Name: Tiffany Grant-Riley
Age: Early 30s
Job title: Freelance Interior Stylist
Time in current role: 3 years, 9 months
Tiffany is a freelance interior stylist and the woman behind Curate & Display.
Why did you decide to go freelance?
I always say that I’m pretty much unemployable. I’m so used to doing things my way! Prior to interiors I ran an independent wedding planning and styling company for five years which I started doing after I got out of the theatre industry.
My son was about a year old when I decided that I needed to shift my priorities away from private client events which took up long periods of my time and energy. Short term projects definitely suit my working style better!
It was a scary prospect because I didn’t know anyone in the interiors industry and it meant starting at the bottom on low pay assisting jobs – but I knew it was the right choice and one I could work on slowly over a period of time without much pressure while my children were still young.
What are the key functions of your role?
This varies from day to day, but generally includes taking on shoot briefs and researching them according to what the publication wants, available budget, the overall story, location, furniture and props and hiring additional help.
Then I move on to sourcing everything which will include calling in loans from PRs and brands, arranging courier collections, editing any points of the shoot that don’t work, coordinating and styling the shoot on set and working with the photographer. Post shoot time is taken up ensuring all product loans are sent back safely.
If I’m working on a home feature then I might be visiting the home and taking some basic shots before I pitch to a publication that might be interested in running the spread. Then we could be in the house within the next week or so, styling it and later on interviewing the owners and writing the piece for publication.
Talk us through your typical working day
06:30 – 8:30: Day begins. Stove top coffee, breakfast, getting my son ready for school.
8:30 – 9:00: Rob (my husband) does the school run while I get ready and check my emails.
9:00 – 10:00: Husband heads upstairs to his office for the day. I spend time with my daughter.
10:00 – 12:00: Whilst my daughter has her nap I start on admin in my office, responding to emails, holding Skype meetings, shoot planning or running errands if I need props.
12:00 – 13:00: Lunch with my husband.
13:00 – 15:00: Juggle errands and admin whilst my daughter plays downstairs.
15:00 – 15:30: I do the school run and pick up my son.
15:30 – 18:30: Spend time with the children, make dinner etc.
19:00 – 22:30: Put kids to bed, then spend time working back at my desk, updating my blog.
Your favourite part of the job?
The creative side, particularly if I’ve been given a restricted, focused brief. I think it’s harder to pull something together when you’re given carte blanche, so a detailed brief helps give the project direction. I love discovering new designers, particularly ceramicists, and working on my own photography shooting at home when I have time to. The interiors world is really sociable too, when I get the time to attend a press show or design event I can guarantee I’ll bump into someone I know.
…and the part you could do without?
The constant juggling with childcare is a real pain. I’m lucky to be able to share this with my husband and as long as we communicate and have everything in the diary it works, but with our two-year-old daughter at home all day it’s still difficult to maintain a rhythm. That said, the reason why our work as freelancers suits us is because we can both be at home for the children.
How would your clients describe you in three words?
Meticulous, stylish, conscientious.
Plans for the future?
Three years in I’ve only just started, but I’d love to do more travelling with work and style for some of the Scandinavian names. I know it’s a slower progression juggling my work with motherhood but I know others in the industry who make it work so that’s a positive sign.
Do you have any advice for other aspiring freelancers?
Freelancing isn’t so much unchartered territory as it was when I started. There’s a lot more tailored support these days, particularly if you get into social media and speak to those in your field. It’s not an easy journey starting out on your own, particularly if, like in my line of work, there’s a lot of competition.
Be prepared to be consistent, show up and work hard. Don’t let that put you off though, nothing beats the feeling of working with your own clients and seeing them as happy as you are with the results. LLY