Champagne with Robe: Getting Personal with Christie Sutherland

Early this year, we decided to change the direction of our influencer strategy. Up until then we had been choosing influencers based on their style and their fashion and whether or not we thought how they looked would resonate with our audience.

Now I am certainly not suggesting that, as a strategy, this was bad, but it didn't sit comfortably with me. I choose to follow people on Instagram not because of how they look but because they inspire me in some way. More and more, I follow people on Instagram that are killer entrepreneurs or thought leaders or are just really cool. You know - people like Alison Rice and Sarah Wilson. I wanted to apply this to the way we choose the influencers for Robe.

The very first thing I wanted to do as part of this strategy was to put together some really cool video content with a kick ass woman of substance and credibility. Christie Sutherland was a natural choice. Christie is smart, funny and beautiful. She works her ass off and brings incredible professionalism to everything she does. After spending time with Christie during the video shoot I knew I needed to sit down and get to know her better. I talked to Christie about her career, wellness, style and, of course, fashion. This is what I learnt:

You made the big move from Style Magazines to go freelance 11 months ago. What prompted that decision? What has been the biggest challenge?

My decision to join the freelance family last year was focused on career progression and my passion for new challenges. I wanted to be able to take hold of more opportunities that were being presented to me and making this move would enable a new chapter and give me the opportunity to take things up a level. The biggest challenge has been stepping away from the management and mentoring role of a team to being a manager to myself- I have so many lessons and a lot of industry wisdom to share with others. I have realised that a big part of my enjoyment that I get out of working is passing on that information and I have had to find new ways for this to occur.

You are clearly a driven and successful woman. What drives you to get up every day and do what you do? What is your favourite part of what you do?

In my new world, every day is different, it is like waking up to a surprise, one that you cannot wait to figure out, this is where my drive stems from. The thrill of doing what I do every day is simply put, epic. The favourite part of what I do is who I work with, I may not have a team (just yet) but I am so fortunate to cross paths with like-minded people that put their brands and their businesses in my hands joining my tight knit family.

We are really big on morning routines at Robe HQ. What does your morning routine look like?

My morning routine, prior to desk time, involves waking up to a million and one kisses from two very precious French Bulldogs, the curtains open and coffee in bed quickly follows to which I reflect on the previous day and note tasks in my mind in a relaxed state. I continue the reflection with a river walk with the pooches and come back home to step into work mode with a fire in my belly. Depending on what the day offers, active wear stays on for a power hour where I address urgent emails and form a list before the day begins. Then shower, makeup and game face is on. Professionally, I always go into my inbox first because my clients are my priority.

Do you have a business mentor or mentors? What do you think we should be reading or listening to for business advice?

I have two key mentors in my life, one professional and one who boarders on professional and personal. Mentors are an absolute must have in any form of passion or business as it means that you have a history with them and questions in troubled or progressive stages of your life require less of an explanation which in turn leads to more guidance quicker. I take to podcasts for business advice as the progressive stage that podcasting is at means there is so much out there to answer questions or spark a passion at the click of a button. I also look to my competitors for advice, it might sound strange but I like to analyse what they do and don’t do in my own personal way it adds to my drive to create a unique business doing things differently.

Christie Sutherland

Wellness is such a big focus for people these days. What does wellness mean to you? How do you factor it in to your life?

To me wellness is what we do to take our minds out of our everyday world and into one we visit on our own. In all honesty, wellness is not something I easily factor into my life as I do get caught up in the ever-changing cycle of my work and personal world. I do however commit to little things such as a calming tea before bed, bathing in candle light and walking every day and night. Yoga and Pilates are things I must invest in doing more often but in the first year of business I am realistic with myself and my achievements in the wellness world. I see it as a little step you take each day to benefit you.

What are you looking forward to in 2019?

2019, how did we get close to half way through the year already? Must be having fun!I am looking forward to producing fashion events that hold longevity in our city, forming relationships with new clients and enjoying the triumphant accolade of being in business on my own for the first year.

We feel like the Queensland fashion scene is changing before our very eyes. What do you love about Queensland fashion and where do you think it is headed in the next 10 years?

The beauty of fashion is thatit forms identities and can create a movement from a single runway moment or social media post. Queensland fashion is the heart of trans-seasonal dressing and this is what I love about it, we are the most open to change and know how to work it best. In 10 years, I think Queensland will be known as the official home of trans-seasonal dressing and we will be the state creating garments that hold a purposeful versatility like no other. I also think we will have found an acceptable yet statement forming way to make wearing swimwear on a day to day basis completely acceptable.

Outside of fashion (which we could discuss for hours), what’s one issue we should all be talking about?

Endometriosis, it is an issue that has been brought to our attention in so many informative ways of late. Whilst I don’t personally suffer from this the females that do have done an incredible job of showcasing what it’s like, who to lean on and how to recover, it is no longer an unspoken issue. Social media has propelled the conversation of awareness between females to share light on the fact that its ok to not be ok. I love that social media has given everyone a voice to bring up the conversations so that people feel the support they need, it is a very powerful thing.

You are on demand in Brisbane’s social scene. What are your top tips for developing successful connections (while having fun!) at networking events?

Be genuine, be interested in others and strike up conversations worth having. In situations, unfamiliar to me I take on the challenge of being the person in the room that makes the first move in conversation I feel I find my confidence in learning about others. The fun part comes but not saying yes to every social calendar event but saying yes to the ones you want to go to- that way you’re there with the right agenda.

Christie Sutherland

Do you get tired or bored of the social scene? It looks glamourous but we bet it’s hard work! How do you make the most of it?

I do what I do because boring does not factor into it, tired most definitely does but when you have a goal in mind and people there to share it with you on a social level it is the most rewarding thing. The glamour, well, it helps with getting over the tiredness because there isn’t much that mascara and leopard print heel can’t solve.

You have one of the most enviable wardrobes in Brisbane – how would you describe your signature style, and what do you think makes a great outfit?

My signature style lives in my admiration for suiting; bare chest under a blazer and pant or skirt combo is me. When I got engaged earlier this year a million and one people were confident in saying “I bet you’ll be wearing a suit” which is what enabled me to answer this question. My style revolves around being subtly and professionally feminine which tends to include accents of masculine dressing. A great outfit doesn’t always need too much thought but what it does need is attention on your handbag and footwear in order for you to walk out the door in a stylised fashion.

What can’t you leave the house without?

Smith And Cult Hydra Gloss in Kissing Tiny Flowers from Atelier Christian Alexander thanks to Dale Dorning!

Favourite quote to live by?

Wait and see how things play out. Sometimes a decision you might consider a regret or failure in the present can turn out to be a catalyst for something extraordinary in the end. "Life’s wildest journeys begin with a wrong turn". – Beau Taplin.

Do you have a secret talent?

I like to think my one-handed cart wheel would get me through a talent competition and of course my ability to braid in fishtail style.

What’s your dream purchase?

A piece from the fearless Juste Un Clou collection by Cartier.

Are there any other topics you want to talk about?

The way that bricks and mortar stores are taking the control of their destiny into their own hands paving the way to genuine tactile experiences in both product and service based industries. It is amazing to see the change.

Christie Sutherland

And finally: walk us through a normal day in your life...My days start with a 6am wake up, with no day being ‘normal’ in my world I’ve got to make the most of my time. My first hour or two is email response and phone call driven and from there I write out a to-do list the old-school way. Then I tend to have a second coffee, have a shower and make my way to one of my three favourite work friendly café’s where I will continue with my laptop but start with creativity. I do my best writing in a vibrant surrounding so any content I need to create will usually be produced first up in my day. If I have any meetings scheduled in, clients will come to the café I am at or I will head out on the road to them, I have some clients where I spend a few hours in their business on certain days which breaks up my week nicely. My afternoons mostly are spent around fashion where I pull for a shoot or update myself on trends and what’s in store. I head home around 4pm where I like to send follow up emails from the days meetings and plan ahead for the next day before switch off or head out to an event. I work off of midnight being my bedtime to give perspective on my busy days.

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