I have learned a lot along the way. The fact I have to spend long hours getting the work done, I get to do something I love and I feel a real sense of accomplishment, so I wouldn’t change anything.
I like the quote ‘Don’t just have a job, have a purpose’ - What do you want your legacy to be?
I want the process of finding a wedding dress to be a little less stressful for brides, and for myself I want the satisfaction of building a business and lifestyle.
The SAMANTHA WILLS FOUNDATION is about bringing women in business together – why do you think this is important/(why did you want to be involved in this interview)?
I think it’s important to highlight that not everything is as ‘rosy’ as it appears, and that successful business woman haven’t got to where they are because of ‘luck’ it has been bloody long hours, hard work and sacrifice!
What are some of your favourite quotes?
‘Make it Happen! ‘
‘ Never do the envy, jealously and insecure stuff. Be the hustler, the well-wisher and the go-getter’
‘ Treat other’s the way you want to be treated’
What woman would you like to nominate to be featured for a profile on the SW Foundation, and why? Karen Willis Holmes! She is the ultimate business woman and inspiration!