Creative Director / Love Find Co.
Sophie Westley has interned at Vogue Australia and Collette Dinnigan. Is that enough to get you gripped?
I am going to preface this interview by saying that Sophie is one the most progressive and spell-binding young woman that has graced The Cool Career screen. You could even go as far as saying that it was Sophie’s unwavering dedication to her craft, and a willingness to learn that enabled her to jump elegantly from internship to internship, finally landing at her current destination, Founder and Creative Director of Love Find Co.
Actually, you can say it, because it is the truth.
Sophie didn’t particularly like High School, and after enrolling in education, decided that fashion was actually her calling. Having studied Styling & Creative Direction at the White House in Sydney, and after some truly exciting work placements including One Fine Day, Sophie realised a gap in the market for one go-to destination for both brides and designers. At 24 she launched Love Find Co and ever since has helped thousands of brides on their journey to finding their dream dress.
This #careerstory is jam-packed of links, info and “behind the scenes” accounts. Make sure you read to the very bottom.
Let’s dive in…
Hi Sophie, so happy to have you here on The Cool Career, I am so happy to share your #careerstory. Where you grew up, can you take us right back to the very start?
I grew up in Sydney with my brother, mum and dad. My mum is from a small NSW country town called Cowra where all her family live, so I spent all of my school holidays in the country where her father owned a company. I would help out in the family business, ride horses and enjoying the country life.
This was such an incredible part of my childhood because I was able to enjoy the country life whilst living in Sydney during the school weeks. Both my grandfather and parents have their own businesses so it was instilled from a young age the work of creating a business from scratch and being your own boss.
Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?
I started at Pymble Ladies College, however, I ended up moving to Barker for years 10 through 12. Honestly, High School wasn’t really for me, I experienced a lot of bullying from girls throughout all of my schooling journey. I would like to think that it has made me a much stronger and driven person today. The great thing about moving to Barker was that I met my boyfriend, and we’ve been together for eight years. We both have a few friends that we are still extremely close with and catch up most weekends.
Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
Throughout High School I had my heart set on becoming a primary teacher. I had actually enrolled in the course at Macquarie University. I never thought I could make a career out of fashion styling, however, I remembered meeting an ex-student from the Whitehouse Institute of Design who told me all about the courses they offered and knew I had to apply.
Did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Tell us about that experience.
As soon as I was accepted into Whitehouse Institute of Design I knew that the fashion industry was something I was going to have to work hard to break into. Both my parents knew no one in the industry, and nor did I, so as soon as I had my first week I emailed the team at Collette Dinnigan for any work experience. I ended up interning there for a year before moving to a Sydney based Stylist called Sophie Hart for a year.
I then remember emailing the fashion department at Vogue Australia asking what they had available, as it was a dream of mine to work in the magazine industry. I ended up interning at Vogue for a year and working on some incredible, high profile editorials with the Fashion Department.
Did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the courses that you studied and why you chose them?
I went to a Sydney based College called Whitehouse Insitute of Design. I knew I didn’t want to be a designer so their Bachelor of Design in Styling and Creative Direction was exactly for me. Each year of the three-year degree, students studied different aspects of styling: fashion, visual merchandising, graphic design, interior design and event management.
Tell us about your career journey so far. Who you have worked for, and explain any highlights.
Throughout year 11 and year 12 I worked in bridal boutiques on Saturday’s so I grew an interest in the wedding and bridal industry.
At university, I worked with a fashion PR firm before working 2 days of week as the fashion coordinator at wedding fair One Fine Day. During working at One Fine Day I also worked at Karen Willis Holmes as the assistant PR & Marketing Manager. My role at One Fine Day became increasingly more work, before I moved into the international fashion manager role, organising New York Bridal Market where 28 designers showcase their latest collections to media & buyers.
It was during my time working at Karen Willis Holmes & One Fine Day that I founded LOVE FIND CO. I still work full time at One Fine Day and work every single night on LOVE FIND CO. and weekends. A crazy amount of organisation is needed for working two full-time roles!
Wow, your story, your journey is crazy, congratulations! Let’s jump to the present, how did you get the job that you are in now?
Loads of hard work! During university, I did a number of free photo shoots with other makeup artists, photographers, and new & upcoming designers. I was doing anything to build my profile as a stylist and would work with so many other students in the industry trying to create content. Through working with a number of people, I became close with a makeup artist who had worked with the team at One Fine Day and recommended me for the role.
What is the hardest part of life at Love Find Co.?
The balance between a work and life. I am incredibly lucky that Dave (my boyfriend) encourages me to give it everything now, whilst I am young and don’t have children. I work most of my spare time on LOVE FIND CO. however I try and relax on a Sunday afternoon. Going for a walk, having lunch with friends and just binge-watching TV is always a great way to recharge for the week to come.
What does a day a typical business day look like for you in your current job?
No other day is the same but that’s why I love it.
My day usually starts at 6.00am with emails. If I am not working on fashion editorials, on runway shows, I am hustling behind the computer. Although some people see it this to be a glamorous job with beautiful dresses, many don’t see the heavy lifting of gowns, the endless emails and constant organisation that goes into every LOVE FIND CO. photoshoot, blog post or social media post.
Who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?
I also used to work for Karen Willis Holmes who is an Australian bridal designer. She’s like a mentor for me.
What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?
Be prepared for hard work! And also how valuable work experience is. I remember complaining to my parents how unfair it was working for free whilst most of my university class would have the day off, or work at a casual paid role. I ended up learning so many industry techniques that it made the three years experience so valuable, especially when I graduated and was looking for a paid role.
List your most valuable resources that you turn to constantly for inspiration in your profession?
- Favourite Websites: Elle Australia, Who What Wear and The Coveteur.
- Name an Instagram Account that you can’t go a day without checking: @lovefindco (of course) and all the designers that we represent on LOVE FIND CO. I always want to know the latest.
- Favourite Podcast: How I Built This.
- Favourite Netflix Series: The Crown!
- Favourite all time book/s: Anything written by Jodi Picoult.
- People: My family, my boyfriend Dave and my friends!
- Others: My 14-year-old family dog Charlie, Matcha Green Tea Ice-cream and Rosé.