The Stella Women Series Featuring Yelena Fairfax

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Yelena Fairfax is the Editor and Founder of lifestyle website Husskie which focuses on the lives and career paths of social media influencers delving deep into their lives, beauty habits, fashion style and has an acute interest in bringing them from a curated image to life in real, relatable content. Yelena is also an extremely talented art director and photographer, and just a really great human. In December 2019, Husskie expanded to include Husskie The Label which includes Laid-back accessories adaptable for sandy days to evening sundowners. A #FriendofStella and a force to be reckoned with we couldn’t wait to sit down and chat about Yelenas rise from magazines to digital pages. 

Can you tell our followers what you’ve been up to lately and what the plans for
Husskie are for 2020/2021?
2020 has definitely been a year of evolution for Husskie. After launching a line of accessories under Husskie The Label at the end of 2019, behind-the-scenes I’ve been busily working on producing Husskie’s first apparel collection. This has meant designing the collection, two trips to Bali to meet with manufacturers, fabric sourcing, producing 3+ sample collections, production of the final collection, shooting and styling the range, and now designing the website – all while navigating a global pandemic. 

As well as this, I’m continuing producing content for Husskie Magazine and Husskie Creative (providing photo shoots and campaigns for brands and individuals). Some days it definitely feels like the duck analogy (calm on top while legs are paddling fast underwater). 

The rest of 2020 and into 2021, I will finally start rolling out the clothing collections (impatient is an understatement) while continuing to interview content creators from across the globe and working with some exciting brands to produce upcoming shoots (stay tuned). 

Describe how you first got into the digital space?
I actually stumbled into the digital publishing space accidentally very early on in my career. I was the editorial co-ordinator at OK! Magazine – where one of my jobs was to produce content for the website. Back then, no-one at the magazine knew anything about publishing online content – and I loved being able to fully manage the Australian space for a global publication. I later went on to become Fashion Editor at the magazine, but continued to help in the direction of the website. After that, I left OK! Magazine to become the Web Editor across a bunch of different titles before being named the Editor of Bauer’s beauty website BEAUTYDIRECTORY. Six years later and I left that publication to launch Husskie. 

Can you tell me some of your strengths that really helped you in launching your digital business?
I think having a lot of self drive as well as career intrigue and ambition has helped get me to where I am now. While in jobs, I’ve never been content to just sit there and complete set tasks. I’ve always wanted to push the boundaries of what can be achieved – and I’ve always wanted to develop and learn from others in the team. 

When I had a tech problem, I didn’t just handball it over to the tech team. I sat with them and painstakingly learnt what they were doing – even though that meant during one site relaunch I was working until 3am with our IT director and then returning to work at 7am to put on my Editor hat. When I was a fashion editor, I wasn’t content to just let the photographers take the image. I wanted to know what camera they were using, what F stop, how they set up lighting, why they set it up that way etc. Because of this, I now know how to develop websites and photography has become my main source of income. This was never the aim – I didn’t set out to become a web developer or photographer, this is just where I have ended up from having a deep intrigue into all aspects of a business. 

Where is your favourite place to work from?
For me, variety is the spice of life (which means I’ve got a major bout of cabin fever thanks to Covid). Pre-Covid, you would see me being in the office one or two days, in a cafe another, in the library another, sometimes working from my couch, and very rarely – I’ll actually be in my lovely home office that is all set up with everything I need and I have absolutely no idea why I don’t use more often.

What was the most challenging moment in your career so far and what did you learn
from that?
I hate to bring up the C word again, but Covid has definitely been one of the most challenging moments in my career. In one day, my income streams completely dried up and I was restricted to my house with no idea of when/if it would get any better. My motivation really took a hit as I’m someone that loves working at a high pace with tight deadlines to adhere to. All of a sudden, there were no deadlines and a super slow pace. Rather than enjoy it, I really did struggle with the concept of a reduced workload – and that’s despite the fact I was still producing a clothing collection and creating content for Husskie Magazine during this time. I’m definitely very happy that things are finally starting to get back to normal for me. 

Who are your favourite people to follow on Instagram right now?
I’m currently having a real fashion and photographer moment on Instagram. Photography-wise, I’m obsessed with Jason Lee ParryCameron Hammond, Brydie Mack (Wolf Cub Wolf Cub), Jesse Leigh Elford (Studio Elford), and Ming Nomchong. Fashion-wise, I’m loving Jen Ceballos (Endlessly Love Club), Marie Von Behrens (MVB), Sky Richley, and Karissa Sparke. I could go on and on! 

How do you manage your time effectively day to day?
I think because I previously always had a 9 to 5 job, I’ve continued with that structure (except it very often extends way beyond these hours). I’ve very much always been deadline-driven, so I like to give myself lots of self-imposed deadlines. For example, that article is due by EOD Tuesday, the editing of the studio images is due by EOD Thursday etc. This helps keep me motivated and on track. 

What advice do you have for our followers who are starting out in business?
Play it a bit safe when you’re starting out. Starting your own business is very rewarding, but so much harder than you ever could imagine. I always recommend to people starting out that they have a second source of revenue they can rely on – it might be working for another employee or being a freelancer/consultant. This takes off some of the pressure on making the business an immediate success. If all things go well, you can then ditch the reliable revenue – but at the same time you’ve not put yourself under intense financial pressure. 

Another piece of advice is to just start. So many people have talked to me about their entrepreneurial idea – and I always say: “Just do it!” Don’t be afraid to give it a go – but play it safe. Continue doing what you’re currently employed to do, but why not look at building a website on the side, investigate how to develop a product, start up a business Instagram account – there’s definitely no harm in testing the waters. 

What’s the one quote you live by? And what empowers you most on a day-to-day basis?
I have two: “In a world where you can be anything, be kind” by Jennifer Dukes Lee and “Follow your own star” by Dante Alighieri. I think both quotes have messages that are extremely important to me and my way of thinking – and that’s to always show kindness and to not be scared to be yourself. To be your true self. 

What excited you about our brand the most?
The two key things that most excited me about Stella was that it is founded by a woman, staffed by women, and was created for us women. I’m so all about females supporting other females. The other thing I like is something new and different coming onto the market to shake up the status quo. Finding a niche and then launching something into that space is both inspiring and empowering and I’d love to see more women taking similar risks and leaps of faith. I’m excited to see Stella’s next steps in the market.

Follow Yelena and Husskie here 

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